What Happened to the Fly in Fly Fishing?


 

The fly fishing trout outfitting industry is interesting. In many cases, the competing outfitters are sharing a public river and targeting the same animals – over and over. This isn’t akin to hunting where the venue is much larger and not linear in flow, the season is shorter and your target is generally removed from the population or physically unaffected. Rivers are essentially narrow one-way water conveyors so you are oftentimes in traffic much like a traditional road. And yes, you deal with both consciences and asshole drivers. On top of that we are all trying to fool a finite quantity of trout that we handle and return until the next handling. We can all see how the fish was treated previously. There are different schools of thought, really it is a combination of experience, mentalities and self-imposed limits that forms a threshold for decency on how to accomplish whatever it is you and your guests view as success.

We are a proud relic in the industry and this is why we do not ideologically mesh well with our contemporaries. This is also why we have some strong disagreement with the action/inaction of the Wyoming Game and Fish Dept and the Bureau of Land Management.  We all have to contend with the results of each other’s actions. Obtuse mistreatment of the trout, the river and surrounding lands are reflected the following day, week, month, year and decade. These consequences are always predictable and should always be avoided. It is disconcerting when those we view as professional, educated or holding the best interest of the industry are actually leaning on that misaligned conception to celebrate the very things that cause disintegration of the condition of the experience and the existence and condition of the river and the trout.

Are we perfect and without fault? Of course not! We have the most stringent self imposed limits of anybody in the industry but think a revamp of the regulations would be a great way to make us even more accountable. Grey Reef to Government Bridge could really benefit from a max of 2 hooks per rig, barbless and no snagging/pegging. Let’s start there!

 

 

 

 

 

Crisis Therapy – No Pressure but Hurry Up and Live


Read below for some quick results to your frequently asked Wyoming Fly Fishing questions:

At some point we all need a spell. If there is one thing we are very confident in is that our guests, while they are visiting us in Alcova, WY, will enjoy a valuable departure from the quagmire of current events. We are powerless to make it any other way. You can’t help but to get caught up in this big empty landscape with fun people and awesome fishing. This will be our 24th season and we’ve had a fair bit of panic but it always turns out in our favor, the North Platte River is always good to us and guests return.

Over the past couple years we’ve tiptoed around and kept our nose to the grindstone. It has all worked out beautifully. So well, that we added an incentive to visiting multiple times a year. Our return trip discount was a game changer for guests and The Reef Fly Shop and North Platte Lodge staff beginning in 2020 and we are continuing that program. Our corporate rate has also been popular with most of our full-lodge groups. Our off season rates are also still in effect this week. Killer deals on guided fishing and fishing/cottage packages. We are all bombarded with news of rising prices and limited supply, so how about a price break and a bumper crop of fish and fresh air? Lodging and guide availability is also great if you have some flexibility in your dates. This off-season we’ve also made significant investments in both properties. We know you’ll notice and enjoy the updates. What never changes is our guide staff’s dedication, experience, and conscientious approach to fly fishing. The kitchen and house staff are a godsend.

Grey Reef FAQs:

The Spring Flushing Flows: The Bureau of Reclamation has tentatively scheduled a gate check and typically the flush follows. Historically, it begins on the third Monday in March but let’s not hold our breath and just enjoy the awesome spring fishing as it continues to ramp up. The highest volume fishing of the season is going on right now and will continue throughout the spring. It put Grey Reef on the map.

Runoff: This is a common concern for folks who aren’t familiar with spring Grey Reef fishing. We don’t have runoff, fishing is awesome…its that simple.

Warm Summer River Temps: Hoot owl closures have become increasingly common on Western trout rivers. Low water and warm summer temperatures heat up the waterways to a point that the rivers are closed to fishing completely or throughout the bulk of the day while poor conditions persist. We’ve not had critical temps for 20 years. The five reservoirs upstream create a large supply of cool clean water throughout the year and isolate Grey Reef from runoff.

