Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and abundant natural beauty, Grand Junction, Colorado is a haven for anglers seeking the thrill of reeling in that prized catch. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a newcomer to fly fishing, this picturesque region offers an unparalleled fishing experience that will leave you hooked for life.

Fishing on the Grand Mesa

This comprehensive guide will equip both beginners and seasoned anglers with the knowledge and tips needed for successful fly fishing in Grand Junction. Learn about essential gear, responsible fishing practices, the best times to cast your line, and the top fishing hotspots in the area. Get ready to grab your gear, immerse yourself in nature, and prepare for an unforgettable adventure on the waters in Grand Junction!


Essential Gear 

Before you embark on your fly fishing adventure in Grand Junction, it's crucial to have a current license and gear up with the right equipment. Purchasing a Colorado Parks & Wildlife fishing license ensures you are fishing legally. You can buy a license from many places, including Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cabela’s, or online here

Woman Fly Fishing in the Gunnison River

Western Anglers, Grand Junction’s local fly shop, is where you can find everything you need for a great fishing experience. Stock up on various flies tailored to the seasons and target species, from classic dry flies like Adams and Elk Hair Caddis to wet fly patterns like Pheasant Tail nymphs and Wooly Buggers. Don't forget to pack waders, boots, and a comfortable fishing vest. For newcomers or those looking to experience the area with a local angler, consider hiring a guide or outfitter who can provide insider knowledge of the area's best fishing spots and tailor the experience to your preferences and skill level. 


Responsible Fishing Practices

Preserving Grand Junction's aquatic ecosystems is paramount to ensuring the sustainability of this beloved pastime. Adhere to Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment and leave the waters pristine for future generations. Pack out all trash, avoid trampling fragile streamside vegetation, and practice catch-and-release fishing whenever possible to minimize stress on fish populations. 

Man Holding a Fish

If you plan to catch and release, there are a few precautions you can take to preserve the health and well-being of the fish. Before handling the fish, be sure to wet your hands. Handling a fish with dry hands will cause the protective slime layer to rub off the fish onto your hands, leaving it vulnerable to bacteria and diseases. Trout also have much smaller jaw openings than most other sport fish, so gently holding the trout by the body rather than by the bottom jaw, as you do with bass and crappie, will ensure the trout can continue to live a healthy life. 


Best Time to Fly Fish in Colorado

Grand Junction offers year-round fishing opportunities with each season, bringing its own unique joys and challenges for anglers. From the frenzied spring hatches of mayflies and caddis flies to the serene autumn days when trout gorge themselves, there's never a bad time to wet a line in Grand Junction.

Man Fly Fishing at Beaver Lake on the Grand Mesa

Photo: Dustin Watchman

Seasonal changes influence fish behavior and feeding patterns, allowing you to adapt your tactics accordingly. During the summer months, for example, trout may seek out cooler, oxygen-rich waters in mountain streams and high-altitude lakes, while winter anglers may find success nymphing deep pools or targeting tailwaters where fish congregate in search of warmth and food.


Fishing Hotspots in Grand Junction

Grand Junction's diverse geography offers many fishing hotspots, each with its own unique charm. Here are some of the best spots for fly fishing in the area:


1. Gunnison River

Explore the majestic Gunnison River, renowned for its breathtaking scenery and trophy trout. From the rugged canyons to the meandering meadows, the "Gunny" offers endless possibilities for anglers seeking adventure and brown trout.


2. Island Lake

Image of Island Lake

As the largest of more than 300 lakes on the Grand Mesa, Island Lake is stocked with trout throughout the year. Offering both convenience and accessibility, Island Lake is equipped with a boat ramp, a campground, large parking lot, plenty of shoreline and it is also wheelchair accessible.

For 2024, the Grand Mesa Visitor Center is closed. Public restrooms and wifi are available at the Center, however the building will be closed with no access to personnel or volunteers. Plan ahead and stop by the Grand Junction Visitor Center, at 740 Horizon Drive, to pick up maps and talk with helpful volunteers who can assist with questions you have.


3. James M. Robb Colorado River State Park

Affectionately called the “String of Pearls,” the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park consists of various ponds and lakes along the Colorado River. Some of the most popular places to cast a line in hopes of hooking a trout are the Corn Lake section and the lakes in the Fruita section.


4. Kannah Creek

Perrson Holding a Fly Fishing Rod at Kannah Creek

As one of the main tributaries that run off the Grand Mesa, Kannah Creek flows fast with freshwater brook trout. There are many places to access Kannah Creek. Cruise along Kannah Creek Road in Whitewater as it climbs the Grand Mesa before turning into Lands End Road. 


Your Grand Junction fly fishing adventure awaits!

Man Holding a Tiger Trout in a Boat on the Grand Mesa

Equipped with the knowledge and tips provided in this guide, you're ready to embark on an unforgettable fly fishing adventure in Grand Junction, Colorado. Whether you're casting your line into the rushing waters of Kannah Creek or enjoying the tranquility of an alpine lake, Grand Junction offers the best fly fishing for anglers of all skill levels. So, grab your gear, immerse yourself in nature, and let the magic of fly fishing in Grand Junction captivate your soul. Happy fishing!


Learn more about Grand Junction’s waterways on page 22 of the Official Grand Junction Visitor Guide.