View Full Version : Bright Angel Creek, Grand Canyon, AZ

David Knapp
03-08-2011, 03:50 PM
I just wanted to give a brief report on my trip to the Grand Canyon. Lots more detail to come on my blog but here is the short version. Several friends and I had planned for several months to backpack to the bottom of the Grand Canyon for spring break. Permits were secured in early November and the anticipation began to build. Over the next 4 months we checked old gear, purchased new gear, poured over trail maps and read books on hiking the Grand Canyon.

Finally, the day of departure came and we began the long drive to AZ. On the way, we drove through intense severe weather in SW Tennessee and eastern Arkansas. Thankfully we were not blown off the road and continued on to our destination. In Arizona, a strong winter storm was moving in. We made it to the South Rim just in time to get snowed in (literally). On Sunday, February 27, we left the top and its foot of fresh snow and headed for Bright Angel Campground in the bottom of the Canyon.

The weather was great at the bottom. For the duration of our stay, the highs ranged from the 50s (hiking in the first day), to around 70 the last couple of days. We stayed in the bottom for three nights. Each day, we explored the area, and of course I spent time fishing.

Bright Angel Creek is a perennial stream flowing from near the North Rim almost due south to its junction with the Colorado River. Due to the heavy precipitation early on, the Colorado River was blown out and the color of chocolate milk meaning I didn't really bother fishing it. Bright Angel Creek was beautiful however and provided fishing that ranged from good to spectacular. Rainbows were running up from the Colorado River to spawn so the lower stream had nice fish to target. Further upstream, resident rainbows dominate. While I never landed any, there are also resident brown trout. The scenery was incredible and the trip would have been worth it without fishing...the fishing was just a bonus.

The fish were not picky and I could often catch 4-5 fish from a single pool the size of a small car. The fish averaged 10-14 inches with a few fish pushing 16 inches. I never landed any pigs but did break off one large fish on the hookset.

I fished wooly buggers and BHPTs the whole time. There were good numbers of mayflies hatching as well as a few caddis, stoneflies and midges. It seemed the fish weren't interested in rising much though so I stuck with my subsurface rig.

One pool in particular stands out in my mind. I had already caught a couple of fish out of the pool. My next cast was near the head of the hole. My flies plopped into the water and suddenly dark shapes were rushing from what seemed like every direction. The 12-16 inch rainbows were literally racing in an effort to be the first to take the flies.

The hike out was much easier than hiking in. The weather was great while we were at the bottom. Someday I hope to make it back to this unique fishery and maybe even have the opportunity to further explore the secrets of the Grand Canyon.

Here are a few of the pictures from my trip...









Rainbow Warrior
03-08-2011, 04:33 PM
Awesome! Great photos too! I would like to make it out there one day.

03-08-2011, 05:46 PM
David, great trip report and even better pictures!
I never actually realized the grand canyon streams held trout. I just thought the hot summers and massive spring snow melt kept them out of there. You learn something new every day I guess.

Thanks for taking the time to share your trip with us.

03-08-2011, 09:07 PM
Excellent job David. I thought about shooting you an email about going fishing last weekend, but didn't know when you were supposed to get back.

Glad you got experience both the beauty of the Grand Canyon with snow on the rim, but also the lower canyon as well. Looking forward to more on the blog.

03-08-2011, 09:27 PM
Great report, and great pictures. I also had no clue there were trout there.

03-08-2011, 11:02 PM
Very nice David, that looks like a great trip.:smile:

03-09-2011, 06:56 PM

Man that sounds and looks like a trip/adventure. I have been to the canyon a couple of times, but have not made it to the bottom. The last time we went, we pulled a pop-up camper. My youngest son , who was really into video games at the time, as he stood at the edge of the canyon after driving two and a half days to get there said, "yeah that's it, let's get back to the campground." The campground had a video game room. It was much more interesting to him than the canyon. Of course, we did not, and we have never let him forget it either. It made a good memory for us all.

David, we really have to get together to fish this year.

David Knapp
03-10-2011, 12:29 AM
David, we really have to get together to fish this year.

Definitely! Give me a holler and let me know when you are available and let's plan something...

03-10-2011, 09:45 AM
Wow, amazing trip and pictures!

03-10-2011, 09:59 AM
Beautiful country. I'm a bit envious. :smile:

05-05-2011, 07:46 PM
Sorry so long in responding; have not been online in a while. I hiked across the Grand Canyon as a 14 year old Boy Scout in 1961, South to North Rim. It took three days, but we puttered along. 120 degrees @ noon on the first day from the Lodge; spent the first nite at the Rock House as did not make it to Phantom as planned. Colo was not dammed at that time; Glen Canyon came on line that summer. Know what you mean about the choclate milk color, and felt like sandpaper for what in the river. Heard boulders rolling and crashing along the river bottom all night. Still remember it to this day. Spent thirty years in the US Army, and still my greatest adventure. Thanks for the memory jog. Watson