Lees Ferry Angler, AZ

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitter in Marble Canyon, Arizona

Lees Ferry Angler, AZ


Some people describe the Colorado River at Lees Ferry as “The world's largest spring creek. In reality, it's a massive, clear-running tailwater fishery running 15.5 miles from the outflow of Lake Powell at Glen Canyon Dam to the upper end of the Grand Canyon. At times it gives the impression of being a series of parallel spring-creek-like waterways - a short run that sweeps past a large rock; a 500-yard stretch that follows the old river channel; or a long glide where rainbows lurk to take midges.

Date Range

We operate 365 days a year; our season is year-round.

To the uninitiated, fly fishing the Colorado River at Lees Ferry is like casting a needle in a haystack. To your professional guide, the river is a road map with rainbow trout at the end of the line.

Of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, only one has great fishing for wild rainbow trout. You have read about it and seen it on TV, now come and see for yourself why Lees Ferry is on every fly fisher's “must do” list.

Lees Ferry Anglers is Arizona's largest and oldest fly-fishing outfitter and Fly Shop.

Your day will begin at Lees Ferry Anglers Fly Shop. Or, you might meet your guide by the water's edge at the site of John Lee's historic ferry crossing. Boarding one of our 20-foot shallow-draft riverboats, you'll stow your gear and soon be humming up river.

Your guide might start you wading a productive gravel bar where he's spotted fish working in the shallows, or at the edge of a deep pool. Fishing at the elbow of a Lees Ferry Anglers guide puts a lifetime of experience at your fingertips. When a fishing professional works on a river day after day, week after week, season after season, he learns all its intricacies. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned expert, you'll learn from that knowledge. You'll receive helpful suggestions about fly patterns, casting techniques, or fly-fishing strategies. Our guides have a collective 100+ years of experience on this and other famous rivers.

We all know there's more to fishing than just fishing. Our guide/captains are highly knowledgeable about local history, geology, and wildlife and are ready to share that knowledge with you.

As the sun hits the water and shadows change, you'll discover new locations and new fish. Noon becomes afternoon and shadows fall. You'll see things in the rocks and canyons you never saw before. Is that a giant eagle's head or a shadow? A bighorn sheep? A condor? Or a small tree clinging to a rock? One last cast and then another. A last cast. Let this be the one last cast. One more. The day is ended.

The time on the water: where did it go?

Each Lees Ferry Anglers guide is full-time professional guide (no part timers here!) and an expert in fly fishing and instruction, a licensed US Coast Guard Captain, is a licensed guide by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and also certified in CPR and first aid. Lees Ferry Anglers is a permittee of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the National Park Service, and is fully insured.

Others might claim to be the best; we would rather let the fish and our customers do the bragging for us!

What is Provided to Customer

  • 8 hours upriver
  • Lunch (let us know if you have special dietary needs)
  • Flies (charged for flies lost at end of day)
  • Rod (if necessary)
  • Specially outfitted power-driven riverboats (we pay for fuel)
  • Professional fly-fishing guide (U.S Coast Guard Captain licensed)

Each guide will have extra rods and reels that the customer is welcome to use. We also rent waders and boots to our customers at a nominal charge.

Region/Terrain Where You Fish

Fishing conditions and techniques at Lees Ferry vary according to water levels and flow regimes from Glen Canyon Dam. It is difficult to predict what the flows will be like from year to year; however, we can usually predict what the flows will be like for the next few months and we publish these projections on our “River Report” page. We have two basically different fishing scenarios at Lees Ferry. One is fishing from the boat, either drifting with the current, or anchored in riffles. The other scenario is exiting the boat and wading in the water. Oftentimes water releases dictate which style of fishing that we do. Generally speaking, the best wading is in lower-water conditions, while higher-water conditions often call for us to fish from the boat since there are few productive wading areas. We are more likely to fish from the boat in summer and winter months (high water) and wade fish in the fall and spring (lower water). Your guide will know what is best and will do everything in his power to accommodate the style of fishing that you prefer.

The Colorado River at Lees Ferry is “big water” by any western standard. The headwaters of the Colorado begin at the highest elevations of the Rocky Mountains. The drainage area of the Colorado River encompasses the entire western slope of the Rockies, from Wyoming to New Mexico. Above Lake Powell, the Colorado is joined by the San Juan and Green Rivers and every tributary that joins these drainages. These rivers are more dependent on snow pack than precipitation and, as a result, each year can bring different runoff and flow scenarios.

