Upper North Platte River
At the foot of the Snowy Range Mountains flows a hidden gem through the Wyoming plains, the North Platte River. This pristine freestone river, nestled in the Saratoga Valley, offers a rare combination of Blue Ribbon trout fishing, spectacular views, abundant wildlife, and no crowds. This freestone fishery begins in North Park Colorado at the confluence of Grizzly and Little Grizzly Creek and flows north into Wyoming picking up several other small streams along the way. The North Platte continues north through Wyoming over 300 miles before it heads east and reaches the Nebraska border. On its travels the characteristics of the river change dramatically from a deep canyons with tight narrow runs to wide meandering flats in the lower pasture and high desert sections. The 60 miles between the Routt access and the town of Saratoga is all considered a Blue Ribbon trout fishery and has not been stocked since 1979. In 1982 the Wyoming Game & Fish Department instituted a slot limit, which requires all fish between 10-16 inches to be released immediately. They also designated this a flies and lures only stretch. The combination of these conservation regulations drastically increased the number of trout per mile. The North Platte now claims 4000 fish per mile consisting mainly of browns and rainbows, with a few Snake River cutthroats. The North Platte River offers a multitude of wade fishing and float fishing opportunities. There are over 20 miles of public water in the Medicine Bow/Routt National Forest alone, with several other significant public sections between Colorado and Saratoga.
UPPER NORTH PLATTE RIVER ACCESS POINTS
UPPER NORTH PLATTE HATCH CHART
The Gray Reef section of the North Platte River was recently voted #1 by American Angler Magazine in its winter edition of 2005, as the top spot in the world for large trout. “This is where good eastern brook trout fishermen come to find nirvana-you have a better chance at a trophy rainbow (or, for that matter, brown) on the North Platte than you do just about anywhere else in the lower 48.”
-American Angler Magazine
The Gray Reef, located 30 miles south of Casper on Wyoming State Highway 220, is one of two Blue Ribbon tailwaters on the North Platte River. It is considered one of the best Rainbow trout fisheries in the country with fish averaging 16-20 inches and plenty of fish in the 10+ pound range. The Reef begins below Gray Reef Reservoir, a small impoundment just below Alcova Reservoir, and flows north towards Casper. This area is high desert country with very few trees and virtually no cover from the elements. Wind is definitely a factor when fishing the Gray Reef. You can expect to fish in 15 to 25 mile per hour winds any given day, especially during the spring. Unfortunately, spring is one of the most productive times to fish the reef, especially April through June. The Gray Reef does stay open year around allowing for some great winter wade fishing; if you decide to float in late winter make sure to contact Four Seasons Anglers to see if the river is frozen before the first boat ramp. This doesn’t happen very often but portaging a drift boat over and ice shelf sure can ruin a float trip.
The Gray Reef is a slow moving river with lots of frog water and very few island braids making it hard to read at times. Summer flows range from 2000 to 3000 cfs and the winter flows are typically held at 500 cfs. We get tremendous hatches on this river, including BWO’s, PMD’s, caddis, Yellow Sallies, and Trico’s. Unfortunately, this is not a great dry fly fishery. The best dry fly action is at dusk for caddis and in the mornings during the Trico hatch. The best way to have productive days on the Gray Reef is to dead drift a nymph and indicator rig along seams and drop offs. Streamers can also be productive, especially during the spring and fall.
The upper 7 miles of the Gray Reef is the most famous and also the most heavily fished section of this 40-mile stretch or river. Public water on this section is limited to three access points: the Gray Reef Access Area right at the dam, Trapper’s Route #1, and Lusby Public Fishing Area. Fishing from a drift boat or raft is the best way to explore this area because of the limited public water to wade fish. When floating this stretch be careful where you drop anchor or get out of the boat. Wyoming state law states that the landowner owns everything but the water that you are floating on. There have been several fishermen that have been fined up to $250 for trespassing on private land. The largest public stretch of river is located below Government Bridge, at Clarkson Hill and By the Way Ranch Public Fishing areas. There are several other less significant access points that are mainly used as boat launching points, including Government Bridge, Sechrist, Bessemer Bend, and Robertson Road, each of which has a boat ramp.
