Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Spawning Browns on the North Platte

What I was after.
For a few years now I've been wanting to get up to fish for the big brown trout that run up into the North Platte from the series of reservoirs west of Casper.  The run of spawning browns is a mid-November to mid-December event that happens to fall during prime pheasant and sharptail hunting season so I never seem to make it.  This year, with the drought, reports from pheasant country are not promising so the decision to fish instead of hunt was not difficult. Jeff and I drove up to the North Platte leaving at 7:30 Sunday morning from the West Laramie Fly Store.

Tom McGuane (via Steve Bodio) wrote "Shoptalk is lyrical."  Here's the technical details for them that likes them. I was casting a 5wt 11 foot Z-axis switch rod loaded with a Scientific Anglers 280 gr Extreme Skagit head with a 10' Airflow Salmon/Steelhead fast sinking polyleader with a bit more than a foot of 15 lb. tippet attached to a streamer.   My running line is the yellow Airflow Ridge.  This is all spooled on an old Lamson LP4 which really needs to be replaced; if the reel gets wet the drag slips or even goes free spool and the spool occasionally spontaneously falls off.  The orange Skagit head is 18' long. I feel like I'd cast it a bit better when I'm not in deep if was a couple of feet longer - but I do pretty well with it. Although I am no expert, I can Spey cast a lightly weighted streamer far further with this rig than I can with a 9 foot 8 wt. rod.  For this kind of fishing I far prefer fishing the 5 weight switch rod to my 14 foot 9 weight Spey rod though that works too.

I caught one big brown, a few smaller ones and a decent rainbow. I went for a big brown and was completely satisfied to have caught one: you can't always get what you want. The take was textbook perfect - the fish took a white marabou streamer I was swinging in classic Salmon/Steelhead fishing style.   Jeff netted it for me and took a photo.  By then I was anxious to release it so it could continue the sexual business it was there for - and so I did not measure it.  I'd guess it was a 26 or 27 inch fish.  Jeff hooked up more than once but did not land one.

No snow up there yet - a shocking continuation of the current drought conditions.  People all over, even those who don't much like snow,  are wishing we'd get some.


  1. Nice trout. How do you like your switch rod?


    1. Love the switch. With the Skagit line I can boom a streamer out further than I can with an 8 weight but I also use it with a regular line to fish nymphs. The length gives me distance and mending control is amazing. The 5 weight is light enough to fish it all day without tiring and is not too heavy for trout. For the fishing I do on bigger water in WY the 5 is perfect but I would like a 7 for chasing steelhead in OR.

  2. I live near some great Atlantic salmon rivers which I can fish just for the cost of a license. We have great rivers for sea-run browns just 10 minutes from my door. Skagit would be great for reaching out to them. I have seen no one around here fishing two handed. I haven't fished much the past two or three years but I intend to fix that this summer. We have unbelievable searun brown fishing here in the early spring. I will be looking seriously at a spey or switch rod for the searuns.