Happy New Year!


We hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable New Year.  Here’s to 2023!  Well, we are starting the year off right in Central Wyoming.  As we write this little report we are on the backend of a two day snow event that has taken snowpack above 120% in the entire North Platte River drainage.  We like it!

Otherwise things are good here, just getting dialed in for the upcoming season.  Before this latest storm the weather was pretty nice and we actually had a few boats on the water to round out the year.  When you get the weather windows the fishing has been pretty solid!  So here’s an updated conditions/fishing report for all of you winter anglers…

Current Flows:

Grey Reef: 450cfs  

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.)

Top Flies:

Nymphs: amber scud, ray charles(tan), rhinestone, PAL, pine squirrel leech(brown or natural), mayhem midge(black), reef worm, hot head pine squirrel leech(chartreuse and black)

Streamers: rusty-t, articulated goldie, goldie w/ a pine squirrel leech trailer

 

 

Evolution of a Tailwater – Grey Reef


Scrapbook memory from 1996. “The Meat Hole”  pre North Platte Lodge. Looking downstream to the “Outhouse Hole” aka Pete’s Draw.

Things change. Sometimes we accept them and other times we feel it degrades our experience enough that we discontinue pursuing it. Sometimes these changes are clearly laid out and other times they are a slow progression and, oftentimes, a bit mysterious. The Grey Reef section of the North Platte River has maintained a mythic, prolific and in demand status while it has slowly transformed from the fishery we knew before guides hit the scene. The “old” Grey Reef was amazing but so is the “new”. We aren’t suggesting that the change stemmed from the presence of guides or as a result of being an angling destination, but it is a fun place to start and nostalgic to reminisce.

What is now known as Grey Reef has been through a series of changes over the past 100+ years. The construction of Pathfinder Dam in 1909 started the transformation, then came Alcova, Seminoe and Kortes Dams, in quick succession, between 1938 and 1951. Arguably, the most important feature is the tiny Grey Reef Dam, completed in 1961, a mile below Alcova Dam and/or the initiation of the flushing flows in the mid 1990s.  Crack open a beer and let’s remember when… 

Things really got going at Grey Reef once the little Grey Reef Dam, sitting right between The Reef Fly Shop and North Platte Lodge, was constructed. This tiny impoundment has enough storage to regulate flows downstream of Grey Reef and isolate them from the continual change in power generating demand of Alcova and all the hydro units upstream. Naturally, this cultivated a very robust trout fishery. In those years the river was known for its modest population of huge brown trout (much like Miracle Mile a quick skip upstream between Kortes and Pathfinder). In the mid 1990s the Wyoming Game and Fish and Bureau of Reclamation agreed to start a new program of flushing flows to mimic high water events that is designed to displace accumulated silt. Silt was a big problem. Not only was it contributing to an almost complete lack of successful spawning recruitment, but it was scary to wade as you’d sink into deep black goo and getting stuck in that quagmire was a real concern.

The first 7 or 8 years of the flush was a 5-day event both spring and fall. The fall component was cancelled after repeated issues with dislodged vegetation clogging the intakes at the Casper water treatment plant and the cooling units at Dave Johnston Power Plant. The fall flush was insane streamer fishing! Man, those were the days. The Spring flush was lengthened to a week and within the past decade was extended to 10 days.

We have very vivid memories of water that was never really clear. A few feet of visibility was our benchmark for “clear” water. Later in the season we’d be fishing in pea soup. No joke, the water was green and thick with suspended organic stuff or fines. However, the fishing was awesome. We had some good dry fly opportunities and streamer fishing was solid at times but nymphing was ever present. A lot of the same flies have been in our box for over 25 years, but a couple of must-have daily patterns don’t get the same use that they used to. Red Blood Midges and Scuds just don’t seem to be as productive as they were in the days of green water. The fall baetis hatch doesn’t seem to have the same interest slightly below the surface like it once had. Now that interest seems to be on the surface.

