The popularity of fishing the Green River in spring has grown steadily over the past four or five years. In fact, if the numbers of anglers present on the river any given day were counted as a vote, the shear numbers of anglers in late April and early May would definitely win any contest. So, should this be considered the best time of all to fish the river? If not, why are there so many anglers on the water?
The answers to these questions are complex. As a fisherman myself, let me point out the most obvious. First, outstanding nymph fishing followed by great midge and Baetis hatches on the surface create superb fishing opportunities. Second, this period represents the first "best time" to trout fish after a long winter of cabin fever.
Many of you might ask, "Ok, if the fishing is so good, aren't there just too many people?" For some of you the answer is probably yes! If that is the case, try fishing on weekdays or early in the month, before everyone shows up. For the rest of you, when so many fish come to the surface to feed and they end up in your net, who cares if other anglers are around. You don't see many people without smiles on their faces. After all, with the great trout population available to anglers on the Green River, you only need a small piece of the river to work over a lot of fish.
Early season trout will take a variety of properly presented nymph patterns representing scuds, midges, Baetis emergers and other aquatic invertebrates that are present in the Green River. Sometimes entire days may be spent nymph-fishing when conditions do not favor surface hatches. On days when the surface hatches do occur, you still might need to nymph fish at least the early hours prior to the hatches.
I prefer my scuds tied in larger sizes, #10-16, in bright colors such as orange, pink, and tan. These are presented as a single fly, or with a trailer such as a midge larva.
Midge nymph patterns run all colors and sizes. One of my favorites is the simple brassie in sizes 18-22. Baetis emergers are active for several hours prior to their appearance on the river's surface as duns. During this period they are very actively swimming in the river's current and fall easy prey to the trout. Effective Baetis nymph patterns include the pheasant-tail nymph or WD40's, tied in olive or gray, in size 16-18; the larger size is best early in the hatch. I also like to use these same flies in a "flashback" version. Flashy tinsel is used as a wing case to add brightness to the fly. This is very useful when the water has a slight stain or cast to it.
Most good nymph fishing riggings will catch fish if you pay attention to fishing at the right depths of the water column, and work to get good dead drifts of your imitations to the trout.
Adult midges emerge daily in the early season and can provide exceptional dry fly fishing. Trout that are midging are sometimes only noticeable by their smutting rises, so you will have to watch for them. I prefer simple, sparse adult midge patterns in grey, olive, tan, or black. Griffith's gnat, fuzz ball, or parachute Adams, in sizes 18-24, are all productive patterns during midge hatches.
Baetis prefer the cloudy, overcast, cool, even snowy days, but it's not uncommon to find them even on a bright, sunny day. Duns generally start appearing around mid-morning and can fade quickly by 2 to 4 p.m. Parachute Adams and other low profile flies are my favorites, in olive or gray color; 16- 20 are the most effective sizes.
Effective approaches to fishing these patterns are varied. I prefer to use an upstream cast approach, but in some instances on the Green River, feeding it downstream to a rising trout works very well, indeed. Whatever your approach, Green River trout are experts at detecting the drag on your flies, so working at your presentation will be key to success.