Meals: If you want high quality, wholesome, plated meals while you visit us in Alcova, WY you want to book the North Platte Lodge. Meals are only available to lodge guests and are not available as a stand alone option for those in the RV sites, cottages or staying offsite. Book the lodge, get the unmatched fly fishing package – THE location and most experienced guide staff…slam dunk.  Book the cottages, get a great vacation rental with a full kitchen and grill. There is a cool apres fish scene at the shop, grab a beer in The Reef Fly Shop and kick back under the covered patio with likeminded anglers. There are a couple prepared food options in Alcova and the staff recommended Silver Fox Steakhouse is 25 minutes away on the western edge of Casper, WY. Groceries are also available near the Silver Fox.

 

 

The Maxillary Process – Six Steps


The Maxillary Process is the part of a trout’s upper jaw that extends down to and overlaps the mandible or lower jaw in the corner of their mouth. It is a thin piece of cartilage that connects to the fish’s face by soft tissue and gives trout their tough appearance. The condition of the maxillary process is great way to assess the general health of the trout population and where the anglers and guides land in their angling attitude. It’s a litmus test of the general angling mentality. Kind of like how you might make a judgment about a neighborhood if cigarette butts are piled up in the gutter and junk cars are parked in the front yard.  You could similarly align missing and mangled maxillary processes up with guides and anglers who practice abusive, entry level “fly” fishing techniques. The Maxillary Process is also an angling mindset and our longstanding ideology and action toward preservation of Grey Reef, Fremont Canyon and Miracle Mile. Our ethos has always been foreign, if not unheard of,  in the fly fishing outfitting industry. Plainly, we function to catch fish but we go way above and beyond to preserve the health of the fishery and the trout.

Let’s be real, sticking a hook into a fish’s mouth, removing it and releasing the fish isn’t the least invasive way to massage our sportsman’s machismo. The fly fishing culture, on the surface, has always been a front of exemplifying a sporting tradition. That tradition is about conservation, preservation including an acute regard for the fish and the waterways. There are a lot of abusers who hide behind that image. They don’t give 2 shits about the Maxillary Process and wouldn’t  recognize its absence in the social media influencers grip and grin photos.

What can you do about it?

#1, look at each and every fish and fish picture. Are they damaged? is the Maxillary Process missing? Contemplate that and give a shit. Did you damage the fish you just landed? Contemplate that and give a shit.

#2 stop using pegged bead trout snagging techniques. There is nothing as destructive and lame that has come about in the fly fishing world. It used to be limited to the rookie Alaska guides but has trickled out and become many angler’s and guide’s only avenue for “success”. Hooking fish on the outside of their mouth mangles them. To most of us, the point of fly fishing has always been to trick them into eating your fly, match the hatch…you know, FLY fishing. Tricking them to eat a plastic bead that you pull out of their mouth to snag them with the hook a few inches away is gross and is devoid of skill and requires almost no knowledge or experience.

#3 Pinch your barbs, its better for the fish and better for you to develop angling prowess and some humility. Anglers and guides who routinely and unconsciously pinch their barbs don’t lose more fish than non pinchers. They develop skills and muscle memory that the other don’t. Pinching your barbs creates better anglers and does far less damage to the fish.

#4 Step down one size of tippet and rod weight if you are fishing too much rod. Ease up on your hook set. Be quick but don’t employ so much horsepower…it isn’t necessary. Over gearing is as bad or even worse than under gearing. This advice is contrary to popular fly fishing lore. Become and adept angler and land fish quickly with lighter equipment that applies less pressure to the fish. There are some dumb fly fishing mantras that need to be tossed up on the bank. Always fish your leader one and a half times the depth of the water is just as dumb of a concept as over gearing to land fish quickly.

#5 Hook a few fish and move on. We now see guide services float the same couple mile stretch of river twice in one day. This practice is brutal and amateurish. Progressing as an angler means you need to try other things and other spots. Hook a few and move on.

