Small Stream Fly Fishing in Wyoming

Wyoming is not as well known for small stream trout fishing as its neighbor to the south, Colorado, but there is no doubt fewer crowds make fly fishing the small creeks of Wyoming so productive! In this blog, we are going to focus on the Jackson Hole area of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Small stream fly fishing really kicks off in late June. The Gros Ventre River, Spread Creek, and Crystal Creek are among several small streams that we will cover. In many parts of the west, rivers are measured in thousands of cubic feet per second (CFS), such as large rivers including the Snake River. The Snake River peaks anywhere from 13,000 to 20,000 CFS, whereas small streams peak around 3,000 to 5,000 CFS. These numbers really demonstrate just how small intimate these streams are!

small stream fly fishing in wyoming

Gros Ventre River

The Gros Ventre River is actually pronounced Grow-Vaunt (don’t worry if you don’t get this pronunciation right the first time)! It is a 75 mile long tributary of the Snake River.  It comes from natural springs and snow melt in the Gros Ventre Wilderness Area. The river holds Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat Trout, Eastern Brook Trout, and Mountain Whitefish. It is a medium sized freestone stream that changes character on its way to the Snake River. It seems to start fishing well around 400 CFS, although you could start fishing nymphs or streamers at higher water levels.   

As you head East past the town of Kelly on pavement you will see the Kelly Warm Springs on your right, you will cross a small creek that flows from the Springs. Take a quick right, which will take you on a mix of paved and gravel road to Lower Slide Lake. Below the lake is more advanced walking with house sized boulders and big plunge pools.  As you continue your drive you will find the Crystal Creek Campground, between this point and Upper Slide Lake is premier small stream fly fishing. I would suggest a 3-5 wt rod depending on your ability level.  4-5 x tippet at the end of an 8ft leader is recommended. The walk wading is not for the faint of heart, so adding aluminum cleats and using a wading staff is recommended. 

Spread Creek

Spread Creek is another great small trout stream that is close to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  There are two ways to access it if you are coming from the town of Jackson. Forest Service Road 30290 allows you to fish the bottom half of the river closer to its confluence with the Snake River. If you drive a few miles further where the road hits a canyon and wooded area, this area of water gets less pressure and has nice cutthroat trout up to 17 inches!

 The second and more preferred option is to drive past the Moran Junction to Flagstaff Road.  You will pass The Hatchet Resort and Restaurant on your right, coming up next is a Forest Service campground, take the right turn into it. Then follow a gravel road for 3-4 miles that is washboarded but still well maintained. You will come to a fork in the road in an open meadow, take a right to fish the meadow, and continue straight to fish the smaller forks of Spread Creek, including the North Fork. To fish the meadow, take the right, and the road will dead end with a green forest service gate.  You will see a small road to your right, just before the green gate, take that to an abandoned log cabin.  Park there and walk downhill into the meadow. I would suggest yelling for moose in the high willows, there could also be grizzly bears. Bringing bear spray is a must when fishing small streams in Wyoming! From here you can fish up the meadow to the first bridge you cross and then walk the road back up to the car.  

Crystal Creek

Crystal Creek is just up the road from the Crystal Creek Campground, mentioned above.  Red Rock Ranch owns a large portion of the water in the valley just before it hits the Gros Ventre river. However, if you drive just past the ranch and are willing to hike along the steep canyon, the river opens up into a meadow. The Green Drake hatch is famous in the meadow. The backcountry creek holds the famous Snake River Cutthroat Trout. The same rod setup for the Gros Ventre River will also work great on Crystal Creek. 

Fly fishing small creeks can certainly be a rewarding way to spend time outside whether you catch ten fish or just one! If you are interested in small stream fishing but need some assistance with navigating the backcountry or picking the best bugs for smaller water, give us a call to chat about small stream guided trips and our other Jackson Hole fly fishing options!

jackson hole fly fishing vacation tips

Top 5 Jackson Hole Fly Fishing Vacation Planning Tips

jackson hole fly fishing vacation tips

Are you planning a trip to fish in Jackson Hole, but are unsure where to start? You’re not alone! Our Jackson Hole fishing guides put together a few tips and tricks to consider for your fly fishing vacation that will make your trip smooth and unforgettable. 

1. Lodging

While fishing may be the focus of your journey, it is also important to have comfortable accommodations to relax after a long day on the water. The Town Square Inns including The 49er Inn, Cowboy Village, and Elk Country Inn are all located in the heart of downtown. These hotels are walking distance from Jackson Hole’s restaurants, bars, and shops. 

