Fishing in the Grand Canyon

By Dean • August 4, 2018

Fishing in the Grand Canyon can add to the great memories created on a river trip, but it does require additional planning and equipment. Here are a few things to note.

Fishing Conditions:

You’ll mostly be fishing for brown and rainbow trout as well as carp. The first 60 miles or so downriver from Lees Ferry typically provide the best conditions since the river is often clear, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch fish throughout the Canyon. We are unable to predict when the river will be muddy since it changes due to rain in the area. River conditions are not affected by spring runoff since the dam controls the water release all year.

3 day trips don’t leave too much time for fishing since you’re only on the river one night. Any trip 6 days or longer will provide more opportunities to throw out your line.

Licensing and Restrictions:

Guests 15 years of age or older must have a fishing license.  You can purchase one online through Arizona Game and Fish or in Marble Canyon, AZ the morning of your trip. If you are planning to purchase a license in Marble Canyon, they are sold at both the Chevron and Trading Post and are cash only.

There are native and endangered species that you need to watch out for, primarily the Humpback Chub and the Razorback Suckers.  If you do catch these fish, be sure to release them as the National Park Service is attempting to bring these fish populations back. Anything else you might catch is yours to clean and eat. Check with the guides to see if they are able to cook your fish before you keep it.

Please note that you can’t fish from the boats. Fishing is typically done from shore at camp in the mornings and evenings. Try to pack only essential tackle needs as storage is limited on the rafts. We also ask that you don’t bring live bait as it’s difficult to store.

Gear Tips:

Most any fishing pole (fly rod or spinning rod) will work, as long as it is collapsible. Rod storage tubes are very helpful.

For rod and reel: The best lures have been large, fluorescent orange z-rays, small daredevils with a spot of orange or bright red, and different colored worms. Corn, imitation salmon eggs, cheese, etc. are allowed and have been successful in relatively clear water. We’ve also been told that an assortment of KastMaster and Panther Martin spinners with lots of gold and silver can be good.

For fly fishing: the best setup is a San Juan Worm with a Zebra Midge tied to the hook. You can also use smaller nymphs. Bring a few different lengths of tapered leaders to allow for differences in where you’d be fishing (directly from shore or on an outcropping with a deep eddy).

Best of luck!