GRAY REEF FLOAT MILEAGE
GRAY REEF CURRENT RIVER FLOWS
GRAY REEF FISHING REPORT
GRAY REEF HATCH CHART
The Miracle Mile, the famed stretch of the North Platte River, is an extremely fertile tailwater located at the foot of the Seminoe Mountains 40 miles north of I-80 at Sinclair Wyoming. Its name, however, is a bit misleading. The Miracle Mile actually varies from 5.5 miles to 15 miles depending on the water levels in Pathfinder Reservoir. It is the largest continuous section of public water on the North Platte other than the section through the Medicine Bow National Forest. That in itself makes it a destination worth visiting, not to mention the chance of catching a 10+ pound fish. The mile has the special distinction of being sandwiched between to very large reservoirs that are very close together, which gives it a great advantage over most other tailwaters. Seminoe Reservoir, up river from the Mile, acts as a giant settling pond, controlling water temps, silt, and fluctuating water levels. The down river reservoir, Pathfinder, is utilized as a giant trout hatchery. It contains large numbers of both browns and rainbows that make their annual runs up the river for the spawn. Early spring through Mothers Day is best for rainbows and October to the end of December the best time for browns on the Miracle Mile. The resident fish average 12 - 20 inches but during the spawn much larger fish, 24 to 30 inches, are available.
The Mile gets blanket hatches of caddis, baetis, and midges but the trout don’t readily come to the surface to feed. There is so much food in the water itself that the fish don’t have to expose themselves on the surface to feed; nymph rigs and streamers are the most productive methods of fishing the Mile. Midges, San Juan worms, small pheasant tails, Orange Blossom Specials, Platte River Spiders, and Platte River Specials is about all you will need for flies.The Miracle Mile begins below Kortes dam in a steep narrow canyon but quickly flows into a sagebrush flat with only a couple of Cottonwoods for cover. This part of Wyoming is known for it’s high winds and low temperatures, especially in the spring and fall, so bring your 7-weight rod and a windproof jacket if you fish up here. The possibility of catching a fish of a lifetime is worth toughing out any weather conditions.
MIRACLE MILE CURRENT RIVER FLOWS
MIRACLE MILE FISHING REPORT
Big Laramie River
The Big Laramie River begins just south of the Wyoming/Colorado boarder in the Never Summer Mountains and is one of the main tributaries of the North Platte River. It is a true free stone river that has high demands for irrigation causing flows to fluctuate drastically. Fishing is best in the early spring and late fall. Try to avoid fishing wide flats and concentrate on riffles, deep holes, and undercut banks. You can expect to catch 10-16 inch wild browns but there are some fish in the Big Laramie that will go 10+ pounds. These large fish are concentrated in the pasturelands just west of Laramie, which are hard to access because of private ownership.
BIG LARAMIE RIVER ACCESS POINTS
BIG LARAMIE FISHING REPORT
BIG LARAMIE CURRENT RIVER FLOWS AT WOODSLANDING
Laramie Plains Lakes
The Laramie Plains Lakes are a collection of alkaline impoundments located 15 miles west of Laramie off of WY 230. These fertile waters support a fantastic amount of trout food and have the correct ph level to grow trout as fast as any where in the country. The main food sources for trout in these lakes are scuds, caddis, damselflies, dragonflies, callibaetis, and chironomids.
They fish best in early spring right after ice out through mid July and again in the fall. Late summer can cause water temps to climb into the mid 70’s making the fishing very difficult. Early morning and late evening are the best times to fish during this time of year escape the high water temps. If you fish the Laramie Plains Lakes expect to fish in the wind. The spring and the fall are the windiest seasons but it can blow in this part of Wyoming any day of the year. Don’t let the wind deter you, however, some of the best fishing can be during some of the worst weather. It is a good idea to bring your 7 wt. rod with you to help fight the blustery wind.
