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.  

 

 

 

 

Battling the Veg


It happens every year, without question.  The vegetation(mainly a species from the genus potamogeton), on Grey Reef starts breaking up and making its way downstream.  In the case of this year it has gotten a little extra jolt, courtesy the recent bump in flows.  Is it a pain in the ass?  Sure.  Does it make it unfishable?  Absolutely not.  You just have to be prepared to clean your flies and get them in the right spot.  This isn’t spring on Grey Reef, so don’t expect it.  You may not be hitting the numbers of fish you are accustomed to but the quality is there, without question.

If you are here or headed this way, this is the program our crew has been rolling…4-6ft, 1-2 AB split shot.  A short, stout nymph rig that gets down quick.  The first fly will be a Pat’s rubberlegs, cranefly or a leech.  Trail that with a birds nest or another caddis pattern, pheasant tail and/or a foam wing RS2.  Also, keep your eyes peeled for risers.  We are seeing a few heads up on tricos in the morning as well as a few eating hoppers in the afternoon.

So if the current situation has you a little down and you don’t want to bother with the veg, there is a silver lining.  When flows start dropping after Labor Day, the river should be in great shape.  Less vegetation and clear, clean water.  September and October is setting up to be one for the books…

A Quick Little Update


Thanks to all of you that stopped by for our summer sale!  Here’s a quick little fishing report/update.  Grey Reef flows bumped up last week to 2,500cfs.  Weird, we know…but obviously Nebraska is needing a little more water.  We are expected to hold at 2,500cfs until September 6, when flows will start dropping.  After then rain and bump in flows, water conditions were pretty poor but things are settling back down and we now have good water to Sechrist.  Nymphing and streamers are the way to go if you just want to catch some fish.  That being said, we are getting a few on tricos in the morning with a few fish willing to eat a hopper in the afternoon.

Grey Reef Flows Update


A quick little report on Grey Reef.  Flows are currently at 2,000cfs.  We have been having some legit thunderstorms the past few evenings and Grey Reef has been impacted.  As of this afternoon, upper Grey Reef is clearing and fishable.  Everything downstream of Government is not, zero visibility at this time.

***SUMMER SALE***AUGUST 18-20***20% off all apparel***30-40% off specialty items*** 

Agosto


Hard to believe we are already nine days into the month of August!  It’s been a busy summer for us and will continue to be for the coming months.  Thank you to everyone who has joined us this year…it’s been a good one thus far.  So, here’s a little fishing/water conditions report for everyone.  Flows on Grey Reef have dropped to 2,600cfs, clarity is excellent and water temps on the upper are 60.5 degrees as of this afternoon.  Miracle Mile is still sitting at a low and slow 540cfs, clarity is marginal and water temps are probably leaning on being a little too warm (we have not had any guides on the Mile for several weeks to report an exact temperature).  Fremont Canyon is currently flowing at 400cfs, clarity is marginal there as well and the water temperatures are around 60 degrees.

So as for the fishing, our guides have been spending their time on Grey Reef.  We are continuing to see consistent trico numbers in the morning and we are definitely finding some fish up on the surface.  After that subsides our Grey Reef guides have been switching over to a nymph rig.  Foam wing RS2, pheasant tail, birds nest, poxyback…these are a few of our top nymphs right now.  So what about hoppers?  We are getting some fish to eat the hopper, for sure.  The number of fish eating really seems to depend on the day and the float.  Otherwise, if you are willing to strike out early or stay on late, streamers are in play as well.  Top streamer right now, the trusty rusty t, of course.

It’s Officially Summer


Well, kind of.  This morning feels more like late spring, with highs today only reaching the 60s.  Short lived, it should start warming back up on Monday.  Let’s start with flows and conditions.  Currently Grey Reef has settled in at 3,000cfs and is fishable from Grey Reef dam to Casper, WY.  The Miracle Mile is holding at 1,500cfs and we are seeing some golden stones starting to pop.  Fremont Canyon has been bumped up to 650cfs.  With flows stabilizing on Grey Reef we should start working back into our hatch progressions.  As water temperatures start increasing (it is currently 46F at @ Grey Reef) we should start seeing PMDs, sallies and more caddis.  So if your headed this way make sure to grab some of the staples, i.e. san juan worms, pine squirrel leeches, etc.  Something big and tasty followed by a PMD nymph seemed to work well this past week.

Grey Reef/Miracle Mile Flow Projections


Well for those of you who did not see our social media posts, Grey Reef flows are up.  Grey Reef is currently sitting at 2,000cfs.  It was a welcomed bump in flows for sure, especially considering the warmer weather we have had over the weekend.  From what we have heard, flows on Grey Reef may reach 3,500cfs by the end of this month.  Plans for the Mile are as follows; remain at 1,500cfs for the next few weeks, then drop down to 500cfs for the remainder of the summer.  That’s what we know at this time and as always we will keep you updated as we learn more.

Buggy


Miracle Mile(1,500cfs), Fremont(80cfs) and Grey Reef(500cfs) are all in great shape.  Clear water and the bugs have been popping, especially on Grey Reef.  This is such a fun time of year!  A baetis and midge pattern have been our bread and butter up top, no question.  If you’re heading down low you definitely need some leech patterns as well as some caddis.  Streamers have definitely been on the menu as well, especially if we get some overcast weather.

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!