If you are looking to escape the downtown buzz, Teton Mountain Lodge and Hotel Terra are located at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village. This area is just south of the entrance to Grand Teton National Park and affords plenty of open country while still offering several close-by dining options. 

2. Spring Runoff

While some opt to visit Jackson Hole in the spring because there are less crowds, here are some key factors to consider when it comes to spring fishing!

The Snake River is generally not fishable by early May as the snow melt begins to come down out of the mountains. This makes the rivers muddy which makes it hard for the trout to see your fly in the water. 

Despite the Snake River being muddy, we head to the Green River near Pinedale, Wyoming to get a chance at some large rainbow and brown trout. Even when the water flows are low, the nymph and streamer bit is good. Choosing warmer days can help as the fish are more apt to eat in warmer conditions. 

Towards the end of May and early June we also fish Lewis Lake in Southern Yellowstone. This is a great option for guests who are staying at lodging in Yellowstone or those who are looking to fish within the National Park boundaries. 

3. Summer Snake River Fishing

The historic Snake River is what truly makes Jackson Hole a top fly fishing destination. This river flows from the headwaters in Grand Teton National Park directly through Wilson and heads south to Alpine through a canyon. From there it travels through several states all the way to the Pacific Ocean!

Early season, starting in late June, is great for smaller cutthroat trout. July, August, and September tend to be the best months to fish the Snake River because the mountain water is crystal clear and various bug hatches occur. This is also when you will see larger cutthroat trout. If you want to escape the crowds, fall fly fishing in Wyoming is one of our favorites as well.

Fly fishing tips and tricks for the Snake River: use large foam dry flies that imitate stoneflies or grasshoppers.  A dropper works well as the trout do tend to be in the upper part of the water column. Fishing deep nymphs works well for whitefish, which can be fun for kids and beginners.

4. Look into the Weather!

The weather on your fly fishing vacation can be unpredictable, make sure to bring extra layers! May and June can be colder months, so we recommend fleece, wool, and down material layers. July and August are the warmest months in Jackson so breathable clothing, sunglasses, and hats are a must. Mountain towns are known for their afternoon rainstorms, usually for a few weeks in August, so make sure to bring a raincoat just in case! September and October can be warm months but at the high elevation of 6,000 ft, it is not uncommon to see snow on the mountain tops. 

Our best advice regarding weather: it never hurts to bring more cold weather, sun protection, and water than you think you need!

5. Book a Guided Trip!

Planning your own Jackson Hole fly fishing trip can certainly be rewarding. However, we recommend booking at least one day of guided fly fishing to really spend time with a local expert on the water! Our guides are proficient working with any ability level and have great tips on what rivers are fishing best that time of year. We also provide the necessary gear!

Your guide lives and breathes Jackson Hole! We encourage you to pick their brain about all this area has to offer. Some of our favorite activities (besides fishing, of course) include horseback rides, hot air balloon rides, paragliding, whitewater rafting, ATV and side by side trips, and multiple Snow King Mountain Activities.

Jackson Hole is truly a Fly Fishing mecca and those big trout are awaiting your perfect cast! Give us a call for any questions about your fly fishing vacation or to book a Jackson Hole fishing trip!

fall fly fishing in wyoming

The Ultimate Guide to Fall Fly Fishing in Wyoming

Once the summer crowds head home for the year, fall fly fishing invites you back to the river like an old friend. The changing leaves make for a majestic backdrop while you cast out into a bounty of happy trout enjoying the colder waters. With so much opportunity on our rivers in the autumn, fly fishing in the fall may become your favorite time of year to get out into the current. 

As the seasons change, so do our angling techniques. Here is what you need to know about Wyoming fly fishing in the fall. 

guide holding a fish on a guided fly fishing trips in wyoming on the snake river

Benefits of Fall Fly Fishing

Why make the trip out to the river for some fall fly fishing? Here are our favorite reasons:

Fewer boats and anglers

Those who think summer is the only time to enjoy fly fishing are out of the river, leaving tons of space and fish ripe for the catching. 

Fall hatches 

While spring and summer hatches may produce more dramatic action, fall hatches are as exciting as they are fleeting.

