Perched in the rugged desert landscape of Arizona is the picturesque Grand Canyon National Park. 

With rocky ranges, rushing waters of the magnificent Colorado River, and trout species that seem nothing more than folklore, Grand Canyon National Park houses legendary fishing opportunities. Almost as legendary as the canyons themselves!

Before setting your line in the mythical waters, here are your questions answered about everything you need to know about fishing in Grand Canyon National Park.

Do You Need An Arizona Fishing License?

No matter where you cast your line anywhere on US grounds, some form of a fishing license is required. However, there are a few exceptions for those with disabilities, veterans, and age, so always double-checking the regulations is a good idea.

When it comes to fishing in Grand Canyon National Park, regardless if you are a resident or non-resident of the state, any person 10 or older must obtain a license. But, don’t sweat it; getting this critical piece of documentation is easy. Purchase your license online at the Arizona Game and Fish website, or check out the Cliff’s Dwellers Lodge or Marble Canyon Lodge in person. No matter which of the latter, buying your license is a breeze!

What Species Are Found In Grand Canyon National Park?

grand canyon river

Image credits: Wallula via Pixabay

Trout are the big draw at Grand Canyon National Park. With the almost fable-like species of Apache, Gila, and tiger trouts found in the water. But it doesn’t stop there, with eight species of trout found widely throughout the park. Thus, more common species include grayling, rainbow, cutthroat, brown, and brook trout. Try going for the grand slam of all grand slams and nab yourself one of each!

While most get caught up in the trout action in the canyon, a little-known secret is the thriving bass fishery. That’s right, striped bass, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass are the most common. But rare yellow bass and white bass can be targeted. 

Speaking of smallmouth bass, consider targeting them on a fly set up. This may sound absurd, but it’s one of the best-kept angling secrets of Arizona, catching smallies on a fly rod. And it will surely leave you smiling ear to ear.

Why Fish Identification Is Important

fly fishing

Image credits: 17332085 via Pixabay

Racking up the fish counts can be an addiction in itself, especially when the bites are hot. It shouldn’t go without saying that Grand Canyon is home to many endangered species. Knowing the difference of what’s what will be the fine line between a fine or not. As well as your conscience.

These include three species of suckers; the razorback, bluehead, and flannelmouth varieties. In addition to speckled dace, Colorado pikeminnow, and bonytail. Although a favorite bait fish, if you accidentally catch a roundtail chub or humpback chub, carefully release it back into the water unharmed.

Before heading out into the park, pick up a guide from the Backcountry Information Center. Or, browse through the images of the species posted on the Grand Canyon National Park Fishing page; these tools will help you in any identification blunders. As the staff in Grand Canyon say, “If you don’t know, let it go!”

Secondly, knowing where you are fishing is crucial, and being up-to-date on limits or open water locations is crucial. The populations of rainbow and brown trout fluctuate from season to season, and what’s open one month could be catch and release the next. 

Between monitoring bug hatches for a sustainable food supply and managing the fishery, these conservation methods have allowed these species to live in Grand Canyon National Park. And fishing them, when the numbers are struggling, is an unfathomable no-no.

This begs the important issue around fishing equipment.

What Gear Should You Use?

Like many National Parks, there are some rules in play to ensure that fish can flourish. And, a lot of the equipment that is or isn’t allowed has a direct impact. 

Grand Canyon National Park is a bit more lenient in what it allows, and some may find the gear allowance a pleasant surprise. However, all rules must be strictly followed.

Live bait is permitted in the park, but you must leave with what you take unless you’re in Coconini County, where live bait is prohibited. With no ifs, ands, or buts. 

You’re in luck if you have a new or combo fishing license. Up to two fishing poles can be used at a given time. To break this down, a line can have one hook or an artificial lure with more than one hook on it, like a treble hook. What is not allowed is running multiple lures or hooks on a single line. These rules also extend to flies and fly rods. But who wanted to get a bunch of caddisflies tangling up anyhow?

The Final Word

If you find yourself within the vicinity of Grand Canyon National Park, take the time and get a line in the water, you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable fishing experience matched with jaw-dropping scenery.

The best way to conquer the Colorado River and other rivers is by means of a fly rod. Although, a casting rod and reel do work in places. Here’s a tip, match your bait to the fly hatches, and the result will show themselves with an uptick in the fish count. Heck, anglers have even found success in using wooly buggers, minnows, black caddisflies, midges, and stone flies.

Now that you know everything about fishing in Grand Canyon National Park, it’s only a matter of getting your first fish on.

Have you fished in Grand Canyon National Park? If so, what did you catch? Please let us know in the comments below.