#6 Ask why you never see pegged bead rigs stuck in the gill plate like you often see a picture of a little dry fly pinned in the trout’s beak. Is it less than kosher?  Even the hacks that do it on the daily don’t want to record their (mis)deeds?

 

This gorgeous Miracle Mile rainbow isn’t smiling. The Maxillary Process was likely ripped off by a pegged bead “angler”.  Photo: Josh Stevens NPL/TRFS Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Here – Roadmap to Grey Reef


 

Getting there is half the fun. There is a lot of truth in that idiom but recently, the accepted modes of “getting there” have created questions and some real struggles. Luckily, Central Wyoming is about as good as the “getting here” gets. Alcova, Wyoming is 30 miles south of Interstate 25 and 90 miles north of Interstate 80 with a major airport 30 miles from The Reef Fly Shop and North Platte Lodge.

If you plan to drive,  interstate speeds limits are 80mph and no gridlock.  They are the fast-track routes but Wyoming’s secondary highways have some great advantages in our opinion. The scenery is awesome with vast expanses of vacant land and oftentimes equally vacant roadways. Highway speed limits are 70mph and added travel time is a nice tradeoff for little traffic and bigger views. One thing to keep in mind when visiting Wyoming is that fuel stations can sometimes be 100mile between stops.

Many of our lodge guests fly but not always to Casper. The Casper-Natrona Airport is very close to our locations so landing there and shuttling to Alcova is a process that takes about an hour to collect bags, load up and drive to the shop or lodge. Car rentals are available, ride share is available and we also provide a limited transport service for lodge guests. The Casper – Natrona Airport is served by United Airlines via a Denver, Colorado connection and Delta Airlines via a Salt Lake City, Utah connection. There are no direct commercial flights to Casper outside of DIA and SLC. Oftentimes, the connection flight is as much or more than the cheap flight from a major city to Denver. Many of our guest from around the country opt to fly to Denver and rent a car or van at Denver International Airport and drive the 4 +/- hours to get to Grey Reef. Most are still able to make it to the lodge at our 3pm checkin time for an afternoon fishing session or a cocktail on the deck.

North Platte Lodge Shuttle Service is available for lodge groups who fly to Casper. We have a big van and arrange a single arrival or departure that best meets the needs of all arriving or departing guests within our shuttle operating hours. These can be seen at https://northplatteflyfishing.com/north-platte-lodge/ Scroll down to the “details” tab.

 

 

Miracle Mile Fly Fishing and a Little Reality Check


Stiff-arming a Miracle Mile Chunk   (Photo by NPL Guide Josh Stevens)

Miracle Mile is a short tail water section of the the North Platte River that is arguably the most recognized piece of fly fishing water in the state of Wyoming. The “Mile” as it is commonly known, is actually 5 to 8+ miles long depending on the level of Pathfinder Reservoir. The term Miracle Mile was coined by Curt Gowdy who was a well-known sportscaster for NBC and ABC Sports during the 1960s and 1970s. The Reef Fly Shop is the nearest operation to Miracle Mile and we frequent this remote area in Carbon County. Wade fishing trips to Miracle Mile were some of the first guide assignments for North Platte Lodge in 1998, and current staff floated the Mile in their sweet yellow Aire Super Puma and cheap Sevylor K-79 inflatable kayak beginning in the early 1990s. We’ve been around a little while.

Don’t get us wrong, we love Miracle Mile and for the same reasons that it enjoys infamy. It is a good fishery with quality trout, it is remote, has lots of public access, it is easy to drive right to any run, has plenty of camping options, it fishes year round and oozes some lawless anonymity. Much of the public allure however, comes only from the name and lore.

