Best of The West? Our Choice Is The Green

Over the past couple of years, Cyndie and I have made it a point to travel to many of the Great Western Rivers that we had always heard about but never had time to visit. Our "Best of the West Tour of 1995" hit many of these fisheries, including the Gunnison, Yellowstone, Snake, Bighorn, Colorado at Lee's Ferry, San Juan, Rio Grande, and White Rivers.

By far, our overall favorite fishing destination is the Green River in the Flaming Gorge of northeastern Utah. We liked the Green so much that we took a week to stop there a second time on our way to Alaska last summer.

There are a lot of reasons we like the Green, and it isn't just that the fishing is great, which it is. The Green River is an overall experience that is just hard to beat anywhere. Fishing in this crystal-clear water is like fishing in an aquarium. It's a great place to train your eyes to see fish. Seeing fish here is as easy as at any place we've ever visited, so you have a unique opportunity to observe and study fish activity.

But just because you can see fish-plenty of them most of the time-it doesn't mean that it's easy to catch them. The Green can a place where there are so many #22 midges on the water that it's hard to interest a fish in your attempt to imitate the hatch. At times the fish can be so picky that guides will tell you to try a #22 midge with three ribs on the body, rather than four.

On the other hand, the Green can be a place where almost every fish in an eddy lines up to take your #6 cicada floating on top or where stripping a black wooly bugger all days catches as many big trout as you could hope to land anywhere in the world. There are lots of 16-18-inch rainbows in the Green, and fish well over 20 inches are common, particularly in the lower "B" section, where the big browns lurk.

The Green is an easy place to fish without a guide and on a "walk and wade" basis. There is a well-developed trail between the dam and the Little Hole access area seven miles downstream. Since most of the fish tend to hang in the eddies below the periodic rapids that form this section, you can easily reach them from the banks or by taking just a few steps into the water. Sometimes there are so many fish in one eddy that you can spend the whole day working one area.

Like everywhere, crowds can be a problem, particularly on weekends. But, there are lots of eddies if you're willing to walk a little ways, and the Green's remote location keeps the "metro anglers" away on weekdays.

To fully appreciate why the Green rates tops on our list, you have to float the river. As the Green runs through Flaming Gorge Canyon, it is simply magnificent-as ideal for floating as it is for fly fishing for trout. The canyon is a series of exhilarating, quick-dropping rapids followed by flat sections that allow you to drop the oars and just sit back to enjoy being there.

You can rent rubber rafts from several area outfitters, and shuttles are readily available.) We really like working with Keith at Flaming Gorge Flying Service, (801) 855­3338.) While the Green has several rapids that deserve respect, in a good quality raft (float tubes and canoes are too risky) and with a bit of care, the upper "A" section is easily negotiable by anybody with even a little experience in rafting. If you're not up to floating it yourself, you'll find plenty of guides and outfitters willing to help you see the canyon. (Again, talk to Keith.)

Our final reason that the Green is at the top of our list is how this fishery has become a part of the local community. The people there know what this fishery means to their lives. In Dutch John, Utah, there is not much else around but a few "Twilight Zone"-looking government facilities. Green River trout fishing has built businesses, brought jobs, and fed families. As a result, the entire community loves and protects the fishery. Catch and release, no bait fishing, and minimum impact are community standards.

We visited the Green last April, right after being beat up for promoting such ideas at the TP&W Regulation hearing in New Braunfels last spring. Our visit there helped heal the wounds and renewed our hope that such good things may come to the Guadalupe some day.

If you're looking for a place to go on your summer trout fishing vacation next summer, consider the Green. If you decide to go, give me a call and I'll be glad to give you specific information to help make your trip a success.

By Jeff Schmitt