The water releases from Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam fluctuate on an hourly, daily, seasonal, and yearly basis. Glen Canyon Dam is used for hydroelectric production and the water flows are generally low in the evening (low electric demand) and higher during the day and early evening hours (high electric demand). During the day it is possible to see the water rise or fall by as much as 2 vertical feet. The water flow change is generally a slow change. The water releases also change according to the season; higher-release months are usually during the winter (cold weather and higher electrical demand) and the summer months (hot weather and higher electrical demand.) There is also the possibility that the water releases change from year to year depending on the volume of snow pack runoff or lack of runoff and the level of Lake Powell and other reservoirs in the system.

Typical Weather by Season

Cliff Dwellers Lodge sits at an elevation of a little over 4,000-feet in the rain shadow of the Kaibab Plateau (North Rim) 8,500-feet, to the south and west, and the Vermilion Cliffs (Pariah Plateau) 7,500-feet directly to our north. Both of these high plateaus collect most of the moisture that comes our way. We normally get 6.5 inches of rain and it is not uncommon for most of it to occur in just a few storms that are often associated with our monsoon season, July-October.

We generally get snow a few times in the winter, but it is rare that it lasts more than a few hours before melting. Our spring usually begins the middle of February and the weather this time of year can be anything.

Our summers are warm to hot, but the humidity is normally low so it is a very tolerable dry heat.

Our fall weather begins in September and continues through the middle of November; this is usually the best weather of the year.

The Colorado River at Lees Ferry is 850-feet lower than the lodge, so expect the weather to be different. In the summer, the temps may be 5-to-10 degrees warmer along the river; however, because the water temp is 48 degrees, the air temps on the river can be 10-to-15 degrees cooler.


Species You Fish for by Season

Year-round rainbow trout fishing. November - February

Cold mornings, cool and pleasant days giving way to an afternoon chill. This is spawn time, providing great opportunities to sight cast to large trout using egg patterns and small attractors. There will often be midge fishing, both wet and dry.

March - May

Cool nights in March and April, giving way to warmer weather by early-to-mid May. Mix of spawners and feeding fish will test your skills at both sight casting and nymph fishing traditional riffles and runs. It’s the season of sight casting tiny midges to trout as they drift in and out of feeding lanes.

June - August

Warm nights and hot days. The spawn is over, so you’ll be sight casting to feeding fish with dry flies and nymph fishing runs and riffles. A nymph fished through riffles and runs can be rewarding. Very rewarding. July, the cicadas start to sing and depending on the year, we get a massive hatch and the fish will slam big dry flies.

September - October

Cooling weather can be anticipated, but essentially the same techniques as in summer. By mid-October, your guide will be looking for the nests of early spawners.


What Should Customers Bring?

You are welcome to bring any equipment/items that you would like to take on your trip; there is plenty of room on the boat. There are only a few items which you will be required to bring, or obtain at our Fly Shop:

  • Water (available at our fly shop)
  • 9-foot 5X leader (available at our fly shop)
  • Arizona fishing license (available at our fly shop)
  • Proper clothing
  • Waders (available at our fly shop)
What type of clothing?
Summer: Lightweight, light colors, long-sleeved shirt for sun protection, hat. Spring and fall: Light sweater for morning, long-sleeved shirt, rain jacket. Winter: Very warm clothing to be layered, ski-type parka, hats, gloves and boots, thermal turtlenecks, etc.

What else do you suggest we bring?

  • Fly Rod (5-weight, 9-foot)
  • 5X, 6X, or 7X tippet
  • Waders (we rent them)
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Western tailwater flies
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Rain gear

Fly Shop

Our Fly Shop

Lees Ferry Anglers is located at our lodge, Cliff Dwellers Lodge.

Cliff Dwellers Lodge is at the base of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in one of the Western United States’ most spectacular settings. We are on the road that connects the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon. In addition, it’s an easy drive to several other national parks, monuments, Lake Powell, as well as the Navajo and Hopi Nations.

Located adjacent to the Colorado River, fly fishers, kayakers, and river rafters travel from around the world to stay with us. In the past few years, people have discovered that our lodge provides the ideal base for Southwestern vacations. Come stay with us, dine with us, see the sights, raft the Colorado River, fly fish Lees Ferry on the Colorado, watch the birds, hike, photograph sunsets, or just relax. It’s your vacation and we are here to make it a good one.

Cliff Dwellers Lodge staff members have one mission: to do everything to make your visit a pleasant and memorable one. Whether you are a river runner, angler, or just traveling though, see for yourself that not only is the lodge surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery on earth, but it offers an opportunity to meet some really nice people. If you visit us once, we know you will come back and see us again.

