Article by Jim Strogen
Photo by Skip Dixon
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is planning a meeting on March 5th in Marble Canyon to seek input from the public on the AZGFD proposal to stock rainbow trout throughout 2018 to enhance angler success in the walk-in fishing area at Lees Ferry.
Through AZGFD research efforts, they have noted a decline in rainbow trout numbers in Lees Ferry since early 2014 leading to a dramatic decline in angler catch rates. Although there has been some recovery in number and size of trout in the upper section where anglers travel by boat several miles upstream of Lees Ferry, the approximately three mile long walk-in area below Lees Ferry has not recovered to the extent that AZGFD has hoped for anglers.
One of the complications in managing the trout fishery in Lees Ferry is the need to be sensitive to the endangered humpback chub population sixty miles downriver at the Little Colorado River confluence. Fishermen that fish upriver from Lees Ferry typically use fly rods and release almost all of the fish they catch. Fishermen in the walk-in area often use spinning gear and are much more inclined to keep their catch. This stocking plan in the walk-in area below Lees Ferry has been well studied by AZGFD and they are confident that with the expected angler harvest in that area that this stocking plan will have minimal to no impact on the humpback chubs sixty miles downriver.
Lees Ferry is a top ten destination for anglers in the state according to the latest survey information of fishermen done by AZGFD. It is also a popular destination for anglers from across the nation to experience blue ribbon rainbow trout fishing in an incredibly beautiful location. If you have not fished Lees Ferry, I encourage you to make a plan to fish there!
It would seem that there would be no need for such a meeting that seeks to provide obvious benefit to anglers, but it is very important to give your input to this plan in order for AZGFD to move forward. They need to hear from you whether you think this is a good use of their time and budget. The meeting will be held at the old lodge across from Marble Canyon Lodge on U.S. Hwy. 89A in Marble Canyon on March 5th from 5-7pm.
Attending a public meeting in Marble Canyon on March 5th may not be realistic for many anglers. If you can’t attend, I strongly suggest that you send your comments about this proposal to stock more rainbow trout in Lees Ferry to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible so that your comments can be included in the public response to this plan. If you would like more information about this plan and the meeting , it is posted on the azgfd.gov website in their news section initially posted on that website February 15, 2018.
I appreciate the AZGFD’s attention to the health of the Lees Ferry fishery and their desire to provide the best possible fishing opportunities for anglers. I believe that their efforts to provide a quality fishing experience are also incredibly beneficial to the businesses and residents in the Marble Canyon area that provide services to anglers that visit Lees Ferry. I hope that you will take the time to either attend the meeting, or share a written comment in support of this plan with AZGFD.