“We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls ride over the river, we know not. Ah, well! We may conjecture many things.”
—John Wesley Powell
A Storied History
In the spirit of 236 years of glory, I’m going to tell you a bit about ‘Merica and our Green River. The river valley was originally inhabited by the Fremont culture, a people flourishing from the 7th century to the 13thcentury; their work can be viewed in rock art and cave overhangs. Eventually, the Shoshone and Ute peoples colonized the area for nomadic hunting purposes. While visited by the Spaniards and various trappers, the region remained unexplored. John C Fremont, legendary explorer, US Senator, and founder of the Republican Party, led an expedition into the region.
The first complete expedition was led by John Wesley Powell in 1869, the second was in 1871; most of the nomenclature of the region was assigned on these trips. Powell’s expeditions were not without controversy. Starting off in 1869 with 10 men and large gear carrying boats, they completed the expedition with 6 men. Four walked off, one successfully started a family in Vernal, Utah; the other three were possibly executed by Mormon Settlers. The Mormon Settlers claimed it was local Native American Indians. The true fate is still shrouded in mystery. Read the full account here.
Now for my favorite part of this story, The John Jarvie Ranch, founded in 1880 by an educated man of Scottish decent at Brown’s Hole. Located conveniently on the Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming border, Jarvie had significant mining and cattle interests. He distilled and sold Whiskey, while managing a general store, post office, blacksmith shop, and ferry. Jarvie made acquaintance with several notorious outlaws including: Matt Warner, Butch Cassidy, and the Sundance Kid. His ranch was a perfect location to hide out after a hard year of rustling cattle.
This 7-mile stretch of river commences at the boat launch under Flaming Gorge Dam, traveling through a red walled canyon down to Little Hole. This float is known for its aquarium feel, you can see the fish swimming below you in the crystal clear water. Also note, this section has the highest presence of rafters, though the Trout don’t seem to mind too much.
On this stretch, we used a couple of tactics resulting in Fish On! The deep pools and seems of this section are ideal for nymph rigs. Brenton developed his rendition of a bead head Pheasant Tail and some small Midges, size 16 and 18.
Below Little Hole, the river widens and the canyon walls lower, allowing for new angling opportunities. Furthermore, on the B, you can start to throw the Hopper Dropper combo along the shorelines and back eddies. Making this section even more enjoyable is the variety of primitive camping opportunities along the river. Halfway down, drifters will encounter Red Creek Rapids, a Class 3 section on the river. Upstream of Red Creek Rapids, is a long deep pool; fish activity is slow through here. We were able to coax some follows with articulated streamers.
Lapping the C Section
Now onto the true wilderness fishing expedition! The Green River, for management and discussion purposes, is divided into the three distinct sections. The C-section is by far the longest and most desolate section of the Utah Green River; it winds 12 miles through a desert valley, terminating in the high walled Swallow Canyon. In the later part of summer, this section is renowned for its Hopper fishing.
This is our third day of living the dream, camping outside, fishing all day, every day. Having paid for a shuttle from Trout Creek Fly every day to this point, it was now our turn to use pedal power. To float the C, the preferred entry point is at Indian Crossing. It is also an option to use Taylor Flats, however, this will cost you a prime section of top water. Upon leaving the boat and gear at Indian Crossing; Brenton threw his Trek Navigator bicycle into “Toaster,” and drove the trailer to Swallow Canyon boat ramp. In my estimate, it takes about an hour to pedal back to Indian Crossing from that point, the road is shorter than the river here.
Hopper action picked up on day 2, everyone landed a fish on a Hopper. Matt took the crown with a 20-inch German Brown. All was well, except the sunscreen started to run low, for trips on this section of the river, I suggest ample quantities of sunscreen and gloves for your hands. Swallow Canyon was markedly unproductive; we attributed this to the low water situation.
Fish were keyed into Yellow Sallies on the portion of river between Indian Crossing and Taylor Flats. Unaccustomed and out of practice on the dry, I missed almost every fish. There was redemption for Matt, and just as the weather changed for a thunderstorm, the Rainbows drilled in on Yellow Sallies and Triple Doubles.
As I already mentioned, thunderstorms rolled in, and it was our last day on the river. In the distance, we witnessed a lightning strike. Then, there was a wispy spindle of smoke rising in the air! Brenton called the Forest Fire Service and reported it, luckily for us; the fire was over on a mountain ridge in Colorado. Needless to say, as the smell of distant smoke filled the air, we hurried up to the boat launch, packed our gear, and got the hell out of dodge.
Threats to the Future
The Green River is one of the Blue Ribbon Fisheries in the American West. Technically, a tributary of the Colorado River; an error of history, due to Colorado having more political sway when the Colorado River Compact was signed. There is currently a speculative project proposed to build a pipeline, in order to transport Flaming Gorge water to the Front Range of Colorado.MKFF opposes this project, as it will damage the local economies, the environment, and Trout fishing. The residents of the Front Range should adopt new water conservation measures, in lieu of attempting to use even more water in the semi-arid region.
Are you interested in a Guided Fly Fishing adventure on Utah’s Green River? Beehive Fishing Company, a Utah Fly Fishing Guide Service, offers a second to none Fly Fishing experience on Utah’s Green river.