There are boat ramps at each lake allowing for larger motorized watercraft. It is a good idea to call or email Four Seasons Anglers prior to launching boats at these lakes because of the fluctuation in water levels. The drought has made it difficult at times to keep enough water in these reservoirs to easily launch a boat.
LARAMIE PLAINS LAKES HATCH CHART
Lake Hattie is the largest of the Laramie Plains Lakes at 1500-3000 surface acres depending on water levels. It contains rainbows, browns, lakers, Kokanee salmon, and perch. The browns and rainbows range from 12-30 inches with the occasional 5 to 10 pounder, and the lake trout average 5 to 15 pounds. There is camping and a couple of boat ramps at Lake Hattie. There are, however, no electric of water hookups at the campsites.
LAKE HATTIE FISHING REPORT
Twin Buttes is a 250-acre impoundment that contains rainbows and browns averaging 12 to 25+ inches. This reservoir offers the angler a great opportunity to catch a true trophy brown in the eight-pound range. Fishing at Twin Buttes is best in the fall when the browns are trying to spawn. Look for fish to be in the shallows with a gravely bottom. There are two boat ramps and overnight camping, but no hookups.
TWIN BUTTES FISHING REPORT
Galett is the smallest of the Laramie Plains Lakes, at only 34 surface acres. It has rainbow trout from 12 to 24 inches and grass carp. We have good carry over fish at Galett the past couple of winters thanks to efforts from the Wyoming Game & Fish aeration systems. This impoundment is an extremely shallow lake with great vegetation growth full of damsel nymphs and scuds.
GELATT FISHING REPORT
Meeboer is a 119-acre reservoir that grows fish faster than any of the other plains lakes. Recent efforts by the Wyoming Game & Fish have allowed us carry over fish the past couple of years, which has greatly increased the rainbows average size. Prior to these efforts fish averaged 10-14 inches but now fish in the six to ten pound plus range have been more common.
MEEBOR FISHING REPORT
Medicine Bow National Forest
The Medicine Bow National Forest is located 30 miles west of Laramie on Wyoming State Highway 130 just above the small mountain town of Centennial. WY 130 is a scenic loop that goes west over the Snowy Range Mountains, up to 11,000 feet in elevation, to the small town of Saratoga and then continues north to meet up with I-80 at Walcott Junction. This loop travels past countless alpine lakes and streams full of brook trout and cutthroats. The fishing is better, however, the farther that you get away from the main highway. People don’t seem to venture far from their vehicles and explore the fishing opportunities that are only small day hike away. The Medicine Bow National Forest has great hiking with trail heads clearly marked at most of the roadside stops, including the Sugarloaf Access area. Some of the lakes to keep in mind are the Twin Lakes, North and South Gap, Bear Lake, the Shelf Lakes, Libby Lake, Lewis Lake, Rob Roy Reservoir, and Lake Owen. Rob Roy, Lake Owen, and Turpin Reservoir are the only lakes that have a cement boat ramp and allow combustion motors. Some of the creeks to keep in mind are Libby Creek, Douglas Creek, French Creek, and Pelton Creek. The elevation will vary from 9,000feet to approximately 11,500 feet; fish tend to run larger at lower elevations. The lakes and creeks at the highest elevations are only without ice for a couple of months a year making it hard for fish to grow very fast. You can expect to mainly catch brook trout, Splake, cutthroats, and rainbows 6-12 inches. There are lakes that contain larger fish, in fact a 28 inch Splake was caught just a couple of years ago, but the majority of the fish will be closer to twelve inches. For more information on the Medicine Bow National Forest contact FOUR SEASONS ANGLERS or the Medicine Bow/Routt National Forest Service in Laramie at 307-745-2300.
MEDICINE BOW NATIONAL FOREST LINK
MEDICINE BOW NATIONAL FOREST FISHING REPORT