We had a huge water year in 2011 and it kind of seems like a monumental moment when there was Grey Reef before 2011 and Grey Reef after 2011. Prior to that date it was the same as we always knew it, not really clear, nymphing, lots of our trophy class fish (25” or better) were rainbows. 2011 was also a prolific hopper year and that’s when focusing on grasshopper fishing really became part of the conversation. It is strange to think about now but there were 3 drift boats sunk that season, due to flows upward of 8000 cfs, and we couldn’t even start the process of searching for them until the following spring. That’s when the water would always be the lowest and clearest.

Since 2011 Grey Reef has progressively become clearer and that has been paralleled with a marked increase dry fly fishing and a delayed response to streamers. The Grey Reef dry fly season is mid-July through October…and it’s awesome! The streamer season that used to ripen around mid-September is now mid-October through mid-November…and it’s awesome! Of course, all the same hatches are still in play and the trout respond to nymph rigs, always.

Reservoir levels, turnover and gully washer weather events don’t seem to have changed much over the years. Did the huge flows and Pathfinder spilling in 2011 super charge the gradual impacts of the first 15 years of the flushing flows? Did subsequent big water years amplify that progression to dry fly and clear water? Has the extended spring flush had a larger than expected impact? The water quality seems to have improved but why do we see more trophy class brown trout now when 20 years ago it was rainbows in the majority?

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.

Weather Window


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

A Quick Report


After a rough December and start to the New Year, we finally got a much needed break in the weather.  This past week has brought temps in the high 30s, full sun and very little wind.  It’s  just about perfect!  Grey Reef is open from the dam to Lusby and the stretch from the dam to the Outhouse Hole aka Pete’s Draw is prime for wade fishing right now.  With flows at 450cfs and water temps in the low-mid 30s, we have been concentrating on the slower/deeper runs.  Annelid’s, pine squirrel leeches and PALs have been our go-to flies.  Length and weight have varied but 5-7ft, 1-3 B shot has been mostly where we are living.

For those of you looking to scratch the itch, now is the time to start to watching the weather.  Look for a couple of nice days and give us a shout and take advantage of our off-season rates and packages! 307-232-9128

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!

Happy Holidays


First things first, we’d like to wish everyone Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from our crew to all of you!  We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday.

For those of you that keep up with our weather, you’re probably noticed the lack of “nice” days over the past few weeks.  Well, as we discussed in the last report, that’s just the way it can be this time of year in Central Wyoming.  But when the weather has lined up, the fishing continues to be good.  It most certainly has been more of an late morning/afternoon program for Miracle Mile, Fremont Canyon and Grey Reef.  Our list of top flies right now are the following; pine squirrel leeches, reef worms, orange scuds, PALs, rhinestones and mayhems.  The most productive water continues to be the mid to lower half of the run, concentrating on the slower/deeper water.  One last thing, as of right now Grey Reef is floatable to Lusby but that will more than likely change with colder temperatures expected next week.  As always we will keep everyone updated on the current conditions but if your planning on heading out don’t hesitate to reach out via e-mail or give us a call at the shop.

A Little Taste of Winter


We have had a beautiful fall to say the least.  Mild temperatures, clear skies and very little wind.  It was only matter of time before we had to start seeing some weather…well, because it’s October and we live in Wyoming.  Last weeks storm blanketed our area in a nice layer of white, with Casper seeing 14″-18″.  As I write this report, we are supposed to see another dose of snow today and tonight.  The nice thing about it, it will be sunny and 50F by tomorrow.

With the changing weather, we’ve had a mixed bag of fishing.  Foul weather days have been consistently producing some awesome streamer fishing on Grey Reef.  Standard fare…rusty trombone’s, goldie’s, and/or black peacock buggers.  The calm, high pressure days have still be giving our guides and guests plenty of opportunities at the dry fly game.  We are still seeing some tricos in the morning, with psuedos and baetis being the late morning-afternoon program.  So if your headed our way make sure you are set up for just about anything.  This is the time of year you could throw nymphs, streamers and dries-all in the same day.

