View Full Version : Dam!

11-05-2009, 11:01 AM
I'm working on a bit about Dams.

I fish the Colorado River and there are two huge damns on it that I frequant. The Glen Canyon Dam and the Hoover Dam. Both make tailwaters that huge trout live in...

Any of you guys out there, tailwater fishers?

Any interest in dams?

I'm on the fence whether I like them or not. I do know that I enjoy the energy that they produce, the water they provide us. The other part of me says let the water flow...

11-05-2009, 12:56 PM
Within a 45 min. drive of my home there are 4 dams on the Potomac River.Nearest to me is Dam #5 in Clear Spring.Great tailwater fishery below it for channel cats and smallmouth bass.Tremendous fly hatches through this stretch.Dam #4 near Downsville,Md. has excellent tailwater fishery for walleye and smallmouth.Dam #3 near Harpers Ferry,W.Va. is one of the best areas for smallmouth.None of these dams are like the behemoths you mentioned Adam.I would guess the biggest dam on the Potomac stands maybe 15-18' above the water.They all create some outstanding fishing for quite a way below them.

11-05-2009, 02:13 PM
Eric right?

You are totally on track.

I have a personal beef with the Glen Canyon Dam and the adjustment of the flows that are seemingly utilized to wipe out and or inhibit the trout population that the government planted in the first place.

The indigenous fish to the Colorado are being protected?

Did we make a mistake when we planted the trout and made the dam because we didn't have the impact study or we didn't know the future?

I remember days when the river had guide boats on every bar for 15 miles and spin fish drifting, it was a zoo and everyone was hooked up. Life was good, there was a fishing economy and then something happened about the time the airliners smashed into the buildings...

For me, I was always amazed that I could drive up in a boat so close to the base of the dam...


I like the points you raise.

I love tailwaters but if the dam is not supposed to be there, I'm not going to not fish it, I'll just support it's removal.

I'll be crossing the Hoover Dam tomorrow and I'll take some images. I have a bunch of good images of the Glen Canyon Dam that I want to post here, I'm going to go ahead and post them all together.

They are amazing.

11-10-2009, 11:53 AM
adam, is it true they are building a huge bridge over the hoover dam for the highway to pass over? I seem to recall I saw some pictures somewhere...I'll look around

11-21-2009, 02:33 PM
Hoover Dam and the bypass bridge under construction (photographer unknown)

Hoover Dam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoover_Dam)

http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Hoover/sm_images/1.jpg (http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Hoover/1.jpg) http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Hoover/sm_images/2.jpg (http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Hoover/2.jpg)


From the Lake Powell side

Glen Canyon Dam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Canyon_Dam)

http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Glen_Canyon/sm_images/2.JPG (http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Glen_Canyon/2.JPG) http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Glen_Canyon/sm_images/3.jpg (http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Glen_Canyon/3.jpg) http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Glen_Canyon/sm_images/4.jpg (http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Glen_Canyon/4.jpg) http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Glen_Canyon/sm_images/5.jpg (http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Glen_Canyon/5.jpg) http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Glen_Canyon/sm_images/6.jpg (http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Glen_Canyon/6.jpg) http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Glen_Canyon/sm_images/7.jpg (http://stream-fisher.com/smallstreams/adam/Dams/Glen_Canyon/7.jpg)

wikipedia links in the titles

I don't want to spend too much time on this but here is a pretty good overview of the two dams. The first photograph, I can not find the person's name who took it, the rest I took. It's such a great photograph that I'm going to go ahead and use it to illustrate where the construction is at this point. The wire suspensions will come off once the road is in place, it will look like the overpass at Glen Canyon Dam in Page.

I am intrigued by these two dams. I didn't get a chance to take a tour of Hoover but I have been through Glen Canyon Dam. At the bottom, you can feel the "humm humm humm" resonating. It is the turbulation in the generators exceeding the reynolds number (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reynolds_number). The tubes are "floated" in loose soil/gravel where you see the grass in the pictures. Very intense and a marvel of engineering. You can drive your boat very close to the bottom of the dam and it is fish city...

I've always wanted to post a few pictures I've collected over the years of these two dams, what you see here is a collection I've gathered here and there and there you go.

...a dam song I wrote.

Sing it in your head to the Red Hot Chille Peppers song, "Give It Away"

There's a place in,
Northern Arizona,
a desert river,
come from Colorado.
The Mormons crossed there,
at Lees Ferry,
then they built the bridge,
and it was easy


Glen Canyon Dam!
Hoover Dam!
Mar de Cortez,
all the way to Mexico,
Marble Canyon,
the Grand Canyon,
don't forget the Navajo.

We drive our boats up,
the curvy river,
to the sand bars,
then we park there.
Unpack our kitchen,
pile up the wood so high,
start a fire,
then we cast our flys.


