WY Wyoming?


WYOMING ISN’T REAL

 

Wyoming (WY) is an interesting place. It is a large piece of land with very few inhabitants. There is a revolving door of folks moving in and folks moving out. A transient oil and gas workforce who’s #1 focus is love of place, oops, money…until it dries up. But a large majority are a very steadfast base that wouldn’t ever consider leaving. WY boasts a meager 580,000 residents sprinkled into 97,914 square miles. That’s just shy of 6 people per section (square mile) or 640 acres. We are proud to battle with the antelope for the crown of the most populous critter in this arid and high-altitude square. Sorry goats, we’ve got you by a margin but we still have tons of respect for you. Plus, WY is the center of the antelope (speed goat or properly known as the Pronghorn) universe. Most of the world’s Pronghorn reside within 300 miles of our busting, 30 resident metropolis, of Alcova, WY. Our low population is synonymous with lots of elbow room and why we despise tagalongs on the highway. Pass respectfully and keep moving or back WAY off…like 200 feet. This same concept applies to the line at the grocery store, hunting, fishing and camping. Maintain lots of room, no unnecessary congestion – simple, this is Wyoming. 

Wyoming isn’t a super habitable place in the grand scheme but is the ultimate in short bursts. Summer is really amazing, warm but not hot by most of the union’s standards, dry and lots of big blue-sky days. Spring and fall, we have several of them every year, rarely act like they’re supposed to. Both will give up some traditional weather but both tend to cherry pick stints of summer and winter. This is part of the reason we have a revolving door of boom-and-bust economy “residents”. That, and the wind. The wind is no joke. No, it isn’t always windy because, as the joke goes, Nebraska doesn’t always suck and Utah doesn’t always blow. The funny thing about those of us who complain the hardest are those who don’t have serious outdoor winter recreation. That is, people who wouldn’t ordinarily spend time outside anyway. (HINT* embrace winter outdoor recreation including fly fishing for longevity in WY) The wind is really a winter and early spring phenomenon and why we have pretty solid air quality.  If you don’t recreate outside in the winter, we are sorry, not sorry about the wind messing up your hairdo on your way into work or blowing your grocery list off of the dash board. We park into the wind and open one car door at a time.  There are a lot of benefits to the wind as well. Every one of the aging Front Range “fly” fishing Bros wearing a visor who storms in and makes a big, super-astute declaration about Wyoming’s wind, goes back to the Front Range. Huge bonus! Just teasing, Brah. Wyoming is not for the weak and if the weather were a little less rowdy, we’d have several times the population. Most of the steadfast folks are here because people make them uncomfortable, and they occupy too much space, breath down your neck and make too much noise when they are on the water or in the field. It is a matter of priorities. We embrace the conditions that keep the population low, first and foremost. Be real careful about professing how important you and your money are to Wyoming’s wellbeing when you’ve been reprimanded for stepping out of line with the way things are done here. Your ill-behaviored presence, self-aggrandized by money, will never supersede the Wyoming way of life. 

Low populations serve hunting, fishing and a myriad of other recreation really well. The part that seals the deal is all the awesome hunting, fishing and other rustic outdoor opportunities. Low populations aren’t all rosy, though. We acknowledge the economic struggles that come with fewer customers, we acknowledge a smaller tax base that limits wasteful and unnecessary overdevelopment of every recreational opportunity and we acknowledge that we have fewer soulless franchise restaurants. We also acknowledge a glaring lack of awareness from most of the folks who are charged with “managing” our outdoor industry and amenities. There isn’t a great pool of knowledge to pull from and that pool is reduced to kiddie sized once most of the capable folks are faced with electing to take government jobs.  

