Dozens of different types of fish are found in the Colorado River, which passes through the Grand Canyon on its 1,400-mile path along the arid western slope of the Rocky Mountains. Populations for many of the river's 45 native species of fish have dwindled due to the construction of dams and reservoirs and a proliferation of non-native species. Despite these declines, fishing for trout, bass and other game fish remains an immensely popular activity along the Colorado River.
Four Colorado River fish species found nowhere else in the world are considered endangered. They include humpback and bonytail chubs, the razorback sucker and the Colorado pikeminnow, a previously important game fish that can reach 5 feet in length with a weight of up to 80 pounds. Since 1988, a coalition of federal and state agencies and private organizations has spent more than $80 million on recovery plans for these species. The plans are focusing on research, improving river habitat, providing adequate stream flows and managing non-native fish, as well as raising endangered fish in hatcheries for stocking programs. A rebounding population of humpback chub is seen as evidence that these efforts are making a positive difference.
Types of Trout
Fly fishermen and other anglers in search of trout gather along faster-flowing sections of the Colorado River and its tributaries. The area around Lee's Ferry, Arizona, is known for its good-sized rainbow trout, as well as brook trout and Colorado cutthroat trout. The river and its reservoirs are also home to brown trout and large lake trout.
Other Game Fish
In the river's lower basin, Lake Mohave and Lake Havasu offer superb fishing for small mouth, large mouth and striped bass. Colorado River fishermen also can catch bluegill, black crappies, catfish and walleyes.