Glen Canyon Dam!
Hoover Dam!
Mar de Cortez,
all the way to Mexico,
Marble Canyon,
the Grand Canyon,
don't forget the Navajo.

Just like Zorro,
lay the line down jiggly,
when the yarn dives,
lift the rod quickly.
The river rainbows,
fat and ultra wiggly,
6X works the best,
land 'em very gently.


Glen Canyon Dam!
Hoover Dam!
Mar de Cortez,
all the way to Mexico,
Marble Canyon,
the Grand Canyon,
don't forget the Navajo.

11-21-2009, 07:41 PM
I personaly like the Frying Pan Where it comes out of Rudi Resivoir and down stream in Basalt Colorado.

11-23-2009, 11:12 AM
I was fishing the Frying Pan this summer with my wife, we got into a little wild water down stream near the corner, so moved up a couple miles for some nice fishing. Normally we work the White River system and fish Taneycomo and below Bull Shoals for our semi-local tailwaters. Both of these are heavily stocked, so you don't have to work too hard, but they don't jump in your net either. This October I came close to a grand slam twice in back to back days. Don't know what my problem was the other two. ;)

11-23-2009, 04:39 PM
boy tail waters are a double edged sword. The fishing is great, adn that bring crowdes, I live in Colorado. The fryig pan A.K.A toilet bowl -- Dream stream below Spinney Res. The tailwaters below Stagecoach, the Blue below Dillion Res. & so on are the life blood of most outfitters. & their guides. Most tail water fish are big, but tame [ catch & realse a nother double edge] sometimes. I hope not to offend, but vary eazy fish to catch. many such as the frying pan & the Blue require no match the hatch, cause the hatch is mysis shirmp, I no that both rivers have some wonderfull dry fly action as well. the greendrakes on both are SICK!!!!!! guess I'm rambling. So my point would be that the tailwaters provide alot fish, but to much preasure on the fish & fisherman, I make a point to fish the Wild rivers of the Wind Range in WY. every year to get back to FLY FISHING, drop the crowdes at the border and catch fish that don't get caught a million times a year, Fish that get pissed off when a hook grabs their jaw, fish that can't read what brand of waders you use. O.K. last off the ramble I just saw a show about dams on Discovery chanel. The gist off it was that dams are not well designed and are begining to fail all over the U.S. I would hate to be fishing for mild fighting fish when the levy breaks :sunny: :D

11-23-2009, 08:55 PM
Another river I fish is not a tail water even though its below the dam at Estes Park I fish that part around January and Febuary and begining of March because everything else is hard water is the Big Thompson. Its close to home and I catch alot of fish there. In fact going up there tomorrow going thru withdrawls haven't been out for about two weeks.

11-24-2009, 08:52 AM
Trout nut do you go to the willams Fork tail water. It's a goody threw the winter.
I've heard the Big "T" has great BWO hatshes in the winter. I 've never put much time in on it

11-24-2009, 10:11 AM

Its been quite a few years since I've been up to williams fork. Yes there's a nice blue winged olive hatch on the big T. I'm going there today to check it out. I've been laid off for almost a year now due to budget cuts so I stay close to home for now. I was on the river here a couple of weeks ago thinking a nice cloudy day would have a bwo hatch but they were very finnicky. They took some bwo on size 20 &22. I had a fly that was trash and that was the only one they would hit that day.

11-24-2009, 04:43 PM
We have dams in the Upper Midwest. Our experience is different than that of the West. We are at low elevations, have very distinct cold and hot seasons, and most years we have plenty of rain.

Most of our trout streams are small, and dams are often detrimental to trout fishing. In the summer the low head dams, with a surface water discharge, will warm the water to temperatures beyond which the trout can stand.

The River Alliance of Wisconsin provides some good information at http://www.wisconsinrivers.org/index.ph ... view&id=5# (http://www.wisconsinrivers.org/index.php?page=content&mode=view&id=5#)


“Wisconsin has been building dams on rivers since before Abraham Lincoln became President. Our state was a national leader in dam building; in fact, the world's first hydropower project was built on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin. Today, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources estimates that there are over 3,800 dams in Wisconsin, from small millponds to giant hydropower facilities. Less than 200 of these dams (or about 5% of the total) are currently involved in hydropower production. Similarly, about 200 dams provide a flood control function.”

“Many of Wisconsin's dams were built during the 19th century to power grist mills or to provide flood waters for logging operations. Almost all of these century-old dams were built of timber and rock. Even though most have been rebuilt with concrete, they have been gradually deteriorating under the twin pressures of water and time. DNR dam safety engineers are discovering that many of Wisconsin's dams are in danger of failing, threatening life and property.”

