Ok, here's a Green River trip report. [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Ok, here's a Green River trip report.

05-14-2002, 07:57 PM
Early Sunday afternoon, I arrived at the Dripping Springs campground which is about 10 minutes from the Green River in Northeastern Utah. I got there just after all the weekenders had packed up and gone, so there were campsites available. As I prepared to set up my tent, it started raining, so I headed to Little Hole for a look around. Little Hole is at the end of the "A" section, which runs from the launch boat ramps below Flaming Gorge Dam to the take out boat ramps at Little Hole. It's estimated that in some spots on the "A" section there are 20,000 trout per mile, so I eagerly got my fishing gear together, and
then I set out for the Black Lagoon.

The Black Lagoon is the first bend in the river on the opposite side of the river from the boat ramps at Little Hole. I asked about wading across at the local fly shop, and they informed
me that the river was super low--well below 800 cfs--so it would be no problem. I asked someone on the bank where the best place to wade across was and he pointed to some riffles where I had seen someone else cross earlier, so I set out for the opposite side. The water was only about mid calf deep, but the current was powerful and the river was very wide, so I didn't feel entirely comfortable, but in the end I made it across with no trouble.

As I hiked up the river, I finally saw the fish. Wow! It's hard not to stop and cast when you see so many fish in the water. The water is crystal clear and the river is incredibly beautiful. As I neared the Black Lagoon, an angler hooked a fish on a dry fly, so that gave me encouragement. I spent the rest of the day throwing dry flies out into the rising fish in the Black Lagoon, but I couldn't catch any fish. I had two nibbles, but with the first one I yanked the hook out of his mouth, and the second fish bent my rod, but he got loose, and when I checked the fly, the hook was bent at right angles. The current is very slow in the Black Lagoon, and I found it somewhat boring just throwing a fly out and letting it drift for five minutes at a time. There was a mayfly hatch during the afternoon, and that section of the river was absolutely covered with mayflies sailing by with their upright wings.

On day 2, I decided to hike up along the trail from Little Hole and explore farther up the river. It was a beautiful sunny day in the upper 70's, and the river was stunningly clear. The structure under water is so trout friendly, and as I hiked further up the river throughout the day, it was ever changing. My favorite spot was a spit of shallow riffles that slowly angled out into the river whose edge running along the shore dropped off into a deep pool where the fish congregated waiting for food flowing off the
riffles. I waded out in the riffles, and I cast along the entire length of the edge until I was all the way out in the middle of the river, but I couldn't tempt any fish to hit my dry fly. All the same, it was an incredible experience being out in the middle of such a majestic river casting my dry flies in the afternoon sunlight, and I enjoyed it immensely. I spent all day fishing and exploring
from 8:30AM to 8:30PM, and I didn't even get a nibble.

On day 3, for a change of pace, I decided to go up to the dam and work my way down river. It was another beautiful, warm day, and the huge rocks jutting out of the water in the upper section are spectacular. I ended up at a cove about one mile down river, and I spent the majority of my time there. At some point late in the day, I decided that a certain fish and I were going to do battle. I put some 6x fluorocarbon on the end of my
leader, and went to work . The fish was patrolling a 10 yard square area of glassy water keeping the surface clean. I threw every mayfly I had at him, and finally ended up with a no hackle fly on my tippet. It had just a body, and two miniature feather wings with a split V tail. Once again, the fish refused my fly, but I kept throwing it at him, and at some point he rose to the
surface to snatch another fly and at that exact second my fly landed next to his nose, and he reactively snapped at it. I set the hook, and my first Green River fish was on my line. Unfortunately, he didn't fight at all. He shook his head a few times, and I dragged him over to the bank like dead
weight. It was a fat cutthroat about 17 inches long. A lady asked me how I was going to land him without a net, and I told her I didn't want to touch him, and that I would just use my hemos. She seemed a little annoyed, and told me you need to land the fish fast to reduce the stress you inflict on them,
but I really didn't understand her point, since I believed that not handling the trout was the best way to catch and release.

