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Top 3 Summer Trout Rivers in the West

There are numerous prime trout rivers throughout the West. These three offer incredible blue-ribbon angling all summer long.

Top 3 Summer Trout Rivers in the West

Big brown trout linger beneath the surface in Wyoming’s Green River. (Shutterstock image)

OREGON’S MCKENZIE RIVER

West Trout Fishing
McKenzie River, Oregon. (Shutterstock image)

A blue-ribbon trout river, the McKenzie comes to life in the central part of Oregon’s Cascade Range and runs westward for 90 miles before meeting the Willamette River near Eugene. The best trout fishing lies between the towns of Blue River and Springfield.

Accessing the upper stretch is challenging due to the area’s rugged mountains. However, there are multiple boat ramps from Blue River downstream to Springfield, and bank fishing is possible in select spots. Drift-boat anglers should avoid Martin Rapids near Vida. From Goodpasture Bridge downstream to Bellinger Landing County Park is considered the friendliest water to float, and bank fishing exists in parts of this stretch. Bed-and-breakfasts abound along most of the river, with hotels aplenty in Springfield.

Fly fishing is what attracts anglers from around the world to this river, but trout—both native and hatchery—can be caught multiple ways. The river is crystal clear, making lures, plugs and bait very effective.

MONTANA’S MADISON RIVER

West Trout Fishing
Madison River, Montana. (Shutterstock image)

Montana boasts many fine rivers, but the Madison is likely the most renowned. The Madison River starts in Yellowstone National Park—which holds 23 miles of river—and flows for more than 140 miles before it joins the Missouri River near Three Forks, Mont.


The Madison runs through a wide mix of beautiful terrain. Some places are easy to fish while other stretches are dominated by treacherous rapids that anglers will want to avoid. The Madison transitions to a freestone river below Quake Lake then runs 100 miles to Ennis Lake, making for some of the best-known trout water in the country. Ennis is a central locale where many anglers base their stay.


Fly fishing is the go-to method on the Madison for both rainbows and browns, with caddis and salmon fly hatches prevailing in mid-June and hopper action becoming prime later in summer. Fishing can be done from a drift boat or by wading the river’s extensive shorelines.

UTAH’S GREEN RIVER

West Trout Fishing
Green River, Utah. (Shutterstock image)

The famed Green River starts in Wyoming, where big brown trout linger beneath cut banks as the river meanders through ranch lands. Flowing into Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the Green’s tailwaters below the dam boast upwards of 20,000 trout per mile within the first seven miles. Here, rainbow trout and browns can be found, but this stretch of the Green is noted for its cutthroats.

The town of Dutch John, Utah, is a good place to headquarter. Here you’ll find the Spillway Boat Ramp, which allows you to float about seven miles of river to the Little Hole Boat Ramp. There is also walk-in access from the Little Hole National Recreation Trail, about halfway between the ramps.

The Green River is a fly angler’s dream, but lures also are used. Many first-time anglers hire a guide to float this stretch of river. Keep in mind that river levels can fluctuate below the dam.


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