“We recognize that in many cases dams provide important societal benefits. However, by their very existence, dams have a detrimental impact rivers and streams. For example, dams:
• Alter natural flow patterns
• Fragment habitat
• Block migration corridors
• Degrade water quality, altering temperatures and oxygen levels
• Fluctuate water levels, either stranding or flooding fish and wildlife”
The River Alliance is frankly a special interest group in favor of removing dams. Some of their results have been stunning. I have enjoyed trout fishing in cold streams that run across what was once the bottom of silted warm water ponds. I have also cursed dams that have caused trout streams to decline.

We don’t have much tailwater fishing, unless it’s for fish that are trying to move upstream to spawn and is blocked by a dam. Mostly those are warm water fish. For much of the spring and summer, the water coming out of a pond above a dam is too warm for trout, and the trout don’t stay until more spring water comes in downstream.

11-25-2009, 09:43 AM
Yep pretty much the same boat. I've been out of work for the past ten months. I feel lucky to live in Summit-- at least I have the Blue, but really want to be on the dream stream. There are risen fish year round--- but that's a half a tank of gas. but hay we get to fish right :sunny:

11-25-2009, 10:55 AM
A couple of more weeks it will a year for me.
Big T almost froze over in spots about done for the year. Went up to Estes Park at the fishing was slow fish are real picky from so much pressure. It doesn't freeze up there. :D

12-13-2009, 06:56 PM
We'll have to make a run to the San Juany Adam to get you properly baptized. In my best Val Kilmer voice from Tombstone, "Say Whaaaaen" :geek: < that looks like me now.

12-13-2009, 08:19 PM
I will fishit, one day, not in a hurry.

LF is still my home.

01-16-2010, 01:13 PM
I fully understand the need for management waterways in the world we live in ... and support reasoned contruction solutions that consider all uses and values in a balanced, long term manner ... and would really like someone to point me to a situation where that actually happen. That's why much prefer to live and fish with the rhythms of nature in Alaska ... where there are no (or at least few) dams, ditches, dikes, screwgate, diversions or watercontrol structure in the rivers, creek and smallstreams i fish. Having said that some of my highest trout count days have been on lower 48 tail water fisheries ... just not the hightest "quality" fishing experiences. To each his own ... it all good with the rod in my hand and my toes are in water.

01-16-2010, 07:47 PM
Here's my nomination: Navajo Dam in northwestern New Mexico.

The San Juan River (the place of the famed San Juan Worm) is it's tail water and is a surprising overlooked high quality trout fishery. Fished there twice last year (March and October) and landed multiple 20"+ rainbows and browns. I not only love to fish that river, but love to stand knee deep in the water an look up to see eagles circling, and heron's wading along side of me.

Did Lee's Ferry on the of trips this year, Navajo Dam and the San Juan well worth the trip across to NM.

01-23-2010, 06:43 PM
Lots of good info above, and some nice pics adam. I especially despise dams that block migrating fish. Of course we need power and in some places flood control but the Corps of Dam Builders, er of Engineers got a little out of control.
I have fished the SJ a lot (and several other tailwaters including the Colorado below Glen Canyon) and it/they can be a lot of fun. But the SJ can also be a crowded, tempermental, unpleasant combat-fishing experience.
Wild trout, wild water. That always seems the best to me. Nature has done just fine over the last, oh, 50 million years without us and our "improvements". If left alone and taken care of free river fishing will always be the best of all worlds. It is a shame there is so little of it left. Maybe that is why many of us like small streams so much.

01-27-2010, 08:27 PM
Japanese rivers are fragmented by dams. Even in small streams or creeks, they build dams like this. These small dams are not for water diversion but built (officially) as barriers to control soil erosion or against debris-slide. However, many people believe this is actually one of many ways for politicians of the government party to distribute money to local construction industries, which, in return, help election campaigns for them in a great deal. In fact, construction of infrastructure, such as dams, roads, or public buildings is the only major industry in many local areas in Japan, and some politicians officially declare that such construction is a kind of social welfare. These small dams only do harm to fish and river ecosystem that live in the river; Such dams cause habitat loss by stopping delivery of rocks or sand downstream and revealing rocky bottom of the river and inbreeding problem by inhibiting fish migration. The trend has only recently begun to change, though there are already too many dams in rivers in this country. I think it’s time to remove dams. So, I am very interested in how they remove a huge dam (or two dams?) from the Elwha River in Olympic Peninsula, WA, and in what happens after that.

01-27-2010, 11:38 PM
Satoshi, New England sounds similar to Japan in terms of the number of dams on small streams. Most were built to power saw mills and gristmills over a hundred years ago, or to divert water for farm ponds and agriculture. During the industrial revolution many more were built; it's amazing how many small factories dotted the country side wherever good water power could be found. I've often been surprised to find old mills on small rivers and streams in the middle of nowhere. A lot of these dams are starting to come down as they've become structurally unsound over the years.

