In the southwest corner of Utah lies one of the great wonders of the American west: Bryce Canyon National Park.
While calling it Bryce Canyon is something of a misnomer (the rock formations in the area actually form a natural amphitheater), this is one of the most breathtaking naturally occurring rock formations in the world.
Here stand the giant hoodoos: tall rock formations thrusting up from the ground due to the combination of sedimentary and volcanic rock.
These bizarre and beautiful pillars are a result of the hot dry prevailing weather conditions where prehistoric river water and rainfall washed away the sediment and left the hoodoos standing in their place.
Bryce Canyon National Park has the largest collection of hoodoos in the entire world. Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon may form many of the natural amphitheaters found here, but the rock formations are surprisingly young on a geologic scale: at 65 million years old, they are among the youngest rocks in Utah. With their many-colored hues of reds, yellows, browns and whites, they are truly sublime to behold.
The hoodoos aren’t the only reason to pay a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park. The rivers, streams and lakes of this area are teeming with brown, rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout, and the population stays fairly high all year round.
An angler could spend months if not years fishing the waters near the park and still not have tried their luck everywhere. While most streams in the area are small there are many places a dedicated angler can land some truly trophy-worthy trout.
Better still, Bryce Canyon is one of the more remote national parks in Utah, and thus attracts fewer visitors and fisherman. If you want to try for some big river monsters without worrying about company or competition spoiling your fishing expedition, this may be just the national park for you.
Bryce Canyon National Park Fishing Map
Best Places to Fish in Bryce Canyon National Park
You need to know where you plan to fish and how much hiking or rough trail riding is going to be involved before you head out. To that end, here are our top picks for the fishing spots close by Bryce Canyon National Park.
The longest flowing northbound river in all 50 states, the Sevier is accessible from nearby Hatch Utah, and has a total length of 380 miles. About 80 miles of it actually parallels Highway 89, making it a great place to stop off and try your luck with some nymphs depending on the season.
Tailwater for the Sevier starts just past the Piute Reservoir below the small town of Junction. The 24 miles of river here from the Piute Reservoir to the confluence of Clear Creek are prime fishing territory for browns, rainbows, and cutthroats.
East Fork Sevier River
Thanks to major infrastructure and preservation investment in the early 1990s, the East Fork of the Sevier River has been classified as a Blue Ribbon Fishery for trout fishing. About 10 miles of river inside Kingston Canyon and another six miles in Black Canyon make up the Blue Ribbon stretches of this water.
This is where the big fish swim, and record breaking browns, cutthroats, rainbows, and even brook trout have been landed in this area. If you are fly fishing for that trophy fish, East Fork of the Sevier is the place to go.
Mammoth Creek & Asay Creek
These two streams are tributaries in the headwaters of the Sevier that are worth including in your trip to Bryce. Asay has an official Utah Division of Wildlife designation as Blue Ribbon Water, and the Mammoth yields such large trout it is only a matter of time before it also receives official acknowledgement from the UDW. Most anglers visit these two creeks to look for large browns, or if they are seeking to catch browns. Public access is plentiful, and there are occasionally larger rainbows to be caught here, too.
As the tailwater of the Panguitch Reservoir, this stream sees many larger browns and rainbows that grow fat off the plentiful nutrients that sluice their way downstream from the reservoir. You can’t fish right below the reservoir, but there are miles of publicly accessible land here that make successful fly fishing possible with few drawbacks or inconvenience.
Panguitch Creek is also a UDW designated Blue Ribbon Stream, so the likelihood of landing a trophy fish here are better than most. Be sure to pay this stream a visit if you can while you are in the area, many find it yields results when other locations have been fished out or are performing poorly.
Best Time to Fish in Bryce Canyon National Park
The best time of year for fishing Bryce Canyon National Park and its streams and rivers is definitely from mid-June to late August. Starting then gives you best shot at being able to take advantage of the large caddisfly hatches and terrestrials, both of which are plentiful and attract even the most cunning trout.
As the fall feeding frenzy sets in you see even better results, but this can be something of a hit-or-miss scenario, as the fish often peak in their eating habits before mid-September, leaving you casting juicy flies to often disinterested trout who are well-fed and smart enough to recognize your flies for what they are.
If you have a way to check local conditions, or you strike up a relationship with a fly fishing shop or guide in the area, you may develop a clearer idea of whether the fall fishing is worth the risk of being a total bust. It’s also cheaper and easier to book a flight and a stay in the fall, but it’s generally considered inadvisable if you don’t know how the fish are biting locally before you set out. Definitely touch base with a local resource before planning your trip.
Keep in mind that water and air temperatures here can rise and fall rapidly, Be sure to bring along a light jacket or fleece in case you get caught out in a squall.
Best Flies for Bryce Canyon National Park
Here are some recommended flies that have proven effective for fishing in the Bryce Canyon National Park region:
- Elk Wing Caddis (Natural 14)
- Vernille San Juan Worm (Red 14)
- Bead Body Scud (Olive 18)
- Klinkhammer (Gray 16)
- Schroeder's Parachute Hopper (Tan 14)
- Adams (Natural 16)
- Higa's S.O.S Black (16-18)
Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere. Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box.
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant
- Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
- BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
- BH Prince Nymph
- BH Hare's Ear Nymph
- Barr's Emerger Nymph
- Zebra Midge Nymph, Black
- Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
- Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)
Bryce Canyon National Park Fishing Reports
There are a number of area fly shops and guide services that can provide an update on current fishing conditions in and around Bryce Canyon National Park. A few to check out are listed below.
Bryce Canyon National Park Fishing Regulations
Utah state fishing regulations apply while fishing near Bryce Canyon National Park. A license is required to fish anywhere in the state, whether it is a one-day or one year pass.
Special regulations that apply to fishing near Bryce Canyon National Park include:
- All anglers over 16 must possess a valid Utah State Fishing License
- East Fork Sevier is artificial flies and lures only with a two trout of any species limit
- Limit of 4 trout of any species per day per angler
- Obey all posted property signs and private property map boundaries
- Fishing season is year round except for specifically designated waters listed in the UDW Fishing Guide
Trip Planning Tips
Bryce Canyon Regional Airport is the closest airport to the park, and it is usually fairly easy to get an inexpensive fare to and from this airport from Denver, LAX, Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Salt Lake City. It’s just a short drive from the airport to reach the nearby towns and cities of Panguitch, Escalante, Cedar City, and Hatch.
The park has lodges inside the parks boundaries that can be reserved for your visit, or you can camp out in the many campgrounds dotted throughout the park.
Those who favor more traditional accommodations can usually book a local hotel or motel space at affordable prices. This is recommended if roughing it in the wild is not your preferred method of visiting national parks. There are also many local vacation homes for rent, as well as
Luxury camping, cabins, yurts (round insulated tents), and more. Make sure you check out local private vacation rentals as well, since many property owners offer special rates if you visit during tourist off season.
Checking private rentals in the local newspaper, arts and trade magazines, or online is a great way to score a deal on your stay when you visit Bryce Canyon National Park.
Feature image by King of Hearts