WY is an emotional place. If you don’t believe it, just be around the day after the big game tags are drawn. That’s a pretty warm and fuzzy experience. WY is a safe place. We all have had the winter highway gear requirements driven into our hair. Have water, a sleeping bag, and some other things I can’t remember but very few of us have them along…but it’s the thought that counts, I’ve heard. Also, nearly 70% of WY households own guns. That stat could be irrationally confused with 70% of homes have gun toting psychos and we’re ok with that. Be careful to limit the term households to houses, that stat also applies to all the vehicles on the road. 70% (unofficial stat pulled from nowhere) of Wyomingites also wear muck boots as their daily winter footwear. Looks and smells weird but function over form, y’all. Muck boots are not a substitute for waders, however. If your fishing guide shows up with muck boots you are a captive to the boat for the day, you ain’t getting out to wade fish. 

WY is a loving and caring place. If a stranger is broken down on the side of the road it will only be a matter of moments before someone stops to help. There is so much competition to be the one to save the day that it can become a real safety hazard. We lose our minds and will forget to check traffic before throwing a U-turn in the middle of the highway. On big snow days there will be dozens of roving, built 4 wheel drive trucks at the ready to jerk any unfortunate low ground clearance cars out of a drift…for free! They say central WY is the most charitable place in the nation, there are even flags flying in downtown Casper to make sure you know it.  

All jokes aside, we love Wyoming for the very things that more refined folks hate about it. That’s why there is an unwritten rule that neophytes aren’t allowed to discuss the wind or make knee jerk, highway observations about our big, vacant swaths of sagebrush steppe equating to “nothing”. Wyoming is so much more than Devil’s Tower, the Grand Teton, Old Faithful or Jackson Hole. It is just like fishing Grey Reef, the seemingly boring and featureless chunks in between the exciting water are often the most productive and interesting. Train your eye to see beyond a single dimension and welcome to Wyoming.  

 

 

Stay tuned for some upcoming articles

#1 Voices Carry- The Things We Hear Guides Tell Their guests

 #2 a multi part series The Evolution of a Tailwater – The Ongoing Transition of Grey Reef and Miracle Mile

#3 No Compromises – Why we voluntarily apply massive limits to the way we approach guiding anglers and why we are more successful and the fishery is better for it.  

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Trico Time!


As we hit the middle of August Tricos are in full swing here on the Reef and the fishing is still great! We are seeing a very healthy Trico hatch from early in the morning until about 9-10am. If you’re nymphing black RS2s and Mayhem Midges have been the ticket. We haven’t been seeing too much surface action for the Trico hatch, but if you hit it on the right day you can have some shots at sipping trout. Throwing smaller mayfly patterns or trico specific flies might get these sippers to eat. As the day goes on PMD’s, Yellow Sallies, Caddis, and Stoneflies have all been in the mix and productive. As was the case in early August, some sort of flashy bead head with an emerger off the back can’t really be beaten when nymphing. We have yet to see hopper action pick up, but that may mean just a later and greater season on that front. Of course we have to cover the topic of grass and weeds in the river as well because this time of year is when they really pop up. Surprisingly this year it isn’t that bad yet, but it seems like the grass is growing by the minute. The key to fishing when the weeds really come in is finding where channels open up and drifting your nymph rigs through there. Looking for faster current and deeper shelves where there grass doesn’t grow as high should be your target. Your first instinct may be to shorten up and lighten up in order to drift over the weeds, but you’d be surprised to see how many trout are actually living in the grass, making drifting a little bit deeper through the channels much more effective.

That’s all for this report, hopefully next report we will be able to give you all some good news about the hopper bite!

