After Glen Canyon Dam impounded the waters of the Colorado River, cooler downstream temperatures changed the river’s environment. Today, the chilly waters of the Colorado River below the dam provide a good habitat for rainbow trout. Introduced species commonly found in the river include rainbow, brown, and brook trout as well as carp.
Channel catfish and striped bass are seen occasionally, although they prefer the warmer downstream waters of Lake Mead. Of the native species, only speckled dace are common, with several others, including bonytail chub, considered extinct in Grand Canyon.
The best time for trout fishing is in the fall or winter. Popular spots include Bright Angel Creek, accessible from the Bright Angel, South Kaibab, or North Kaibab Trails; Tapeats Creek; and Nankoweap Creek.
No fishing is allowed near the confluence of the Little Colorado River and the Colorado. The warmer waters of the LCR are a refuge for several threatened and endangered species of native fish such as the humpback chub. If you should catch a protected fish, it must be immediately released unharmed.
To fish in the canyon, you’ll need an Arizona state fishing license (unless you’re under age 14) and a trout stamp. Bag limits vary, depending on which area of the canyon you’re fishing. For most of the canyon, from 21-Mile Rapids to Separation Canyon, trout, striped bass, and catfish are unlimited. No live baitfish may be used.
Licenses are sold at the General Store on the South Rim, Lees Ferry, or Jacob Lake. Currently, licenses can’t be purchased over the phone or online; you’ll need to pick one up at an authorized dealer or an Arizona Game & Fish office. For more information about fishing regulations, contact the Arizona Game & Fish Department (602/942-3000, www.azgfd.gov).
© Kathleen Bryant from Moon Grand Canyon, 5th Edition