In the Middle of Nowhere- a Minute from Everything


 

Anglers seek great fishing, that’s no secret. We also want our trip to include an adventure component and a little exclusivity. Grey Reef is still a far lesser known angling destination despite, objectively, being a in the top tier of superior fisheries based on a bunch of features. It is tough to match Grey Reef’s healthy numbers of trout, large average size with gargantuan trophy specimens, relatively low to absurdly low angling pressure (season dependent), access, abnormally good water conditions all year long, proximity to a bunch of stellar fisheries and being able to provide a great experience to a broad range of anglers from novice to advanced and all ages. Of course, that’s what we’ve always prided ourselves on providing while not diminishing what fly fishing really is. We Grey Reef Road locals are loaded to be, not only an invaluable resource for visiting anglers that are not booking guides with us, but also providing a guided/hosted program that aligns with skilled, traditional and conscious fly angling.

Like you, we are destination anglers. We’ve tailored our operations to fill gaps that we see in many of the fisheries we visit. As anglers, we need a great place to stay, food, drink, fuel, great guides and advice and flies…a cool vibe is an added bonus.  Pretty simple, but hard to pull off since most great outdoor experiences are isolated from amenities or manufactured and lose the soul you get with rustic establishments built and operated by locals. Think the modern ski resort. Alcova, WY and Grey Reef are different. While we don’t have the engineered facilities that are planned, proposed and built in bulk we have the best kind of amenities. These amenities were here before Grey Reef became known in the fly fishing world. They’ve been here for a very long time to serve the ranching community of this special, unmolested region of Wyoming. They are loaded with character/s and the things we need. The North Platte Lodge and The Reef Fly Shop properties were just lucky enough to be the first fly fishing operations to set up shop on the lower North Platte River over 25 years ago. That’s why we have these insane locations. Grey Reef Road was once the main highway from Casper to Rawlins, Wyoming but has now been reduced to a mile and a half long, dead-end relic of the old days that accesses the Grey Reef section of the North Platte River and our two locations. North Platte Lodge was a feed ground before it was built and The Reef Fly Shop was the location of and old road house bar. It was a scary proposition to make investments and carve out a first of its kind outfitting business on an entirely unknown fishery. What is often overlooked are the local businesses that make The Reef Fly Shop and North Platte Lodge visit unique and position us in the ideal location to provide an experience only we can. We are in the middle of nowhere but a minute from everything.

The Sunset Grill: Locals call it the The Sunset and has been an Alcova fixture for many decades. Just a 3 minute walk or a sub one minute drive from your cottage at The Reef Fly Shop, Sunset burgers are legendary. Nobody who comes to fish Grey Reef should miss an experience at the Sunset. Seriously, you’ll bump into a variety of folks from local ranchers to anglers from all regions of the country to the lake folks stopping in for a burger before the 30 minute drive back home to Casper. It is a little salty and family friendly but is also a great spot to grab a cold beer, pin a doodled dollar to the wall and meet your new best friends. If the drive though doesn’t blow your mind, when they hand you a cocktail out the window will.

Sloane’s General Store: Sloane’s has been in business for a 100 years. Their location is a touch over a minute drive from The Reef Fly Shop and is a must do stop for a scoop or two of ice cream. They sell fuel, basic groceries, firewood, propane, souvenirs, beer, boating and fishing supplies etc. Sloane’s will build you a pizza that you can pick up 15 minutes after your order. They have prepared food like breakfast burritos, cinnamon rolls and pizza that you can grab anytime. These are prepared fresh and onsite. They also have the original vacation rentals in Alcova and the fall-back if we are booked.

Windy Waters RV: This is a newer operation and is located across the road from Sloane’s General Store. They provide RV campsites and allow long term stays. While The Reef Fly Shop RV sites are closer to fishing (walk out in front of the shop) and Grey Reef boat ramp/fishing access, nicer views and a great vibe at the the fly shop property. Windy Waters is a solid nightly option and provides month long or longer living.

Alcova Post Office: it does post office things but you can also pick up bird hunting licenses if you forgot to get yours online. Another one-minute destination from your cottage.

Alcova School: K-8 rural school situated below Alcova Dam 4 or 5 minutes from the shop. Not sure if there is another public school anywhere who has world class angling a few skips from the playground!

