Lees Ferry, Arizona, and Delaware River, New York/Pennsylvania
Whether you’re on spring break, or you just want to break away—and you’re thinking a little fly fishing adventure might be the trick to shake off the last effects of winter—there are many great destinations to consider. But when I think of classic spring fly-fishing action, two spots always come to mind, and they’re on opposite sides of the country.
The first is Lees Ferry, Arizona. This is where the Colorado River begins to enter the Grand Canyon. Most anglers, however, typically fish closer to the massive Glen Canyon Dam, reaching it by jet boats. . This is, indeed, one of the most prolific tailwater fisheries on the planet, with dense populations of rainbow trout that grow fat on a constant offering of midges and scuds (not mayflies). But the real appeal is the scenery. Standing in the shadows of giant marble cliffs as you’re casting for trout in cool water is absolutely surreal. And because this is a high desert locale, the weather can be comfortably warm (or cold, so plan either way). This is a trip that belongs on every serious fly angler’s bucket list. Once you go, you will want to return. For information, see leesferry.com.
The other great option is the Delaware River which starts in New York, and then creates the border between the Empire State and Pennsylvania where some of the best trout water is found. The upper stretches of the river are split into an East Branch and West Branch, and though they are merely miles apart, they can exhibit completely different characteristics, especially in the early spring.
The one thing the Upper Delaware offers better than most rivers in the East is a combination of prolific insect hatches, and a strong population of brown and rainbow trout. For my money, the signature hatch on the Delaware is the Hendrickson—a meaty mayfly that even the most finicky fish often cannot refuse. The best times to fish this hatch are usually afternoons and evenings, and cloud cover, even rain, are a plus. Information: crosscurrentguideservice.com.