GREY REEF   If we had to choose it would be Grey Reef and none of the area fisheries would be a close second…not even Miracle Mile. Grey Reef for trophy class fish (25″), Grey Reef for dry fly, Grey Reef for high-volume fishing, Grey Reef for novice angler’s success, Grey Reef for angling diversity and response to hatches, Grey Reef for fish population and shear productive river mileage, Grey Reef for accessibility, Grey Reef for less fishing traffic and congestion.

Miracle Mile can be a shit show, especially in the fall. Please let us be on Grey Reef during a blizzard, big wind event or gulley washer. The Mile is better than most fisheries but can’t compete with the consistency of Grey Reef. It has some huge fish but we target trophy trout at Grey Reef for a reason. Miracle Mile is lackluster for dry fly except the short Golden Stonefly hatch, Miracle Mile has more midstream structure and heavier water making it more difficult for less experienced anglers and the wading is a lesson in expecting a swim. Miracle Mile has almost no edge structure and is 800′ higher elevation than Alcova. Again, we love Miracle Mile and it will always be part of our program but it is evident from conversations we’ve had with folks over the past couple decades that their interpretation is mostly misguided due to lack of really understanding the contemporary reality of Miracle Mile.

 

White Ribbon Of Death or Blue Ribbon Trout Stream


Front Rangers can rejoice! Arapahoe Basin Ski Area has opened the white ribbon of death for 2021. For those that don’t know, the white ribbon of death is a term given to a ski run made mostly of man made snow and concentrated to a single run in an effort to get the resort open before any other operation. Oftentimes the surrounding terrain will be devoid of snow but being the first to provide turns for the avid skiers and snowboarders has considerable bragging rights. We can see the allure but as powder snobs, not enough to pull us out of the water. There is still a lot of fishing to get done this year and we are entering prime streamer time. Colorado, sorry we won’t be visiting until powder season is in full force but we still have some guide and cottage availability over the next couple months while we let the snowpack mature. Besides, it’ll probably take less time to drive to Grey Reef than it will to get to the summit of I70. All kidding aside, we are on the cusp of the meaty part of the BWO hatch and the streamer program is starting like clockwork. Cheap trips, lodging and cottage/fishing packages start on Nov 15 and end March 14 2022. visit the rates page for details and let’s make a toast to a robust and stable snowpack this year. Cheers!

 

Iced Tea Iced Guides


October through mid November is a pretty magical time in Central Wyoming. The scene changes daily and the transitions between fishing disciplines and hunting opportunities seem endless and can be exhausting.   Gear rooms, boats and vehicles suffer the most as the constant exchange inevitably creates disarray and confusion. Anglers are loaded with 3 rigged rods – the dry fly opportunities are all day and you need to be able to grab a rod as soon as rising trout start doing their thing, nymph rigs fill the gaps and help you to not feel inadequate for surface refusals and the streamer water should never be ignored. The dry fly game is plentiful yet humbling, nymphing light emerger rigs is really dang productive and you never know what kind of critter your streamer will land in front of. The days start with coffee, waders and a hoody and end with t-shirts, sandals and a beer.

Then there is hunting. Big game often warrants different caliber choices, waterfowl and upland bird and you’ll shop for tools to optimize that experience. And don’t forget about the dogs that make it all happen…pointing, flushing, snuggling and retrieving.  Add other Central Wyoming outdoor recreation options like mountain biking, gravel biking, off road motorcycling, climbing, trail running and paddling. That isn’t the end of it but we know where to stop, ha! This region has not been developed to optimize most of these activities and that is a good thing. Getting outside begins with leaving your comfort-zone and culminates in continuing to advance your comfort by creating a habit of putting yourself out there. Going further, rejecting the normal definition of success and discovering things that very few people will. This isn’t the Visit Casper version of Central Wyoming…this is the raw and real version that excludes the entry level social media influencer portrayal.

