The State of the Water – Grey Reef 2021

A little recap of our fishing conditions and what to expect at Grey Reef and Miracle Mile for the remainder of 2021. With much of the Western fly fishing world puckered because of drought caused low and warm water conditions this summer we are positioned to be enjoying awesome fishing throughout the 2021 season and put us in an incredible position for 2022…NPLs 24th season.

Our reality is that if Nebraska farming is requiring irrigation then Grey Reef will be flush with water. It took a little bit to get the Bureau of Reclamation to release water at Grey Reef this year. Several factors contributed to this “delay” and the most notable was that a bunch of volume was dumped from Alcova Reservoir in Oct 2020 and moved through Grey Reef to Glendo so that they could do some maintenance on the facilities. A so-so snowpack didn’t require elevated spring flows and there wasn’t much room to store it downstream so it was held in Seminoe and Pathfinder (uphill from Grey Reef). Miracle Mile had quite a bit of water pushing through early and the quality of fishing paralleled the flows…in a good way. I heard somewhere that fish like water and while we, as anglers, might not know how to contend with that, our scaly friends are masters of the river and thrive with volume. Typical spring flows at Grey Reef and even 50cfs less than the minimum prescribed made for excellent spring conditions and jaw-dropping wade fishing. Warm May weather created water temps enough to nudge some premature hatches but not too warm to cause concern for the fish. We finally experience a bump to 1500cfs then to 2000 and now to 3000cfs! Temps dropped, fish didn’t skip a beat, we purged premature algae growth and now have the volume we need to protect us from the water temps getting too warm for comfort and all the while pushing water up against the banks creating the edge structure *cough* ie hopper habitat. We’ll take 3 grand but would be pretty excited if that were doubled!

We’ve now transitioned to the ordinary summer hatches including Caddis, Yellow Sallies and Pale Morning Duns and our short-lived Golden Stonefly hatch that peaks for about 2 weeks. This is a fun time as we get dry fly opportunities and fish are spicy and hanging out in cool places. By mid July we should see the long-lived trico hatch ensue. Daily dry fly opportunities on the spinners typically extend well into October. Hoppers seems to be a little delayed this year so I’d think the 3rd week in July should get them really honing in on terrestrials. Hoppers should be prevalent through the 3rd week of September with a couple stagnant days in September as they reduce their activities during low pressure events. The grasshopper hatch is predicted to be a pretty serious threat to local farmers this year so that should translate to robust hopper fishing. High pressure is what we want for that…seems counterintuitive but we want hot, sunny and breezy conditions as they are most active and get knocked into the river.

Let’s touch on availability for the remainder of 2021. North Platte Lodge has very little availability through the middle of October. We only have two 4 night/3 day spots for 2 anglers available from now until the 3rd of September. Labor Day weekend still has a couple spots available, a couple mid September spots, we still have a couple Sage Grouse cast and blast dates the last ten days of September. Our first full lodge availability is Oct 6th then we jump to Oct 15th for the next. For corporate groups and those who prefer to secure the full facility October and November are the targets.  For those who are interested in shooting we’ll touch on that lower in the report. We have RV sites and guide availability for day trips and we have our 4 cottages, the vacation rentals, located on The Reef Fly Shop property with some options still remaining through August. A solid option is to start planning now for October or even spring 2022. We love entering fall and particularly mid Oct through mid No(yes!)vember  Baetis, Caddis and Tricos make for awesome dry fly and nymph fishing. Long shadows create the best scenes, colored leaves and a little morning chill in the air is as refreshing as it gets…not to mention a significant slowdown of river traffic and a ramping up of trout feeding for the coming winter. Late October through November is trophy trout season and a streamer junky’s dream and waterfowl cast and blast is full-steam. Spring fishing is, by far, the best option for novice anglers and those who really seek the highest volume fishing available anywhere. It is easier for the angler to have a lot of success, plain and simple. April and May are prime.

Shooting and Hunting with Pathfinder Outfitters, North Platte Lodge and The Reef Fly Shop, Cottages & RV – Big Game, Upland Bird Hunting, Waterfowl Hunting and Sporting Clays. Sharing passions is what we do here. We’ve done the bird hunting since the beginning and added our awesome big game program a few years ago. Sporting Clays at our good neighbor’s place Riverbend Roosters just came online last month! Sage Grouse, we are the premier outfitter in the world for this rare hunt. This hunt is perfect as a fishing and hunting Cast and Blast and available as a NPL package. Other upland species include Blue Grouse and Hungarian partridge and preserve hunts with pheasants and chukar.  Waterfowl, private access and guides who know the behavior of the birds makes the early season (first 2 weeks of October) the best intro to the waterfowl season. A mixed bag of puddle ducks and geese including fast flying teal get the juices flowing before spending the remainder of the day on the river. Our early season waterfowl cast and blast is underrated. Big Game – Antelope, Deer and Elk. Impressive populations and growth rates coupled with tough draws and you have a recipe for a really cool experience. Here are the differences, you stay at the North Platte Lodge that includes gourmet dining and in close range to the field rather than a motel room or tent. You benefit from our focus on quality over quantity and the best fallback in the business. You don’t need contingency planning when you hunt with Pathfinder Outfitters. What happens if you fill your tag the first morning of a four day hunt? You made the right choice to pick Pathfinder Outfitters because you continue your stay in comfort deciding if you’d like to fish, hunt birds, shoot clays or all of the above. Others send you home, we send you back out there to experience the best of Central Wyoming. We’ve already enjoyed the combination days with fishing and sporting clays and booking more and more of these. Everything is provided for the shooting and is billed separately by Riverbend Roosters. During the warm months there is plenty of daylight to fish a bunch water and still get a round of shooting in. Jump on for a central Wyoming waterfowl hunt during the regular season  Nov – Jan. We aren’t going to blow smoke and tell you this is the most amazing hunting, day in and day out, because it isn’t. It is noteworthy for excellent decoying and calling birds when the conditions are ripe and it is noteworthy because if the birds aren’t responding the fish will and it is noteworthy because you get to stay in or come to Central Wyoming. To summarize you can have incredible duck and goose hunting 45 minutes from Casper and just a few minutes from our exclusive Grey Reef locations but if they aren’t responding, you go fish. Be sure to check out Wyobraska Waterfowl if you want to travel a bit for a dedicated and excellent duck and goose experience.

Golfing – Yep, a couple of our guides are avid golfers and one is a former pro. We’ve got cast and swing trips on the books as well. This isn’t an official offering but it is officially awesome.

Carp fishing – Of course! Barefoot warm water wading on shallow sand flats, sight casting to cruising brutes. Split your day wading at Fremont Canyon, Grey Reef or Miracle Mile and spend a couple hours on the carp flats. It is ok and appropriate to get out of the boat to fish, too.

You might wonder what we don’t do? We don’t peg beads, fur or chenille to snag fish as an accepted approach to fly fishing. We don’t target fish on redds. We don’t do multiple floats a day abusing a small, couple mile, section of Grey Reef. We don’t employ barbs. We don’t put you on the river with inexperienced guides or those who don’t align with our highest sporting standards. We limit our daily bookings to satisfy this mission. You may have to adjust your plans a little bit as we won’t call up a warm body to guide you if that day our staff is fully booked, just so we can make a buck. If high standards and fair chase are important to you we’ll get along famously and have a long and storied relationship. Our guide staff is ridiculously experienced and will never stoop to being opportunists in the field or on the river…they don’t have to. They create the highest level experiences within set parameters and a sporting tradition.