Whether you are an amateur or avid fisherman, casting a line out into the mighty Colorado is quite an enjoyable activity on a river trip. You’ll mainly be fishing for rainbow and some brown trout, but the canyon is also home to catfish, walleye, bass, and carp.
It’s required to have a fishing license on your trip. This can be easily purchased online through Arizona Game and Fish; it costs about $55 per license for non-residents.
Your best odds for a catch are in the first 60 miles downriver of Lees Ferry and when the Colorado River is running clear. Fishing becomes more difficult if the river is muddy from side streams and tributaries carrying sediment into the Colorado River. Two of the largest tributaries merge with the Colorado River near Lees Ferry and at river mile 60.
Rod and reel/spin fishing: the best lures have been 1/4 oz to 1/8 oz gold spinners, fluorescent orange z-rays, small daredevils with a spot of orange or fluorescent red, and different colored worms. The Mepps Plain Lure Assortment Kit works great. Corn, salmon eggs and cheese, etc., are allowed and have been very successful in relatively clear water. We do not have storage provisions for live bait. You can also use a heavyweight split shot with a circle hook and some classic PowerBait. With that technique, you’d cast out from shore and let the PowerBait and split shot sink to the bottom.
Fly fishing: the best setup is a San Juan Worm with a Zebra Midge tied to the hook, size 16-20. You can also use smaller nymphs or scuds. As always, bring some wooly buggers for fun too. A few different lengths of tapered leaders (mostly 9-foot 6x) allow for differences where you’ll be fishing (directly from shore or on an outcropping with a deep eddy). A 9-foot, 5-weight rod is perfect.
Things to Note:
-Practice catch and release fishing.
-There are native and endangered species that you need to be on the lookout for — primarily the Humpback Chub and the Razorback Suckers.
-You cannot fish from the boats. Fishing is typically done from shore at camp in the mornings and evenings.
-Any collapsible fishing pole will work.
-Be aware of critters and birds; they love to get into lures and equipment while on shore.
Have a reel good time!