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!
Cool and wet this morning! Current water conditions are as follows; clear from Grey Reef Dam to Lusby, muddy at Government Bridge. Flows are sitting at 500cfs and fishing has been good! It’s bug season on Grey Reef, with daily baetis and midge hatches. Our rigs have been pretty straight forward, a reef worm or leech trailed by a PAL/foam-wing RS2/Macgruber or pulsating emerger. Remember to shorten and lighten up when the bugs start popping!
Well folks, the flush had ended on Grey Reef and flows are back to 450cfs. Water conditions as of today are primo! We have fishable water from Grey Reef dam to Casper,WY. We do have cold and wet weather forecasted for the week so we will have to see if that impacts the downstream water conditions.
Just a heads up, road construction is expected to start tomorrow on Kortes Rd. The construction will take place from the bridge at Alcova Dam and end at the Miracle Mile/Fremont Canyon split. What does this mean? Well, if you are planning on heading to the Mile you’ll need to go via Pathfinder Rd/Fremont Canyon Rd. Expected finish date is late September.
What a beautiful week we have had in Central Wyoming! Mild, sunny and calm. As we make our way toward the flush, here’s a few updates. Flows are currently as follows; Grey Reef(500cfs), Fremont Canyon(72cfs) and Miracle Mile(530cfs +/-). Currently Grey Reef Reservoir aka The Afterbay is drained to the river channel, this will continue until the start of the flush on March 31. After that we should see it fill back up.
All and all the fishing has been solid! Nymphing has been the name of the game with pine squirrel leeches, reef worms, san juans, PALs, rhinestones, mayhems and pulsating emergers being our list of go-to patterns. With the low flows our rigs have been living in the 4-6.5ft range, with 1-3 b shot depending on the run. This has been our setup for Grey Reef, Fremont Canyon and Miracle Mile. Keep in mind, with the low flows and clear water conditions, you might want to dial down your tippet size. Most of our crew has been fishing 4x fluorocarbon to the back fly.
If you haven’t seen it on our social media outlets, then here’s a little flush update. The Grey Reef flush is now scheduled to begin on March 31 and run for exactly nine days. During the flush-flows will increase every night, starting at midnight. Maximum flow during the flush is 4,000cfs. Flows will drop and stabilize to 500cfs every morning at 10am. At this time we do not know what flows will be post-flush but our best guess would be somewhere around 500cfs.
First things first, we have not yet heard about the dates for the spring flush on Grey Reef. Historically, it takes place during the last few weeks of March. As soon as we hear something we will let you know.
Well, we are officially into the second week of February and thus far it’s been pretty nice. Other than a lack of snow, we can’t complain. February is a great month to be on the water when the weather plays nice. Yesterday was one of those days for sure. Spent the afternoon poking around and wade fishing various spots on Upper Grey Reef. Nymphs were more or less the way to go in every run we fished. That being said, we did manage at least a few grabs on the streamer in every run as well. You have to remember, water temps are pretty chilly and the fish are not overly aggressive towards the streamer. So, keep the strip nice and slow and with the clear water conditions smaller and natural seemed to be the ticket (i.e. near-nuff sculpin). On the nymphing front, it started with hot-head scuds and ended with reef worms and leeches. Not much for a midge hatch that day so the larger menu items were the way to go! Our rig stayed in that 5-6ft range with 1-2BB split shot.
Well, the weather has started to really shape up in Central Wyoming. Yeah we know, it’s winter but over the past several weeks we have had some beautiful days. If you follow us on social media you’ve seen that we are officially back on the water. It’s hard to believe that it is time to start ramping up for another season. Shop orders will start arriving in the coming weeks. That means new patterns, a FULLY stocked fly bin, new gear and more.
So, as for the current North Platte fly fishing report…flows are low and steady and the fishing is solid! Grey Reef is currently at 450cfs, Fremont Canyon 72cfs, and Miracle Mile is hovering around 530cfs. And everyone is running nice and clear. Nymphing and streamers are the name of the game but with the right conditions and a midge hatch we are seeing a few fish on top. Nymph rigs for this time of year are 4-7ft, 1-3B shot…it really just depends on the type and depth of water you are in. Of course the most popular flies to date are as follows; pine squirrel leeches(natural/brown/black), reef worms, PALs, rhinestones, brassies and mayhems. If you go the streamer route a short sink tip or an intermediate line tethered to an articulated goldie or a rusty should do the trick.
Let’s hope we keep getting some windows of nice weather and when we do, give us a shout and take advantage of our offseason day trip/cottage packages. 307-232-9128
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.