North Platte Lodge:  That’s us. Owned and operated by fly fishing guides with deep and lengthy connections to the fly fishing industry. The original inclusive fly fishing lodge serving Grey Reef and Miracle Mile with great food, the best and most experienced guide crew in the business and the undisputed prime location for those targeting the Grey Reef, Fremont Canyon and Miracle Mile sections of the North Platte River. The Grey Reef boat ramp is visible from the awesome deck and your guide will have you at the boat ramp in a minute. We often trailer our boats with oars in the oar locks and straps off ready to launch as soon as you pull up. With rods already rigged you are making casts while others get their straps off of their boats. The lodge is a little over a minute drive from The Reef Fly Shop, Cottages and RV and is a nice one mile walk along the very low and slow traffic Grey Reef Road. The lodge has some of the best trout water in the world a couple minute walk from the front door. We also have upland, waterfowl and big game hunts as well as hunting/fishing packages.

The Reef Fly Shop, Cottages & RV: That’s us. Custom flies, expert (and friendly) advice, our overqualified guide crew, RV sites, drift boat rentals, vacation rentals, BuffTrout swag, cigars, beer. Apres beers on the covered patio, every evening.

That’s it, aside from a few residences and primitive camping options. Alcova has pretty wild geology (paleontology, archeology etc) so the topography hides sight of other locations in many cases…especially the North Platte Lodge, we are way off of the highway and around the bluff from the shop, the Sunset, Sloane’s etc but the only to have outfitter to have front row seats to Grey Reef the fishery. The airport is a 40 minute drive. If you need groceries, restaurants, a mechanic, hospital or any other services you’d expect in a city, Casper is only a 30 minute drive. We are the nearest outfitter to Miracle Mile at a 30 minute approach and Fremont Canyon, Alcova Reservoir, Pathfinder Reservoir at 15 minutes and the after bay section is at your ready right in front of the shop.

Grey Reef doesn’t play second fiddle to any fly fishing destination.

 

Feels a Little Like Fall


Cool and rainy this morning in Central Wyoming.  Not gonna lie, it feels pretty good!  We are officially at the midpoint of September and we are right where we are supposed to be.  Flows on Grey Reef are at 500cfs, Miracle Mile 530cfs and Fremont is holding steady at 75cfs.  Everything is fishing well, actually really well.  Water temperatures have dropped to a more comfortable level and conditions, especially on Grey Reef, are primo.

Pretty standard when we see the drop in flows, Grey Reef is running very clear and the vegetation is far less of a hinderance.  That being said, it has been buggy and the fish are looking up.  Huge trico numbers in the morning and pseudos in the afternoon.  Our Grey Reef guides have pretty much been rowing around looking for heads.  A little longer leader, tethered to 4X or 5X with a single dry (i.e. para adams, trico spinner), or a double fly rig with something a little bulkier (i.e. X caddis) with a trico spinner dropper. If dry fly fishing isn’t your thing, you can still catch them on trusty nymph rig.  Our go-to nymphs have been PALs, RS2 foam-wings in black and grey, pheasant tails, Pat’s rubber legs and/or a black two-bit hooker.  Our nymph rigs have been between 3-6ft in length and anything from no weight to 1-2BB split shot.  It really just depends on the type of water you are fishing.

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.  

 

 

 

 

Fun Fishing!


After the last big rain event Grey Reef was blown out for a few days.  But now it is back in shape and the fishing(nymphing) is about as fun as it gets!  Caddis, midges and a few straggling baetis are whats popping and the fish are starting to focus on sally and pmd nymphs.  Lots of fish are sitting up in the riffles, making for some pretty awesome sight fishing opportunities.  Our Grey Reef guide rigs have been short and light…2-4ft with a #4-BB split shop, depending on the depth and speed of the water.

Spring Time In Wyoming


Well folks, as we write this little report it is snowing!  Some locations more than others.  Casper is currently under about a 10″ blanket of white, while 30 miles to the southwest in Alcova, it might just be a few inches.  Currently the Grey Reef stretch of the North Platte is in good shape.  For about the past week and a half we have been fortunate to have good water conditions from Grey Reef Dam to Glenrock, Wyoming.  That’s a lot of fishable water!  Unfortunately it might be different below Casper when the snow starts melting.

Current Flows:

Miracle Mile: 1,526cfs

Fremont Canyon: 72cfs

Grey Reef: 505cfs

Nymphing is currently the name of the game.  Leeches, worms, annelids, midges and baetis patterns are top producers.  3-7ft on the rig length, with anything from a single #4 split shot to 3BB’s.  We know thats a broad range but when the bugs are popping our guides are fishing light/short and when things quiet down a longer rig is more appropriate.