Spectacular dry fly fishing

In our humble opinion, this is one of the best times of year to experience consistently successful dry fly fishing results. So instead of working up a sweat casting in and out, you can enjoy this sport in its purest and gentlest form – dropping a tiny dry in just the right spot for a curious trout to find. 

guide while dry fly fishing in the fall in Jackson Hole wyoming

Wyoming Fall Fly Fishing Tips:

  • Be prepared with the right gear. For fall fly fishing in Wyoming, you could encounter rain, snow, wind, or sun – maybe all on the same day. That means layers, waterproof jackets, and breathable waders. This also means having a good variety of flies to maximize your success on the river. If you’re on a Jackson Hole fly fishing trip with Wandering Angler, we will provide all the fishing gear you need.
  • Get the timing right. There are right and wrong times to hop on the river, and timing your trips around fall hatches will impact the outcome of your fall fly fishing excursion. Check out our favorite fall fly fishing spots below to see the best time to visit each river. If you have any additional questions about timing your fall fly fishing trip, reach out to our team.
  • Not feeling confident about planning your trip? Opting for a trip with our Jackson Hole fly fishing guides will ensure you are in the right place, at the right time, with the right gear to make the most of your time on the river. 

Techniques and Best Flies for Fall Trout Fishing

Fly Fishing Techniques:

The name of the game is versatility. You may need to use multiple techniques to land the best catches throughout the day. Dead-drifting can be especially successful in hooking the fish that aren’t as active during this time. Dry and streamer fishing can be dependable options this time of year, depending on the time of day. Aiming for riffles, eddies and seams is also a great strategy. 

Best Flies for Fall Trout Fishing:

best flies for fall fly fishing

Nymphs – Try pairing your nymph with a dry-dropper rig or double nymph rig with six to seven feet of leader. 

Dries – In the early fall, noon to late afternoon can usually be a good time for dry fly fishing. Dry-dropper rigs with three to six feet of dropper tippet can produce a good and consistent result.

Streamers – Most consistent after 11 am. Try for floating lines and sinking tips in the 3 inches per second range in shallow water and short lengths of 8 inches per second in deeper water. 

Best Places to Fly Fish in the Fall in Wyoming

Snake River Fly Fishing

  • Best time to visit: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Best for Catching: Cutthroat 
  • Dry Flies: Mary Kays, Purple Burces, Circus Peanuts
  • Nymphs: Duracells, Keller’s Peach Fuzz, Brillion’s Lucent Jig
  • Guided tour: Fly fishing on the Snake River

Mid-morning through early evening is a great time to visit Snake River to catch cutthroats trying to fatten up for the upcoming colder months. The fickle fall weather makes for exciting fishing that can change at any moment – you may find Hecubas, mahogany duns and BWOs dominating on wet days. No matter the weather, the Snake River will provide a stunning day on the water. 

snake river fly fishing guide holding a fish

Salt River Fly Fishing

  • Best time to visit: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Best for Catching: Cutthroat, Brown
  • Dry Flies: Micro Peanuts, Micro Mary Kays, Micro Bruces
  • Nymphs: Duracells, Hustler CDC Lights, Prince Nymphs
  • Guided tour: Fly Fishing the Salt River in Wyoming

Salt River fly fishing can be productive well into November and offers a fantastic opportunity to get in some nymph and streamer fishing for some trophy Browns. A more intimate river, you could enjoy a full day of fall fishing without another boat in sight. 

salt river fall fly fishing with jackson hole fly fishing guides

With our expert Jackson Hole fly fishing guides, you will always cast out in the middle of the action, no matter the season. From transportation to the necessary fishing gear to expert tips, our Wandering Angler team will ensure you have a successful day on the river. Reach out to our team to plan your fall fly fishing trip in Jackson Hole.

jackson hole fly fishing trips

The Best Fly Fishing in Wyoming – From the Experts

Top Fly Fishing Rivers in Wyoming

If you asked a group of lifelong Wyoming anglers where you can find the best fly fishing in Wyoming, each answer may be different. Responses may be based on where they best bonded with their fly fishing buddies, caught the biggest fish, or experienced the best conditions on the river. It’s the question that can spark a spirited argument among the best fishing friends.

But one thing is sure – no expert angler can deny that these rivers should be near the top of the list. As life-long anglers, our team has insider info and experience to answer this age-old question confidently. 

From beginner-friendly fly fishing in Jackson Hole to challenging alpine river sections boiling with trout, you could pocket your best day on the river with any of these spots. 

Here are our picks for the rivers with the best fly fishing in Wyoming: 

  1. Snake River
  2. Green River
  3. Salt River
man holding brown trout while fly fishing in jackson hole

Snake River

  • Good for catching: Spotted Cutthroat
  • Best time of year: End of June through October
  • Angler experience levels: All levels
  • Recommended Flies: Waterwalker, Parachute Adams, Pat’s Rubber Leg, White Zonker

If you want to plan a Jackson Hole fly fishing trip, this would be our first recommendation. Born from the merging of three small creeks in Yellowstone National Park, Snake River provides world-class fly fishing just minutes from Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park. 

