6 Best Colorado River Fishing Hotspots


The Colorado River, winding its way through several states in the United States, offers some of the most incredible fishing experiences. With its diverse aquatic ecosystems, the river is a haven for anglers seeking thrilling catches. In this article, we’ll explore the best fishing hotspots along the Colorado River, guiding you to prime locations where you can cast your line and enjoy a successful day of fishing.

Essential Preparation for a Fishing Venture at Colorado River

▸Necessary Equipment

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a rookie angler, you’ll need the right gear for a successful fishing trip. Standard equipment includes fishing rods, reels, lines, hooks, and a variety of lures or baits. Additionally, a fishing net, tackle box, pliers, first aid kit, life jacket, and fishing license are essential.

▸Best Seasons

While the Colorado River is a year-round fishing destination, certain seasons offer more bountiful catches. Spring and fall are typically the best times for fishing, as outgoing and incoming fish migrations provide diverse opportunities.

▸Acquiring a fishing license in Colorado

Anyone aged 16 or over will require a valid Colorado fishing license. Licenses can be obtained easily through online portals, local retail agents, or at Colorado Parks & Wildlife offices.

Colorado river

Top Fishing Spots

Each location along the Colorado River offers a unique experience with varying challenges and rewards. Here are a few top fishing hotspots worth exploring.

1. Lees Ferry

Located below the Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona, Lees Ferry is an irresistible attraction for fishing aficionados. Its prowess as an acclaimed fishing spot lies in its year-round opportunities for catching rainbow trout that average between 14 to 18 inches in length. It is also a popular fly fishing spot. The scenic backdrop comprising the red sandstone cliffs and Vermilion Cliffs National Monument further augment the experience. So whether you plan to access the river by boat or foot, you’re in for a treat!

Lees Ferry

2. Ruby-Horsethief Canyon

Stretching between Loma and Westwater in western Colorado is the Ruby-Horsethief Canyon. This piece of paradise is an eminent spot for fishing, camping, and rafting, courtesy of its serene ambiance and striking wildlife. From brown trout and rainbow trout to smallmouth bass and channel catfish, the aquatic delights here are plentiful. Alongside the relaxing fishing experience, you can cherish the company of bighorn sheep, bald eagles, and great blue herons.

Ruby-Horsethief Canyon

3. Black Canyon

Black Canyon, lying below the Hoover Dam in southern Nevada, is a spectacular spot for trout and bass fishing. The ruggedness of its steep walls, coupled with the deep pools, creates an enigmatic allure for anglers. Fishing conditions here, determined by the dam regulating the river, can vary throughout the year. So, grab a permit from the National Park Service while planning your fishing expedition in this remote river stretch.

Black Canyon

4. Cataract Canyon

For adventurous hearts who love challenges, the Cataract Canyon within Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah is a dream come true. This section of the Colorado River ranges from Class II to Class V rapids, inviting thrill-seeking anglers to try their luck with brown trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, or catfish. Take note: the river here can exhibit dramatic changes in water level and clarity due to snowmelt and runoff.

Cataract Canyon

5. Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu, found along the Colorado River’s edge on the California and Arizona border, is an expansive reservoir created by the Parker Dam in 1938. Offering year-round fishing opportunities, it is teeming with large and smallmouth bass, striped bass, crappie, sunfish, catfish, and carp. You’ll not fall short of choices here, with opportunities for boat or shore fishing amid a visible array of islands, coves, and points that make for perfect fishing spots.

Lake Havasu

6. Yuma

Yuma, a historic fishing spot near southwestern Arizona’s Gila River confluence, manifests the fusion of rich cultural history and abundant nature. With a sunny ambiance and verdant vegetation, this spot has many fish commonly found here: flathead catfish, channel catfish, largemouth bass, striped bass, crappie, sunfish, and tilapia. The water flow and level here may be somewhat capricious due to irrigation and diversion dams, adding a hint of unpredictability to your fishing tale.


How to Fish in the Colorado River

▸Technique Basics

Fishing in the Colorado River can be done using various techniques such as spin fishing, bait casting, and fly fishing. The method you choose largely depends on your preference and the specific species you aim to catch.

▸Bait & Tackle

Selection of bait can make a significant difference in your catch. Live baits such as worms and crickets are popular choices. Artificial lures imitating smaller fish or insects can also be used, especially for fly fishing.

▸Safety Measures

Always remember safety should be your number one priority. Wear a life jacket when fishing near rapid currents, and don’t forget sun protection. Also, it’s always a good idea to let someone know where you’ll be fishing and when you’re planning to return.

fishing in Colorado river

Species in Colorado River

The Colorado River is famous for being home to an impressive variety of fish species that draw anglers from all over the country. Here are some that you might reel in.

▸Rainbow Trout

Perhaps the most iconic of all freshwater fish, rainbow trout, are a common catch in the river. These agile fish promise an exhilarating fishing experience and are keenly sought after for their vibrant coloration and fighting spirit.

▸Brown Trout

Brown trout are known for being wily and elusive, providing a rewarding challenge for anglers. They are usually found in cooler, slower-moving water and are famed for their large sizes and strong fights.

▸Largemouth Bass

Arguably one of the most popular freshwater game fish in the U.S., largemouth bass are opportunistic predators that can be found lurking near cover. Even for seasoned anglers, hooking a bass can be a thrilling experience.

Largemouth Bass

Responsible Fishing

Stewardship of natural resources is a responsibility for all those who enjoy them, especially anglers. Here is how you can fish responsibly.

▸Importance of Catch and Release

Catch and release is a practice that, when done right, can help sustain the fish populations. By promptly releasing your catches back into the water, you ensure that the fish can go on to live, reproduce, and enhance the health of the ecosystem.

▸Sustainable Practices

Make sure you clean up after your fishing escapade. Leaving trash or discarded fishing lines can harm wildlife and spoil the beauty of these spots. Also, consider using barbless hooks and rubber nets to minimize injury to fish.

▸Understanding Local Regulations

Always keep up-to-date with the local fishing regulations. These rules, including bag and size limits, season closures, and equipment restrictions, are designed to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of fish populations.

The Colorado River: A Fishing Paradise

The Colorado River, a gift from nature, offers a myriad of fishing hotspots, each teeming with a unique blend of species and challenges. As it winds its way along varying landscapes, it presents a paradise for anglers, novice or experienced. However, as we venture into these enchanting waters for bountiful catches, let’s always remember to cherish and protect this precious gift. Because in the grandeur of the Colorado River lies not just a resource but a legacy to be preserved for future generations. Happy fishing!