Trout On Top


Over the last few weeks we have seen a lot of different weather. Literally, EVERY type of weather. From shorts and flip-flops to puffy coats, hats and gloves. This hasn’t slowed or stopped us! We are currently getting a lot of rain. What does that mean for us here? Bugs! Lots and lots of bugs! BWO’s, Midges, and even some PMD activity out there. This is a special time to get out and cast a fly. The water temps have climbed out of the winter chill and are sitting around 52-55 degrees. And couple this with our low flows at 500cfs. The fish are very active! With overcast/wet days, we are getting to see a lot of feeding fish on the surface. These fish WILL eat a presented dry fly! The past few days we have had some incredible dry fly opportunities. Its always fun to see fish on the surface eating your fly. Oh, and don’t worry. If you come out and they aren’t on the surface that day, the incredible nymphing opportunities lead to some pretty memorable days out there. June is approaching and everything is stacking up to be an unforgettable couple months. From PMD’s to Yellow Sallies and even the beginning of hoppers is all right around the corner!

One thing to keep in mind about our amazing fishery is, we have clean, fish-able water. With the series of bottom release dams upstream of the Grey Reef, we are typically clean year round. Yes, there is the occasional gully washer rain storm that will dirty the river for a day or two, but for the most part we are clean and clear. We do not have the big run off affects that other fisheries have to deal with. There are a series of small creeks that merge into the North Platte downstream of the Grey Reef boat ramp. These for the most part are small trickles into the river.

DON’T FORGET OUR STREAMER TOURNEY! We are excited to bring this unique opportunity to you. This isn’t your normal fishing tournament. Yes, there are prizes, and cash like most. Simms, Scott Fly Rods, Dirty Water Fly Co. etc.  However, this is hosted where you will be staying! So no having to leave after the long day of casting streamers. Sit back on the porch, enjoy some drinks and fine dinning! See the below information and if you’re interested, give us a call. Limited space so make the call!

STREAMER TOURNAMENT: This is a North Platte Lodge Trophy Trip on steroids and positioned at the height of the most successful time to target trophy class trout (25″ or more) . The event will be limited to 12 anglers staying and fishing double occupancy. Arrive Thursday afternoon Oct 31st, Fish full day Nov 1 and 2 and a half day Nov 3. On the final day NPL will provide a chef prepared lunch and award ceremony prior to an afternoon departure. Cash and prizes will sweeten it up! The goal is to land the longest Trout of the weekend. Lodging, meals, 17 miles of private access with 5 boat ramps and guides/boat provided. Once the roster is set you will have access to your guides to scheme your approach. Call for details 307.237.1182

 

 

 

Wyoming Fly Fishing Report, Grey Reef


Central Wyoming fly fishing is still impressive. The guides report excellent fishing at Miracle Mile, Fremont Canyon and Grey Reef. Grey Reef numbers can’t be beat and the average size is reminiscent of 15 years ago. Miracle Mile fly fishing report is also very good with not the numbers but the size has been really impressive…although the trophy class fish will be most often found in the upper 8 miles of Grey Reef.  Fremont Canyon is also producing and the dry fly has been solid.

Grey Reef Fishing Report: Flows are down to 1300cfs this AM water is clear and temps are cool until you get into Casper. Expect a drop and we may be down to 500cfs winter flows before we know it. Excellent nymphing with caddis and midge options. Leeches and scuds also productive. Grey Reef streamer fishing has really picked up steam and you should have a streamer rod rigged and ready. Grey Reef dry fly fishing is great with pods slurping trico spinners in the AM and really good caddis in the PM.

Miracle Mile fly fishing report: Flows are at 1000cfs and clear and cool. Nymphing with small bug/caddis rigs the most productive. Miracle Mile streamer fishing has been pretty good as well.

Fremont Canyon fly fishing report: flows are 75cfs and very clear and cool. Dry/dropper rigs in the rock gardens and streamers throughout. For numbers stick with a light nymph rig and caddis emergers and midges.

We had a pretty exciting day on Sunday. The lodge was very close to being consumed by a human caused grass fire. The Alcova community and NaCo and BLM fire crews as well as the sheriff’s dept saved the facility likely. Pretty cool when tractors, road graders, water tanks just kind of pop out of the hills with neighbors who are a tenacious bunch. Big thanks to all who lent a hand!!

