We know, you’re tired of reading about how great the Gray Reef section of the North Platte River is for fishing. Except during the fall, particularly early fall, most people don’t think of fishing the Gray Reef section.
“It’s totally overlooked because people go to the Miracle Mile for big browns,” said Eric Anderson, general manager and guide at The Reef Fly Shop in Alcova.
And right now, the joke’s on them. Gray Reef has 21- to 23-inch brown trout and the opportunity for beautiful browns up to 25 inches, he said. Anglers avoid the section because it looks green and weedy, and they believe they can catch bigger fish in the Miracle Mile stretch above Pathfinder Reservoir. There are big fish there, but Anderson has seen very few being pulled from the water on a fly line.
The North Platte above and near Casper isn’t the only great fishing this fall. Cooler temperatures are starting to turn on fishing across the state. So even if you plan to spend October hunting, carving pumpkins and searching for all of those warm layers you packed away in June, keep your rods and reels by the door. You won’t regret it.
Yes, you may see weeds on the Gray Reef section of the North Platte River, but you should also see plenty of channels where you can target fish and not run into trouble. And it’s worth it, Anderson said. Try using dry flies like crane fly patterns with another dry fly running behind it like a parachute Adams.
Streamer and nymph fishing is also picking up.
The Fremont Canyon section might look a little off-color because Pathfinder turned over, but the fishing is still good. Use a little larger tippit than usual and larger flies like pheasant tails, prince nymphs and emergers like an RS2. For anyone interested in the Miracle Mile, try using an olive articulated streamer and plan to sight fish.
Lastly, don’t overlook the Platte downstream of Casper, where you can find great wading spots with few anglers. Try dry flies and streamers, Anderson said.
For anglers living in or traveling through the southwest corner of the state, the Green River below Fontenelle Reservoir has been fishing really well. Temperatures are cooling, and most anglers are out hunting, which means you should see very little pressure from others.
“You will find concentrations of kokanee with rainbows and cutthroat trout nearby gorging on their eggs,” said Robb Keith, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s fisheries supervisor in the Green River region. “There’s also all the invertebrates that get kicked up from spawning activity.”
Be careful, he cautioned, to not disturb the kokanee on their redds or walk through the redds themselves.
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Flaming Gorge Reservoir is also fishing really well for rainbow and lake trout. The warm water that pushed fish to the depths of the lake in the summer has dissipated and fish are moving back to shore. Bank anglers should throw jigs, swim baits and rapallas between 10 and 30 feet of water.
Find a window of good weather and plan to catch lake and rainbow trout and smallmouth bass.
To say the Upper North Platte River is fishing well would be an understatement right now. Jeff Goldsby of Four Seasons Anglers in Laramie had a client recently catch more than 40 fish in a day and miss others.
The water is low and cooling off, so fish are piled in deeper runs where they can find faster moving water and current. Try using smaller nymphs like Pat’s rubber legs and rainbow warriors and dry flies like parachute Adams and small terrestrials like Amy’s ants and microchubbies.
Streamer fishing has also been really good, but anglers will need to hunt out the sections with deeper water.
High mountain lakes in the Snowy Range are still open and offer good dry fly fishing on a warm day. On cooler days try woolly buggers or pheasant tails.
The Plains Lakes will start picking as temperatures continue cooling down.
Expect a great fall fishing season on the east side of the Bighorn Mountains, said Luke Todd with the Sports Lure in Buffalo.
Mountain streams are likely done for the season following the recent cold spell, unless temperatures warm dramatically. But all lower streams and reservoirs are in good shape.
Anglers can still find some grasshoppers around, so try hopper and dropper rigs. Brown trout are also starting to move and become more aggressive as they prepare to spawn, so woolly buggers can be a good choice.
Try fishing anywhere you can find access including places like Clear Creek and Piney Creek. Muddy Guard Reservoir is great in the fall as is Sand Creek in the Black Hills.