Many of the tailwater trout fisheries found throughout North America are among the most famous fly-fishing destinations in the world. These dam-controlled rivers provide one thing above all else, consistency. Unlike their freewheeling counterparts, tailwaters typically have relatively stable flow regimes and water temperatures - conditions conducive to sustaining prolific aquatic insect populations, healthy trout, and great year-round fishing.
Stonefly Press recently published a guidebook authored by Terry and Wendy Gunn titled, 50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish. The Gunns are the owners and operators of Lee's Ferry Anglers Fly Shop & Guide Service in northern Arizona. Their operation is centered around the productive tailwater trout fishery on the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry - a fishery covered in the book.
Throughout the book the Gunn's call upon the expertise of local fly-fishing authorities for each tailwater. The collective knowledge found within the pages of this book is well worth the price of admission. The book is at its best when utilized for the accurate and informative overviews that it provides of each fishery. An experienced angler probably isn't going to glean much about his or her home river from the book as it doesn't go into great detail about any particular fishery. But for the angler investigating a new fishery, or planning a trip itinerary, this book is a great starting point.
As I read through the book I couldn't help but string together multi-day road trips in my mind. A spring tour of the southwest perhaps, with stops at Lee's Ferry, the San Juan, and the Dolores. Or maybe a trip back east to take in the fall colors and explore the Delaware, Neversink, and Farmington. So many possibilities, so little time.
Of these fifty tailwaters I've fished just seven - only forty three to go. Whether fishing all fifty tailwaters is your goal, or just learning a bit about one or two of them, the Gunn's guidebook is a great resource.