Exploring the Outlaw Triangle: Day One

The Green River offers some of the best trout fishing in the Lower 48. In the seven miles of blue-water fishing below the dam, the river holds an estimated 15,000 trout per mile. So, whether you're a novice or veteran fly angler, you've got to like those odds.Kevin Cooley
Here, the Cessna gives us a glimpse into a forest of aspen trees on the Little Mountain area, south of Rock Springs, Wyoming. The area offers trophy hunting for elk, mule deer, and antelope, plus some outstanding backcountry fishing for native Colorado cutthroat trout--which I hope to catch tomorrow.Kevin Cooley
EcoFlight provided our aerial tour of the area. Based in Aspen, the company's mission statement is to "advocate for the protection of remaining wilderness and wildlife habitat through the use of small aircraft, and provide educational programs designed to encourage an environmental stewardship ethic among citizens of all ages." In other words, they fly people over incredible country and let the scenery and wildlife inspire passengers to get active with conservation.Kevin Cooley
A gas storage site in Clay Basin, Utah.Kevin Cooley
The pilot, Bruce Gordon, with Dave Glenn of TU riding shotgun, points out a feature in the landscape.Kevin Cooley
World-class trout are not the only fish that swim in the Green. The river is home to four endangered species of fish: the Colorado pikeminnow, bonytail chub, humpback chub, and razorback sucker. These species all inhabit the lower Green River, and biologists and anglers are concerned about how the threatened species would deal with even fewer flushing flows from the Flaming Gorge Dam.Kevin Cooley
Cart Creek Bridge crosses over Cart Creek Bay, which is part of Flaming Gorge Reservoir.Kevin Cooley
The plan on this trip is to experience some of the fishing the Outlaw Triangle has to offer on each day of the trip. On day one, we fished the A Section of the Green River, a seven-mile-long stretch that starts just below Flaming Gorge Dam. This section sees plenty of traffic from anglers and floaters. The water is clear and the trout, mostly rainbows here, are plentiful. And the scenery--high red canyon walls--isn't bad either.Kevin Cooley
Kevin Clegg, of Flaming Gorge Resort, nets a trout caught by Trout Unlimited's Casey Snider. True cowboy that he is, Snider prefers to pass on waders and fishes in cowboy boots and Wranglers.Kevin Cooley
The A Section holds mostly rainbows, but our group caught the occasional brown trout. Here's a particularly pretty example of one. I just wish I was the one who'd caught it.Kevin Cooley
We broke for lunch around noon. For the entire morning, Dave Glenn and I fished a hopper-dropper rig. We each had a couple of fish rise to the large foam cicada pattern that our guide, Ryan Kelly, had given us. But for the most part, all of our bites came on the dropper. A few of the guides mentioned that the dry-fly action had been much better on the B Section. We'll see if that's the case in a couple of days.Kevin Cooley
It doesn't take long to figure out why the A Section is known as "Red Canyon Stretch."Kevin Cooley
Jeff Taniguchi, president of TU's Unitah Basin chapter, knows the Green well and he finished the day on a hot streak. Here, he shows a nice rainbow. I wouldn't be surprised if he soon celebrated this catch with a victory cigar.Kevin Cooley
When the fishing is as good as it is on the Green, even the photographers can't resist putting down the camera and picking up a fly rod. Here photographer--and now fly angler--Bridget Batch fires cast.Kevin Cooley
That evening we enjoyed dinner at the Red Canyon Lodge. Before going back to the ranch for the night, we all made sure to check out the magnificent sunset view of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir from the nearby viewing areas.Kevin Cooley

Senior Editor Colin Kearns and photographer Kevin Cooley spent three days exploring what's at stake in the battle for water in the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the consequences of irresponsible drilling for oil and gas in Wyoming's Little Mountain region. Here's what they found on day one.