Put yourself out there, or come hang out with us for a few days and we’ll do our best to show you the ropes…this is the perfect time to do it. Before the snow flies and skis and snowmobiles come out along with the water fowling waders, layout blinds and we enter the season where chipping ice out of our guides has every angler thinking to themselves how they can solve this age-old dilemma.

Miracle Mile fishing report is good with leech, worm, baetis, caddis, scud nymph rigs. It is busy with hunting camps so be aware. Fremont Canyon fishing report is very good dry fly with tricos, pseudos and caddis. Swing crawdads and soft hackles in the unoccupied tweener water. Grey Reef is rocking and rolling from top to bottom, the upper is quiet and the dry fly is excellent. Streamer activity is ramping up and short light emerger rigs are the way to go if you like the numbers game.

The Reef Fly Shop is open daily and we still have guides, cottages and RV sites available. Stop in for some good sales or check out the newly restocked space.

 

Variety is the Spice of Life


Early September in Wyoming and fishing couldn’t really be any better. Clear, cool water coupled with more hatches than necessary and it is pretty hard for things not to be good. Early AM Tricos, midday pseudos and hoppers, craneflies, caddis and midges all keep the trout with an eye to the sky. We are expecting warm and dry weather conditions this week supporting our position that summer ain’t over yet! We love the 40+ degree daily temperature swings with mid 40s in the evening and upper 80s at the height of the sun’s arc. Shorts and flip flops all day but make sure to have a hoody when you wake up and while at the evening camp fire…and plan on going to bed with chilly feet. Upland bird hunts and dry fly fishing are where we live in our dreams and reality for the next month and half. Intermittent interruptions with trophy trout hunting with streamers, big game hunts and early season waterfowl confuse our sense of focus at times. Central Wyoming is a dream. Not going to lie, we are ready for the tourist traffic to settle down on the highways and get back to the kind of traffic where folks return your steering wheel wave.

The Reef Fly Shop has some availability for guided fishing and cottage stays over the next few days but then gets pretty tight until about the 10th of October when the regional pace will downshift to 2nd gear. Shadows will become longer, leaves start to turn, migratory waterfowl will buzz your hat on their way up the river and the fishing will mature as it does every fall. You either need to book several (uhhmmmm many) days of guided fishing to be able to take advantage of all the opportunities or settle on a discipline or two and resign yourself to walking away from some. Our recommendation is to plan a mid October to mid November to visit to the area. Blast right through Casper and get to Alcova, post up in a cottage and step into your waders. Swingers, aka trout spey guys will have Miracle Mile giving up the goods, small stream enthusiasts will fall in love with Fremont Canyon ( the Grey Reef Reduction) and those who love head hunting or targeting our resident behemoths will want to focus on Grey Reef. 100 miles of highly productive trout water and our locations on Grey Reef Road are the epicenter. Apres at The Reef Fly Shop with cheap afternoon guide-beer selections and swing over to the Sunset for a burger or call up Sloane’s General Store and order up a pizza to go. Our “cheap trip” rates begin November 15 and include discounted guided fly fishing trips, cottage rentals and super-reasonable cottage/fishing packages. Fishing is no less productive but the weather may or may not be ideal for those who require fair weather recreation. Expect some good apparel sales at the shop as well…starting now.

North Platte Lodge is in a bit of a predicament with availability through late October. We’ve got one spot mid October and as well as one late October spot. Early November still has a good option for a water fowl-fishing combination trip before we go into construction mode. So gather up your crew and be prepared to be blown away by the food and fishing. Per usual, we’ve got our winter hit-list of things we want to do to make the joint even better. Be the first crew to see the new digs next spring. April has great lodge availability but we are intent to get back to a busy April lodge schedule for 2022. Why? April is the highest volume fishing each and every year, bar none. The fishing conditions at that time of year are the very best for those who may not spend tons of time with a fly rod in their hands. Recreational anglers, corporate groups and fish counters – spring is for you. Those who thrive in tech nymphing, sight nymphing and lightweight emerger rigs…well, spring is also for you. Our new Regular Season rate schedule will provide for even more affordable stays outside of our Peak Season, June through September. Corporate rates will be even more attractive as well.

