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Fishing in Flaming Gorge Country

Flaming Gorge Country offers anglers one of the most diverse fisheries in the world. There are hundreds of waters to fish within an hour’s drive from Lake Flaming Gorge and even more ways to fish for them. From the high mountain lakes and streams that flow into Flaming Gorge to the Green River that flows out of our county there are literally millions, if not billions of fish to be caught by today’s anglers! People from all over the world come here for their fishing vacations yet there always seems to be a hole around the next corner that nobody has hit and leaves you feeling like the only one on  the water.

Go for record breaking fish in the lake

The Flaming Gorge Reservoir has a history of being known as one of the west’s greatest fisheries. From the world record German Browns caught throughout the 70’s and early 80’s to the state record lake trout, rainbow trout and brown trout, Lake Flaming Gorge is known for holding big fish. This 91 mile long reservoir holds numerous trophy species, including rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout (Mackinaw), kokanee salmon, tiger trout, small mouth bass, largemouth bass, carp, channel catfish and burbot. Download a map of Lake Flaming Gorge here.

Lake fishing tips

Fishing top water down to 50 feet you will likely catch rainbows, browns, tiger, and smaller lake trout. Kokanee salmon will follow the thermo cline, staying shallow in the winter and spring and going deeper as the summer months warm the water. The larger lake trout will generally stay in deeper water 70-120 feet, but they will feed in the shallower water especially in the early spring. The bass in Lake Flaming Gorge are very active in the summer months when the water has warmed a bit. You can find them on most shallow rocky points, humps and ridges throughout the reservoir. Carp fishing is slowly becoming very popular with the fly fishing enthusiasts. They move into the shallow water around June and are fished very similarly to the way they do flats fishing in Florida - spot and fish. It is very common to hook up to a 30 plus pound carp!

The channel catfish are probably the least sought after fish on Lake Flaming Gorge, but that may have to do with our geographic location. There is a large population of channel catfish thatlive in the upper Flaming Gorge area and can grow to abnormally large sizes - there have been 4 foot long catfish taken just below Green River, Wyoming. One of the last species to enter Flaming Gorge is the Burbot or Ling. The burbot is a native fish to northern Wyoming but, it is unknown how it ended up on the other side of the Continental Divide and into the Gorge. Now that it is here it has become an over eating, mass reproducing quandary. There are no limits on the number of burbot that can be taken and it is illegal to put one back if you catch one. The best way to fish for them is at night using glow jigs and some type of bait. Many people do this in the winter time through the ice. They are very edible fish and have even been dubbed as “poor man’s "lobster".

There are many different techniques used to target these game fish at the reservoir. Trolling Flaming Gorge is a very popular technique. It allows the angler to cover large portions of an area and also allows multiple species to be targeted. Some different trolling techniques used on the Gorge include; long lining with lead line, steel line or monofilament, dipsy divers or some type of diving apparatuses, weighted line or down riggers. Vertical jigging is another technique used to target some of the game fish in the reservoir, especially the kokanee and mackinaw. The theory is to sit on top of the areas where the fish tend to be using a electric trolling motor or anchor system and bounce your favorite jig, baited or not, in front of their faces.

There are many different jigging techniques that can be used, slow jig, fast jig, small jig, large jig, on the bottom jig, suspended jig, slow retrieval and any other way you can think of, but the main thing is to stay on top of the fish. A very productive way to catch fish on Lake Flaming Gorge whether in a boat or from shore is casting and retrieving. There are thousands of different lures and jigs that work for this technique, fly fishing streamers also works well. Bait fishermen whether with a bobber or weighted are also very productive. Night crawlers and power bait are both recommended.

Ice fishing is very productive

There is usually a good four months where the northern end (at least) is covered in ice. Therefore, a very popular winter activity is ice fishing. The larger lake trout are targeted off in the deeper water using vertical jigging techniques, and the smaller trout and kokanee will be found in shallower water using smaller jigs and baits. It is becoming very popular to fish for the burbot through the ice at night time. This may sound crazy, but come out to Flaming Gorge in the dead of winter, in the middle of the night and it looks like a whole bunch of small towns lit up by lanterns & head lamps up and down the reservoir. Whichever way you like to fish come to Lake Flaming Gorge and enjoy, there’s plenty of water waiting!

