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Subscriber Jim Smith says he fished Grey Reef on the North Platte River in Wyoming recently and had a huge amount of success. He writes: Grey Reef is as famous a trout stream as any in the West, and I had the opportunity to fish it this past March 28 to 30. This was my third trip to the Reef, and I was accompanied by two other anglers who, while not exactly locals, had far more experience than I.
For the uninitiated, the North Platte River flows north from Colorado into Wyoming, where it turns slowly to the east, passing through the City of Casper before entering the plains and ultimately making its way across Nebraska. From its origins in North Park, Colorado, through Casper, Wyoming, it is a trout river, with wild fish holding in deeper runs all along the river. The best known sections are two tailraces, the Miracle Mile (actually 5.5 miles between Kortes Dam and Pathfinder Reservoir) and Grey Reef (the section below Grey Reef Dam at Alcova, Wyoming. Both tailraces are year-round fisheries, although the weather can make you rethink that in winter. They reportedly support more than 5,000 trout per mile.
On our trip, we took a camp trailer and stayed at one of the two BLM camp areas along the river below Alcova. Both campgrounds are close to the dam itself and offer low-cost camping. Other accommodations available in the area are some rental cabins in Alcova and trailer space and cabins at The Reef Fly Shop (www.northplatteflyfishing.com).
We fished the section of the river known as The Redds, a stretch of flat river and riffles a little more than half a mile below the dam. This section closes April 1 for spawning, and our trip was intentionally timed to be after the flushing flows of the river (when extra water is released to flush the silt from the spawning areas) but before actual spawning.
We waded the river and fished different stretches for three days and caught more than 80 trout among the three of us. The largest were healthy, wild fish of 20 inches. We caught trout on RS2s, scuds, pine squirrel leeches, prince nymphs, San Juan worms, and egg patterns, changing flies when the cloud cover changed the light on the water. We didnt really find anything they didnt like, but my companions certainly guided my fly choices. Flows on the river were in the neighborhood of 500 cfs, which are minimal but still provided enough for literally dozens of drift boats to float through. The caliber of the river was especially evident when the boaters hit the opposite side of the runs we were fishing and did just as well or better than we were doing.
One caution is in order for the uninitiated: the wind blows a lot in Wyoming. Down on the river it was never so windy that we couldnt fish, but on our second day the wind blew 35 mph with gusts to 50 mph out in the open. The wind that day topped out at about 20 mph on the river, and about all I could manage were short roll casts. Fortunately, that was often enough. Back in camp that night we were rocked to sleep even with jacks down on the trailer.
This was by far my best trip to the Reef. Ive fished it in late summer (pretty weedy) and in early February (pretty cold), but this trip, was just right.