Whether its La Nina or just a wet weather pattern, we’ve been getting some decent moisture the past few weeks. A few of these storms have made a mess of the lower river (Government Bridge-downstream) but it appears now that we are on the mend. Currently, Grey Reef is flowing at 450cfs and fishable from the Dam to Glenrock. It is still a little off colored through Casper but we wouldn’t hesitate putting a boat on. Fremont Canyon is plugging along at the standard 75cfs and still off-colored due to Reservoir turnover. Miracle Mile is also at winter flows and holding between 500-500cfs.
Streamers and nymphs are the program right now. Not to say you can’t put together a decent dry fly day on Grey Reef because baetis and pseudos are still popping on a daily basis to some degree. Our nymph program is pretty much the same for all three North Platte tailwaters. Pine squirrel leeches, san juan worms, pheasant tails, Macgruber’s and PALs. As far as streamers are concerned our guide crew is a little split. Some of them are throwing small and dark (i.e. wounded sculpin aka Seth special, peacock buggers, twin lakes special) and the rest are in the articulated camp (i.e. rusty trombones, articulated goldies, articulated ebony, mini dungeons). For streamers we have been mainly throwing floating or intermediate lines.
Our phone at the shop is currently down. We are hoping to have it fixed asap and apologize for any inconvenience.
It has been a whirlwind several weeks of Cast and Blast, Upland Bird Hunts, Waterfowl Hunts, Elk Hunts, Deer Hunts, Antelope Hunts and our meat and potatoes Fly Fishing in Central Wyoming. We are thankful to have more on the horizon and even developing additional opportunities that are in alignment with our expertise – It is what we do. Firstly, we’ve had very temperate weather conditions but experiencing a few days of cooler and windy. Our air quality has been good and we haven’t experienced much of the smoke that has been plaguing much of the West.
CENTRAL WYOMING FLY FISHING – Flows at Grey Reef were bumped to 2300cfs on October 1st and to 2600cfs a couple days ago. The reason is that the BuRec is lowering Alcova Reservoir for maintenance. With this comes confusion and opportunity. Grey Reef trico hatches are still clicking but with fewer available risers – don’t perceive this language as no dry fly fishing. The psuedos are still popping and baetis have been delayed. This is a good thing as it can be a bit overwhelming having, tricos, midges, psuedos/baetis, crane flies and caddis all competing for the trout’s attention – cue Eddie Van Halen’s Eruption – it can cause premature nymph-ication. The common theme with the North Platte Lodge and The Reef Fly Shop’s guide crew has been working harder and generally fewer fish hitting the net but the number of high quality fish has been impressive. Daily, we are getting pics from the guides with very large fish. You’ve been waiting for the “opportunity” piece of this conversation? Fishing is solid right now but Grey Reef flows will be dropping abruptly somewhere around the 3rd week of October and this drop in flows will displace crawdads and baitfish. Prediction is some crazy streamer and nymphing. Miracle Mile is probably nudging Grey Reef on the numbers front but the stories of big fish encounters are mostly right out in front of our properties on Grey Reef Rd. Fremont is clicking along just fine and well worth the effort.
BIRD HUNTING- Sage Grouse hunts and cast and blast packages were a big success this season. Sage Grouse will be packaged as an NPL option for 2021 and that is currently available to book. We can comfortably say that we provide the best sage grouse hunting anywhere. Our private access and guides are nothing short of excellent. Blue Grouse are providing some great hunts and that is still available to book. These are day hunts and logistically not great as a cast and blast (hunt and fish the same day) but make an awesome addition to a fishing trip or vise versa. We also have Chukar and Hungarian Partridge opportunities. Cast and Blast Pheasant Preserve – Next door to North Platte Lodge is Riverbend Roosters upland preserve and our guests have been loving the cast and blast package with pheasants, chukar and now quail. High volume fishing and hunting in such close proximity! Waterfowl hunts and cast and blast are already kicking off and have been really productive for the early season. Waterfowl hunts and cast and blast are available through Jan 20, 2020.
What to expect for the remainder of 2020? The end of October through November has been the most productive time to target trophy class trout of 25″ or more. This year it should be supercharged due to the interesting flows. Our off-season reduced rates start Nov 15 but we’ll give up a couple days to that schedule to get you here the weekend prior. Day trips and cottage rates are reduced through March 14, 2021. Waterfowl and upland hunts packaged with or without one of the best trout fisheries on the planet. NEXT TRIP DISCOUNT – Many of you have returned several times in 2020 and we can’t thank you enough. The best way we can express our “thanks” is to knock $50 off of your day trips an 10% off of lodging and boat rentals. Still lots of time to book your next trip 2020 Grey Reef trip.
Again, thanks so much for believing in us! The original North Platte Lodge has been around for more than 2 decades and we’ve been through the dotcom and mortgage bubble popping, 911, the bottom dropping out of the 2008 economy, H1n1, Covid and other uncomfortable episodes. We’ve realized that our niche is staying in our lane and staying the course. There is inherent beauty in solitude and separation. This has always been and will always be what we do.