Jackson is the ideal hub for exploring the Snake River, a surging, full spirited river that provides a direct connection between Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. The setting is breathtakingly beautiful – jagged peaks jutting into the sky while the river and its maze of channels and tributaries “snake” their way through the verdant, lush valley. Important to early explorers seeking passage west, the Pacific and Atlantic Creeks reach the Continental Divide at Two Ocean Pass near Jackson and part ways. The Atlantic Creek turns east, merges into the Yellowstone River and eventually flows into the Missouri while the Pacific Creek turns west and merges into the Snake, becoming the largest tributary of the Columbia, eventually reaching the ocean.
Known for its own unique trout, the Snake River finespotted cutthroat can only be found in the waters around the Jackson Hole valley. Considered by experts to have once been the only trout species in the Western interior, it has evolved into 14 different subspecies. To this day, its native range is limited to the upper Snake from Heart Lake to the Palisades Reservoir. Despite the finespotted’s hearty, undiscerning appetite and a seeming willingness to eat just about anything, experienced anglers view this fish as the most aggressive, hardest fighting trout to snare. As a result, when you catch one you earn major bragging rights.
The most heavily fished areas of the Snake’s run through western Wyoming are the 35 miles in the park between Jackson Dam and the 17 remaining miles flowing through Jackson Hole. This section of the river is ranked as one of the best dry-fly streams in the West. Snake enthusiasts recommend floating the river although newcomers are advised to only go with a guide and veterans are reminded to exercise caution, as the water can be turbulent and unpredictable. Should you decide to wade, be mindful of swift currents along undercut banks and stick to quiet, shallow river sections and side channels. Great stream fishing can be found at Gros Ventre River and Flat Creek.