Saturday, 21 June 2008

North Platte River -- Gray Reef

Drove to Gray Reef on the North Platte river with Jefferson Snider and Garrett to fish for the big ones. Gray Reef is a small Bureau of Reclamation (BLM) dam on the river about a mile below the larger dam which creates the Alcova Reservoir. The fish bunch up below the dam, and there are some real big ones in there. The largest trout I've ever caught was caught under that dam about 15 years ago and went 27". Not sure why, but I haven't fished there much since. Part of it is the landscape, it really is a reclamation site in the high desert though after spending five months in Scotland, the contrast of the desolate high western landscape with the wet Scottish highlands somehow made this look better to me than it has before.

Jeff, Garrett and I were hooking up a lot throughout the day. I only landed four, but hooked up with another eight or ten that straightened my hooks, broke me off, or just managed to rub the hook out in the weeds and rocks on the bottom. The fish we caught were all rainbows or cutbows in the 18" - 24" class and, unlike fish in some other western tailwaters, were strong fighters. The place is crowded. Many guys were not hooking up at all, a few were doing as well as we were, and in the early evening, there were a couple of men, standing in the best spots just below the dam, who hooked up consistently. The guys who don't hook up are invariably fishing bigger flies that the fly shops seem to push.

Garrett (in photo with a fish on) had the place wired and we started catching fish right away. This is tailwater flyfishing with small, tiny tiny tiny flies. The rig is either two size 22 or 24 midge patterns (there were midges swarming the banks) or possibly a rig with the upper midge swapped out with a size 12 or 14 red rock worm pattern. Black glass beadhead or silver beadhead midges were really hot. So the entire rig is a 9 foot leader, down to one or two size 6 splitshots, a foot or two below that a size 22 midge, and another 18" below that another midge on the point. (If you click on the photo of the fish above, you can see one of the flies hooked in trout's mouth.) We all used a new style of strike indicator which seemed to work really well. A kind of little round rubber bobber with a tab and a small grommet on the tab. Not sure what this thing is called, I've never seem 'em before, but they have them at the flyshop at the turn-off to Gray Reef. Garrett had used them before steelhead fishing in Northern CA.

It makes for a long day from Laramie (and I'm 25 miles further on) with a bit more than five hours of driving together with seven hours of fishing in the hot sun, but it is a great day if you don't mind crowds and want to hookup (and sometimes catch) lots of big fish.

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