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.

 

2023 Season Re-Crap


Yeah, wow…2023 was undoubtedly the toughest year for fishing conditions we’ve had in our 25 season existence. That’s right, Trophy Trout Outfitters that operates as North Platte Lodge, The Reef Fly Shop and Pathfinder Outfitters ( our big game hunting operation)  should have been tooting our horn for our 25th season throughout 2023. But we didn’t. More on that in a bit.

Back to the ’23 Grey Reef and Miracle Mile story. The winter of ’22/’23 was pretty good for moisture it just came in weird spurts. In central Wyoming we get a good bit of our water late in the spring. Those late dumps of heavy wet snow in the Snowy and Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges are great. They are 100 miles upstream and above our 5 reservoir system that creates a really good buffer/supplier of trout water 365 days a year. I’m not aware of a better situation than we have, seriously, no runoff and no hoot owl. The wild card is always those heavy snows landing in the Laramie Range and bypassing those 5 reservoirs and mostly the entire 80+ miles of the Grey Reef System. Sounds great, right? Great storage upstream that settles out what most anglers consider runoff…that is, high water combined with a silt load pushing down the ditch on its own free will. And, actual runoff entering the system below our huge fishery. It’s not so simple. There are other reservoirs and a state downstream. These complicate Grey Reef water operations.

We are graced by a great program called the “flushing flows”. It is normally in late March and surges of water for ten days in a row really purge a bunch of silt from critical spawning areas in Grey Reef…it also just makes the river nicer. These aren’t scary purges and lots of folks target the flush as THE time to fish Grey Reef. Whatever. This “excess” water is captured and held in Glendo Reservoir way down stream and is waiting for the call to be sent down for irrigation in a couple months. That’s all fine and dandy until the Laramie Range gets walloped and the runoff from that storm fills Glendo at a rate the Bureau of Reclamation didn’t anticipate. The first move is to reduce flows at Grey Reef, the next nearest and controllable source of water, that takes the burden off of Glendo. Keep in mind that Nebraska doesn’t want that water shipped since they’ve also had good spring moisture or are flooding already. Keep the water as high up in the system as possible! The result of all of this over info is that Grey Reef predictably gets its flows reduced and that exposes the spawning beds to fly angler predation and other sources that basically destroy that year-class of new trout. Is losing a few year class the end of the world? No, this is very common at Grey Reef and a reduction of the trout population would be a great scenario for the quality of fish and fishing but the game and fish play the numbers game over the quality game..and that is a problem for us but maybe good for less adept anglers. Grey Reef needs increasing/higher flows throughout the spawn for recruitment. 2023 had flows reduced throughout the spawn…ok, nothing new, we can work through that. Fishing is still awesome.

Then came the storms. And they came with great consistency. It was the “false summit” scenario from May through October. Every time the river would get back in shape after a gully washer we’d feel like we were going to get to run our normal free-range program of covering tons of water at will then the next storm would hit and the lower portions of the river or roads accessing the target would blow out. Sure we’d get a week of fishing the lower reaches then two weeks of being confined to the true Grey Reef Stretch or the Mile. 20 boats piling into the after bay…it was a disgusting display. Then the hatches would get rolling just to get plowed by another round of less than ideal river conditions. The anticipation of our dry fly season starting in mid July ( not including the Golden Stones in late June – early July…that was still very good) and getting to fish a bunch more water downstream keeps guide moral high and is what many of our guest have come to love about the summer and fall program. Central Wyoming couldn’t catch a break. It was ten seasons worth of water issues dog piled on Grey Reef in ’23.

Poor us, ha! The reality is that despite the rains we had a really good season when put in perspective. Our old adage is true “a tough day here is better than a good day on most fisheries”. We always have high quality fisheries available nearby and our guides and guest made the most of them when they wanted to see something other than Upper Grey Reef or the Mile. Some awesome fish caught in places that most don’t know or wouldn’t attempt. Our many private boat ramps kept us out of the mix as much as possible and the resourcefulness of the guide crew unmatched. Our guests seemed to still have a great time, the fact that you’ve rebooked for 2024 suggests that. Thank you…THANK YOU!

Mixed emotions, self reflection, relationships dwindling and new forming all contributed to a roller coaster of a year. Celebration dialed in just a bit lower than self pity so we figured we’d wait out the season and celebrate completing 25 years. This aligns with our urgently patient approach we take every single day. Here we are slapping ourselves on the back for making it through 25 years and not selling our souls or gaslighting our guests to do it. Let’s Party!

Back On Track


*PURCHASE YOUR FISHING LICENSE ONLINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE*

Sloanes General Store is no longer selling licenses and we will not be able to keep up with the demand so PLEASE get your licenses before you get here. Thank you!