Blue Grouse, waterfowl,  sporting clays and pheasant and chukar preserve hunts. We’ve heard the stories and we only hunt wild birds on our wild bird hunts. Sage Grouse hunts sell out fast and we are only offering Sage Grouse hunts in a max of 2 days of hunting (you can stay and fish or hunt big game or other birds as long as you like) as a North Platte Lodge package. All other species are available as day hunts or cast and blast. Early Season waterfowl and preserve hunts are excellent packaged with fishing in the same day. Central Wyoming duck and goose hunting is available through the later part of January. The ultimate cool-season event…book a cottage and put on a pot of chili. Head out with the guides for a day of decoying waterfowl and winter fly fishing and get back in time to watch the game.

Just because Grey Reef and Miracle Mile fly fishing trips are more affordable doesn’t mean they are the lesser option. Pssst, we don’t go into summertime hoot owl (many Rocky Mountain fisheries have been shut down or limited in recent years due to too hot and low to practice catch and release fishing) mode because our river conditions are frankly better and more consistent than the destinations you read about in the magazines. We generally have more and bigger trout. We generally have far fewer river users. We have more private access, easier to get to, better locations on the river and there are very few operations that provide the range of services that we do at North Platte Lodge and The Reef Fly Shop, Cottages & RV. Give us a shout, we can help you unpack your preconceived notions and get ready for your next fly fishing chapter.

 

 

It’s Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood


July was a whirlwind and August has entered taking no prisoners. Our summer season has been defined with solid hatches, consistent monsoon moisture and really, really good times. Sallies have mostly departed, PMDs, Tricos and caddis are living large and we are still twiddling our thumbs, waiting for the hoppers to get here en masse.  Central Wyoming has been blessed with plenty of cool water running down the lower North Platte River System so no hoot owl restrictions or dangers from warm temps.

Grey Reef was just reduced to 2000cfs from 3000cfs so this with supercharge Trico activity. Tricos are ultra consistent and a pretty technical hatch ( rather spinner fall)  to target, Trout put themselves in  precarious situations because they can’t resisted the conveyor of spent bugs. Tricos are a wade anglers object, typically amplified in shallow, nervous riffles, they are accessible on foot. We are getting hopper eats but they haven’t kicked into high gear. Nymphing, however, has been pretty ridiculous.

The Reef Fly Shop and North Platte Lodge guide crew have been cranking and things aren’t looking to settle down until mid October at this rate. North Platte Lodge is booked, like zero openings,  until Sept 25-28 where we just opened up a 4 angler option for 3 days of fishing. We are also booked for sage grouse. We do have a 1 or 2 angler option Oct 6-10 and then we go to Oct 14 before we gat a bit more consistent lodge availability. Awesome fishing and great bird hunting options for the October through mid November range. Cottage availably is still pretty good for September and October but Aug only has scattered options.

Upland bird hunting, waterfowl, sporting clays and cast and blast are centered in our targets for October through January. A cool experience that keeps you active through the time of the season you need it most!

Let’s talk about the 2022 lodge roster and get you written in asap. Things are already pretty excited but we do have lodge packages available during the highest volume fishing of the year in April and May. We are going to adjust rates seasonally so April and May will consequently have lower rates due to unjustified lagging popularity of spring fishing. The truth is that April and May are the best choice for folks who prefer really high volume fishing, wade fishing, and it is easier for those who may not be as adept or experienced with a fly rod. Spring weather isn’t the most predictable but the fishing is very predictable. This isn’t shoulder season where you get reduced rates because the fishing is so-so…the Grey Reef Spring Fishing is as good and better as fishing anywhere, anytime.

