Grey Reef – Flows are Irrelevant

The start of the Grey Reef flushing flow is coming up this Monday, March 20 so we feel like it’s a good time to talk North Platte River flows and how they impact fly fishing production or “quality”. Flows are going to start with a smaller burp of water this year to help nudge some lingering ice out of the way before a bigger push a day or two in. The first day will likely not be quite as turbid as you might be used to and far less than we remember from decades past when Grey Reef was way more silty. Is the flush an event every angler needs to be here for? No. Creative anglers do well and process anglers not so much….especially in the beginning. This isn’t a jab, just the truth. The process anglers will do great after the flush is over.  It does, however, present a huge opportunity for folks to grow in their angling. When you have an epiphany that shatters your preconceived notion, it’ll change your approach forever. This is the progression of an angler (guide). The progression of an angler is the best possible thing for a fishery, the fish and those who are your students/guests. It is really a built-in path to being more conservation or preservation minded and it is entirely done by gaining a skill set.

Flows through the season ultimately don’t matter much. During the spring season when warm water temps do not threaten the well being of the trout, 500cfs winter flows to 8000cfs flood stage, is all good. Keep in mind we don’t have traditional runoff. We like big water and this comes down to being creative and confident with all flows and hatches rather than process driven. We love  changes in flow because it moves fish to cool new places and keeps it interesting. It doesn’t change the quality of fishing…at all.

Low flows in the summer fish great but do present the chance of overly warm water on many western drainages. Lucky for Grey Reef , it has been a long time since we’ve had sub 1800cfs flows during the warm weeks.

Some flow changes we aren’t super fond of. Not because of the fishing but because of the effort or the way it impacts time. 2500cfs fishes great but has a strange way of negating eddies. Slack water is pretty handy, especially when rowing the boat. Late in the season when flows drop back to winter levels…the river moves sooooo slow. Sometimes it makes it feel like time is standing still. But, fishing is great and it is better for AM trico spinner dry fly sessions and afternoon psuedo surface snacking. This is a guide problem and not an angler problem… you all are catching fish and the places they are coming from seem a little more evident.

Don’t sweat the flows…they don’t really matter. We don’t have runoff and we don’t have hoot owl restrictions for warm water. We can’t imagine it’ll  happen this year with our awesome snowpack. Bottom line is Grey Reef is an incredibly productive and consistent year round fishery. It’s like a loving, even-keeled and understanding spouse that isn’t afraid to party.


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