100 Best: Green River, Upper
Location: Western Wyoming
Type of stream: Freestone, tailwater
Angling methods: Fly, Spin
Species: Rainbows, cutthroats and browns
Supporting Services: Green River, Jackson
Short take: There’s more to the Green River than the Flaming Gorge tailwater
Handicapped Access: None
Closest TU Chapter: Upper Green River
Heading up above the Green River Lakes in the northern Wind River Mountains, about 50 miles southeast of Jackson, the Green River flows for about 200 miles through Fontenelle Reservoir, then Flaming Gorge Reservoir, and ultimately into the Colorado in Utah. The Green can be easily waded in its headwaters. Its midsection is best floated due to limited access. And the tailwater below Fontenelle Dam is big water indeed.
State Route 352, the Green River Lakes Road follows the curve of the upper Green to a campground on one of the lakes, Below the lake, the Green runs down a stony bed until it begins to curve westward around the base of Little Sheep Mountain and enters a set of vigorous rapids. Rainbows and cutthroat average 14 inches. Fishing is quite good in April and May for anglers using caddis and blue-winged olives. The upper Green watershed is one of the first in Wyoming to shed its snowmelt. Great fishing with hatches to match resumes in mid-June and continues into the fall.
After rounding the mountain, the river enters a narrow glacial valley. At first it braids and twists back on itself in oxbows. Boulder fields create rapids where gradient steepens. For the most part the river is characterized by riffles all the way to Fontenelle Reservoir. The top most of this section is heavily wooded, but soon the river enters broad, arid high mountain steppe. Public access is excellent until the river leaves the Bridger-Teton National Forest just upstream from the mouth of Gypsum Creek. From the forest boundary down to Warren Bridge (US 189—191) much of the land is privately owned or leased from the Bureau of Land Management. The upper five miles of this reach are among the most popular on the river.
Fontenelle Reservoir impounds 20 miles of the Green. The tailwater below the dam thrives in the shadow of more famous tailwaters like the Green below Flaming Gorge Lake or the South Fork of the Snake in Idaho. Most of this 74-mile long run of the river is wadeable. While fish density may not be as great as in its middle section, lunker cutthroats, rainbows, and browns are taken every week.