Fishing Western Tail Waters - Part 2 - By Dick Landerman
FISHING WESTERN TAILWATERS – PART 2
“THE AQUARIUM” – UTAH’S GREEN RIVER
By Dick Landerman
It is affectionately known in these parts as “the Aquarium.” There’s a good reason for that: the Green, below Flaming Gorge Dam in northeastern Utah, is one of the clearest rivers you might ever see. There’s an abundance of underwater plant life, and it’s possible to float over as many as a dozen large trout in just a few yards. What a thrill to look down and see these large fish lazing along the pebbled bottom, occasionally nuzzling aquatic plants for scuds or nymphs.
(NOTE: This article will deal with 30 miles of the Green in Utah, with special focus on the 7 mile “A” Section, just below Flaming Gorge Dam, the most easily accessed section. If you’re interested in the other two sections, B & C, I suggest you arrange for a guide, as this is rewarding but very “technical” & tricky fishing, depending on weather, hatches, and many other difficult factors. These two sections are also much easier to float than wade.)
EQUIPMENT. The Green is a pretty good sized river; I highly recommend taking two rods: one 8.5’ to 9.5’ (5 or 6-wt) for throwing big dries, nymphs & streamers, plus the ease in mending; and a smaller rod (7’ to 8’, 4 or 5-wt) for wading & fishing the riffles with small dries or nymphs. These fish have post-doc’s in artificial fly identification, so long leaders are usually the norm, typically a 5x is recommended. I say “usually,” because when the cicada hatch is on, shorter and stronger (3x or 4x) leaders can work. Because it’s “tailwater,” the water is cold year ‘round, so I recommend waders. A net is helpful, especially if you snag a biggun. Weather is often changeable in the fall through spring, so bring along rain gear; also sunscreen.
Spring: similar to Winter, but try RS-2s, WD-40s, Serendipity, and some emerger patterns if you see some bugs starting to come off the water, usually when the air warms up above 45 degrees and the water temp is at least 48 degrees. I have a crippled baetis emerger I really like on the Green; size 18-22. Don’t be afraid to fish wet or soft hackles, either. Also, try glo bugs or other egg patterns, since the rainbows are starting to spawn.
LOCATING THE FISH. Many first-time anglers on the Green make the mistake of fishing mostly in the middle of the river. But based on my experience, these fish tend to lurk along the banks and in riffles or eddies. So don’t be afraid to toss your fly right against the bank and slowly strip it back toward you. I’ve found that a couple strips, rest, a couple more strips, rest, and repeat, really works. There are some spots where you can beach your boat and wade the riffles. Be stealthy, because the water is clear and the fish spook easily.
SAFETY. I’ve mentioned the life jacket rule. Be careful wading; the rocks are sometimes slippery. In spite of the clear water, you can misjudge depths. Don’t be wussy about using a wading staff in the riffles; currents can be deceptively swift. Even though it’s temptingly clear, don’t drink the water (unless you accidentally fall in and swallow some). Be on the lookout for rattlesnakes along the banks, especially in the more rocky areas; there are a few around, and summertime & fall requires care. Mosquitoes are mostly a problem at night.
GETTING THERE, GUIDES & FACILITIES: As I mentioned in the previous article, Part I, Salt Lake City is served by several airlines. Flaming Gorge/Green River is about 3.5 hours driving time from Salt Lake City via Interstate-80 through Evanston, Wyoming; continuing east about 35 miles to the town of Fort Bridger (approx. 1.5 hours). Continue east on Wyoming state highway 414/Utah state highway 43 to town of Manila, Utah (approx. 1 hour). Then continue east on Utah state highway 44 to Greendale Junction; then US 191 to town of Dutch John (approx. 1 hour), located in close proximity to the dam at Flaming Gorge.
Sincere thanks to Dick for putting this article together and for letting me use it