Tag Archives: Grey Reef

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For the last six years, early spring has meant a journey to the North Platte River in central Wyoming.  The river is packed with large, aggressive and hungry trout.  The land that surrounds the water has the characteristics of the old west; a limited amount of people, plenty of indigenous creatures, and predictably unpredictable weather.  It’s a unique place that allows visitors to escape life for a brief period of time.

2014 represented an atypical adventure for me.  My fly fishing mentors, Chad and Joe Butler, completed their annual visit just one week prior to my trip.  Additionally, the group that I had invited all canceled just days before departure.  While I absolutely enjoy fishing with friends, this trip is about personal mental relief.  For a few of days, the mobile phone is off, and emails go unchecked.  I become all consumed with pursuing fish.  

Day One

After the five hour drive from Parker, the contents of my truck were quickly unloaded into the cabin.  I slipped into my waders, strapped on my chest pack and rigged my fly rod.  The river is only minutes away, and the anticipation makes it hard to focus on the task at hand.  I had planned to patiently scout my favorite spots along the river, and drop in only when big fish exposed themselves to me.  When I started my truck, the strategy went the way of the dodo bird.  I hit the gas and darted to one of my favorite holes.  While there was not a vehicle present, I witnessed a lone fisherman making casts against the river bank.  A three minute wade put me at the top of an elegant riffle.  My two fly rig consisted of a chartreuse egg on top, and a Slade Fedore designed leech as the trailer.  The initial drift hugged the near seam, allowing the flies to move slowly over the shelf into deeper water.  Stunningly, my indicator pulsed, so I quickly jerked the rod over my left shoulder.  The trout raced across the fast water then headed downstream.  I followed the fish until he moved into an eddy and could be easily netted.  Over the next five hours, I hooked over two dozen fish but I landed only half of them.  There was size to most every trout with the largest equaling 21”.

Day Two

About a month before my vacation, I planned my second trip with guide extraordinaire, Slade Fedore.   Slade is a Casper native, expert fly fisherman, and a great person.  He gives advice without being demeaning, and provides timely compliments, but he is never patronizing.  Slade and I like to get after it early, so we were the first boat to unload on the Reef.  Our initial float produced three great fish.  Heading downriver, we kept picking fish up on both the egg and the leech.  The weather got a bit windy and snowy, but the bite continued to be hot.  The day was highlighted when a gigantic golden eagle plucked a pheasant from the river bank.  Minutes later, a bald eagle flew twenty feet above us, and landed on a fence post paralleling the waterway.  Almost simultaneous to the eagle perching itself, a big trout exposed himself in the middle of the river.  Slade and I both noticed the fish, and I made an immediate cast to a spot ten feet in front of him.  While the first cast was junk, my second cast hit the mark.  Seconds after my upstream mend, the bow slammed my fly, and burned 40 feet up and across the river.  He was big and my heart was racing.  The fish pulled a 180 and screamed downriver stripping fly line off the Bozeman RS Reel.  I applied gentle pressure with the hope he would behave.  Instead of acquiescing, he started to perform violent headshakes and even took to the air a few times.  We managed to get him to the side of the boat, but just out of the reach of Slade’s net.  When he was sufficiently recovered from the initial battle, he cut across the river then back behind the boat.  Only eight feet from me, I saw the hook perilously hanging in his right cheek.  A final thrash dislodged the fly, and the fish disappeared into the depths of the river.  Disappointed, I hung my head, realizing that I had just lost a 23” slab.  We ended an awesome day drinking a few beers while listening to my cabin neighbors perform a bit of authentic blue grass music. 

Day Three

Recognizing that the weekend was approaching, and the crowds would start to appear, I was up early in order to get to a favorite spot.  It did not take long for the river to begin fill up with fellow fishermen.  By early afternoon, I counted twelve rods executing similar nymphing techniques.  In order to experience much needed solitude, I walked to a more remote, but historically less productive area.  While there is no distinctive structure, I found water that supported a steady drift.  Not dissimilar from the rest of the river, I started to frequently hook and land good size rainbows.  As the late afternoon approached, we made a decision to head to a reservoir and fish the ice out.  Reports were that there were huge trout hitting crawfish imitations stripped slowly along the bottom. We talked to some bait fisherman who had picked up a few nice fish during the afternoon, but they told us that fishing was slower than in past years.  Nevertheless, we spent hours casting big streamers around ferocious winds.  As my mind wandered, an enormous leviathan appeared from the depths of the lake and took a slow pass at my bait.  Unfortunately, she did not commit to the meal, and headed back where she came from.  The day ended with only one of us landing a trout.  The lack of action did not take away from the immense splendor of the early evening in the western United States.