I also got one great nibble on my line when I alternated casting to a huge rock in the middle of the river. I threw a pale morning dun about 40 feet to just in front of the rock and let it drift in on the current. My dun was accompanied by several real flies at that point and mine seemed to fit in perfectly. Then a trout rose and slurped my fly just as it was hitting the edge of the rock. I didn't hesitate to set the hook because the fly was so far away, but I yanked the hook out of his mouth anyway. Darn it!! I saw a lot of people catching fish with nymphs, but I stubbornly refused to resort to nymphing, especially since there were rising fish somewhere all day long.

For my last day on the river, I decided to hike down into the "B" section down river from Little Hole. I walked along the river for a little while until I came to a steep trail up a rocky bluff. I hiked up the bluff for about 10 minutes, but since I was alone and didn't know where I was going, I turned back and fished a side stream coming off the main river, which formed a semi circle before rejoining the river. I looked around and saw a rising fish in the
current, so I snuck around in back of him, and starting throwing flies at him. It was another battle: me and that particular fish. I hand tied a special leader for the occasion since my knotless leader had gotten so short. I added a length of 3x, 5x, and a long section of 6x fluorocarbon tippet, and it was so windy, I could never tell where my tiny fly was landing. I tried a bunch of different flies, and finally had a sparkle dun on my tippet. My strategy was to cast to the fish, and when he rose I would
try to set the hook since I didn't know where my fly was. After about an hour, whamo! I set the hook and felt him on the end of my line, so the fight was on. Immediately, I realized that he was a strong fish, so I put him on my reel and adjusted my drag as light as possible so he wouldn't snap my tippet. When he exploded out of the water and shook his head trying to get
free, I could see it was a big fat brown trout, so I used some of the stuff I recently read in Lefty Kreh's Advanced Flyfishing book. When he jumped out of the water, I gave him slack so a well timed head shake wouldn't snap my tippet; and to tire
him, I put the rod pressure low and to the side of his head
alternating back and forth instead of straight up in the air.

Slowly, the brown trout came down stream to me, but he wasn't done yet as he continued on by me, and there was a problem when he fought down current of me. Lefty says that a
fish can rest when he is down current so you need to follow him and keep turning his head from side to side, so I moved downstream with him crashing through the once placid side stream. Finally, the fish pulled me to the edge of the main river and the deeper, swiftly moving water. I was worried
about him getting into the main current since the bluff I had hiked up earlier cut into the river just down stream, but as I battled his head back and forth while he hung in the water just near the edge of the swift, deep current, I knew my tippet was about to snap, so I had to let up the pressure, and when I did he drifted backwards into the main current taking line off my spool as he went. Then I really had to scramble as I waded the
rocky water along the bluff and scrambled up and over some big rocks. The brown trout dragged me 100 yards down river, and it took about 10-15 minutes before he gave up. As I pulled him into shore, I could see his battle marks: he had white, jagged scars on his large head, maybe from a narrow escape with an eagle, but more likely from encounters with anglers. Then I learned what the lady was talking about the previous day. You can't land a fighting fish without a net because they constantly shake their head, so you have to wait until they are practically dead before you can get your hemos on the hook. Even then, on my third try with the fish, he shook his head and out came the hook, and as I watched he sunk to the bottom in 3 feet of water. Uh oh! I quickly dropped my rod on the rocks, and plunged in after him. I lifted him up, and like Lefty says to do, I held him by the tail
and slid him back and forth in the water to force water into his gills, and in a few seconds, he darted away. Wow! My first real Green River fish!

I was soaking wet, and it was windy and cold, so I needed to dry out. The pockets on my vest were filled with water, so I unloaded my fly boxes, which were all wet, and let them dry in the sun. I also took off my windbreaker and my fleece top and squeezed the water out of the sleeves. While my things were drying, I took stock of my surroundings, and scrambled up a large rock to see what was down river. Spread out below me was an emerald green lagoon with a rising fish at the far end, so I grabbed my rod and started casting to the fish. I was up so high and since the wind was behind me, I could easily cast the
60 feet to the fish. After about ten minutes, he rose and took my fly. I set the hook, and to my amazement, I had another fish on my line. He didn't fight very hard, but I had a problem because I was 30 feet above the water. How was I going to land him?!! I tried to downclimb the other side of the big rock, but I couldn't get down to the water. I eventually had to drag the fish upstream through the current to a little niche in the rock. I
didn't even see what kind of trout it was since he snapped my tippet with a head shake as I was trying to get the hook out of his mouth, and I had been so preoccupied with trying to land him. It was another trout about 16-18 inches long.