If the internet static is confusing your decision just give us a shout. We can help you navigate through all the website smoke and mirrors you will encounter when searching or Grey Reef and Miracle Mile fishing. We’re happy to explore if we are a good fit for you and your crew.

 

 

The State of the Water – Grey Reef 2021


A little recap of our fishing conditions and what to expect at Grey Reef and Miracle Mile for the remainder of 2021. With much of the Western fly fishing world puckered because of drought caused low and warm water conditions this summer we are positioned to be enjoying awesome fishing throughout the 2021 season and put us in an incredible position for 2022…NPLs 24th season.

Our reality is that if Nebraska farming is requiring irrigation then Grey Reef will be flush with water. It took a little bit to get the Bureau of Reclamation to release water at Grey Reef this year. Several factors contributed to this “delay” and the most notable was that a bunch of volume was dumped from Alcova Reservoir in Oct 2020 and moved through Grey Reef to Glendo so that they could do some maintenance on the facilities. A so-so snowpack didn’t require elevated spring flows and there wasn’t much room to store it downstream so it was held in Seminoe and Pathfinder (uphill from Grey Reef). Miracle Mile had quite a bit of water pushing through early and the quality of fishing paralleled the flows…in a good way. I heard somewhere that fish like water and while we, as anglers, might not know how to contend with that, our scaly friends are masters of the river and thrive with volume. Typical spring flows at Grey Reef and even 50cfs less than the minimum prescribed made for excellent spring conditions and jaw-dropping wade fishing. Warm May weather created water temps enough to nudge some premature hatches but not too warm to cause concern for the fish. We finally experience a bump to 1500cfs then to 2000 and now to 3000cfs! Temps dropped, fish didn’t skip a beat, we purged premature algae growth and now have the volume we need to protect us from the water temps getting too warm for comfort and all the while pushing water up against the banks creating the edge structure *cough* ie hopper habitat. We’ll take 3 grand but would be pretty excited if that were doubled!

We’ve now transitioned to the ordinary summer hatches including Caddis, Yellow Sallies and Pale Morning Duns and our short-lived Golden Stonefly hatch that peaks for about 2 weeks. This is a fun time as we get dry fly opportunities and fish are spicy and hanging out in cool places. By mid July we should see the long-lived trico hatch ensue. Daily dry fly opportunities on the spinners typically extend well into October. Hoppers seems to be a little delayed this year so I’d think the 3rd week in July should get them really honing in on terrestrials. Hoppers should be prevalent through the 3rd week of September with a couple stagnant days in September as they reduce their activities during low pressure events. The grasshopper hatch is predicted to be a pretty serious threat to local farmers this year so that should translate to robust hopper fishing. High pressure is what we want for that…seems counterintuitive but we want hot, sunny and breezy conditions as they are most active and get knocked into the river.

Let’s touch on availability for the remainder of 2021. North Platte Lodge has very little availability through the middle of October. We only have two 4 night/3 day spots for 2 anglers available from now until the 3rd of September. Labor Day weekend still has a couple spots available, a couple mid September spots, we still have a couple Sage Grouse cast and blast dates the last ten days of September. Our first full lodge availability is Oct 6th then we jump to Oct 15th for the next. For corporate groups and those who prefer to secure the full facility October and November are the targets.  For those who are interested in shooting we’ll touch on that lower in the report. We have RV sites and guide availability for day trips and we have our 4 cottages, the vacation rentals, located on The Reef Fly Shop property with some options still remaining through August. A solid option is to start planning now for October or even spring 2022. We love entering fall and particularly mid Oct through mid No(yes!)vember  Baetis, Caddis and Tricos make for awesome dry fly and nymph fishing. Long shadows create the best scenes, colored leaves and a little morning chill in the air is as refreshing as it gets…not to mention a significant slowdown of river traffic and a ramping up of trout feeding for the coming winter. Late October through November is trophy trout season and a streamer junky’s dream and waterfowl cast and blast is full-steam. Spring fishing is, by far, the best option for novice anglers and those who really seek the highest volume fishing available anywhere. It is easier for the angler to have a lot of success, plain and simple. April and May are prime.