Day Four

I decided to cut my trip short by a day. The weekend crowds were amassing, and competing for fish was not a part of the game plan.  There is a great hole downstream that can produce a lot of action, but can also fill up quickly.  To that point, I got up early and made certain that I was the first person at the spot.  While the weather was perfect, the fish were semi-responsive.  Uncharacteristically, I had to work hard to invoke an initial strike.  Four fish later, I began to witness other anglers making their way into the river.  In addition to my fellow waders, there were many boats filling up the most fertile area in this section of river.  I realized that the trip was over, and it was time to depart.

The ride home is long, but full of pleasant memories.  I was able to think about the fish I had caught as well as the many that evaded my net.  After six years fishing the Platte, I have earned veteran status.  I know the water, and understand how to catch fish.  Year seven awaits!

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Wyoming on the Fly

There are very few opportunities to completely disengage from the day to day grind of life. Living in a wireless world allows for convenient connecting from almost anywhere at any time. Hyper-multitasking is now a requirement if you want to survive in an ultracompetitive business climate. Unfortunately, there are times when emails, voice mails and text messages become unwelcome distractions. When this feeling arises, it is time for me to fish.

Over the last five years, the end of March seems to signal my personal breaking point. The desire to escape in to a river has become a necessity if sanity is to remain a life objective. Since moving west in 2009, I make an annual journey to the North Platte River in Wyoming in order to maintain my equilibrium. The weather is always unpredictable, but the fish are big and aggressive.

Weeks before departing, I begin a ritual of unnecessary acquisitions in order to effectively prepare for the adventure. I make triplicate tackle purchases because there is a profound fear of being without the key equipment at the wrong time. While I consciously realize that most of the money I spend is unnecessary, I cannot seem to stop clicking “PayPal” after nightly “fly fishing” web searches.

The five hour drive to the river feels as though we have been teleported to Wyoming from Colorado. All available fishing reports exclaimed how prolific the action had been. We arrived just after lunch on March 26th, and quickly scrambled to get our equipment prepared for an afternoon of stalking native rainbows. After some preliminary scouting, we positioned ourselves in the tailwaters closest to the dam. Our research indicated that the fish were feeding on ample food churned up by the nightly flushes. To that point, my nymphing rig contained a purple San Juan worm as the lead fly, and a red rock worm as the trailing bait. The water was 40 degrees cold, but the air temperature was in the high 50s. A warm spring sun became visible as soon as we entered the water. This allowed us to more easily locate fish in the three to four feet of quickly moving water. Chad was the first to hook up, then Bud followed by me. The action was consistent, with 17” to 19” fish caught every fifth or sixth drift. The bows are stout in the Platte, and their strength is really felt with every inch of growth. As the sun disappeared over the horizon, a chilly 15 mph wind became more noticeable, so we ended a successful first day.

Unlike prior years, both AT&T and Verizon wireless signals were non-existent in our area, so our ability to communicate was severely marginalized. This was a unique “issue” that I actually embraced. Instead of checking voice messages, and executing web searches, we spent time talking about the events of the day over dinner. Sleeping is not an issue after a day spent on the river. A pleasant exhaustion sets in quickly after a big meal and a scotch or two.

However infrequent, when fishing becomes my sole focus, my brain becomes enveloped in the task at hand. Every movement has a purpose, and is executed with an underlying strategy in mind. While I maintain a heightened intensity, there is not the accompanied stress. I begin to appreciate the moment rather than constantly reliving the past. Mistakes are made, but do not define the gratification associated with my quest. Happiness is not derived from a monetary gain or retail purchase. Instead, my satisfaction arises from hooking and then landing a fish that I deceived.

