Bugs Popping


Things are shaping up and its actually starting to feel a little bit like spring! We’ve been fielding a lot of calls/emails regarding the conditions on the North Platte, so folks here’s a current conditions report for ya!

GREY REEF: 450cfs, mostly clear from Grey Reef Dam to just upstream of Government Bridge. After that is slightly off colored but still very fishable, green with 2′ of visibility. As of right now, you could fish your way into Casper. Baetis(BWOs) are popping! The low pressure/overcast days have been pretty magical if you ask us.

MIRACLE MILE: 2,800cfs, clear. With the low lake level, the Mile is fishable to Sage Creek and well beyond. Road conditions are good. The fishing has been so-so. From the sounds of it, you’re gonna work for ’em.

FREMONT CANYON: 75cfs, slightly off colored but very fishable. Fishing in Cardwell and Fremont has been average. Some bugs(baetis/midges) coming off, depending on the conditions.

Overall, things are pretty solid. Looks like we have some more moisture forecasted this week. Just a heads up, we are thinking Mile flows will only continue to go up as we make our way into summer. Grey Reef will probably be holding steady for the coming week, if we had to guess. With the current snowpack levels this could really be a fun year in our neck of the woods.

Fremont Canyon Before Disneyland


Cruising through social media this morning and the above picture immediately caught my eye. Our friend, Bill Bohman Art on Facebook and  @billbohmanart on instagram, crafts some really cool art that is often fly fishing centered. I have a set of Bill’s traditional fly pattern prints displayed in my family room. In reality, our family is not into the fly fishing art theme but, man…he hits the mark. His depiction of this scene instantly had me traveling back to a time before Fremont Canyon, aka Cardwell, had been manufactured and developed into what I often describe as a Disneyland fishery.

In the early 2000’s the Cardwell Access Area project was completed. This project had 4 major players that collaborated to develop the meadow below Pathfinder Dam and above the next entrance to Fremont Canyon. The Cardwell Family agreed to allow public access, the Bureau of Reclamation agreed to a 75 CFS minimum flow from Pathfinder, the Wyoming Game and Fish agreed to stock and manage the fishery, as well as, install pit toilets and parking areas while the Wyoming Fly Casters helped with the plan and raised cash and awareness. Voila! A small stream experience emerged from nothing…or did it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on this fishery, this development has really been an overall benefit to anglers, the local visitation economy and the scenery. What most folks aren’t aware of is that there was already a thriving fishery, hiding in plain sight, with amazing access. It was a little sad when the track hoes showed up to manufacture a small stream bed in the meadow to optimize the 75 CFS minimum flow but we could also reasonably predict the consequences and realized it wasn’t a heartbreaking event then or now.

There were no fences, trails or trespassing signs. The traditional river bed is what you expect from a good-sized river whose flows were diverted through a tunnel carved in the canyon wall. Pathfinder is a granite block dam that seeps water. There was always some water coming from Pathfinder upstream and fish could access Fremont Canyon via Alcova Reservoir below…a fishery existed. Access also existed. Fremont Canyon has always been one of Wyoming’s shock-and-awe geologic features but it was only recognized by a few sightseeing locals and the local climbing community. There is a good road through the canyon and there was a sandy two track approach from Pathfinder Rd to the perfect campsite right at the mouth of the canyon. It was best when the North Platte River was released to flow down the canyon. It was hard to sleep, despite the ideal sandy spot to toss your sleeping bag,  with the river roaring as it entered the mouth of the canyon. The beers flowed nicely while consumers were sitting on the diagonal rock layer depicted in Bill’s art above. Similar to a rock concert, being so close to the powerful, smooth tongue of the river as it dropped in encouraged tight lips or necessitated a pretty boisterous conversation.

The campsite was a sandy depression, flanked by the cliff and fronted by junipers that separated the fire pit from the river. One late night at the campfire my buddy pointed beyond me and firmly said “what are you doing?”. Knowing he wasn’t talking to me but rather something behind me, I immediately became concerned for my well being. A couple frogs had popped out and joined us at the fire. I survived that scare.

The Fremont story that has been the most impactful to my development as a guide, angler and my outdoor recreation ideology happened one afternoon after taking our guests/anglers to Miracle Mile for a few hours of wade fishing. North Platte Lodge was in operation prior to the Fremont Disneyland development but I would divert through the canyon after fishing the Mile to blow my guests’ minds with the views, and if they were game, drop in for some fishing. This particular afternoon I was leading another group along with my guests. The other guide was pretty inexperienced and not at all familiar with Fremont Canyon fishing. We parked along the road and I pointed he and his anglers to the prime hopper water in the meadow. The potholes in the slough were always good for a couple hopper eaters each. Easy pickings and some really impressive fish! I took my anglers around the bend and into the canyon. After a couple hours we emerged and the other guide was nowhere in sight…nor was his vehicle. We reunited back at the lodge and I asked where he went. He explained that as they were rigging their hopper rods a Game and Fish warden drove up and asked what they were doing. He stated the obvious and the warden replied with “there are no fish in here, we haven’t even stocked it”. That zapped all of his confidence and embarrassed him in front of his guests. They left without ever making a cast. I don’t recall how we did that afternoon in the canyon but I will never forget the lessons of that day. I often reflect on that experience and how misguided it was on several levels. Decades later we still struggle with these issues from all players in this story. Erik

 

More Snow


It seems this year we are staying a little more consistent on the snow.  Southern and Central Wyoming has been seeing storm systems at least once, if not two times a week.  Snow pack in the North Platte drainage is anywhere from 116%-165%.  That’s pretty darn good if you ask us. Hopefully we continue to keep piling it on!

Now let’s talk about the conditions and the fishing…

Current Flows:

Grey Reef: 450cfs (*Floatable from Grey Reef Dam to Lusby.)   

