Every time I visit Jackson, Wyoming it seems as if I find a new river to fly fish. One of the last on my list to fish in the area was the Gros Ventre. Within the past 10 years, the Gros Ventre has undergone some necessary upgrades and restoration projects and now is a wonderful home to a nice population of Snake River Cutthroat.
A Little About the Gros Ventre River
Pronounced Grow-Vaunt, the Gros Ventre is a 75-mile-long tributary of the Snake River. It begins in the Gros Ventre Wilderness west of Jackson and eventually joins the river in the Jackson Hole Valley. The west flowing river holds cutthroat, brook trout as well as whitefish. It’s a medium-sized freestone river with pocket water, pools and long runs. It’s truly an outdoor adventurer’s paradise.
East of Crystal Creek
As you head East past the town of Kelly, you’ll find Lower Slide Lake. You’re going to want to continue past Lower Slide Lake on Gros Ventre River Road towards Upper Slide Lake. As you’re driving, you’ll run into Crystal Creek Campground. This section between the campground and Upper Slide Lake is great water! It’s all public access and the current is less powerful than what you would find below Lower Slide Lake.
Here, you’ll find eddies, pocket water and nice long runs. You can wade both up and downstream, but beware, the wading isn’t easy. It’s a little more challenging, so make sure you carry a wading staff and have grippy wading boots. If you aren’t comfortable wading, you can fish it along the banks and still have plenty of success! Cutthroat trout and brook trout are prevalent!
Soda Creek Confluence
As you traverse further east into the wilderness, you’ll run into Soda Creek! This is a perfect place for both seclusion and big fish. The river widens at this point and with the addition of food from Soda Creek, the fish are looking for larger meals. There’s a bit of a hike required from the road, but it’s well worth the effort! It’s mainly through high desert shrubs. Fish your way through the different channels with your streamers and dries, and you’re guaranteed to land fish.
Right Above Lower Slide Lake
Many anglers choose not to fish any water below Lower Slide Lake. This water is fast and extremely technical! However, as you travel along Forest Road 30400, above Lower Slide Lake, you’ll find some more friendly fishing conditions. It’s fairly secluded, so you won’t run into too many people! Stick with dries and streamers and you’ll be okay. Pocket water and pools make up this section.
Why The Gros Ventre is Perfect for Fly Fishing
The Gros Ventre is one of the least fished rivers in the Jackson area. Many anglers stick to the Snake River and miss out on all of the possibilities that the Gros Ventre provides. Even though the river is only 75 rivers long, a large amount of that is public water, so access is plentiful.
Guide Pro Tip: Check the stocking report to get an idea of where the fish populations are. Wyoming does a great job of communicating their stocking schedule. Here’s a shortcut link to read more 👉 Wyoming Game and Fish Stocking
Combine the access with the healthy fish populations and you have a pristine western United States trout river. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department stocks the Gros Ventre several times a year with cutthroat trout.
What StreamFlow is Best for Fishing the Gros Ventre River
The Gros Ventre is a faster moving river than many of the other rivers in the Jackson area. As a result, you’re going to be making quite a few casts throughout the day. You’ll want to fish it at around 300 to 400 CFS. As mentioned earlier, it’s primarily pocket water and pools, so make sure you choose the spots you’re fishing wisely.
What Kind of Fish Can You Catch on the Gros Ventre River?
On the Gros Ventre, the primary targets should be the Snake River Cutthroat population. These move into the Gros Ventre from the Snake River and are regularly stocked throughout the year. The Cutthroat range from 8 inches to 16 inches.
You’ll also find nice populations of brook trout in the headwaters! The brookies are fairly small, but they’re a blast to catch. The last fish you’ll find are whitefish. Many anglers are disappointed when they catch these fish, but they fight well and can grow to a decent size.
Favorite Flies for the Gros Ventre River
Elk Hair Caddis- Size 14
The Elk Hair Caddis is the perfect option for dry flies on the Gros Ventre River. These hatches occur regularly throughout the summer, so be prepared! You may want to go a little smaller if the fish are being picky.
Anderson’s Golden Stones- Size 10
Stoneflies are another prominent insect on the Gros Ventre River. Throughout June, Golden Stoneflies are favorites for both the brook and cutthroat trout!
Royal Wulff- Size 12
If you need an attractor pattern, the Royal Wulff is perfect. It imitates both mayflies and terrestrials. Late in the summer, you’re going to find that this works extremely well.
Ventures Fly Co. 40 Fly Assortment Has a Great Selection of Flies
This assortment has most of the flies needed lay the foundation for an effective fly box. the most common dries, nymphs and streamers. Check out the on water video review on YouTube – HERE
Hatch Chart for the Gros Ventre River
|Fly Name||Size||Start Date||End Date|
|Blue Winged Olive||16-24||January 1||December 31|
|Pale Morning Dun||18-24||June 1||September 31|
|Caddis||16-22||June 1||September 31|
|Golden Stoneflies||10-16||June 1||July 31|
|Salmonflies||8-12||June 1||July 31|
|Midges||18-24||January 1||December 31|
|Terrestrials||6-12||June 1||October 31|
Fly Rod and Reel Setup for the Gros Ventre River
On the Gros Ventre, you don’t need a rod that’s too heavy. A 9’ 4-weight is just about right. A longer rod isn’t a bad option to help with dry fly fishing. Find a matching reel and be sure to use a floating line! Wanting to learn a little more about fly rod sizes? Read 👉 What do the numbers mean on a fly rod?
For your leader, a 2x through 4x is perfect. Your tippet needs to be thin since the water is extremely clear. Fish with 4x or 5x leaders!
Guides and Fly Shops
The Gros Ventre River Ranch is an all-inclusive ranch that offers fly fishing and a variety of other outdoor activities! If you’re interested in the true Wyoming experience, give them a call.
Last Cast for the Gros Ventre
The Gros Ventre is for true wilderness lovers. You won’t find the dozens of fly fishing guides taking all of the good spots or tourists ruining the perfect holes. You’ll get healthy fish populations and privacy. Be sure to visit the Gros Ventre on your next trip out west.
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Danny Mooers is a high school English teacher in Arizona with a love for fly fishing. Growing up in Minnesota gave him the opportunity to experience all types of fishing and grow his skills. After living out in the Western United States for several summers in college, his fly fishing obsession grew. Having the opportunity to share in his passion for fishing through writing is a dream come true. It’s a lifelong hobby and he strives to make it understandable for people of all skill levels