On the third day, my friend Paul and I were fortunate to team with a great guide on a float trip down the Platte. Slade Fedore is a Wyoming native, and a master of the waters where he grew up fishing. He comes across confident, but not cocky. It does not take long to realize that he derives his satisfaction in his client’s success. To that point, he worked hard to put us on a lot of fish. Paul and I must have had twenty five double hook ups throughout the day. We were also able to witness a heard of antelope scurry from river’s edge, a bald eagle evade an angry seagull and sand hill cranes battling geese for their spot on an isolated island. We even passed two late season hunters working their GSPs on an evasive pheasant. One hundred and fifty fish later, our right arms told us to pack up and head back to town. It was a perfect Wyoming weather day so we grabbed a few Budweiser’s and a cigar. Sitting outside our cabin, we reminisced about what unfolded just hours before. Make no mistake; I will fish with Slade Fedore again.

The rivers started to fill up with anglers on Friday. The Reef attracts people from around the world, and the spring represents a great time of the year to fish. Even with a bit more pressure, plenty of big trout regularly hammered pegged eggs and rock worms. The morning produced larger fish, while the afternoon seemed to yield an infinite number of strikes.

Saturday morning was a bit somber as it meant the last morning of the trip. Inclement weather has started to move into the area, and it became cold quickly. Even so, I got up early in order to attempt to tie into a cagy North Platte monster. While I absolutely caught my share of 19” fish, the 25” bow evaded my concerted efforts.

Every spring I will travel to Wyoming in order to conduct personal therapy in the North Platte. It is cheaper than a psychiatrist, and the pictures are better. This trip is not about fishing; it is revitalization of my soul. I value every second on the water, and begin to dream about coming back as I depart.

Equipment Utilized

Comments

William Joseph Confluence Pack

Awesome pack. All critical equipment is easily accessible.

William Joseph Conduit Bag

Fantastic bag that you can pack all of your tackle in (even reels).

William Joseph Odyssey Travel Bag

Plenty of room for weeks of travel.

William Joseph Drynamic Waders

Very comfortable, accessible pockets and at a great price.

William Joseph Runoff Jacket

Perfect on a perfect day….not warm enough when the sun is not out.

Under Armour Cold Gear Compression (top & bottom)

Would not fish in the fall, winter or spring without them.

Under Armour Hitch Heavy Boot Socks

Toes were chilly in the 40 degree water, but I never had to exit the river.

Orvis River Guard Easy-On Brogue Wader Boots

Perfect wader boot. Easy on and off. Grips tightly to slippery rocks.

Simms Windstopper Hat

Windstopper technology helps, but I need a warmer lid next year.

Elkhorn T2 Reel

Have not had an issue in four years.

Brodin Ghost Series Frying Pan Net

Expensive but really nice – secure it well as you don’t want to lose it.

Orvis Mirage Fluorocarbon Tippet (3x)

Stayed strong throughout the entire trip – not one break off.

Maui Jim Seawall Sunglasses

Polarized with spring hinges for my big head – perfect.

Wyoming Fly Fishing Guide Service

HIGHLY recommend Slade Fedore ([email protected])

GoPro Hero2 – Click on the links

http://youtu.be/pCUfmC8tH3k http://youtu.be/C3F_q2pgucI

 

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Winter Fly Fishing – What you Need to be Successful

My favorite part of fly fishing is that in Colorado, I am able to fish year round. Growing up on the North Shore of Massachusetts, the fishing season ended in October when the striped bass migrated down the Atlantic seaboard. Fly fishing in the winter breaks up the monotony that the cold weather brings on, while providing an opportunity to catch trout experiencing minimal fishing pressure. What I have learned over the last two years is that you need to prepare effectively if you expect to execute in winter’s harsh and unpredictable weather conditions. Here are some thoughts:

  • Pack too much clothing then layer it. It is far better to have to peel off layers then to wish you had an extra layer with you.
  • Invest in performance materials and do not wear cotton. I prefer Nike Pro or Under Armor Heat Gear.
  • Bring a hat that can cover your ears. I prefer the Simms GORE-TEX® EXSTREAM™ Hat . You look a little silly but it keeps your head warm.
  • Make certain your top layer is waterproof and windproof. You do not want to get wet when there is a 30mph wind blowing.
  • Buy the right socks. You want your socks to expedite moisture wicking and provide dry performance.
  • Purchase fishing gloves. That said, once your hands get wet (landing a fish), you get cold…quickly.
  • Buy Stanley’s Ice Off Paste (or something similar) and apply it to your rod guides. Guides that constantly freeze are burdensome.
  • Utilize a fish hook holder (Ty-Rite Jr. is a good one but there are others). When your are threading 6x tippet through a #24 midge, the tool becomes invaluable.
  • Bring an extra reel. If your primary reel gets wet, the gears will freeze and it will need time to thaw out.
  • Drink a lot of water. You might not feel dehydrated in colder conditions but it happens.