I gathered up my stuff and headed back upstream to my backpack that I left on the bank, and by that time a mayfly hatch was on, and the fish were furiously rising everywhere. In a few minutes, I caught another fish about the same size as the first two. He only fought a little bit, and he snapped my tippet when I was trying to get the hook out. I guess I need a net after
all! After a few more casts, another fish bent my rod. He felt strong, so I put him on the reel, and just as I finished doing that, he turned and, like a bullet, shot by me downstream and into the fast water of the main stream. Here we go again I thought, but in an instant he was gone. He had a black back, so I think he might have been a rainbow. I had one more fish that got away a few minutes later, and then after about an hour with no more bites, I called it a day, and so ended my trip.

Some memorable sights: with the late afternoon sun glinting of the glassy surface glancing upstream and seeing a large trout rocket out of the water and jump 4 feet in the air; seeing another trout tail walk 50 feet across the water as if he was trying to spit out a hook but no angler was around; while wading in thigh deep fast moving water, having a 17 inch trout swim up and rest 4 inches from my knee in the vortex created by my legs.

(Note: since my trip I stopped using fluorocarbon tippet for environmental reasons. One of my local fly shops won't sell it after performing tests on how it breaks down compared to monofilament, and the local Green River shop carries it but discourages anglers from buying it.)

05-14-2002, 08:14 PM

You did not tell us your were learning to fish on the green.Must be great learning how to fish on a great river like that.

Thanks for the report, I enjoyed it.


05-14-2002, 08:27 PM
Thanks for the report. If you haven't been to the Green River, it is hard to believe descriptions.
Newbie, the fish are the best teachers.

05-14-2002, 08:51 PM
Hey newbie,
Nice job, what a great time. Bet it was tough to get to sleep at night thinking about all them trout you encountered throughout the day.
Did you ever figure out why you were braking off fish? Do you wet your knots on the 5 and 6x while you are tightening them? If you don't try it, spit on the knot on your tippet as you tighten slowly and that will keep friction from over heating your small tippet materials, help keep it's strength. If done right and you don't have any wind knots that 6x is a lot tougher than you might think.
Don't let the lady bug you, you will get it right in time and if you decide to become a trout bum out west you can get a good net for about 40 bucks.
Thanks for the good fishing story, I'm headed out to Wyoming in a couple of weeks to fish the Big Horn with my daughter so your report got me thinking in that direction.

05-14-2002, 11:21 PM
Yep, I wet the knot with saliva before cinching it down. It had more to do with the way I tried to land the fish. I grabbed the leader about a foot from the trout and lifted them half out of the water while trying to get my hemos on the hook. A quick head shake from a large trout easily snapped the 6x tippet when held that way. Since then, I have been told not to grab the leader tightly so that the flex of the rod can absorb a head shake and prevent the tippet from snapping.

05-15-2002, 08:21 AM
I am heading to the green for a few days at the end of the month and was wondering about the flies that you were using. It seems a bit early for PMDs are you sure the bugs were not baetis that were covering the water. What size were they, a friend told me to think small and then go smaller. Did you hear/see any cicadas, it has been very dry and they should be comming out soon. Do not worry about breaking off fish. Big fat fish in fast water are very tough to land. Brad

05-15-2002, 11:53 AM
Good story would give it a five star rating if you included some pictures of that beautiful river you were fishing.

Yeah you don't want to pick up any trout except those perhaps under 10 inches by the leader. After practice landing them you will be OK I am sure. If you are doing primarily trout fishing may want to look into the new supposedly that will not hurt the fish. Better than the ones I used to use.

Remember I gave up nets 20 years ago even for king salmon , which are 20 -30 lbs in size. Beach then or tail them, or just break them off at the end.

They all go back to swim away anyway, C+R fellow here.

05-15-2002, 01:12 PM

I for one hate nets. I have landed many large trout without needing one and the times I have tried to use one it seems like more of a pain to the fish that using forceps and my hands.