Cast a fly on famous waters

The Green River below the Flaming Gorge Dam is one of the most renowned trout fisheries in the world. The water from the dam is regulated to maintain an optimum temperature and flow that has created a world-famous blue ribbon trout fishery. It’s clear, emerald waters support a large population of trout, with rainbows being more common just below the dam and browns dominating downstream.

Fishing is restricted to artificial flies or lures; catch-and-release is highly encouraged but limited harvest is permitted (check the latest Utah Fishing Proclamation for details). Fly tackle is most commonly used but spinners, jigs and Rapalas are also effective.

The Green flows through a scenic, steep-walled canyon. The rugged terrain allows access in only three areas: just below the dam, Little Hole and Browns Park. You can drive to these locations and fish your way up or downstream, or float the river in a drift boat or rubber raft. Download a great brochure on Floating the Green here.

The browns are wild, produced by natural reproduction, and grown quickly in the fertile water. The average fish is 15-17 inches long. The record, a 29-pound brown, was caught in 1996.

Insect hatches are prolific. Scuds are a primary food source and are effective throughout the year. Midges work on and below the surface during the winter and early spring. Blue-winged olives hatch in incredible numbers in the spring. Big cicadas produce exciting fishing during the early summer; ants, hoppers and many dry fly patterns work well through the summer and early fall. More information on river hatches may be found at any of the fishing guide & outfitters websites.

Find fast & furious fishing in the high country

If you really want to get away from it all, the High Uinta Mountains are the place to be. Come late May into early June the high mountain lakes and streams start to thaw, and if you are lucky enough to be there with your fly or spinning rod, get ready for some of the highest number fish days you will ever see! There are over 600 hundred natural mountain lakes in the Uintas and thousands of streams that are packed full of brookies, cutthroat, rainbows and, if you search hard enough, grayling. A few of the lakes have recently been stalked with tiger trout, which is a sterile, intergeneric hybrid of brown trout & brook trout, and a very aggressive fun fighting fish. Some of the more popular & easily accessible lakes in our area include East and West Greens Lake, Browne Lake, Sheep Creek Lake, Long Park Reservoir, Spirit Lake and Hoop Lake to name a few. But if you are more adventurous and like to get out and hike, check out Tamarack Lake, Daggett Lake, Fish Lake or Island Lake. Flaming Gorge’s high county is a very special place that has remained naturally wild. A visit to these mountains will take you back to a place in time when Indians and Mountain Men lived off the land.

Explore remote waters

Southwestern Wyoming also provides some great opportunities for the adventurous angler. Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge protects a mosaic of riparian, wetland and upland shrub habitats along 36 miles of the upper Green River. The refuge takes its name from the Shoshoni word for the Green River: Seeds- kee-dee-Agie, meaning River of the Sage Chicken. Located 37 miles north of Green River, visitors can find Seedskadee by driving west on I-80 to the LaBarge State Highway 372 north. Established in 1965 as mitigation for the construction of Fontenelle and Flaming Gorge Dams, the refuge encompasses more than 20,000 acres along the Green River between Fontenelle dam and the town of Green River, Wyoming. Download a map of Seedskadee here. While the numbers of fish may be less than the Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam, the size of the fish is incredible. Huge trout await those willing to invest time on these waters! Other waters in Southwestern Wyoming are also worthy of exploration – download a brochure on SW Wyoming Fishing here.

Further south along the Flaming Gorge–Uintas National Scenic Byway, one can test their skills at Red Fleet State Park and Steinaker State Park. Both provide year-round fishing opportunities.

Flaming Gorge Country is fishing county! The majority of the businesses in the area are here to accommodate visiting anglers. We recommend taking a guided fishing trip as the best way to enjoy this remarkable resource. Or stop by one of the tackle shops or marinas in the area and you will find local fishermen willing to give advice or just exchange fishing stories.

Note: Go to www.wildlife.utah.gov to find information on current fishing conditions for all of Utah’s Flaming Gorge Country waters with the monthly Northeastern Utah Fishing Report. Visiting anglers can also purchase their Utah fishing license on-line or download a copy of the current Utah Fishing Proclamation. For Wyoming fishing information, please visit www.gf.state.wy.us/fish/fishing/index.asp.

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