Anglers come from all over to fish the always-productive tailwater stretches of Wyoming’s North Platte River. Miracle Mile, Fremont Canyon, and the entire Grey Reef system are readily targeted from our pinnacle Grey Reef locations. Totalling 100 miles of productive trout water, these three tailwater stretches are year round fisheries and enjoy robust hatches as well as resident invertebrates. None of our target waters have a universal “best time to fish” due to large trout populations, diverse hatches as well as consistent temperatures and flows. The best timing can be narrowed to meet your criteria or, if you don’t have specific requirements, whenever you can get here. High volume fishing, wade fishing, dry fly, streamers, emerger rigs, weather and flows all can play a part in your decision making but rest assured that even if our best guess at Mother Nature’s will doesn't perfectly align, you will be rewarded with a great fly fishing experience.
The trout populations average over 3,000 fish per mile, with 90 percent being rainbow and a mix of browns and Snake River cutthroat making up the remainder. Grey Reef is known for the large average size of its trout and the massive size of its trophy class fish. The average rainbow is 16 to 18 inches long, while trophy fish range from 25 to 30 inches. These fish can weigh from 6 to 15+ pounds.
The Grey Reef section emerges below Grey Reef Dam. Grey Reef Reservoir is a small impoundment (or afterbay) located a short distance downstream of the much larger Alcova Reservoir. The afterbay’s job is to regulate the flow of water downstream and it also happened to create a world-class fly fishing destination.
Grey Reef is easily accessible, it’s easy to navigate and it’s a consistent, reliable fishery with a strong potential to produce your biggest brown or rainbow.
Rainbows, browns and Snake River Cutthroat along with suckers, carp and walleye call the Miracle Mile home. The Mile trout population is roughly 50:50 rainbows and brown trout. Good numbers of resident trout are in the river year-round, but there are also large numbers of both migratory rainbows and browns from Pathfinder Reservoir.
Contrary to its name, the Miracle Mile is longer than a mile. This section of the North Platte fluctuates in length from about 5 to 8 miles, depending on the level of Pathfinder Reservoir. Nestled between the Seminoe and Pedros Mountains the Mile boasts a dynamic range of water: Steep canyon walls, large boulders, pocket water and classic riffle/run scenarios are all present.
Big fish and ample public access are the most attractive features of this great western tailwater.
Fremont Canyon and the Cardwell (meadow) stretch of the North Platte River represent the section between Pathfinder Reservoir and Alcova Reservoir. In the early 2000s the streambed was manufactured to accommodate a lower minimum flow of 72 cfs. This project creating a tiny version of Grey Reef is courtesy of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Wyoming Fly Casters.
Due to the minimum flow implementation, abundant bug life and the intimate nature of this tailwater, it has become increasingly popular. Fremont has both rainbow and brown trout with most recent population estimates of 150 fish per mile and a pretty even split of rainbows to browns.
Fremont Canyon is located immediately downstream of Pathfinder Reservoir, just 10 miles from The Reef Fly Shop. The short 15-minute drive from our shop offers some of the best fishing and views in the Alcova region.
Beginning at high elevation in the Wind River Range near Dubois, Wyoming, the Bighorn headwaters are formed by the Wind River. The freestone reach zigzags southeast toward Riverton, eventually pooling in Boysen Reservoir, near the one-stoplight town of Shoshoni. Below Boysen, a popular recreation destination for summertime boaters, the river slices steep and deep through the Owl Creek Mountains and the geological grandeur of the Wind River Canyon.
Brown and Rainbow trout over 18 inches are a daily expectation since this fertile western tailwater is flavored with many of the same hatches that you’ll find on Grey Reef. The Bighorn is historically known for its vegetation and can be nearly unfishable, due to floating debris, during the summer.
A great shoulder-season option, the Bighorn River can be productive for guests who appreciate a challenge as well as a change of scenery. The weather in Thermopolis is generally more temperate so its attention peaks in the spring and fall. Fishable mileage is a relatively short 15 miles and much of the river bed is publicly available so it is popular with outfitters who don’t secure private access for their guests. The Wind River Canyon, immediately above the Wedding of the Waters, is productive and grows them big. Wind River Whitewater is the only outfitter allowed to guide this special piece of water. Tribal fishing permits are available to the public. These permits fetch a premium and the terrain is strenuous. The public is not allowed to float through Wind River Canyon.