The Green Less Traveled
A father passes the Green River fishing torch in this iconic image of paternal bonding and fly fishing. This short film follows the quiet pursuit of connection, patience, and catching a trophy in one of Utah's Blue Ribbon fisheries on the A and B sections of the Green River near Flaming Gorge, Utah.
Some folks consider fishing the Green River below the Flaming Gorge Dam a rite of passage. If you are in the Flaming Gorge area and fish, even just a little bit, you shouldn’t leave without spending at least one day in your waders throwing your line across the Blue Ribbon waters of the Green River. With a little bit of education and preparation, you’re likely to land a memorable catch.
Between the Flaming Gorge Dam and the Colorado border you can access the Green River at three sections. The dam to Little Hole is section A, from Little Hole to Indian Crossing in Browns Park is section B, and from Indian Crossing to the state line, also in Browns Park, is section C.
The A Section and Little Hole Trail
When most anglers talk about the Green below Flaming Gorge they are referring to the “A Section.” This is without a doubt the Green’s most classic water: vertical red rock walls descending straight into the depths of the river’s crystal clear pools. The flowing water is so gin clear that with overhead light, one can spot fish 10 feet below the surface. This is a trout stream like no other in the sense of its remarkable sight fishing.
On a typical day you will have a chance to hook brown and rainbow trout along with whitefish. People have been known to reel in carp and the few and lucky have even landed cutthroat trout.
The Little Hole boat ramp is seven miles below the dam and is a good spot to hit the river. On foot you can make your way up and down the scenic canyon to find a perfect spot to cast away.
Insect hatches are almost a constant so be on the lookout for what the fish are eating when you select your tackle. Scuds work throughout the year. Blue-winged olive hatches are common in the spring. Cicadas, ants, hoppers, and other dry patterns are good during the summer months.
The Little Hole Trail is a well-used, well-maintained, seven-mile path along the river that runs between the dam and Little Hole. It’s great for fishing access, but it’s also great for families. So if the kids or significant other are not feeling the angling vibe they can follow this awesome trail through the grassy banks while you fish. The towering red walls and mature ponderosa pines make a perfect backdrop for seeing river otters in the water and birds of prey soaring high above.
But, like any great trout stream, the Green’s most iconic section tends to get a lot of attention. In the middle of summer, besides the typical drift boat traffic, there will be raft trips, kids in tubes, and kayakers. At peak times it feel as though you could walk across the river on the tops of all the boats. The great majority of these floaters will take out at Little Hole.
Tackling the B Section
As one floats downriver, the cliff walls gradually get smaller, the water loses a little clarity and the river eventually becomes a winding meadow stream. But, some other things start to change as well: the crowds start to filter out, the fish get bigger (browns in the 25-30” range are caught every year in the B & C sections), and there is seems to be even more terrestrial insect life.
What does this equate to? Well, the B and C sections give anglers the opportunity to get away from the crowds and target bigger fish on a consistent basis.
As the river wraps around the bends near Little Hole, it becomes known as the B section. It is perhaps the most remote of the three sections, because the take-out at Indian Crossing is down a long gravel road that can take up to an hour to drive in and out of (which results in an expensive $90 shuttle). As such, you may not have to share this section with many other river goers.
With the numerous campgrounds found in the B section (Bootleg and Cottonwood are two favorites), many floaters will opt to float two days with an overnight campout to make the long drive and expensive shuttle fee worthwhile. Hardcore anglers who like to fish from sunup to sundown can make a long day out of it and float the A and B sections in one go (15~ miles).
The B section can be roughly divided into two halves: before and after Red Creek. The four miles before the entrance of Red Creek are fairly similar to the A section, with large rock walls, deep holes and swirling back eddies that make great conditions for dry fly fishing.
The entrance of Red Creek into the Green creates the river’s largest rapid, which can be very difficult to navigate during low water because of multiple large boulders. This section, like most on the Green, should only be attempted by experienced rowers. As the name implies, the creek often dumps in thick, red water during rainy periods, particularly during the spring runoff. Be forewarned: there are some periods where the water below Red Creek is unfishable, so always check with a local fly shop or guide before heading out.
When the water is clear, there can be some exciting fishing opportunities in the soft pockets adjacent to and below the rapid. The pace of the B section below Red Creek begins to mellow out, the sharp rock edges start to be replaced by grassy banks and numerous islands are spread throughout the river. Many of the islands have ample riffle structure around them and are a good place to spend a couple of hours wading and casting rods.
Moving on to the C
The C section meanders through the high desert valley of Brown’s Park down to the Colorado state line, with the most of the fishing occurring between Indian Crossing and Swallow Canyon boat ramps. There are multiple accesses, so floats of varying lengths can be arranged.
The most common water types throughout the section are mellow runs broken up my shallow riffle sections. Most of the fish will tend to congregate in the structure found near the riffles or tight to the banks. Because this is the shallowest section and the farthest from the dam, the water is the warmest, and as a result you will catch almost exclusively brown trout while floating C.
Although the fish count is quite a bit lower here than other sections, year in and year out this is where the river’s largest fish can be found. At certain times, particularly with terrestrials, dry fly fishing can be the most effective method to fish the C section (ants and beetles tend to outperform hoppers).
If anglers find themselves out in the late evening, fishing with mouse patterns will move quite a few big browns. While finding them may sometimes be difficult, anglers who hunt long enough are often rewarded with the fish of a lifetime while floating the C section. In either B or C, streamers are a consistent method for getting into fish if nothing is happening on top.
History, Solitude and Family
While you are in Browns Park be sure to stop by the John Jarvie Historic Property and have a look back at frontier life in the 19th Century. During the summer months, Bureau of Land Management guides offer daily tours of the general store, blacksmith shop, stone house, dugout, water wheel, and cemetery.
Whether you wade in from the shores or drift the Green River in a boat, you will not regret casting your line across these magical waters in search of the next big catch. This fishery is simply a must-do, bucket-list destination, however you categorize your life list. Because of the different sections, you can experience it different ways. Seeking solitude? You can find it here. Bringing along the whole family? The area works for that as well.
Gather your gear, buy your fishing licenses and head to Utah’s Green River for the fishing experience of a lifetime.
Explore the Region
Regional Fishing Ideas
Where to Go, Parking and Regulations
Anglers can drive directly to Little Hole and then hike up or downstream to some great fishing holes, or many put in just below the Flaming Gorge Dam and float the seven miles down to Little Hole, which is the first takeout spot along the river. Indian Crossing Campground is 24 miles below the dam.
- Learn more about permits, river flows and fishing the Green River
- Find out more about fishing in Utah
- Green River fishing itinerary
While you are in Browns Park be sure to stop by the John Jarvie Historic Property and have a look back at frontier life in the 19th Century.