307.261.5628 is the number to the local Bureau of Reclamation office. The Wyoming Game and Fish is well aware of this critical situation that is easily mitigated. Missteps over the past two years , if allowed to continue, with damage Grey Reef and who knows which other fisheries. Here are the points:
1: They pushed too much water too early
As soon as we saw the water rapidly increasing in early April we knew the movement of water was a knee jerk reaction. We also knew that with a snowpack that was nowhere near 100% we would experience the old fashion push it early and choke it off in May strategy to conserve water with no regard for the trout, the trout economy or the quality of life of the locals. The trout move into shallow cobbled areas to create their spawning beds at high flows, then the BuRec decides we don’t really need to move all that water because there is no call for irrigation downstream so they drop it back to 500cfs (This year was different with all the spring moisture and they had to hold it back as a result. The problem was they filled Glendo and had no additional storage there so we took the brunt) All of those spawning beds are left high and dry or readily accessible to predation. Additionally the flushing flows are essentially a waste of effort and interruption to the angler. If you are going to kill the spawn there is no point in operating the flushing flow program. The flush has been wildly successful and has put Grey Reef on the map and the bucket lists of anglers from all over. Why disturb the popular spring fishing and interfere with the economy that accommodates it for a program that is literally a wasted effort with poor management after the fact. The 10 days of high water causes many anglers to avoid the area during what is arguably the busiest time. The busiest time equates to the time when revenues are robust. We are happy to sacrifice those revenue in exchange for smart water management and a successful spawn.
2: They reduced flows ONLY to satisfy irrigation needs or the lack of need.
Again, this year was different BUT their practice of pushing too much too early exacerbated the situation. Had the BuRec used the same techniques that John Lawson had used over the past decade that would have been a different story. IF they felt they needed to get some water to Glendo they could have released half of the volume to slowly move the water. 1200cfs is a very nice level for spawning and for wade fishing. It keeps the water temps cool and free of rapidly growing algae. Instead of a few weeks of higher water they could have maintained a steady flow to water at an even depth where the trout saw fit to place their nests.
3. The End Result
Last year was the classic example of raising the water then dropping purely based on a lack of irrigation needs. This basically killed the 2014 year class of trout for no good reason. 2015 was different in that we had and excessively wet May and June. Rest assured that the 2015 year class will meet the same demise as the previous season. The water temps at Grey Reef are increasing rapidly and the algae growth is a month beyond where it typically would be. This has also initiated hatches earlier than normal. When the water is bumped tomorrow this will cause floating and dislodged debris and algae and will again disrupt the local outdoor recreation economy and quality of life. When an algae event like this happens anglers DO NOT FORGET. While there is way too much whining about Grey Reef’s “weeds” we understand the psychological effects are long lasting and anglers who are not equipped to navigate what they see as less than ideal conditions tell everybody on social media how bad the fishing is. The reality is that this a lack of experience but it has economic impacts. The destination anglers who know better love it because the riuver is quiet and fishing is stellar.
On that note, Grey Reef is still fishing very well but it really is only a matter of time. Pressure has the BuRec now claiming that flows will increase to 750cfs tomorrow at noon and 1000cfs on Thursday. 1000cfs is not enough, frankly. It is better than nothing. Miracle Mile is fishing great. If you like to fish light rigs and dry flys better get here now because we are setting up for a memorable dry fly summer. Lots of terrestrials around, Caddis in the eves are great! Tricos in the AM and yellow sallies midday.
We have a few lodging options for the weekend, cottage and NPL full package. Be spontaneous and get here, wade fishing is awesome and we have the access to experience it right.