Tuesday, 2 August 2011

To Gray Reef, to Gray Reef, to catch a fat pig.

To Gray Reef, to Gray Reef, to catch a fat pig;
   Home again, home again, dancing a jig.
To Gray Reef, to Gray Reef, to catch a fat hog;
   Home again, home again, jiggety-jog
                                                   Apologies to Mother Goose
                                                             -- where ever she may be.

It's about a four hour drive from Cody WY where we'd spent the night to the Gray Reef dam on the North Platte River -- that's if you do get sidetracked onto a 150 mile goose chase over the Big Horns on the way.   Long story short, an extremely enthusiastic guide at the fly shop in Cody insisted that we really really needed to go to his favorite spot, the North Fork of the Tongue River in the Big Horns.  Gray Reef is ugly and would be crowded he claimed.  I was dubious though curious, I have never fished the Tongue but have certainly heard of it.  We were finally convinced that we really would regret not checking it out by the guides absolutely unbounded confidence and the pictures he showed us of some very very large cutthroat trout.  What he didn't make clear was that the Tongue "River" in the Bighorns is  a creek that is about two feet wide and meanders through a willow choked meadow.  The only way to fish it is to wade up the middle of the stream -- which would be fine if you were the only people there -- we weren't. Every parking area had two or three cars in it and there were fishermen everywhere. We tried to access the river halfway on its flow out of the mountains.  This  required some careful map and compass navigation, negotiating some rough four wheel drive two tracks and a fair amount of backtracking. Eventually it was clear that we were as close to the river as we were going get and still had a big hike with serious elevation loss (and gain).  We left without wetting a line having wasted most of the day.

We got to Gray Reef at about 6PM after a scenic tour of northern and central Wyoming.  There was no one else there.  The flows over the dam were 4600 cfs. High enough that the island was inaccessible (for me anyway) but once we were rigged up we fished the outlet and Gerry landed his first fish of the trip. Ah, sweet relief! ... sweet joy!  A red rock-worm with a midge trailer was just the ticket.
Gerry is clearly happy about that fish.

We fished until dusk and together we hooked and landed a satisfying number of fish, perhaps six or eight more between us. We celebrated with drinks and burgers at the Sunset Grill in Alcova. We ended up spending the evening drinking with a hunting guide from Riverton WY, a self described "full-blooded Northern Arapaho".  We ended up closing the place down and  spent the night in one of their motel rooms.

The next day we fished until around 4PM and caught many more nice fish.  The size 16 rock worm patterns seems to be the pattern of the day.  The fish just couldn't get enough of them.

And thus ended our road trip.

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