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/apply-or-buy

Well, we officially have one turbine back up and running! Woohoo!!! Water temperatures are back to normal(56F this morning on Grey Reef) and things are looking up.

GREY REEF: 2,200cfs. Water is fishable from Grey Reef Dam to Chalk Bluff. Still off-color below Bates Creek. Tricos, PMDs, sallies and caddis are all on the menu.

FREMONT CANYON: 82cfs and holding steady. Starting to see tricos in the morning and the fish are showing some interest.

MIRACLE MILE: Flows have reduced to 1,750cfs. We’ve hit the height of the golden stone hatch and adult numbers are slowly going down. Definitely getting a few on top but the fish seem to prefer a drowned adult or a Pat’s rubber legs. We are also seeing a good number of PMDs and the fish have been eating those as well.

Water Temps


*PURCHASE YOUR FISHING LICENSE ONLINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE*

Sloanes General Store is no longer selling licenses and we will not be able to keep up with the demand so PLEASE get your licenses before you get here. Thank you!

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/apply-or-buy

Well, if you haven’t heard, we have a little bit of a water temperature issue on Grey Reef. A couple of days ago BOTH turbines at Alcova Dam had issues and had to be shut down. What does this mean? The water now coming out of Alcova is coming off the spillway which is more or less surface lake water. Our guide crew has been diligent about taking temps and this is where we are currently at…64F-65F at Grey Reef Dam this morning. Yesterday afternoon temperatures at Lusby hit 70F. Our latest report says that they are expecting to have one turbine back up and running by early next week, which would immediately start drawing colder water off the bottom of Alcova. That should obviously start to lower the temperatures and put us back where we need to be.

GREY REEF: 2,200cfs. We advise only floating the upper and float early. Do not take fish out of the water for pictures. Fight them fast and keep them in the net. Minimize contact, please!

FREMONT CANYON: 82cfs and holding steady. Starting to see tricos in the morning and the fish are showing some interest.

MIRACLE MILE: Flows have reduced to 2,000cfs. We’ve hit the height of the golden stone hatch and adult numbers are slowly going down. Definitely getting a few on top but the fish seem to prefer a drowned adult or a Pat’s rubber legs. We are also seeing a good number of PMDs and the fish have been eating those as well.

Trending In The Right Direction


***SHOP PHONE LINES ARE STILL DOWN***

We apologize for the inconvience. Feel free to call CenturyLink and complain.

Email us at: info@thereefflyshop.com

 

*PURCHASE YOUR FISHING LICENSE ONLINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE*

Sloanes General Store is no longer selling licenses and we will not be able to keep up with the demand so PLEASE get your licenses before you get here. Thank you!

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/apply-or-buy

We are finally starting to dry out a little in Central Wyoming. Thankful for the rain but happy to see a little more warmth and sunshine. We might be the only part of the country singing that tune right now. Flows, conditions and bugs are all trending in the right direction, so here’s to summer. The back half should be a good one!!

GREY REEF: Flows have bumped up to 2,000cfs and water conditions on the upper are good and improving a little everyday. We are hoping this bump will continue to help conditions downstream. Nymphing is staying consistent with more PMDs, sallies and caddis popping everyday. We are even seeing a hoppers hit the water and a few fish are starting to look up.

FREMONT CANYON: 82cfs and holding steady. Starting to see tricos in the morning and the fish are showing some interest.

MIRACLE MILE: Flows have reduced to 2,000cfs. We’ve hit the height of the golden stone hatch and adult numbers are slowly going down. Definitely getting a few on top but the fish seem to prefer a drowned adult or a Pat’s rubber legs. We are also seeing a good number of PMDs and the fish have been eating those as well.

Sweet, Sweet Summertime


***SHOP PHONE LINES ARE DOWN***

Email us at: info@thereefflyshop.com

 

*PURCHASE YOUR FISHING LICENSE ONLINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE*

Sloanes General Store is no longer selling licenses and we will not be able to keep up with the demand so PLEASE get your licenses before you get here. Thank you!

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/apply-or-buy

 

Well, it’s officially starting to feel like summer around here. After arguably the coolest and wettest start to a summer, we might actually be heating up this week. For the first time in 2023, we might hit 90F. Flows continue to hold steady on all three North Platte tailwaters. Conditions on Grey Reef continue to improve and we are starting to see some sallies and PMDs. We’ve even had a handful of our guides and guests pick up a few fish on hoppers. The golden stones are coming a little bit more into play on the Miracle Mile. Our crew has seen some adults and have been doing well on nymphs. We’ve managed to put a fair amount of water in reservoirs this spring and summer. At this point we have not heard as to when Grey Reef will see an increase in flows. As always, we will let you know if we hear anything!

