The Desert Fly Casters 2010 Lees Ferry Club Outing has now come and gone and with it the inaugural Colorado River Float Trip. The trip ended up being an outing within an outing, with several of us paddling our way down the Colorado River stopping to fish the gravel bars along the way. We all caught fish and agreed it was an absolute blast!
The idea for this trip first came to me a couple of years ago, when I was reading an article in National Geographic Adventure magazine about a company that rented canoes and provided shuttle service from Lees Ferry to the dam for a two-day self guided trip. After reading this article my first thought was, “Wow, this sounds like a fun way to fish Lees Ferry” and my second thought was, “Now who could I possibly talk into doing this with me?” Having not yet joined the DFC, it would be a while before I found a group of likeminded individuals willing to try this.
Fast forward a couple years. The Colorado River Float Trip was now on the club’s calendar as part of the Lees Ferry Club Outing. However, there were just a few setbacks… like the company I had originally read about was now out of business, so we would have to find our own backhaul service and boat rentals. After a few hours on the internet, Plan-B was in motion and it was time to start recruiting club members to sign-up. To my surprise, there was more interest than I had originally anticipated and the trip quickly filled. It just so happened that none of us going on the trip had actually been upriver from Lees Ferry. That’s what I love about the DFC, even without knowing exactly what we are getting into; there are always members ready to be the guinea pigs for something like this.
Everything seemed to be going according to plan. We had done all our homework, checked the weather, checked the water flows and had all the necessary gear for two-day and one-night on the river… including all the appropriate safety equipment. Nonetheless, we were pretty anxious when we loaded the shuttle boats and started upriver. Our anxieties were quickly put to rest after the first fish was landed and we realized the water was moving at a rather calming pace. Now it was time to relax, paddle and fish.
You develop an intimate relationship with the canyon, when you are in a personal watercraft. With its scenic walls towering above us, the fishing quickly became a bonus to the overall experience. Some members even stopped to explore the petroglyphs and other sites along the way. Just before dusk we pulled off to set up our riverside camp, complete with a campfire. The river quieted once all the boat traffic was gone. With the sun setting on the water, we watched a few trout slowly sip dry flies while Mark prepared dinner and desert.
The next morning everyone woke early, broke camp, and we were on our way. Before long we were back into fish. The trout were feeding more actively on the second day. We would see pods of rainbows stacked in the feeding lanes as we passed over them, then stop and fish for a while. Being in a self-powered watercraft we were constantly aware of the time, and before long we would have to continue our journey downstream. This forced us to give up some productive spots, for fear of falling too far behind. However, this also gave us the opportunity to fish more areas and even some of the smaller riffles that likely get overlooked otherwise.
Then, all too quickly, we were back to where we began our expedition. It was time to meet up with the main group for the pot-luck and hear about all the fish they had caught from the guide boats and walk-in area. That evening while we were reliving the memories of our trip, we started brainstorming our next great adventure.