Cliff Dwellers Lodge was built in the early 1950s as lodging for Bill Green’s famous airboat trips up the Colorado River for adventurous travelers visiting Rainbow Bridge. Lees Ferry Anglers purchased the lodge in 2001 and immediately began renovation, remodeling, and redecoration. It is appropriate that half a century after the lodge was built, it has returned to its roots: providing a fine lodging experience to a river-based business. Lees Ferry Anglers, a fly-fishing guide service and retail fly-fishing business, was founded in 1989 by the current owners, Terry and Wendy Gunn. In less than a decade, we grew our business into the largest fishing guide service in the U.S. We apply a simple successful strategy, with an understanding that exemplary customer service and a quality lodging experience results in return business.

Cliff Dwellers Restaurant

Before heading out to fish Lees Ferry or to visit one of the nearby National Parks or canyons, enjoy a great breakfast. Then, at the end of the day, come enjoy dinner. The Cliff Restaurant, about 9 miles from Marble Canyon, offers an incredible dining experience. Choose one of our burgers or fine steaks, luscious baby back ribs, the chef’s nightly dinner special or a crisp salad, and you’ll immediately see why The Cliff is the restaurant of choice and an unlikely culinary delight in this part or Arizona.

Depending on the time of day, season, or your mood, dine outside on our fully covered patio in full view of the majestic Vermilion Cliffs or at an inside table that offers the warmth of a crackling fire while still in view of massive scenic mesas and sheer red cliffs.

Our guests are constantly praising the unexpected excellence of the food and service. Nothing punctuates an unforgettable day on the water like a fine meal. Our chefs and the staff at Cliff Dwellers Restaurant have created a reputation among area residents as a “destination” dining experience. What we call an “area resident” in this part of the world has a much different meaning than in most places. Many “locals” live more than an hour’s drive away.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How long is a guided trip?
A. You will be on the river for approximately 8½ hours. We only do full-day expeditions

Q. How do I make a reservation?
A. Easy. Call us at 1-800-962-9755 to inquire about our availability. We are friendly, professional, and knowledgeable.

Q. Is this wading or from a boat?
A. Both. Your guide will take you upriver on their boat. Depending on the flow rate and fishing conditions, you may be doing either, or a combination of the two. If you have a physical condition that prevents you from wading or prefer to fish out of the boat we can do that.

Q. Do I have the guide all to myself?
A. Yes. Even if you come by yourself.

Q. Do they have rods for us to use?
A. If you do not own your own fly rod, no worries. Our guides all have extra rods that you may use for your guided trip.

Q. Can somebody ride along?
A. Yes. For a non-fishing guest there will be an additional fee of $20, which includes a lunch for the rider.

Q. What type of boats?
A. All of our guides have 20-foot Koflers with an inboard 8-cylinder motor and a jet pump. These boats are all covered and very comfortable. Your guide is also a licensed Coast Guard Captain.

Q. Do I need to bring lunch?
A. Lunch is included in the guide package. You are more than welcome to bring any snacks. The guide will have plenty of room on the boat. If you have any special dietary needs, please let the shop know at least 24 hours before your trip. You are responsible to bring any beverages. You can bring your own cooler or the guide will have plenty of room in his cooler.

Q. What type of fishing?
A. Primarily nymphing, but we also frequently use a dry and a dropper. You may be fishing from the boat, or wading from the shore, which will be determined by current fishing conditions and water levels.

Q. Do I need waders?
A. You may rent waders from our Fly Shop. If you are fishing with one of our guides, the (discounted) fee for this is $10.

Q. Can I spin fish?
A. Yes. Just let us know. Spin fishing is very productive on the river. However, we encourage you to keep in mind that this would be an excellent opportunity to learn how to fly fish if you have never done so in the past and you have the desire.

Q. What type of fish and what size?
A. Rainbow trout. The average size of these trout is determined by fishing conditions, or the time of year. Expect fish anywhere from 12-to-17 inches. These fish are all healthy and strong.

Q. Any big fish?
A. Definitely. Once you are upriver and you stare into the crystal-clear water of our fishery, you will most likely see some rainbow trout that you could spend your entire day chasing


Overall: 5.0/5 starsShow Rating Distribution 5.0 / 5 based on 1 reviews

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1 of 1 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.

  • 5/5 stars 5/5

    A quality experience at a beautiful place - 3/9/2013
    By: from Wasilla, Alaska

    Terry and Wendy Gunn run a top-knotch business. Their guides are seasoned, engaging and extremely knowlegeable. While not officially "Endorsed" by Orvis, their fly shop, lodging and food are consistently excellent and thus is a great reflection upon their guide service. Lee's Ferry is a magnificently beautiful place and the fishing is great. Go with confidence of having a great experience.

Lees Ferry Anglers Fly Shop and Guide Service
Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitters
Wendy Gunn
HC 67 Box 19
Marble Canyon, AZ 86036

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