NORTH PLATTE RIVER FLY FISHING REPORT 1/25/2020


Fishing has been great this week! Weekend temps look awesome, highs in the low 40’s and upper 30’s. Upper Grey Reef down to Lusby has opened and is floatable, we don’t know about anything lower than that. Shoulder season rates are going until March 14th $450 for a full day guided trip, 2 nights in a cottage and full day guided trip for $650
Fremont/cardwell is still at 500 CFS and will be there through mid February. They are doing warranty work on the power plant and are diverting the water through the meadow/canyon until they’re done. With this larger water focus your efforts on the slowest water you can find. Inside corners and tail outs have all been producing.
Miracle mile is also fishing well! The road out there is definitely passable, just be cautious of side roads. The drifts can be deceivingly bad. Fishing has been good nymphing, but especially with streamers. Keep your retrieve slow!
The BigHorn in Thermopolis fished great this week! Nymphing was solid with leeches, Annelids, and sow bugs. Streamer fishing was also productive, the olive peanut envy was our best fly. Fishing the slower flats with a fast retrieve on a sinking line worked best for us. We are offering a shoulder season special $475 for 1 day and $450/day for a multiple day trip!
Nymphs: BH Brassie, Flashbag Midge, Red Midge Larva, Juju Midge, leeches, Reef Worms, and Scuds.
Streamers: Rusty Trombone, Goldie, Kreelex, peanut Envy, DWFC Flash Minnow.
Dries: Brooks Sprout Midge, small Parachute Adams, Matt’s Midge, and a Griffiths Gnat.
As always if you want to book a trip or have any questions stop by the shop or give us a call at 307-232-9128

Flush Fishing is ON!


Fishing has been just on fire during the flush! We have had boats out this past week doing everything from riding the “wave” down to wade fishing after the flows drop. The fish are pumped up and on the feed. Leeches, scuds, and worms are all on the menu. The flush will continue through Wednesday the 21st and be back to normal on 3/22.

Fremont- 75 CFS No flush up here so stick your normal fare up here. Midges, annelids, and a few leeches. The PAL, LAZY, and flashbang midge have all go-to patterns. On the right day the streamer fishing has also been good, thin mints, near nuff sculpin, and the rusty trombone have been our best flies.

Miracle Mile 1,000 CFS The flows are up here, but they are not flushing the river. The flows should stay at 1,000 CFS until the end of the month. Leeches, san juans, otters eggs, and the all day may are working well! Swinging streamers like the goldie or the rusty trombone has also been getting some big fish!

Grey Reef- 4000-500 CFS- The Reef has been seriously good, focus all of you attention of the softer edges and slower water. We’ve been running 4.5-6 ft indicator to weight with a “BB” and a “B” as the weight. UV Leeches, HH Leeches, Impalers, reef worms, San Juan worms, and scuds have all been money!

As always if you have any questions don’t hesitate to stop by the shop or drop us a line!

Shop hours: 7-6 Everyday

Fall Fishing at its Finest!


Fishing has been excellent the past few weeks with great fish being caught on dries, streamers, and nymphs! Flows are all down to their winter levels. Weather looks great the next few days, highs in the 50’s, lows in the 30’s. There has been little to no crowds on the river, especially mid-week. Fish have been smashing dry flies on the right days, tricos in the morning with psuedos and baetis coming off strong in the afternoon.

Fremont/Cardwell-75 CFS- Nymphing has been solid all day with fish looking up for a dry fly at certain times of the day. Prince nymphs, Rs2’s, PAL’s, and  Zebra Midges all picking up fish. A Parachute Adams has been our best dry fly, size #16 or #18. Streamers have also been working on the more overcast days, a rusty trombone or articulated goldie have been the go-tos.

Miracle Mile- 500 CFS- Fishing has been pretty good out there, San Juan worms, Prince nymphs, pheasant tails, tailwater tinys, and rs2’s have been our best flies. The road is actually in good condition, as always that can change with some nasty weather.

Grey Reef- 500 CFS- Fishing has been great from the Reef all the way below Casper. Fish have really been looking up throughout the whole river system. Parachute Adams have been the go-to pattern. There are weeds on the upper section but it is still plenty fishable. The weeds do dissipate as you get further down river. San Juans, Prince nymphs, Pulsating emergers, real deal point fly, and RS2’s are the flies to have, we are running anywhere from 3-5′ indicator to weight with a “b” or a “bb” as your weight.

As Always if you have any questions don’t hesitate to stop by the shop or give us a call with any questions!

 

dry fly time!


The warm weather has brought with it more prolific hatches. The Tricos have started to grow in numbers each morning. We are still seeing plenty of PMDs, Caddis, and Yellow Sallies. Throughout the day changing up patterns should yield more fish. Tricos and midges right off the bat. Then moving to PMD patterns. And lastly moving to Yellow Sallie patterns.