Thanks to ample space to work with and several “fishy” side channels to leverage, Snake River fly fishing is perfect for groups with differing angler experience levels. The well-known ‘hatchery stretch’ between Wilson Bridge and the South Park boating landing boasts a variety of bugs, birds, plant life, wildlife, and more to keep things interesting. Book a fly fishing trip on the Snake River with The Wandering Angler.

If you want a break from the action without missing a moment on the river, try floating it! Teton Scenic Float Tours can take you on a calm and comfortable tour of the Snake River, with all of the stunning Teton wildlife and scenery to keep you company.

fly fishing the snake river from a drift boat

Green River

  • Good for catching: Larger fish, Browns, Rainbows
  • Best time of year: May through July
  • Angler experience levels: All levels
  • Recommended flies: StoneFlies, Hot Orange Worms, Pheasant Tails, Brown Crelex

Starting in the Wind River Range, the Green River provides deep pools and a wide-open terrain that makes for some fantastic fly fishing. Thanks to the StoneFly Hatch during June and early July, the river can boil with multiple types of trout as the water clears up. 

If you’re looking to hook some bigger fish, Green River should be near the top of your list. You’ll find an average fish size of 15-17 inches, but it’s not uncommon to land a 22-incher if you get lucky. 

As this river winds through a mix of private and public property, it’s essential to understand when anglers must stay on the boat and where to find great public access fly fishing spots. Taking on the Green River with a guide is an excellent option if you don’t want to risk rule-breaking. We provide half and full-day trips to the Green River, so you get the most out of your fishing experience.

rainbow trout while fly fishing the green river

Salt River

  • Good for catching: Cutthroat and Brown Trout
  • Best time of year: July through September
  • Angler experience levels: All levels
  • Recommended flies: Red Copper John, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Chocolate Peanut, White Dungeon

To find some off-the-beaten-track fly fishing, head to the Salt River Mountain Range. Above the alpines, you’ll find one of Wyoming’s best-kept fly fishing secret spots. Salt River fly fishing has an exciting amount of trout to catch, and the surrounding mountain views are unmatched. 

The grassy plains and minimal trees of the lower section give beginners the perfect place to practice their cast. Learn helpful tips from our expert guides on a Salt River fly fishing trip with The Wandering Angler. For intermediate and advanced anglers that want to take on a worthy challenge, the river’s upper reaches require skillful casts around fallen trees and tight banks. But with the right skill, the trout yield can be impressive.

a guide holding a cutthroat trout while fly fishing on the salt river

Honorable Mentions

The above rivers will always be our go-tos, but with so many options to consider, it’s impossible not to mention just a few more. 

  • Lewis Lake is  is an excellent option for fly fishing near Jackson Hole for Fine-Spotted Cutthroat and lake trout.
  • The Gros Ventre River offers a phenomenal fishing backdrop and an impressive number of cutthroat trout to catch. 

All of these rivers can provide a day of the best fly fishing in Wyoming, but only if you know where to go. With our expert Jackson Hole fly fishing guides, you will always cast out in the middle of the action. From transportation to the necessary fishing gear to expert tips, our Wandering Angler team will ensure you have a successful day on the river. Reach out to our team to plan your trip fly fishing in Jackson Hole.

Chicks on Big Trout

Kirstin learned to fly fish this spring. She has taken to the fly rod nicely and is a quick learner.

Also, she recently started rowing a Driftboat. Rowing is not easy, she has several blisters to prove it! Maybe in a few years she will be a professional guide.

We enjoy getting women out to learn how to fish!

Pictured below is Kirstin with a nice Brown Trout.

Preparing for the Season

Marc, owner and guide at Wandering Angler prepares for the upcoming fishing season.

He recently went on a 2 week fishing trip that took him to the Big Horn River Montana, Platt River Wyoming, Green River Utah, and Gunnison River Colorado.

Marc is keeping his guide skills tuned and enjoying some decent trout along the way.

Pictured is Marc with a monster Rainbow Trout on the Big Horn River.

family fishing

Kids fishing
Family fly fishing

The whole crew had a great day on the river.  We were able to beat out the storm.  Fishing was epic all day.

PMD’s were everywhere!  The girls tried a white sinker for the first time and light them up at the end.

Just another day in paradise!