Featured Photo: Northern Lights in Tennessee

Featured Photo: Northern Lights in Tennessee

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fighting For Food

As fishermen, we dream of the ultimate fishing experience which is probably different for everyone.  Most likely each has a common denominator however.  Large numbers of quality fish is the stuff dreams are made of, and the best is when the fish are fighting over the opportunity to inhale your fly.  In the Grand Canyon, I was able to have such an experience. 

Our second full day in the bottom of the canyon found most of us in better shape and ready to venture further afield in search of the hidden wonders of our surroundings.  Myself and three others decided to make the hike up to Ribbon Falls.  I wanted to enjoy using my camera and of course wanted to explore Bright Angel Creek further in search of the beautiful trout that inhabit its waters. 

After a hearty breakfast, four of us began the hike up the canyon towards the falls.  As we hiked, I forced myself to keep moving past all the beautiful water.  Our goal was to reach the falls before the sun moved behind the canyon wall.  Ribbon Falls is beautiful regardless of your perspective, but I wanted pictures with the sun on the water.  This meant that I had to skip every spot where I saw nice trout hanging suspended in the clear water of Bright Angel Creek. 

The fast hike was worth it in the end as was denying myself the time to stop and fish.  I would still have the whole afternoon ahead to fish my way back down the creek.  Ribbon Falls was beautiful with the sun creating a rainbow in the spray of the falls.  Just 45 minutes after arriving at the falls, the sun moved behind the canyon walls and the now shaded falls did not have the warm ambiance it had upon arrival.

Catherine McGrath Photograph

I climbed up behind the falls to enjoy the view through the spray, taking pictures at every step along the way.  After enjoying the scene, I moved a short distance back down the canyon to cook up some lunch.  The delicious spinach ziti gave me the energy to hike back to camp and do some fishing along the way.

Strolling back down the canyon, I started seeing spots I had promised myself I would fish on the way back down.  A large rock by the trail provided the perfect spot to sit down and change into sandals to wade the cold waters of the creek.  Rigging up my rod with a wooly bugger and pheasant tail, I moved down the steep slope to a deep run that just looked fishy.  As I moved slowly along the edge of the stream, I started seeing trout holding everywhere in the calmer water near current seams.  The crystal clear stream made finding trout the easy part of the equation.  I still had to make the cast and correctly present the fly though. 

My first cast was a little sloppy and not very accurate, it splashed just behind the trout I was targeting.  To my surprise, the fish turned and chased the flies downstream, turning as it took the pheasant tail.  I set the hook and was soon admiring a beautiful resident rainbow. 

Moving another step up, I repeated the process and caught another trout.  Thinking to myself that I might be experiencing the easiest catching I would ever enjoy, my next cast was made to the deepest part of the pool.  In awe, my eyes beheld dark shadows racing from every direction as the rainbows were nearly fighting for the opportunity to inhale my offerings. 

Small stream trout are absolutely a blast.  Bright Angel Creek is now high on my list of best small trout streams.  The overall quality of the experience makes a trip well worth the effort required.  The trout did not seem particularly spooky, probably because the flows were a little high due to the recent winter storm.  Fish that "spooked" would still often take a fly. 

Finally, after catching more than my share of fish, I headed back down the trail.  Just before Phantom Ranch, I made the turn onto the Clear Creek trail.  A short distance up, I settled down at an overlook of the river to watch the sunset.  Nothing could make the experience better except to have a few more nights scheduled at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Someday I will go back, but until then I have great memories of the best backpacking trip yet!


  1. Grand Canyon is an amazing place. I didn't fish either of the two times I've visited... but there's always next time.

  2. Great photos. Interesting coloring on the first two pictures. Maybe just the sun reflection, but the side stripe looks almost yellow instead of pink.


  3. Those are some beautiful shots and sounds like a great day of fishing as well. I've only fished out west once but it was an amazing experience

  4. Nice!

    Years ago,a friend introduced me to small stream fishing in the foothills and mountains of Fresno County, CA. There was one creek in particular we would go to. Where the road crossed the creek was where the State stocked the stream but we would hike up-stream through the brush,boulders,and rattlesnakes to fish the riffles and pools where most people didn't goand caught some beautiful Bows.