Shooting and Hunting with Pathfinder Outfitters, North Platte Lodge and The Reef Fly Shop, Cottages & RV – Big Game, Upland Bird Hunting, Waterfowl Hunting and Sporting Clays. Sharing passions is what we do here. We’ve done the bird hunting since the beginning and added our awesome big game program a few years ago. Sporting Clays at our good neighbor’s place Riverbend Roosters just came online last month! Sage Grouse, we are the premier outfitter in the world for this rare hunt. This hunt is perfect as a fishing and hunting Cast and Blast and available as a NPL package. Other upland species include Blue Grouse and Hungarian partridge and preserve hunts with pheasants and chukar.  Waterfowl, private access and guides who know the behavior of the birds makes the early season (first 2 weeks of October) the best intro to the waterfowl season. A mixed bag of puddle ducks and geese including fast flying teal get the juices flowing before spending the remainder of the day on the river. Our early season waterfowl cast and blast is underrated. Big Game – Antelope, Deer and Elk. Impressive populations and growth rates coupled with tough draws and you have a recipe for a really cool experience. Here are the differences, you stay at the North Platte Lodge that includes gourmet dining and in close range to the field rather than a motel room or tent. You benefit from our focus on quality over quantity and the best fallback in the business. You don’t need contingency planning when you hunt with Pathfinder Outfitters. What happens if you fill your tag the first morning of a four day hunt? You made the right choice to pick Pathfinder Outfitters because you continue your stay in comfort deciding if you’d like to fish, hunt birds, shoot clays or all of the above. Others send you home, we send you back out there to experience the best of Central Wyoming. We’ve already enjoyed the combination days with fishing and sporting clays and booking more and more of these. Everything is provided for the shooting and is billed separately by Riverbend Roosters. During the warm months there is plenty of daylight to fish a bunch water and still get a round of shooting in. Jump on for a central Wyoming waterfowl hunt during the regular season  Nov – Jan. We aren’t going to blow smoke and tell you this is the most amazing hunting, day in and day out, because it isn’t. It is noteworthy for excellent decoying and calling birds when the conditions are ripe and it is noteworthy because if the birds aren’t responding the fish will and it is noteworthy because you get to stay in or come to Central Wyoming. To summarize you can have incredible duck and goose hunting 45 minutes from Casper and just a few minutes from our exclusive Grey Reef locations but if they aren’t responding, you go fish. Be sure to check out Wyobraska Waterfowl if you want to travel a bit for a dedicated and excellent duck and goose experience.

Golfing – Yep, a couple of our guides are avid golfers and one is a former pro. We’ve got cast and swing trips on the books as well. This isn’t an official offering but it is officially awesome.

Carp fishing – Of course! Barefoot warm water wading on shallow sand flats, sight casting to cruising brutes. Split your day wading at Fremont Canyon, Grey Reef or Miracle Mile and spend a couple hours on the carp flats. It is ok and appropriate to get out of the boat to fish, too.

You might wonder what we don’t do? We don’t peg beads, fur or chenille to snag fish as an accepted approach to fly fishing. We don’t target fish on redds. We don’t do multiple floats a day abusing a small, couple mile, section of Grey Reef. We don’t employ barbs. We don’t put you on the river with inexperienced guides or those who don’t align with our highest sporting standards. We limit our daily bookings to satisfy this mission. You may have to adjust your plans a little bit as we won’t call up a warm body to guide you if that day our staff is fully booked, just so we can make a buck. If high standards and fair chase are important to you we’ll get along famously and have a long and storied relationship. Our guide staff is ridiculously experienced and will never stoop to being opportunists in the field or on the river…they don’t have to. They create the highest level experiences within set parameters and a sporting tradition.