Recently, I was evaluating different all-weather jackets that I could wear as a primary coat or layer it on colder days.

I purchased the Runoff by William Joseph. Here is my review on the jacket.

Criteria Thoughts
Manufacturer Description The Runoff is a meticulously tailored soft-shell which offers a level of movement that you will not find in other jackets. Articulated elbows with a micro fleece liner allow you to cast all day in absolute comfort. Roomy pockets and adjustable cuffs at a unbelievable price.

  • Micro fleece liner
  • Zipper chin guard
  • DWR coated fabric
Price $99.95
Comfort I wear a 42L-44 jacket size (depending on the manufacturer). I ordered a size large Runoff and it fits perfectly. Roomy in the shoulders, but form fitting through the torso, the Runoff just feels very comfortable once it is on. It can be used as your primary jacket on warmer winter days (above 40 degrees for me) or as a layer on colder days.
Looks The Runoff is a good looking jacket. It comes in a charcoal color, and is highlighted with the William Joseph logo (which is cool looking). I will wear the jacket during other outdoor activities besides fishing.
Functionality (Windproof, Breathable, Waterproof) The Runoff definitely protects you from harsh winds. It was blowing 15mph regularly while we were fishing and I could not feel the draft on my chest. When the temperature dropped to 24 degrees, I had to put on another layer. I did not experience any sweating or unwelcomed body moisture. There are three pockets and I was easily able to store my fly box in the chest pocket. Because there was no rain (and only light snow), I have yet to test the coat’s water resistant feature.
Would I Buy it Again? Absolutely. After extensive research, I am not sure there is a better jacket for the money?

Continue reading Winter Fly Fishing – What you Need to be Successful

Fishing Grey Reef – Spring 2010

During the first week of April 2010, I was fortunate to spend 4 days fishing the North Platte River for big rainbow trout. For the most part, the weather for the 4 days was overcast, cold (20 to 40 degrees) and windy. The conditions made it imperative to own and utilize the right equipment. I had purchased a lot of new fishing products over the last year, but I was particularly interested to see how my new Smith Optics Mogul Sunglasses performed. These shades are equipped with polarchromic lenses (definition below).

Smith Optics Polarchromic lens technology combines the benefits of glare obliterating polarization with the advantage of photochromic light sensitivity. Available in either Carbonic or Techlite glass, Smith Optics Polarchromic lenses automatically self-adjust their tint in response to ambient UV light conditions creating a tint level which is perfect at all hours of the day. These lenses retain their photochromic properties indefinitely, certainly outliving the life of the frame itself. Spanning a range of approximately 10%-35% VLT (Visible Light Transmission) Polarchromic lenses need only 10-25 seconds to fully transform from light to dark depending on UV light intensity. The result is a lens tint which is perfect at every moment of the day from dawn to dusk particularly at hours when the benefits of polarized are vital but the lens tint has to be light enough to see.


While I understand the basics of the technology used with these sunglasses, I was not clear on what it would do for me on the river?

I must say that the Mogul’s performed beyond expectations.

First: The thick arms of the frame prohibited any light from penetrating the glasses. I never had to cup my hands around my eyes in order to see my targets in the water.

Second: The lenses are amazing. The gloomy weather (limited sun) provided us a constant struggle to locate fish. I saw a lot fish that others could not see.

Third: My eyes were always relaxed. We fished from 7 am (20 degrees) to 7 pm (40 degrees), and the light conditions frequently changed. The lenses smoothly adjusted to the conditions of the day without distraction.

My only advice to Smith Optics; offer spring hinges in the future. My melon is large, and spring hinges would be more accommodating.

If you are going to invest in fishing sunglasses, I highly recommend the Smith Optics Mogul with polarchromic lenses.

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