Outdoor Recreation

Fishing in Zion National Park and Southern Utah

The Virgin River through Zion National Park is considered a wild river and has six native fish species, four of which reach into the park's headwaters.

Fishing is allowed in Zion with a Utah Fishing License, but is not a common pastime as there isn’t much to catch. The four native species of fish to Zion are the Virgin River Spinedace, the Speckled Dace, the Flannelmouth Sucker and the Desert Sucker.

“These fish have adapted to this environment and are generally small, which is important, because large floods each year occur on this river. Fish that are adapted to that cycle can survive better than fish that are not.” Says park spokesperson, Brian Whitehead.

The Virgin River has experienced problems with degraded and fragmented habitat and people adding non-native fish into the ecosystem such as yellow perch and bluegill and green sunfish.

The areas north of Zion are premier fly fishing destinations. The Utah mountains have stocked reservoirs and plenty of fishing opportunities. On Highway 14, head to Duck Creek, Navajo Lake and Kolob reservoirs. Or find your fishing spot at dwrapps.utah.gov/fishing/

Everyone over 15 needs a license. Visit the website of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (wildlife.utah.gov) for fishing regulations and permits. If you’d like to buy a fishing license in person, head to the Walmart in Hurricane, Utah or Dixie Gun & Fish in St. George.

Fish Species in Zion National Park

Of the six species Virgin River native fish species, three are common within the Colorado River system, but three are found only in the Virgin.

The Virgin River Spinedace is endangered and protected. Other fish include the Speckled Dace, Flannelmouth Sucker, Desert Sucker, Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout and Brown Trout, all of which live in the heavy silt water. The four native species do well in Zion because of the river’s protected status within the national park.

Almost all other rivers’ natural flows have been destroyed by dams. The National Park Service made news in 2018 when it released an unnatural flood in the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon in an attempt to flush accumulated sediment and recreate the sand formations, river flows and sediment that the Virgin enjoys naturally.