If you’ve never heard of Lee’s Ferry, don’t worry – you’re likely not the only one. It’s a remote little spot on the map southwest of Page, Arizona. It’s also the only place within Glen Canyon where you can drive to the Colorado River.
This stretch of river – from Lee’s Ferry upstream to the Glen Canyon Dam that forms Lake Powell – is a fantastic fishery. You’ll catch plenty of decent rainbow trout, all in one of the world’s most incredible settings.
Over the past few years, though, the National Park Service has noticed an increased amount of brown trout in the Lee’s Ferry area. With the Colorado River home to native fish that are still on the endangered species list, the presence of large, piscivorous fish is worrisome to native fish conservation. The rainbow trout already in the river are viewed as a lower risk to native fishes, since the rainbows in Lee’s Ferry rarely exceed 18 inches.
So, in partnership with the Glen Canyon Conservancy, the Arizona Game and Fish Department ran a program from December 1, 2021, to January 31, 2022, which paid anglers $33 per brown trout they caught.
That program is likely to continue at the end of 2022 during the next brown trout spawning season, per reports. The browns are still a problem, and the bounty program is an alternative to mechanical removal of the fish, which would severely impact the existing fishery.