October, 2003

10/2-4:  Thursday morning we made the long drive up the freeway through Casper to try a couple of never before visited and rightfully famous tailwaters.  Seven hours later we arrived at Grey Reef, a reputedly large rainbow section of the North Platte.

To be honest we had a really negative experience there - with knowledge aforethought.  Although internet fishing reports indicated lots of weediness present below the dam, the excessive presence of that vegetation combined with murky, turgid water, frankly it reminded us so much of the Mississippi River near St. Louis that we almost drove off without bothering with any casting.  Sue did opt to not try it, but I set off down the bank determined to make the most of what Mother Nature handed us - and it really wasn't much.

I saw one other fisherman land and release a twelve inch rainbow.  My efforts with a brown wooly bugger were rewarded with three or four strikes and one fish played for a few seconds.  I'm sure this part of the Platte fishes well when conditions are decent, but to be honest, it felt more like casting into an irrigation ditch than a real trout stream.  We'll not return here - and I suspect that statement will really please many of the "locals" who view us "greenies" from Colorado as the last great plague on earth.

On we drove.  Eventually in the early evening we arrived at the famous "Miracle Mile" section of the North Platte.  With no idea where to park or camp we drove a mile or two downstream from the first section below the bridge below Kortes Dam and pulled off at a likely spot.  There's terrific (and free) camping access all along the river.

Much like at Grey Reef the here river was also murky, vegetative and appeared to be unfishable at the 500 or so c.f.s. at which it was flowing.  That assumption was somewhat inaccurate.  With light fading fast I threw a wooly bugger along the bank for half an hour and finally was rewarded by getting to release one fourteen inch rainbow.

Next day we awakened at early, frosty light, ate a quick breakfast and headed out to the braided stream where we had camped.  Decent hatches of midges and bwo's were on despite the ugly color of the river.  Some larger fish stuck their heads through the film, but all our efforts with dry/nymph combinations proved fruitless.

Being more used to the wonderful - and clear flowing - freestone streams in Colorado, it's a bit of a shock to deal with the muck that exists on this part of the Platte.

Eventually we turned exclusively to wooly buggers and variations thereof.  While not producing outstanding success, at least they produced strikes.  Sue had lesser results overall than did I, but she did have the most wonderful completion of her quest for the Wyoming cut slam.  Upstream from where we camped, she landed a 12 inch Colorado cutthroat - a fish we'd worked hard for without success on an earlier trip to this state.  So she finally completed her Wyoming cutthroat slam - a grand accomplishment.  I'm two varieties short and suspect I'll never finish it.  So this was a great accomplishment for her.

My only consolation was having decent results on the resident rainbows.  Nothing was really large by the standards of this river, but I probably released a couple dozen various sized rainbows - from six to sixteen inches.  The fall run browns may be starting to run up from the lower reservoir though we saw not a hint of them these two days.

Regardless of the lousy water conditions encountered we still like this section of the river a lot - viewing it much as we would the Green below Flaming Gorge.  Hopefully we'll have a chance to get back one more time this fall - but only after the water clears.

Heading back to Colorado we stopped & camped on the Platte again above Seminoe Reservoir.  Before dinner I released a twelve inch brown.  The river here was much better from a clarity standpoint but it really had little structure to give fish protection, and we suspect overall populations are fairly low here.

Just above the Colorado border at the Six Mile campground we did a mile or so hike downstream into the North Platte canyon.  While a very pretty stream here, It proved to be useless fishing.  At the 100 or so c.f.s. of flow the river was moving it gave up not even a hint of holding catchable sized fish.  

At that point the weather deteriorated to a driving rainstorm, so instead of camping on the upper Colorado we chose to just drive back home and have a nice Sunday in the condo.  Next week it's off to Lake Powell for the final campout there this season.

10/8:  Although it's running very high at almost 1200 cubes, the Colorado near State Bridge had cleared considerably compared to our last outing there.  It will be much better fishing when flows return to normal fall levels, but for now, the returns are still fine here.

