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Spring is the Perfect Time to Fish the Green River


Spring is the Perfect Time to Fish the Green River

Vernal -- About 15,000 trout per mile are found in the first eight miles of the Green River below Flaming Gorge dam.

The large number of trout -- and the stunning and breathtaking scenery you’ll see -- make the Green one of the best places in the country to fish for trout.

And spring is the prefect time to fish it.

Matt McKell, a fisheries biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, says if you come to the Green in the spring, you won’t have to fight crowds like you do in the summer.

“During summer, the river is used heavily,” McKell says, “not only by anglers, but also river rafters.”

If you’re a fly angler, another reason to fish the river in spring are some of the major “hatches” that occur, including the hatch of mayflies, like the blue-wing olive. Also, depending on the year, the well-known cicada hatch often happens for a brief period in late spring or early summer.

McKell says when the cicada hatch happens “the river seems to boil with trout as they go into a feeding frenzy over the large, irresistible bugs.”

Trout will willingly take large dry-fly imitations during the cicada hatch. Late spring is also a great time to fish streamers, such as woolly buggers and leeches.

Not just for fly anglers

McKell says a common misconception about the Green River is that you have to be a fly angler to fish it. “While it’s true that flyfishing is the most popular way to fish the Green,” he says, “flyfishing is not the only way to fish the river.”

McKell says the Green River does have special fishing regulations (for example, you may only use artificial flies and lures), but those regulations are not intended to exclude non-fly fishermen.

“In other words,” McKell says, “if you prefer fishing with spinners, jigs or other artificial lures, you can fish the Green River -- just make sure your tackle meets the definition of ‘artificial lure’ in the 2011 Utah Fishing Guidebook.”

The definition is found on page 66 of the guidebook. The free guidebook is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks.

McKell says casting crankbaits is a great way to catch trout in the river. Cast deep-running crankbaits in slow, deep runs and shallow runners in shallow, quicker water.

“Hair jigs are a great option, too,” he says. “They can be especially deadly for rainbows.”

Boat or walk

One way to fish the river is by drift boat -- you can bring your own, rent one from a local outfitter or hire a local guide.

But a boat isn’t required.

You can also hike several miles of riverside trail and fish from shore, or hike the trails and then wade the shallower areas of the river.

The seven-mile “Little Hole Trail” parallels the river all the way from the spillway to Little Hole. Once you reach Little Hole, you’ll find a couple more miles of trail below it.

“There are lots of ways to get to the fish in the river,” McKell says.

Learn more

If you’ve never been to the Green River, don’t let that stop you from making the trip. “Plenty of help -- from local fly shops to professional guide services to online resources -- are available to get you on the river with the right equipment at the right time,” McKell says.

Abundant food and lodging are also available in the area.

You can read updated fishing reports for the Green River at www.utahfishinginfo.com/dwr/fishingreports.php.

Don’t spread disease

Before stepping into the Green River -- or right after stepping out of the water at the end of the day -- don’t forget to clean your boat, boots, waders and other gear.

Doing so will help ensure that disease, invasive species and other unwanted organisms aren’t moved from one water body in Utah to another.