Corey and I hoped on the plane and headed to Arizona, where we met up with local fisherman and photographer Aaron Otto. After a few dozen emails we finally decided to meet. Being mid-winter is was easy to pick the destination, sunny Lee’s Ferry. It was Corey’s and I first trip to LF, and first fishing trip to Arizona for that matter… it won’t be the last… We were stoked!
We fished Lee’s Ferry for (2) days. The first day was spent on the walk-in section. I probably spent more time that afternoon staring at the unique landscape of sandstone and soaking in the scenery, rather than concentrating on my fishing. The spectacular canyon alone is well wroth the trip, fishing is just the bonus.
Day (2) we rented a jet boat and headed up river. I have been in many, many different kinds of boats; the jet boat is another first. It seemed every hour the trip got better and better and each time it seemed that there was no way to top the last awesome event. We hit the various sandbars as we made our way up the awe-inspiring river. Each bend held another finger pointing followed by “dude check that out” and fished with small tech light rigs. The Rainbows were pretty, clean and colorful. We went all the way to the dam. I felt smaller than normal staring at the dam; it’s massive to say the least. I'm not sure why it felt that way, I see mountains that rise thousands of feet in the air, and I’ve played on them my entire life, currently I still do. But this time I remember thinking that this mountain of concrete is huge, I felt like a small grain of sand at the beach. Perhaps it’s the fact that the hand of man looked out of place while being surrounded by such beauty.
We headed back to the hotel, and then to Page, Arizona for some tasty Mexican food… Well worth the trip by the way! On the way home Aaron mentioned “Apache Trout” and asked if we wanted to go check em’ out. It took about 1.1 seconds to reply, HELL YES! I wished we had more time to spend on Lee’s Ferry, I guess I’ll just have to go back!
The road to the Apache Trout was surprisingly rugged mountain terrain, thick pine forests and never thought of it as to catch Trout. I never thought of Arizona as a place with Trees, just cactus and sand. Well, I was wrong!
The Apache Trout thrive in a gem clear stream, tucked away high in up in the country side. The river was a slow moving one, and very technical…so far that’s been the case of fishing Arizona. I love that challenge. The Apache share the stream with Rainbows, some are quite large.
Right away we encountered a midge hatch; fish were sipping off the top. Corey and I riffled through a half dozen patterns in the first thirty minutes. The water was clear; you could see the reaction to the fish as you fly went right on by. Nymphs changed to “go to’s” when they failed we tossed streamers, which received crazy fast hits, almost a “nips” really. Then more fish started to feed on top, I switched over. Finally starting to pick ‘em up when I went all the way down to #30. My first rare catch of an Apache was awesome. They have such big eyes and the patterns and colors are insane… another first. I fished the rest of the day with a big smile, I kept thinking of how cool this all is, and how lucky I was to be targeting these precious fish.
The glare was getting bad on our side f the river. We didn’t have waders on so crossing was not and option. My fly was so small I couldn’t see it so I tied on a #18 midge cluster and trailed the tiny, but deadly, Cheech’s Bunny Midge.
Aaron and I were fishing the corner when we observed and heard a fish shooting up the riffle…. “Was that a fish?” we both asked each other. We walked over and we could see what looked to be a 20” Bow right in the fast water. I cut off my trailing fly and lobbed my midge cluster up to the start of the fast water shoot and let it ride though. The fly was sucked under in the foam and I thought I was snagged. The fish was unaware of the situation so I wasn’t too worried. I had on 7x so I thought what the hell, and proceeded to jerk the fly in hopes to either dislodge it from the bottom or break it off and I can tie on another fly. After two quick pulls, I realized I wasn’t hung up on the stream bed… because my reel was screaming. We got a look at the fish when it went flying right by us, holy sh**!!!! Then the next though…I have 7x on. After an explosive fight, a bit of sweat and with a little luck we managed to land the fish. Aaron hoped in the river with his nice white shoes and netted that thing like his life depended on it. It was a huge 27” long x 16” girth 10lb Rainbow Trout!! (Another first) We were all pumped, what a day, what a trip and to think that my knot and 7x held was unimaginable…ultimately Aaron’s shoes paid a dirty price but it was worth it… I guess I owe Aaron a new pair of shoes ; )
After letting the fish go, we realized the time. We quickly packed up and hurried straight to the airport. Our fantastic vacation came to an end, it seemed too soon. The hospitality, tour, fishing, company, Native American informational side trips, braking into the old couples hotel with a credit card, fixing the jet boat starter, the food, the breakfast burritos, the fishing, the scenery, the 800+ miles in 3 days….was all too good to be true. I can’t wait to return!!
Enormous thanks to Aaron and his wife for taking the time to show us around. It was a great adventure and I can’t thank you both enough! Aaron’s work can been seen and read in most every major fly fishing publication. Keep an eye out, there will be some sick stuff coming out in the near future.
BIG Rainbow Photo provided by
Check out Aaron’s photography and blog -->
Corey Kruitbosch photoblog -->http://www.western-fly-fishing.info/
Cheech's flies --> http://www.flyfishfood.blogspot.com/