The Gros Ventre (pronounced 'grow vaunt') is one of the more popular fly fishing spots in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming area and has a good population of 8-14 inch cutthroat willing to take a fly. Part of its popularity is due to its access. There is good access throughout most of its length but the road is not right along the river like it is on some parts of the Hoback. This gives you a bit more secluded feeling when fishing and makes some areas more of a backcountry experience. Much of the Gros Ventre is on Forest Service property, but there are some private sections. Be sure of the status before venturing out to go fishing. There is a good paved road up to the upper end of Lower Slide Lake but it becomes dirt after that. For a ways it is graveled then it becomes totally dirt. In some places it is reddish dirt that becomes very slippery if it gets wet, so be sure to check with the weather before going very far beyond the end of the pavement.
The fly fishing on the Gros Ventre varies according to the season. Generally, the best fishing doesn’t start until at least mid July and lasts through most of the season. This, of course, depends on the snow pack and whether it has been a dry or wet summer. In dry years the fish will move downstream to the deeper holes and better structures. During those times look for the deep holes and the best structures and be prepared to cover a lot of water. Don’t waste time on marginal water as it probably won’t contain any trout at all.
One of the nice things about the Gros Ventre is that there is just about any type of water you can want to fish. Throughout its length you’ll find everything from pools to riffles to runs. For those wishing to fish some pocket water try just below Slide Lake. This is some of the most classic pocket water that can be found anywhere.
Fishing starts on the Gros Ventre when the water from the runoff subsides which is around the beginning of July in most years. This often coincides with the annual salmonfly hatch. These large flies trigger some to the best fishing of the year and both dry and wet stoneflies will produce.
One of the nice things about the Gros Ventre is that it is not necessary to match the hatch to be successful. Other than during the salmonfly hatch, these fish are not picky and bushy drys will generally work well. Popular patterns include a Parachute Hopper, Elk Hair Caddis, Royal Trude, Chernobyl Ant and, the always popular, Stimulator. Some people say that if they had only one pattern for the Gros Ventre that the Stimulator would be it.
The quality of the fishing on the Gros Ventre depends on how far you are willing to venture up the road. The dirt road follows the river for a number of miles and some of the better fishing is found in the upper reaches. Since this is a dirt road, be sure to watch the weather. Some parts of this road can be virtually impassable if the weather gets wet.