Green River: Clear waters, abundant trout make for excellent fishing

Mar 27, 2019

Once home to the nomadic Fremont People of the 13th Century, Utah’s Green River is now populated by world-class brown and rainbow trout along with the occasional cutthroat. A long river even by American standards, the focus for most anglers tends to be on the section just below the Flaming Gorge Dam along the border of Utah and Wyoming. These blue-ribbon waters are often so clear and brimming with trout that anglers like to say it’s like watching fish in an aquarium.


Traversing three states, the 730-mile long Green River is a monster of a river with an average spring/summer flow of more than 6,100 cfs. Starting in western Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains, the Green River snakes its way south into the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, then into Utah’s Uinta Mountains. It twists briefly into Colorado before returning to Utah, where it joins the Colorado River near Canyonlands National Park.

Aquatic Species


  • Brown trout
  • Rainbow trout
  • Cutthroat

Non-Native (immediate killing is required)

  • Burbot
  • Northern pike
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Walleye

Food by Season

Bug – Micro scuds
Season – Winter
Sizes – 20-22

Bug – Mayfly nymphs
Season – Winter
Sizes – 20-22

Bug – Blue-winged olives and midges
Season – Winter
Sizes – 20 to 22

Bug – Chernobyl ant black
Season – Warmer months
Sizes – 2-16

Bug – Black sailor ants
Season – Warmer months
Sizes – 8-18

Bug – PMX peacock
Season – Warmer months
Sizes – 6-14

Bug – Black Green River para crickets
Season – Warmer months
Sizes – 10-16

Bug – Black beetles
Season – Warmer months
Sizes – 8-18 

Fishing Techniques

Tip – You’re likely to have some luck with dry bugs in the fall. You’ll also find ample shallow-water trout for nymphing year-round. Streaming is best in the morning or at nightfall, especially in the fall when brown trout spawn.

Tip – In early spring, you’ll find abundant scuds and midges along with mayflies, caddisflies and others. Look for blue-winged olives in early to late spring.

Tip – The river is divided into “A,” “B” and “C” sections. The seven-mile “A” section of the river is located in Red Canyon and is the top spot for fly fishing, according to most experienced anglers.

Tip – You are required to release all fish between 13 and 20 inches. Otherwise, you’re allowed to keep two. All non-native species (see above) must be killed upon catching.


  • 9’ 5 weight rod
  • WF trout fly line for floating
  • Nine-foot leader with 4X tippet
  • For sinking: bank shot sink tip line


While many western rivers can be fairly inhospitable during winter months, the Green River is consistent and welcoming all year long, thanks to warmer water temperatures and a steady flow. If it’s rainbow you’re after, try just below the dam. Otherwise, you’ll do well to head downstream where browns and other trout await.

Getting here: If you’re flying into Salt Lake City, it’ll take you a little under four hours to reach the Flaming Gorge area via Interstate 80. It’s doable from Denver, but be prepared for a nearly seven-hour drive (albeit through some of the prettiest scenery in the nation).

If a trip out west and trophy trout are on your bucket list, the Green River is a can’t-miss experience.

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