By Jeff McDonald
As winter begins to tighten its grip on Wyoming, it is a good time to get out the skis and snowboards. But it doesn’t mean that you have to put the fly rods and waders away for the next six months — there are still plenty of great opportunities to catch trout on the fly.
One such place to find these opportunities is the North Platte River in Central Wyoming. The North Platte proudly makes its way through a series of dams and reservoirs, including Seminoe, Pathfinder, Alcova, and Gray Reef before moving on toward the city of Casper. Because of these dams, the water that is released below maintains a relatively steady temperature and does not ice over as many other Wyoming rivers and streams do in the wintertime.
| Steve McDonald (my dad) with a trophy brown trout on the North Platte River, |
by Jeff McDonald.
The North Platte is well known for producing trophy trout on the fly, and these fish stick around and take full advantage of the tailwaters below the dams. Food remains abundant and the fish continue to strike on fly patterns popular to the region.
Most public sections of the river can be easily waded in winter, but consider the outdoor temperature/conditions and dress accordingly before you go out. It is best to layer up as you would for a day on the ski hill, keeping in mind that the best way to stay warm is to stay dry.
If standing in a river, casting a fly rod when the air temperature drops into the teens (or lower) does not sound like much fun, even for the chance to hook into a 25+ inch trout, floating the river in a drift boat is a great alternative. Although you are still exposed to the elements, being in a drift boat keeps you out of the water and allows you to cover more of the river in a day.
Local fly shops and outfitters continue to offer guide services throughout the winter, such as North Platte River Fly Shop and The Reef Fly Shop. Shop staff and guides are also a great resource for learning about the hot fly selections for the conditions, specific fishing technique and suggestions on the best spots to go to.