Attempts with a surface WRS trailed by a #20 green larva brought only strikes to the surface fly.  Changed the trailer to a #16 pupa and that was slightly better, but happily most of the fish wanted something on the surface today.

Places that produced no action on the last trip worked fine today and the hot spots of last week turned sharply cold.  Sizes of the browns weren't much to speak of, but it really was a treat to take them on the surface.  Only a few caddis could be brushed from bushes, and a handful of red quills were visible on the water.  The three rainbows ranged from 6-14 inches and that was about the sizing of the dozen and a half browns as well.

Tomorrow we head to Glenwood for a couple of hours on the Roaring Fork and then it's off to Lake Powell for 3-4 days of warm water (action we hope).

10/9-12:  Took our last trip of the year to Lake Powell these four days.  Not much to speak of from a fishing standpoint, but the weather was almost perfect with cool nights and temperate days.  The lake's depth has now fallen so far that the lake closest to our campsite offers little in the way of drop-offs or overhangs that bass and other of the local fishes seem to prefer. 

Apparently there are terrific striper "boils" going on now, but given our hand powered transportation we'd never have a chance of either catching up with or being able to cast to those boils unless we changed to some form of motorized boat - which of course we are unwilling to do.

Our shallow trolling and casting from shore produced very limited results to the immature smallmouths that inhabit this part of the lake habitat.

While I hate to admit it, the most fun of the trip was trying to sucker punch some of the many carp into trying a dry fly or wooly bugger.  This species was gathering in several places along the shoreline in groups of a dozen or so and they appeared to be feeding on some type of surface algae.   The fish are extremely wary when exposed like this in shallow water and consequently presentation was very touchy.  Even a raven flying a couple hundred feet overhead was enough to spook the carp into diving and not reforming for a half hour or so.

Unlike this spring the carp had no interest in a wooly bugger, but I did have modest success with a small dry fly cast into the middle of a pod of feeding fish.

Also had several hookups while retrieving the dry fairly quickly - this was particularly true for individual fish that were not acting as a part of the group.  This turned out to be the most fun we had on the trip.

So that was it for Powell in 2003.  We'll head back again as soon as runoff starts next spring.









Next Thursday the dog & I are off on our last expedition to the Green below Flaming Gorge.  We plan to fish it a bit differently than before by hiking downstream from the dam in the afternoon on the first day to avoid conflicts with the drift boats.  Then we'll fish the lower "A" section on Friday and part of lower "B" on Saturday morning.  Hopefully a fall olive hatch will show up sometime while we're on the water

10/16-18:  We played the first two thirds of the game on the Green as noted in the paragraph above but gave up on the last chapter.  Arrived at Flaming Gorge dam just after noon on Thursday and began our walk down the canyon instead of up from Little Hole.  It was an enlightening experience.

Because of our late start I had hoped we'd completely avoid the drift boat hatch, but that was not to be.  Apparently guide services are running half day quickies on this section plus we had to deal with a dozen guys in PWC's.  The bank walkers disappeared after we'd moved a half mile downstream.  In fact with the exception of the floaters, we basically had the shoreside fishing to ourselves the three hours we hiked & wade fished.

This upper profile of the "A" section is somewhat different than the lower part in terms of how the river drops.  I'd expected a steeper pitch and was surprised to note the long flat stretches with small rapids in between.  Since we moved downstream for a couple of miles we (the dog & I) chose wooly buggering as the preferred fishing approach.  It worked very well for whatever reason, and I don't exactly know why given the next day's poor results with a similar approach on the lower part of "A".

Threw the new olive "miracle" bugger into whatever fast or pocket-like water we could find as we moved down river and had terrific results - by my standards anyway.  Probably played at least two dozen fish ranging in size from ten to eighteen inches - dominantly rainbows with a few browns.  Lost one quite large fish which I assumed to be a several pound brown that snipped off the 3X tipped at the fly when I couldn't move him from the deep pocket in which he lay.