Iced Tea Iced Guides


October through mid November is a pretty magical time in Central Wyoming. The scene changes daily and the transitions between fishing disciplines and hunting opportunities seem endless and can be exhausting.   Gear rooms, boats and vehicles suffer the most as the constant exchange inevitably creates disarray and confusion. Anglers are loaded with 3 rigged rods – the dry fly opportunities are all day and you need to be able to grab a rod as soon as rising trout start doing their thing, nymph rigs fill the gaps and help you to not feel inadequate for surface refusals and the streamer water should never be ignored. The dry fly game is plentiful yet humbling, nymphing light emerger rigs is really dang productive and you never know what kind of critter your streamer will land in front of. The days start with coffee, waders and a hoody and end with t-shirts, sandals and a beer.

Then there is hunting. Big game often warrants different caliber choices, waterfowl and upland bird and you’ll shop for tools to optimize that experience. And don’t forget about the dogs that make it all happen…pointing, flushing, snuggling and retrieving.  Add other Central Wyoming outdoor recreation options like mountain biking, gravel biking, off road motorcycling, climbing, trail running and paddling. That isn’t the end of it but we know where to stop, ha! This region has not been developed to optimize most of these activities and that is a good thing. Getting outside begins with leaving your comfort-zone and culminates in continuing to advance your comfort by creating a habit of putting yourself out there. Going further, rejecting the normal definition of success and discovering things that very few people will. This isn’t the Visit Casper version of Central Wyoming…this is the raw and real version that excludes the entry level social media influencer portrayal.

Put yourself out there, or come hang out with us for a few days and we’ll do our best to show you the ropes…this is the perfect time to do it. Before the snow flies and skis and snowmobiles come out along with the water fowling waders, layout blinds and we enter the season where chipping ice out of our guides has every angler thinking to themselves how they can solve this age-old dilemma.

Miracle Mile fishing report is good with leech, worm, baetis, caddis, scud nymph rigs. It is busy with hunting camps so be aware. Fremont Canyon fishing report is very good dry fly with tricos, pseudos and caddis. Swing crawdads and soft hackles in the unoccupied tweener water. Grey Reef is rocking and rolling from top to bottom, the upper is quiet and the dry fly is excellent. Streamer activity is ramping up and short light emerger rigs are the way to go if you like the numbers game.

The Reef Fly Shop is open daily and we still have guides, cottages and RV sites available. Stop in for some good sales or check out the newly restocked space.

 

Trico Time!


As we hit the middle of August Tricos are in full swing here on the Reef and the fishing is still great! We are seeing a very healthy Trico hatch from early in the morning until about 9-10am. If you’re nymphing black RS2s and Mayhem Midges have been the ticket. We haven’t been seeing too much surface action for the Trico hatch, but if you hit it on the right day you can have some shots at sipping trout. Throwing smaller mayfly patterns or trico specific flies might get these sippers to eat. As the day goes on PMD’s, Yellow Sallies, Caddis, and Stoneflies have all been in the mix and productive. As was the case in early August, some sort of flashy bead head with an emerger off the back can’t really be beaten when nymphing. We have yet to see hopper action pick up, but that may mean just a later and greater season on that front. Of course we have to cover the topic of grass and weeds in the river as well because this time of year is when they really pop up. Surprisingly this year it isn’t that bad yet, but it seems like the grass is growing by the minute. The key to fishing when the weeds really come in is finding where channels open up and drifting your nymph rigs through there. Looking for faster current and deeper shelves where there grass doesn’t grow as high should be your target. Your first instinct may be to shorten up and lighten up in order to drift over the weeds, but you’d be surprised to see how many trout are actually living in the grass, making drifting a little bit deeper through the channels much more effective.

That’s all for this report, hopefully next report we will be able to give you all some good news about the hopper bite!