Miracle Mile- 1000 CFS. The PMDs are coming off in big numbers! You might see a residual stone, but I would put more focus on the PMDs and Caddis. Pat’s Rubber Legs, Poxyback PMD, Split back PMD, PSL, Rusty RS2, and the All Day May have been the go to’s.

Fremon/Cardwell- 400 cfs. The flows have come down and bit, but hasn’t effected the fish. With flows dropping water temps have started coming up and that is making the bugs pop! PMDs and Caddis are the big hatches with Tricos starting to make their presences. Throwing Para Adams, Purple Rooster, and Renegade on the surface in some of the slower moving water has been good. Midge larva, poxyback PMD, Split Case PMD, Hares Ear, PT, and Rusty RS2 are great nymphing patterns.

Grey Reef- 2500 CFS. The dry fly action has picked up the past few days! a Single dry or dry dropper close to the bank has been doing well. Lots of fish are now in the shallows looking for that easy meal. Tricos have started to come off in the mornings followed by PMDs and Sallies. If you are looking to throw some dries Para Adams, Purple Rooster, Renegade, and GS Trico are some great patterns. Hares ear, PT, Poxyback PMD, Mayhem Midge, UV midge, soft hackle Sallie, and Rusty RS2 are the go to nymph patterns.

Also Central Wyoming is under a fire ban. No campfires, charcoal grills, or smoking outside of a vehicle.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to give the shop a call! 307-232-9128

Flows on the rise!


All 3 tailwaters saw a bump in flows! Tuesday started the rise in flows. Its looking like we should see a plateau for the weekend as the reservoirs are filling up. Currently Pathfinder is at 95%, Alcova is at 98%, and Grey Reef Reservoir is at 94%. The warm weather this week has really accelerated the melting.

Grey Reef- 4000 cfs

Fremont- 1800 cfs

Miracle Mile- 4500 cfs

Our guides have been using a meat and potatoes rig. Red or purple San Juan worms, Reef Worms in red or purple, PSL leech patterns in brown, natural, or black, and emerger patterns such as RS2 foam post and Mayhem Midge. Rigs have been running anywhere between 4-6 ft weight to indicator, and 2 BBs or 1 3/0 for your split shot. Look for the slower moving water on the seams or fishing towards the banks. The big water years bring out some of the best fishing and an opportunity to catch a trout of a lifetime! For those of you who haven’t heard we added 3 new Hyde Skiffs to our rental fleet!  So, if you don’t feel like hauling your boat around we have you covered!

As always if you have any questions do not hesitate to call the shop! 307-232-9128

Winter Fishing Report- Grey Reef, Fremont, and Miracle Mile


Fishing has been excellent the past few weeks! We’ve got some warm temps coming up in the ten day forecast and we are excited! Like we have said before, a little bump in water temperature can really get some big fish moving around and feeding. Nymphing and streamers both have been producing good fish and lots of them.

TRFS guides Lee and Eric went out the week and did well in the “Junk Hole” using streamers and nymphs. 6 feet indicator to weight and 2-3 b’s for weight with a red Reef Worm and the Reef’s LAZY below was the ticket for them. For streamers they were throwing The Reef’s Goldie on a Fast intermediate line and stripping it in really slow.

Miracle Mile has been fishing great with streamers and nymphs as well. Do not go the back way through sinclair to get out there. Numerous people have been stuck out there this past week. Good flies right now are Zebra midges, Reef worms, leeches, and scuds.The Goldie, as usual, has been our go-to streamer out there.

Fremont canyon has been fishing okay, still fishing pretty good but not quite as good as the reef or the mile. Reef worms and various midge patterns, like the rhinestone or the PAL, have been our best flies out there lately.

Don’t forget about our Off season special! Now – March 15th 2 Nights in one of our cottages and 1 day of guided fishing for 2 guests for only $600! Come see what fishing the Reef in February is all about, Hungry fish and no crowds! For booking or any other questions stop by the shop or drop us a line at 307-232-9128