As we moved back upstream the strong West wind came up and pretty much put down any hopes of dry fly or nymphing some of the water better suited to those tactics, but it was a terrific afternoon, and we'll repeat this on our next trip over in the spring.

Friday we drove to Little Hole & began our regular walk upstream roughly 3.5 miles.  Cast at several spots along the way and had some success with the WRS.  Trailing nymphs - either small larva or the pupa generated a few strikes, but the early morning fish seemed pretty sluggish.  Hatches of a few midges and a fifteen minute emergence of olives were all the insects we saw this day.  Hopper patterns were always rejected.

Even way upstream results were sporadic & fish generally on the small side.  Best trout released were a brown & a couple of cuts in the eighteen inch range.  Around noon more fish came up for a dark winged WRS (natural elk with black krystal flash embedded), but I lost my only two versions of that coloration, and things slowed down again.  On the walk back down to the car, I fished the wooly bugger again but had only limited success in faster pocket water.  All in all it was a pretty disappointing day as I'd estimate we only played a dozen & a half fish in many hours of casting.

Drove the back road down to Bridgeport at the bottom of "B" and fished for a bit around the takeouts and had nothing but a couple of bumps.  We'd planned to camp here, but given the presence of massive numbers of hunters, there simply was no place to pull off and set up for the night.  So we drove back on towards Colorado & spent the night in the desert upstream from Maybell.

After breakfast in Craig we drove back to heaven (the White River).  Getting on the water at our favorite spot around 9:30, we were rewarded with five fish in roughly that many casts - one of which was a double hookup on the standard setup of surface WRS and trailing pupa.  Fortunately both rainbows were small and they were released without snapping off the tippet.  

As always, the fishing was wonderful.  Not lots of large guys though I did miss most of the strikes from good fish, but plentiful rainbows, whitefish (to the trailing nymph) and three decent cutthroats.  Why the WRS continues to be successful even during an obvious heavy midge emergence is beyond me.  I guess these trout are simply too hungry or just plain stupid.  Tried changing the trailing pupa to smaller bead head larva and had some success, but the fish really preferred the surface fly.  What a shame!  Last fish of the day was a wonderful eighteen inch rainbow.  Great way to end the weekend.  Assuming the weather forecast is favorable, next Tuesday we're off for 2-3 days of wading on the Miracle Mile even though reports are that it remains cloudy & weedy.


I stopped at 40.

Given a favorable weather report - as in "not snowing", the dog & I took off for another shot at the "Miracle Mile" on the North Platte in Wyoming.  Leaving at roughly 8:30 Tuesday morning we were casting by 1:30 that afternoon.  We hoped against hope that the river would have cleared somewhat at least from our earlier experience.

The hope didn't materialize.  

Coming from our home area (here high in Colorado) which offers bright waters and fish looking towards the surface, the visibility of the Platte remained depressingly akin to the Mississippi near New Orleans.  If you can imagine making a few thousand casts and never being able to retrieve your streamer without some kind of dangling weed attached to it, then that's what we faced the next couple of days.  How the fish could even began to see the streamer for the first couple of days defies description.  But given our relatively good results, the poor water conditions may also suggest how many fish may actually live here.

After several fitful starts at working the water it became evident that the best action occurred in faster areas - particularly those where some sort of modest structure existed.  Casting across and downstream with a twitch and hand twist retrieve, then moving a couple of steps and repeating the process seemed to work fairly well.  Used the new estaz bodied bugger in either black or olive and both worked equally successfully.  

(It was interesting that at the only C store in the area, the owner's wife showed me a nicely tied streamer that was basically ginger colored.  It had an overlapped two hackle tail and three patches of what appeared to be red squirrel hair atop the body to give more depth to the appearance of the fly.  She indicated that this was the premier streamer on the Mile.)

