Fishing in Grand Canyon
If you are an avid angler, fishing in Grand Canyon can be an amazing addition to your rafting adventure. You may bring a fly fishing or spin fishing collapsible rod, as long as it is stored in a hard-shell case. Typically, fishing in Grand Canyon is best before the Little Colorado River confluence, which is the first 60 miles of the river. However, fishing in Grand Canyon is fun on the entire stretch!
Trout is often the most desirable fish to catch, but there are also bass, catfish, carp and the famous humpback chub. The humpback chub and razorback sucker are both found in Grand Canyon National Park, and are also on the endangered species list. We practice catch and release with artificial lures and flies, so de-barb your hooks and bring pliers for each fish release.
Our very own Grand Canyon river guide and avid fly fisherman, Jerry Cox, gave us a few pointers on fishing in Grand Canyon. He said, “fishing in the main river of the canyon can be excellent! Primarily you are fishing from shore at camp in the evening or during the day when stopped for lunch or hiking. This is a tailwater fishery; however, the Colorado through the Canyon fishes more like a freestone in that the fish are not that picky in fly selection. That said, you can fish scuds and midges or just tie on a bugger until it wears out. The only hatch will be midges – fish do sip midge clusters off the surface.”
Jerry tries to keep his setup as simple as possible. He packs a 3-piece 5 weight in a hard-shelled case, a box or two of flies, 3- 6x tippet/leaders/indicator, gink, and nippers, bugs, scuds (12 to 16 green, pink, orange, tan), midges (pupa, emergers, drys [if you are fishing midges just bring ones for whatever midge water you fish at home]), San Juan worms, buggers (6 to 10 black, green, a little sparkle doesn’t hurt), nippers, hemostats, weight and a strike indicator.
The Park Service changes restricted fishing areas occasionally, so talk with your trip leader for the most up to date details on where fishing is allowed and isn’t while you’re on the river. To read more about fishing in Grand Canyon from the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the Montioring and Research Center, you can do so on their website here.