GREY REEF: 1,000cfs. Fishable water from Grey Reef Dam to Government Bridge. Conditions are improving downstream and we are starting to float lower.

FREMONT CANYON: 80cfs. Mostly clear.

MIRACLE MILE: 2,800cfs. Clear. Road conditons to the Mile are dry but very rough in spots.

Belated Happy 4th


*PURCHASE YOUR FISHING LICENSE ONLINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE*

Sloanes General Store is no longer selling licenses and we will not be able to keep up with the demand so PLEASE get your licenses before you get here. Thank you!

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/apply-or-buy

First things first, we hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable 4th of July! It was shockingly cool here in Central Wyoming for the 4th. Temperatures hovered around the mid 50s most of yesterday, with lows in the 40s. Definitely not your typical July weather! Long range forecast shows us warming up and going into more of a summer pattern. Enough about the weather, let’s talk about river conditions and fishing…

GREY REEF: 1,000cfs. Mostly clear from Grey Reef Dam to Lusby. Fishing continues to be good in the water you can fish. Conditions downstream of Lusby are improving. We would expect a bump in flows at some point which should help with the downstream water conditions. It’s kinda crazy to say but we are still seeing baetis on Grey Reef…

FREMONT CANYON: 72cfs. Mostly clear.

MIRACLE MILE: 3,000cfs. Clear and stable. Fishing has been good. Fish have been keying in on the golden stone nymphs and we  have been seeing some adults.

 

 

 

Drying Out?


*PURCHASE YOUR FISHING LICENSE ONLINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE*

Sloanes General Store is no longer selling licenses and we will not be able to keep up with the demand so PLEASE get your licenses before you get here. Thank you!

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/apply-or-buy

Well, it looks like me might be finally starting to dry out here in Central Wyoming. We’ve been getting a lot of calls and emails regarding the current conditions, so here you go…

GREY REEF: 1,000cfs. Upper Grey Reef is in pretty good shape and fishable to just above Government Bridge. Water conditions below the bridge are still pretty rough. That being said, it should improve as long as another monsoonal pattern doesn’t set back in.

FREMONT CANYON: 80cfs. Mostly clear and fishable.

MIRACLE MILE: 2,800cfs. Clear and fishable. Flows continue to hold steady be we are projecting an increase sooner than later. Road conditions to the Mile have improved with the dry weather but be on your toes if thunderstorms pop back up on the radar.

We are currently in the “in-between” zone as far as bugs are concerned. Baetis have tapered off and we headed towards PMD, sally and caddis season. Golden stones should be coming more into play on the Mile as we head towards July. Looking forward to an exciting summer!!

Updated River Conditions


*PURCHASE YOUR FISHING LICENSE ONLINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE*

Sloanes General Store is no longer selling licenses and we will not be able to keep up with the demand so PLEASE get your licenses before you get here. Thank you!

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/apply-or-buy

After another round of rain yesterday and through the night, here’s where we are at. Grey Reef flows dropped to 1,000cfs last night. Why? Glendo Reservoir is now at 94.5% capacity and it’s about to get another big jolt in the next 24-36 hrs with all of the runoff making its way downstream. The water coming out of Alcova is getting better…off-colored but green. Grey Reef is still blown out and more or less, unfishable. Fremont Canyon is in pretty good shape and holding steady at 80cfs. The Mile is clear and holding steady at 2,800cfs. The road is in pretty rough shape so plan on spending some money at the car wash. With the low pressure system starting to make its way out we are expecting conditions to improve day by day.

Blown Out


*PURCHASE YOUR FISHING LICENSE ONLINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE*

Sloanes General Store is no longer selling licenses and we will not be able to keep up with the demand so PLEASE get your licenses before you get here. Thank you!

 https://wgfd.wyo.gov/apply-or-buy

Apologies for the delayed report, it’s been a little hectic around here. Well, if you haven’t seen photos or videos on social media you’re probably not aware of our situation. It’s been a REALLY wet year in Wyoming and in the last week mother nature stepped it up another notch. In our 25 years of being out here, we’ve never seen moisture like this. Multiple creeks and arroyos ran at near biblical proportions, blowing out nearly half of Alcova reservoir. Something we have never seen. Obviously that has really impacted Grey Reef.  So…here’s an updated conditions report for you folks!

GREY REEF: 1,200cfs. As of 8:00am this morning we have around 12″ of visibility at Grey Reef Dam. Visibility diminishes as you go downstream. Zero visibility at Government Bridge. This should only improve if we dry out.

FREMONT CANYON: 80cfs. Mostly clear.

MIRACLE MILE: 2,850cfs. The Mile is clear but road conditions to and from have been fairy treacherous as you would expect. Use caution.