Current Conditions for Fly Fishing Trips
Summer can certainly be felt slowly slipping away as evening temperatures across Southern Wyoming’s Platte River valley are beginning to fall into the upper 30’s and splashes of yellow foliage are becoming more and more prominent throughout the ranch. September is undeniably here. Dropping air temperatures translates into dropping water temperatures which is a much needed change from our August. Morning water temperatures on Brush Creek, the Encampment River, and the North Platte River are in the low 50’s but are still rising into the mid 60’s by the hottest part of the day. The majority of our fishing success is coming in the early hours of the day from 8am - 12pm which can be stretched a few hours longer if you can catch it on a cool, cloudy morning.
The North Platte is currently flowing at 67cfs and is still seeing plenty of early mooring dry fly activity. The occasional cloud of Tricos can still be found along the banks of the Platte, also BWO’s, small caddis, and your terrestrial with a small midge/emerger dropper will all be effective patterns thought the day. The Encampment River is currently flowing at 28cfs with slightly less insect activity then compared to the Platte. The Encampment is notorious for being a small, technical fishery this time of year that will test the abilities of any angler. Long casts, long leaders, and seamless presentations of often small flies are the ingredients to success on this September fishery.
Brush Creek is currently flowing at 15cfs and is running a few degrees cooler in the moorings. This small tributary of the Platte is fishing well a little later into the day as water temperatures slowly rise. With crystal clear water and low flows, being stealthy as you work up the creek and making your first cast in each hole count is the way to catch fish on the creek. Look to throw small single dry flies in the shallow riffley water to find your best fish. Throughout September we expect to see both daily water and air temperatures to continue to drop and both insect and fish activity to continue to increase.
Fall in southern Wyoming is an incredibly beautiful time of year to be in the Platte River Valley. We are looking forward to the changing seasons and improved fishing conditions and would welcome the opportunity to guide you across our vast private waters and fill you in on our favorite ‘best-kept secret’ spots across our Ranches.
Rivers ice off in March and April and we see a good window of pre-runoff fishing where we are graced with lower flows, clear water and hungry fish. The exact time period this occurs varies annually and is hard to predict. Usually by the end of April and beginning of May we start seeing some snow melt and our rivers start to rise, typically getting dirty in the process. Before that happens, you have a chance at hooking into some of the biggest fish of the season as they are all on the feed and the Rainbows go through their annual spawning ritual during these months. For the most part, we are focusing our efforts on the tributaries of the North Platte, especially the Encampment River. Wade fishing is usually best but occasionally if flows allow an early season float on the North Platte or Encampment can be real treat.
There are usually two stages of runoff, which we call Valley runoff and High Country runoff. Valley runoff comes first and occurs when temperatures warm up and we see all the lower elevation snow melt. We see a small rise in flows and then usually the flows stabilize and clear, offering another good fishing window, usually in late April or early May. By mid to late May we will start seeing the High Country Runoff. This is when flows on the North Platte rise to typically 3000-5000 CFS and peak during the first part of June. This also coincides with our float season on the Upper most stretches of the North Platte. As long as the river has some clarity, we fish right through runoff. Streamers, big Stoneflies, and worms are the normal fare. During the first two weeks of June we experience a Salmonfly hatch on the Upper North Platte. Unfortunately this is also during peak runoff. However, if there is over 1-2 feet of water clarity you can expect some of the year’s best dry fly fishing opportunities. Everything depends on moisture and air temperatures; you can expect daily fluctuations in flows, water clarity, and fishing conditions. Although most fly fisherman shudder at the mention of ‘runoff,' we love it. It gives the rivers a good scrubbing and is great for all aquatic species. Not to mention we can experience some unbelievable days of fishing during runoff.
By mid-June, peak runoff has come and gone and we start experiencing a gradual drop in flows. With the drop, we continually see clearer water. Mid- to-late June can be another fantastic time to fish the valley with endless opportunities. This is when we start wading the smaller tributaries such as Brush Creek and French Creek, certain stretches of the North Platte and Encampment become wade able and float fishing is about as good as it gets. Variety is the best part of post run off. A mix of nymphs, dry flies, and streamers will all start producing fish. Lingering Salmonflies, Golden Stones, PMD’s, Yellow Sallies and various Caddis start hatching which starts getting the attention of the fish and they start looking up. The next major hatch we anticipate is the famed Green Drake hatch on the Encampment.
The largest of mayfly species within the Platte Valley, the Green Drakes, start hatching in Late June or early July. This period can offer some unbelievable dry fly fishing. The most consistent hatch we experience is on the Encampment, however pockets of them can be found on the North Platte, Brush Creek and French Creek. The Drake hatch on the Encampment usually lines up perfectly with the drop in flows allowing us to float. A float trip on the Encampment during the Drake hatch has produced many avid anglers saying they had the “best day of my life." Aside from the Drake hatch, all other river systems typically have great flows and clear water and fishing is great.
Usually when people ask me when the best time to come fish our area is, I first address the period that is the less-ideal time instead. That would be the period from about late July through the beginning of August. This is when we experience the heat of our summer and the potential for low flows and warm water temperatures. We still fish right through this time period and it still has potential for producing excellent days on the water, both wading and floating. However, sometimes our fishing must be restricted due to water temps. Often, we limit our fishing to strictly mornings only and stop all fishing when water temperatures near 70 degrees. It has been proven that the mortality rate of catch and release fishing exponentially increases when temperatures near the 70 degree mark. The stress of hooking and fighting a fish can kill it. Again, we have enough options within an hour of the ranch that we can find feeding fish throughout this period, sometime we just have to look outside our typical spots.
Usually by mid-August we are in the clear and water temperatures start steadily declining. Typically we start packing up the drift boats and start focusing on wade fishing. The most notable hatch this time of year is the trico hatch. You can expect daily cloud-like swarms of these tiny mayflies up and down the North Platte. The trico hatch can be frustrating but rewarding. This period can offer some of the most consistently good fishing of the season. This is a very versatile time period where virtually every piece of water is fishing great. The daily struggle is deciding which stretch to fish.
The fall season is what many fishermen dream of. If you like wild fish, dry flies, freestone rivers, and wade fishing, then you must experience September and October in the Platte Valley. The trico hatch remains abundant through the majority of September. Aside from trico’s, larger terrestrial and attractor patterns offer good dry fly fishing and it is definitely hopper-dropper season. Fall is also that time of year when many sportsman start veering away from the water with their sights set on the numerous bird and big game species that flourish in the Valley. For many, this is the best time of year and the constant battle of whether to pick up your shotgun or a fly rod is real.
Once October hits in the Platte Valley you never know what to expect. Average high temps are still in the 60’s but an occasional snowstorm is not out of the question. Wade fishing remains very consistent throughout October. The latter part of October is not for the faint of heart. But for hearty and invested fisherman the rewards are there. The abundant brown trout of the Valley start packing on the pounds and get aggressive for their annual spawning ritual. Streaming fishing this time of year can be ridiculous. Typically flows are low, water is clear and the takes can be very visual. Aside from that, sporadic BWO hatches can offer excellent dry fly fishing. Nearly every day you have the chance at catching a fish on a nymph, a dry fly, and a streamer. By November, temperatures plummet and snow storms become more and more frequent. You might get lucky and have a handful of warm days but they are limited. Usually by Mid to Late November an ice layer has formed on all waters and gear is stored away until next spring.
As always, we are just a phone call away. If you are thinking of visiting us next season or just want to talk fishing, give us a call. For pricing and more specific details, call Matt Anderson (307) 329-3084 or submit an inquiry form to start planning your trip.