Here in New England all the dam construction which took place on major rivers has been disastrous for migratory fish like Atlantic Salmon, Sturgeon, and herring. Dam construction on smaller rivers and streams has played a major role in habitat loss for brook trout.

In Southern New Hampshire where I grew up a dam was removed on a small river (the Souhegan in the town of Merrimack), opening up 14 miles of river to the much larger Merrimack River, probably for the first time in at least 150 years. I don't know if any effects have been felt yet, but there have been additional proposals to remove two more similar dams on the Souhegan in Milford NH, opening up another 6-7 miles of river. It's late now so I'll look up some info on the dam removal projects on the Souhegan later.

Edit: couldn't resist googling the dam removal in Merrimack - http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/restor ... amcam.html (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/restoration/projects_programs/crp/damcam.html)

01-28-2010, 01:22 AM
In Southern New Hampshire where I grew up a dam was removed on a small river (the Souhegan in the town of Merrimack), opening up 14 miles of river to the much larger Merrimack River, probably for the first time in at least 150 years. I don't know if any effects have been felt yet, but there have been additional proposals to remove two more similar dams on the Souhegan in Milford NH, opening up another 6-7 miles of river. It's late now so I'll look up some info on the dam removal projects on the Souhegan later.

Edit: couldn't resist googling the dam removal in Merrimack - http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/restor ... amcam.html
Wow! This is great! I've just looked at this noaa page and the movie. I wish this they'd also do this in Japan.

01-28-2010, 05:31 PM
I've fished the tailwaters of the White River, Little Red, and Little Missouri Rivers in Arkansas since the mid 1960s. Now I have just moved to SW Missouri, and those same waters are a lot nearer than they were before.

02-01-2010, 06:32 PM
it is interesting that you mentioned the removal (or slated to be removed??) dam on the lower elwah river in wa state. a buddy of mine used to fish that lower section and he said the salmon used to just stack up below the dam. it is, or was, owned by warren buffet's berkshire-hatthaway company. i hope they have torn it down. they need to do that in a lot more places here in the west too.

02-04-2010, 05:09 AM

02-04-2010, 08:42 AM
pszy22 ,
I looked at the link. I am impressed they are estimating the catch rate of fish after the change. This seems to be a nice way when the removal is not an option.

Talking about the dam removal, I found an exciting news story yesterday; They decided not to relicense a large hydroelectric dam in Japan. In other words, they are going to remove it. It would be the first time in the history of this country to destruct such a large dam. The dam is located in a warm region (Kyushu), and the removal would not have any effect on the population of landlocked yamame in the headwater of the river, but the river does have an anadromous fish, the ayu, which is the most popular freshwater gamefish in this country. I'm sure the removal will have a strong positive impact on the population of the fish. So, I'm excited about the news, and I hope they will do this to other dams in northern part of Japan. (Usually, there is no good tailwater fishery of trout below dams in Japan, with a few exceptions.)

02-04-2010, 02:54 PM
JEEZ........that picture of the Hoover Dam and bypass.............you could'nt make it up,it looks unreal!!!!!!

Zac Sexton
02-09-2010, 01:18 AM
Well, guess I can share this bit of information I have known but not often shared, about dams and salmon/steelhead smolts on the Columbia River: A buddy of mine used to be a fisheries tech. for the USGS, and collected information on radio tags implanted in Steelhead and Salmon smolts--some were wild, some were hatchery fish. The transmitters gave the USGS data as to the migration of the smolts, which they collected to monitor how they passed through the Columbia River system, including dams and fish ladders.

One incredibly interesting fact of the study that my friend shared with me was that hatchery smolts stayed high in the water column during migration. What this means is they haven't adapted a fear of airial/surface predators (birds, man, otters, etc...), and their habit is to be in the surface to look for feed (learned behavior from most hatcheries {there are exceptions...}). This puts them in a better position to be caught in nets for transport in the trucks used by federal and state agencies to transport fish through the dams; keep in mind, this is downstream migration of juvenile fish, looking for the ocean to get big in. They also are more able to make it over the spill-ways in to fish ladders, which are at the top of the dams.

Native/wild fish, on the other hand, tend to stay deep in the water column. This reduces predation on the overall population, but leaving them to die trying to find their way to the ocean, because they also aren't as available to catch in nets for transport, nor able to reach the spill-overs to the ladders.

Them there are the facts. It also doesn't tell my complete feelings on dams--which would be a novellete if written out. But, I do not agree with dams that block fish migration. We have other ways to ship and make electricity, as well as store water and irrigate. But, it's also very clean electricity, and a lot of it.... The Columbia River used to have the largest salmon run in the US, as well as the largest-sized strain of Chinook Salmon in the US/N. America! Used to....