Fremont Canyon: 76cfs  

Miracle Mile: 535cfs +/- (*As always this time of year use caution if you are thinking about venturing to the Mile.  Make sure to check with someone local and be prepared.)

What flies are working?  Here’s Mason Bouffard’s top pick nymphs….

PALs, rhinestones, leeches(brown, natural, UV brown and hot head) scuds(amber, orange and olive), reef worms and mayhems.

Remember to concentrate on the lower half of the run.  If the water looks deep and slow, fish 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…

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.

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.

Happy New Year!


First things first, we hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable New Year!  Our crew is looking forward to 2022 and what should be another great year in Central Wyoming.  Currently, snowpack is looking good on the upper North Platte River drainage(115-119%).  If we keep with this trend we should have good flows and water in the reservoirs.  So cheers to all of you and we look forward to seeing you this year!

Shoulder Season


Hard to believe it’s already November 15th and we are a week and half away from Thanksgiving.  Wow, time is truly flying by.  November 15th is the official start to our “shoulder season” and discounted rates.  So if you see a weather window, come pay us a visit.  We have cottages available and guides ready to work!

Now for a quick little fishing report.  After a couple weeks of weather, we have dried up and are having some very mild temperatures here in Central Wyoming.  It’s been a great month to be on the water thus far and the extended forecast looks like more of the same.  With dry fly opportunities waning, our guide crew has been focusing on their nymph and streamer game.  Pine squirrel leeches, PALs, foam-wing RS2s, mayhems and scuds on 4-7ft with 1-3B shot.  We have definitely been varying the length/weight depending on the run and type of water.  As far as streamers are concerned, we’ve mainly been throwing intermediate lines, covering the entire run.  The fish are holding in all types of water but as water temperatures continue to drop expect them to concentrate towards the bottom of the run.  Slow and deep, that is the winter streamer program.

Wyoming Fly Fishing with a Conscience for 22 Years


Get your crew gathered up and book the ultimate fly fishing experience at the North Platte Lodge for 2020. Our 22nd season at the original Grey Reef fly fishing lodge! Wow, where has the time gone? We accommodate 1 -12 anglers at the lodge. Are you shopping and trying to distinguish differences between operations? The main differences are our location, experience of guide staff, food, access, on site liquor sales, vacation rentals, we have a big van for airport shuttles, cigars, full service fly shop, drift boat rentals, river shuttles and we don’t fish pegged bead rigs. I guess that means we are the only fly fishing operation in Central Wyoming? We also have great guided wing shooting and big game hunting. Our corporate trip option is as good as it gets. Call 307.237.1182 and start your favorite tradition.

Grey Reef and the Big Horn River are fishing very well. Miracle Mile fishing report is good. Lets start with the Big Horn River in Themopolis, WY.  It is the Wyoming banana belt which means super nice weather, far less wind and warmer temps and big big fish. Book a Big Horn trip with us for $475/day for 2 anglers. Book 2 days or more and we’ll reduce the price to $450/day for early season. High pressure is bad for skiing and excellent to fill the winter gap on the river. Do it!

Grey Reef fishing well with midge, scud nymph rigs. Tailouts and soft edges for most of the day. active feeders will move up to the shelves during the big daily midge hatch. The upper is floatable right now but there has been some ice chokes. Nobody is fishing The Reef! What are they scared of, catching big fish without an audience? Miracle Mile trout are looking at slowly retrieved Rusty Trombones or similar and eating midges well back off of the heavy part of the runs. Roads are good and it has really been a bit too busy for the level of production. But hey, that’s The Mile.

 

Fishing is fun!


What is fishing to you? Is it the thrill of catching the fish you are seeking? Is it the suspense of the tug on your line? Is it just being out on the banks of your water, taking it all in while you wet a fly? All of these are what keeps each angler going. Have you ever noticed that your memories made while fishing somehow stick with you? Almost etched into our brain, calling for us to return to experience more. Recently I was able to fish with a guest who truly reminded me of what fishing is to me.

Wanting nothing more than to throw big streamers, Mr. Thomas was beaming when he was introduced. Not knowing what to expect or even what the river looked like, he was like a kid walking into a candy store. In a big southern drawl he explained his love of casting a streamer for the perhaps one opportunity of a fish. This was the start to our two day trip together.
Utilizing one of our private access points on the river, staying in front of most boat traffic in mind, we pushed off. Throwing a 5” long custom black fly of his own, Mr. Thomas began casting away. Only slowing down every so often to complete one of his stories. The endless conversations between us and past experiences spent on waters we shared, made time fly by. A couple grabs on his fly during these conversations altered the tone of our voices. Excitement and frustration both. This from not hooking whatever made the attempt to eat the meal he presented. As time passed and the further we made it downstream, the more I realized that what we were doing was pretty special. The banks were alive with spring sounds. Only to muffle with our laughter. Switching patterns a few times, we were able to put a couple great fish in the net. Rainbow trout that had some big appetites and attitude problems. As Mr. Thomas kept reminding me, “this is why we do it”. As the day drew to an end, and the boat ramp neared, he sat still in conversation. Not casting. Almost like he was taking in every sight he could see before his first day on the the water ended. All while expressing his excitement for the next day to come.

The next day it was much of the same. The only thing that was different was the backdrop. The Miracle Mile never ceases to amaze me. For Mr. Thomas it was a site he exclaimed he “will never forget”.  The weather wasn’t on our side but we made the most of it by bringing a couple fish to the boat. Once again, on a big custom fly of his own.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, there truly are so many different aspects to fishing. So many sites, sounds, and experiences to have. These are what keep us going. What drives us back to the water. And in the end, fuels our passion for fly fishing. Give us a call and book your stay. Let us help you fuel your passion.