 

Snow on Grey Reef, Fish Hiding? Flows Nudged


North Platte River flows have been bumped Grey Reef flows at 2100cfs and Miracle Mile flows at 1800cfs. Central Wyoming will see no ill consequence from our current weather situation. Grey Reef fly fishing will be in full effect. Will these conditions be for the faith of heart? Probably not. We have had a couple to a few inches of sticky snow over the region and Casper Mountain may see up to 1.5 feet from the extended spring conditions. Our landscape will be transformed by next week. Yesterday is was pretty brown and crunchy and once this snow cooks off we will enjoy green views and even more baetis for our fishy friends to wow us with.

Grey Reef fished well yesterday despite a couple slowdowns. Our anglers were tough and powered through some adverse weather but were rewarded. This is typical spring in Wyoming. While this is an outdoor activity and we take what Mother Nature gives we do understand the desire for some to tailor their trip to her good side. August and September are as good as they come for a couple reasons. The first is consistent and warm weather. Second is the fishing is spectacular. Third is common misconceptions leave the area quiet and with little fishing pressure. Simple as that. October to early November is a little more risky on the weather side but a slam dunk on the Grey Reef, Miracle Mile and Fremont Canyon angling side. Ask our head guide, Seth Kapust, what his favorite time of year to be on the water is and you will get no hesitation. Fall weather conditions are typically amazing but the fishing is what turns his crank. Nymphing short rigs, casting drys to pods of baetis sippers and the consistent and crushing takes of streamer eaters.

 

Central Wyoming Fly Fishing Report


Grey Reef Fly Fishing is very good and river conditions couldn’t be better. Clear water and 1500cfs with water temps in the mid 40s. Fishing is consistent in the AM, very robust throughout the middle portion of the day with the emergence of our besties the baetis and the late afternoon has been a slowdown after they have demolished all of the blue winged olives (baetis). Streamer activity not great but all it takes is one or two fish to make an uneventful session into a great memory. As was the case with Trent and Beau a couple eves ago.

Fremont Canyon has some excellent baetis dry fly and emerger rig opportunities. Go armed with light tippet and bugs that look like naturals or aren’t too gaudy. Get rid of your bright indicator and ease in with a small chunk of white or black yarn OR go old school swinging a Reef’s Pulsating Emerger! Most Grey Reef pro anglers will tell you 2x and a pegged bead is the only way but you will discover a whole lot more to these fisheries once you sit back and watch a bit. Discovery is the essence of fly fishing!

Miracle Mile is fishing fair and there are good midge and beginning baetis on that stretch as well. Scour the inside 3′ depth before trudging out to the slot…they are in there.

Remember to kindly ignore fishing to active spawners!

Pic: Trent handling his new best friend

Wyoming’s Grey Reef and Miracle Mile Fly Fishing Report


Grey Reef Fly Fishing report was cold and nasty yesterday with lots of Wyoming roads closed. We had to push a number of trips as Grey Reef anglers couldn’t get to the area. Miracle Mile fly fishing conditions are good but the roads are poor. Leave those alone for a day or three. With the winter weather all across Wyoming, the fishing was still excellent. A couple rounds of midges had fish on and very near the surface. Of course the beatis were doing their thing but midges have been very prolific and important. The Grey Reef section of the North Platte River is in great fishing condition and the sections below Government Bridge have improved dramatically…even into Casper. Casper Mountain received 20″ of snow so we should expect poor conditions below the Grey Reef section again as that snow melts. We would be very happy if the BuRec decided to push a little extra water down the North Platte River to give the fish a little more room and spread things out. This would also help IF we get some dirty water associated with the latest storm.The Fremont Canyon fishing report is great but a tad more busy.

Short/light emerger rigs with a PAL and UV Crystal Midge has been super productive. Our Rhinestone has also been a hyper performer. Lighter rods are not a bad idea as the a compliant tip help to hold the aggressive Grey Reef trout. Don’t get too flashy the fish can see everything and don’t need big obnoxious flies to be noticed. We have had some good dry fly opportunities and the streamer fishing has been hit or miss. Swinging and stripping emergers has been pretty dang fun!

We do have some Grey Reef cottage availability and guides next week. We do have a lodge spot available over Memorial Day weekend as well. We have 2 weekend lodge spots in June and then we are pretty snug until the 23rd of August. We do have a full lodge option at that point.