I will usually leave about 12-15 feet of leader and line out of the rod and pull the rod overhead. This way I can lead the fish into the shallows and with my free hand either grab the fish or if the fly is in the lip just pull the fly free with the forceps. Try to keep the fishes head out of the water when you are doing this and that will usually calm him down enough to give you time to get the fly out.

Anyways the more fish you catch the easier it becomes. Grabbing the leader usually ends up in a lost fish as too much strain gets put directly on the tippet and there is no rod to cushion the thrashing around. Lifting the rod up high and leading the fish in takes care of that problem..at least for me.


05-15-2002, 01:13 PM

Blue Winged Olives(Baetis) were everywhere. In one spot though I noticed some lighter colored flies on the water, and when that trout sipped the PMD, the fly floated into the rock with three similarly colored naturals with mine being slightly larger. At that point, I was trying almost every mayfly I had, and I wasn't too concerned with showing them something different. There is so much insect activity there that a hatch seemed to be going on all day long and it always got heavier in the afternoon. The water is crystal clear, but if you lean down and examine the surface of the water, there are flies and fly parts all over the surface.

Your friend is right: I used mostly size 22 and 24 flies. I caught two fish on a no hackle, quill wing fly and two on sparkle duns which are both styles that allow the fly to sit lower in the surface film. The local shop recommended RS2's and a parachute adams with a pink post, but I had no luck with them. The nymphers that were wading and drift boating were catching a lot of fish, so if you like to do that, then you'll catch more fish.

I heard some people were catching an occassional fish with cicadas, so I bought a cicada fly, and I tried it at the start of day 3, but I had no luck. I didn't really like the fact that the cicada was all foam--for some reason it didn't appeal to my sensibilities.


Sorry, I had a camera, but I couldn't force myself to bring it along on my daily adventures, so I didn't get any pictures. I'm going to have to get one of those small digital cameras.


Thanks for the tips on landing fish. Has anyone tried the Ketchum Release device for releasing fish?

05-15-2002, 04:22 PM
Hey All...
My co-worker linked me to this forum today and I just had to join... Pleasure to be here...

I too just returned from an extended trip from the Green on Sunday. We went big this year and did a four day and three night trip with 7 guys and three boats. Had an awesome time. But I'll tell ya, this is the 4th time I've been there and eventhough there are tens of thousands of fish, it is tough to catch a lot of them. I've decided to call it the "The Yellowstone of Trout Fishing." Fish everywhere, but not a lot of tight lines. They are almost tame from the constant pressure.

On the first day halfway down the A section, we stopped for lunch and have a little regroup. While eating our fatty sammy's, and I swear, a couple trout were watching us on the rocks. And when I say watching, I mean waiting for some scraps of bread to fall in the water. Like a couple of dogs at dinner... I couldn't believe it. Sure enough a little crust fell in, and sure enough they instantlly pounded on it. Now, I haven't caught a fish all day, and now I'm watching these two 16''er's looking at us for some food...
So much for the fly's....

We ended up finally getting into some fish the first day with some super small barr's emergers. And a couple with some streamers. Otherwise it wasn't until the next day after camping at Grasshopper II in the B section that I got into a lot of fish...
I got'em on mostly size 22 RSII's. And this was on 10th. Was cloudy, cool, a bit rainy. We waded all day and most of us caught fish.

As a word of warning to any of you who are thinking of doing the 'C' Section, I'd recommend against it, unless there was a serious hatch going on. We went from seeing thousands of fish to only seeing a lot of whitie's and catching only a couple trout between us. A and B are the best by far...

So that's about it... I post more now I'm dialed in..

05-15-2002, 04:34 PM
I'm not a big fan of nets(a pain in the neck), but if you are fishing light tippets, a net ends the fight much quicker, especialy if you have a buddy to scoop the fish up.
I'm not sure which is more harmful to fish, the loss of slime from being netted, or the risk of a long fight, thrashing on the beach, being manhandled, only to have the tippet break, leaving the fly in the lip.
I think that the worst thing that one can do to a fish is to drop it. Fish are not designed to deal with that kind of impact.