Anyway we fished several areas for about four hours Wednesday afternoon and estimated to have released perhaps 15-18 fish.  90% were rainbows with the rest being in-stream browns.  All the fish were between 8-18 inches in length.  Something else unusual was the coloration of the rainbows.  Regardless of length they were widely varied in appearance - either being pure silver like steelhead or strongly and colorfully striped as one would normally describe a rainbow.

Hatches.  Midges were always present.  Around 11:00 on Thursday a strong trico hatch came off.  Later there were variable numbers of a small baetis, plus good numbers of a smallish caddis, and very few October caddis.  I saw only four rises the three days we were here.  Two were in shoreside weedbeds, but it's unimaginable that the fish could possibly see anything on the surface.  Consequently I can't imagine anyone doing well either a surface fly or a nymph.

Miscellany.  Cell phones don't work on the mile.  At some point a cell should be installed there.  With the potential for vehicle problems on some of the roads  that's a real need.  The only available pay phone is at the store about four miles downstream from the main bridge crossing the stream a mile or so below the dam.  The store is bare necessities only - beer, ice, licenses.  Everything a body needs to survive if staying a few days needs to be brought along by that person.

Those who visit here often understand that camp sites are numerous and excellent as are toilet facilities.  The state has done a great job of setting up the area for users.  Visitors need to be cautious when accessing some of the roads to the river.  Had we not been in an all wheel drive rig, the ascent from Chalk Bluffs would have been impossible.

Thursday we fished all day - roughly 8 hours.  I counted fish hooked and played this day even if they weren't all landed.  Stopped at 40.  Probably had two to three times that many strikes.  It's an understatement to say the fishing was great even if the river looked like stink.  Fish number 22 was an 8-10 inch Colorado cutthroat - the only I one landed on the trip.  That fish does, however, give me a third leg on the cut slam which I will still pursue.

As on Wednesday, the bulk of the catch were rainbows with the balance being browns.  Several nice fish between 18-20 inches were released - no lunkers, but fun, very tough fighters.  According to local reports the big browns have not yet started up from Pathfinder, so that's something to look forward to in November.  Happily all the internet reports we read indicated that fishing was lousy due to the rotten water conditions, so we basically had the river to ourselves.

Friday instead of spending another whole day streamer fishing, we opted to head back home.  The water did show signs of a slow clearing, and before we left camp at 9:30, we released another dozen rainbows in the same size ranges.  Later, with a little extra time to kill on the drive we stopped just below The Dugway access near Seminoe Reservoir and in 20 minutes managed to release a twelve inch brown, fourteen inch rainbow, and sixteen inch rainbow - again all on an olive streamer.  Just very nice fishing.  This latter part of the Platte is running truly clear and was a treat to fish.  If snow doesn't come shortly to the mountains, we may try to head back here one more time before winter closes in.

Last Logbook Entry  é for previous days.

10/27:  As much as I dislike the overworked cliché used so often by guides to describe fishing success on some stream, I'll have to admit that I thought the Eagle was truly "on fire" today.

It was an overcast chilly morning when we finished up data gathering at the county offices, so we took the opportunity to get in a few casts on this favorite local river.  With only an hour or so to spare we had to rush around to a couple of spots near the town.  No hatches were evident excepting the ever present midges.  So I didn't bother changing away from the small olive cone head wooly bugger that had been so successful on the Platte last week.  It was a serendipitous decision.

The first short hundred yard long stretch produced a half dozen fish between 12-18 inches - all rainbows with only one 16 inch brown mixed in.  Missed another dozen strikes and all this in the space of thirty minutes of casting.

Our next location slightly upstream was equally productive.  Fish sizes and quantities were virtually identical and we probably played an extra handful of browns as well.  It's interesting how different our local browns appear compared to those on the "Mile".  Ours are definitely darker colored and have much more spotting compared to the tannish colored fewer spotted ones up North.  Anyway it was a terrific hour of fishing and suggests that we should persist on this river until the winter weather basically shuts things down.

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