Three sweet words – Green River Fishing
I’ve been lucky enough to live with the Green River just a few hours away from my home here in Utah. The first seven miles of the river below Flaming Gorge Dam is some of the most scenic, achingly beautiful trout water I’ve ever fished.
With summer in full swing here in the West, and anglers looking to explore new water, I put this guide together to point you in the right direction for the best Green River fishing experience of your life. I look at the Green as a little slice of heaven, and it’s hard to beat the amount of good-sized fish you’ll catch here on a given day. High or low water, the Green is a singularly spectacular fishery.
Where to fish
The A-Section is the most popular stretch of the river. This is the first 7 miles of water extending from the Flaming Gorge Dam to Little Hole.
The two black lines are the put-in and take-out. During the summer, the A-Section sees incredible caddis, yellow sally, mayfly, and cicada hatches, in addition to other stoneflies and terrestrials.
Since the Green is a tailwater, it can be finicky, to the point of utter frustration. Like any other tailwater, though, once you figure out the Green you won’t be able to stop coming back for more.
Now, the A-Section is the most-fished area of the river for a few reasons:
– You’ll catch more fish per day in the A-Section
– The fish average 15 inches in length, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
– The A-Section is the prettiest part of the entire river
Along with the popularity in fishing, though, comes popularity in rafting. Scout groups, youth groups, and families love to float this section of the river. The rapids aren’t terrible, even in high water, in the A-Section. However, the Green is a large river and you won’t have a hard time finding your own slice of water to work while other people float past.
B and C Sections
The lower stretches of the river, from the Little Hole take-out to the Colorado State Line, are a completely different fishery than the A-Section. While A-Section has crystal clear water and 12,000 fish per mile, B and C Sections sport fewer fish, less clear water, and fewer people.
The upside? Both B and C sections regularly produce the river’s largest trout.
Image by Ryan Kelly
For streamer junkies, the lower parts of the river are a gift from the fishing gods. Long, slow moving flats and deep pools populate these areas of the river, and the trout which live there don’t grow as big as they do for no good reason. Pike, smallmouth bass, burbot, and the endangered Colorado Pikeminnow call this stretch of river home as well.
When to go
Green River fishing in the summer is best from late June to mid-August. These months provide great opportunities for fish on big dries. In addition, they’re the best weather months of the year (unless you’re crazy like me and enjoy fishing in the snow).
The Green does see crowds on the weekends. Again, though, feeling “crowded” on the Green is a hard thing to accomplish. If I had to pick, though, I’d say the best time to fish the Green would be from Tuesday – Thursday. The river sees less traffic on those days and you’ll have the first run on the best holes.
Image by Ryan Kelly
September brings back the smaller mayflies and their accompanying hatches, but there’s something unique about the Green in the summer. I think it’s the fact that you don’t have to wear waders all day that makes the difference.
Who to fish with
When planning your Green River fishing trip, you’ll likely ask as many of your friends you know who the best guide is. I have my own personal opinions, but I can say this at the very least: the outfitters on the Green River are some of the most competent oarsmen, guides, and teachers I’ve met in fly fishing. A float down the river from any of the Dutch John, UT-based guides won’t disappoint.
With that said, some of the guides to contact are:
– Old Moe
Trout Creek, Flaming Gorge Resort, Red Canyon, and Dutch John Resort all provide lodging options as well.
Image by Ryan Kelly
As mentioned above, a handful of the outfitters on the Green offer lodging. If you’d rather camp, the Forest Service maintains plenty of campgrounds in the area as well.
The town of Dutch John is your one-stop shop for food, gas, and drinks when on the Green. The nearest supermarket is in Vernal, UT, about an hour south. With that being said, Dutch John is home to some of my favorite restaurants in the fly fishing world. I travel quite a bit across the West and make it a point to try as many of the hole-in-the-wall joints as I possibly can.
With that said, your Green River fishing trip needs to include a visit to Browning’s (located inside the Trout Creek Flies building on the east end of Dutch John) for their breakfast burritos. I’m not sure what all goes into one of those burritos, but they’re packed with enough of something to keep me going for most of the morning before I ask my guide for a snack.
The restaurant at the Flaming Gorge Resort does a great steak, but their blackberry cobbler is to die for. It’s worth the extra five pounds you’ll gain eating it. The next day you’ll burn it all off anyways, since fishing from a boat is such a physical activity.
The Green River is a truly unique place and we’re lucky to have it here in Utah. I hope you can make a trip out here and share in the beauty and wonder I call my backyard.
For help with planning your Green River fishing trip, head over here to explore what the area has to offer.
Spencer Durrant is a fly fishing writer, outdoors columnist, novelist, and sports writer from Utah. He’s the managing editor of The Modern Trout Bum, author of the Amazon Bestseller, Learning to Fly, and a regular contributor to national fly fishing publications. Connect with him on Twitter/Instragram, @Spencer_Durrant.