Fishing in Zion

Fishing is a very popular sport among outdoorsmen and women. Some people fish purely for the sport of it and choose to ‘catch and release.’ Others choose to eat their catch. Always make sure to check local fishing reports and follow the local fishing laws when keeping what you catch. Whichever side of the fence you are on you will find fishing in and near Zion National Park to be an extremely enjoyable experience.

Fishing is such a popular activity because there are very few barriers to entry. Most types of fishing are not very physically demanding. This means that young or old, strong or not so strong, you can enjoy getting on the water and waiting for the fish to bite.

Places to fish

Zion National Park and southern Utah have many different bodies of water to try your luck at. If the fish don’t seem to be biting in one area, you can always move on to the next spot. In addition to there being different areas to fish, there are also different types of bodies of water. The area that you are fishing in will dictate how you fish and what you are fishing for. Every aspect of fishing, down to the line you are using, can change based on where you are trying to catch fish. These are some of the most popular places in and near the park to fish.

  • Virgin River
  • Kolob Reservoir
  • Sand Hallow Reservoir
  • Lake Powell
  • Mammoth Creek
  • Panguitch Lake
  • Pine Lake
  • Yankee Meadows
  • Navajo Lake
  • Otter Creek Reservoir
  • Duck Creek Pond
  • Aspen Mirror

Best time to fish

Every season is great for fishing in Zion National Park. The wonderful thing about fishing is the fact that you can really take in your surroundings and enjoy the calm of nature. Each season will offer different views, experiences, and challenges. Once you have decided what you would like to get out of your fishing excursion to have a better idea of when you should come fishing!

Winter is best for ice fishing on the frozen lakes and ponds. If you can brave the cold, then you can reap rewards of the challenging work. The fish are trying to keep up their winter weight so they will be likely to bite since food is limited for them during this time. Never try to fish on a body of water that is fast moving. Only lakes, reservoirs, ponds, and other still waters are safe for ice fishing.

Spring, summer, and fall are all similar in their fishing experience. Spring and summer are more likely to bring large droves of some fish as they prepare for the mating season. This can be a great advantage for sports fisherman, especially when fly fishing. However, any of these seasons are a lovely time to get out on the water so take your pick and get going!

Types of fishing

Traditional angling

Whether you are planning on fishing near the surface or trawling the bottom, traditional angling can be a lot of fun. You can use this method of fishing in any body of water you like by customizing your reel and line setup. You never know just what you are going to catch!

Some fishermen choose to use sinkers or bobbers which can help you to focus your line exactly where you’d like it to be. You can use live bait, lures, or canned bait products to catch fish with traditional angling. Relax and enjoy the scenery while you wait for the fish to bite.

Fly fishing

Fly fishing is a much more involved, physically demanding form of fishing. The technique used to land your fly exactly where you want it is like a choreographed dance. The lure, usually a fake ‘fly’ is glided through the air on a special fly fishing pole and gently dropped on the surface of the water. This is done repeatedly until a fish bites as the fly lands. It is a great way to catch surface feeding fish!

Since this method is used for top feeders, it is most effective when done in faster-moving water. Most fly fishermen wade into a stream and attempt their catch from there. This requires you to have waterproof waders and a fishing vest that keeps your equipment handy. Once you have mastered your cast, fly fishing in Zion National Park will be a great experience!

Ice fishing

Ice fishing is not a sport that is for the faint of heart. It is only to be done on still water, so your location options are more limited. You should always make sure there is a thick, heavy freeze and temperatures are remaining below the freezing point. A layer of ice that is 12” or more is ideal.

Ice fishing requires some special equipment that fishing in warmer weather doesn’t require. In addition to extremely warm clothing, you’ll want to have an ice auger or another way to safely break through the icy surface. Once you get through you will have a very good chance of catching fish even if the weather conditions are less than desirable on the surface.

Types of fish

When fishing in Zion you are likely to find several different native and non-native species of fish. The most common fish to catch be a variety of trout. While there are other fish, like small pan fish, that you will catch occasionally, these are the main fish that most fishermen hope to hook.


Trout were introduced into the bodies of water in and near Zion to provide an enjoyable and fruitful experience. Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Tiger Trout and Brook Trout are the most commonly caught species of trout near Zion. Once you bait your hook and set your line you’ll be on your way to the catch of the day!

Native fish

If you are looking to catch some different fish it may be fun to fish for the fish that are native to Zion and its surrounding areas. The Virgin River Spinedace, Speckled Dace, Flannelmouth Sucker, and Desert Sucker are all fish that can be found in the Zion National Park area. By trying to catch native fish during your visit you will make your experience even more unique.

What to bring

Fishing poles

The type of fishing poles you will need will depend on where you plan to fish, what kind of fishing you’ll be doing, and what kind of fish you like to catch. It’s important to plan so that you have the proper piles for the area you will be in to make the most of your fishing trip!

Tackle box

Every fisherman knows the basics of a tackle box. Load up on bait and lures to guarantee a good catch. You may want to bring along sinkers, bobbers, and other gear depending on how you will be fishing. If you forget anything at home, remember that there are bait and tackle shops located around Zion!


This is essential for fishing in or near Zion. You can obtain a Utah fishing license online in preparation for your visit by going to If you forget to do this before your visit, you can get your license at several local participating angler shops. Fishing in Utah without a Utah fishing license is illegal and not tolerated. Please be sure to obtain proper licensing!

Safety gear

Water activities can be dangerous, especially during flash flood seasons. By making sure you have safety equipment that is up to code and appropriate for where you are fishing you can keep yourself from harm.

Floatation devices should be the proper size to hold your body weight and should be fitted properly. Also, you should be sure that you have enough life vests for everyone in your group. You should also bring along some basic first aid materials since fishing requires handling sharp objects. A safe fishing trip is a fun fishing trip!

Don’t let the big catch get away

Fishing in Zion and other areas of southern Utah truly has something to offer for everyone. Whether you’ve been baiting hooks since you were a kid or you’ve recently picked up this hobby, you will find enjoyment on any of the available lakes and streams.

Surrender yourself to the beauty of nature as you anticipate your next bite. Time spent fishing is never wasted, even if you come home empty-handed because you will have a memory and experience that will never fade!