Photo of the Month: Red Adipose

Photo of the Month: Red Adipose

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On The Trail of Butch Cassidy

My ability to blog has recently been limited by my Yellowstone Trip. There are still plenty of stories from Colorado 2009. The last I shared from that trip was about my first time on Utah's Green River. Unfortunately the fishing was off there due to the crazy generation schedule. We were able to salvage a couple of days there by trying some different areas which included an interesting opportunity for me.

One of my major interests is history. I almost majored in History in college but ended up with just a minor. All history fascinates me, but in particular I enjoy early American and frontier history. When my buddy first mentioned going to the Green River, my thoughts turned to Brown's Hole. Now referred to as Brown's Park, the Hole was originally a rendezvous point for mountain men exploring the region in search of beaver furs. After the railroad came through the region to the north, the safe haven in the mountains became an outlaw hideout. I have read of the exploits of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch and recalled that they often hid out in the vicinity of Brown's Hole. There were so many outlaws in that area that officers of the law generally would not even consider entering the Hole in pursuit of any of them. Since fishing was the main point of this trip, I did my research and discovered that Brown's Hole comprises the "C" Section of the Green River, known for fewer fish than in the other sections. The silver lining was that the average fish was supposed to be larger than anywhere upriver.

After fishing "B" Section hard for a day and not exactly killing the fish, I convinced my buddy Trevor to take the long journey around to Brown's Hole in search of larger fish and maybe the ghost of Butch Cassidy. From Flaming Gorge Dam, it takes persistence to reach the Hole. There are a couple of options for getting there but both involve a long trip including many miles of gravel and dirt roads that can get sketchy quickly after a good rainstorm. Since the guide trips were launching far up the river, we hoped that we might have a few hours of fishing before the boats started coming through and spooking our fish.

After winding around somewhere north of the river for many miles we finally saw the Green in the valley below. A quick and very steep descent soon had us cruising along the valley floor. We consulted the map and decided to head for the point as far upriver as possible. There was a campground there and a boat ramp with a large parking area. We parked the car and then strolled down to the river to see what was going on. The water was off color but still had fairly good visibility. Knowing the habits of larger browns, I figured the water color would maybe give us a little cover from the fish. I've caught nice browns from water the color of chocolate milk so I had no concerns that the fish would actually be feeding. A couple of small rises sent me back to the car for wading gear, fly rod and all the other necessities for an afternoon on the stream. Heading back down I decided to just start right at the boat ramp and go from there. Working up the bank I managed to get a few smaller fish to rise but overall was unimpressed.

Long ago I learned that one should never give up too soon on new water so I decided to start moving upriver until I either found fish or got tired of fishing. With me, option B really is not an option in the first place so I started trying to figure out the fish. The Green is one of the premier terrestrial streams in the western United States so I decided to go with a large green hopper that I had tied the day before in camp. When the fishing is slow, one of my strategies is to just sit on or walk the banks and try to observe fish. Sitting did not sound like fun so I opted for walking upriver. One long flat got my attention after I saw a very large rise. Going through the whole routine of positioning myself and casting to where I thought the fish was did not produce anything so I continued up to the top of the flat into a nice run with a picture perfect riffle above it.

As I was slowly working out towards the heart of the run, a large brown suddenly crushed the hopper. Sadly the "fish aren't biting" syndrome severely hampered my hookset. This condition manifests itself by slowing your reflexes to the point of being almost completely useless and usually results from an extended fishless streak. One positive side effect of the syndrome is that the hook set usually happens slowly enough that the fish are not stuck at all and will often hit again given the opportunity.

Casting out again I watched in anticipation until the dark shadow ghosted up underneath my fly. The first time must have been enough to convince the fish of the fraud I was presenting and it refused a few inches under the surface. Several more casts did not even produce a look so I moved a few steps upstream. My first cast over new water produced another look. The fish rose up from the bottom and after a close examination sipped the big hopper. Again my hookset was off but not as slow as the previous fish.

The next fish was not so lucky. Finally a good fish managed to find the hook and I corralled it long enough for a quick picture.

The next fish was better and hit under rather strange circumstances. I was wading upstream letting the hopper drag through the riffle behind me when the line tightened. Apparently these fish aren't the most clever. A fish is a fish though and this one was rather nice. A couple of pictures later I had more memories stored for the future. Immediately after releasing this fish my buddy showed up to see what the deal was. He had stayed downriver and finally figured out that the fishing was probably pretty good. Normally I'm pretty good at not disappearing for too long unless the fishing is decent. I explained about the nice fish all on big dries and he quickly started probing the riffle.

Continuing up the river, I finally hooked another good fish, this time on the dropper. I led it gently back downstream to the vicinity of my buddy Trevor so he could do the picture duties. This fish was the largest I would catch on the Green and measured 18 inches. The first picture attempt produced the classic "Oh Sh!t" picture...

The next one came out a bit better thankfully.

We continued on upriver together for a good distance but the fishing slowed as the wind started kicking up and the guide trips started coming down. Finally we called it a day. My trip to Brown's Hole was memorable for both the size of fish I was catching and for the historical significance of the place. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk back to the car taking time to photograph some of the cactus and the landscape in general.


  1. Anonymous7:21 AM

    Nice reports David. Please keep them coming!

    David P.

  2. Anonymous6:36 AM

    Hello People, I was on a holiday for a month just passing by read this interesting post its great to see that every thing here is getting more lively...thanks a lot for these keep them coming....

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