Once the ranch freezes over in December or January, ice fishing takes center stage. Our guides equip you with all the gear you need— including ice augers, tackle, and comfortable shelters— for fruitful expeditions to our six private ponds, each of which is amply stocked with Rainbow and Brown trout.
The Encampment River is one of the most notable tributaries of the North Platte River, it flows for 44.7 miles and originates just south of the Colorado/Wyoming border. Its upper reaches flow through the Sierra Madre National Forest, then enter the Encampment River Wilderness area.
The majority of the river flows through public land throughout its course. The only private water is found on the lower 1/3 of the river. Brush Creek owns 2 parcels of land along the Encampment, offering over 3 miles of exclusive river access to its guests for both wade and float trips. Eventually, it empties into the North Platte River, in between Riverside and Saratoga, WY. It is known for its abundant and healthy bug life and fish populations. Some of the larger fish in the valley can be found within the banks of the Encampment. The Green Drake hatch is the most notable and occurs in late June or early July, it can offer phenomenal dry fly fishing.
French Creek is an important tributary of the North Platte River that starts high in the Medicine Bow National Forest. Throughout the higher reaches, you can find plentiful populations of Brook Trout and the occasional Cutthroat Trout. Down towards the lower reaches we see primarily Brown and rainbow trout. The last 4 miles of French Creek are located on our very own Sanger Ranch property. From the confluence where it dumps into the “Platte” up to our property boundary you will find high gradient pocket water, deep cuts and bends that are teeming for trout larger than one would expect by the size of the creek. These fish love to eat dry flies and do not see much fishing pressure. French Creek is difficult to wade and tight overhanging brush make an accurate cast a must.
As our 2018 season drew to a close, we saw exceptional late season fishing conditions on the North Platte, the Encampment, and all of their major tributaries. The summer heat is gone, leaves have changed from green to vibrant yellow, and autumn fishing has truly arrived.
Gorgeous fall weather through the first three weeks of October brought stronger flows back to our fishers. With nightly air temperatures dropping below freezing, our water temperatures remain cool and fishable all day long. Brown Trout are in full spawning mode at the moment, and can be found paired-up on “reds” throughout the shallow gravel bars in our rivers. We make a specific effort to leave these spawning fish alone. However, the Rainbow Trout lined up behind a spawning pair of Browns eating free-floating eggs are easy targets for a well-presented nymph rig.
And now, winter is replacing fall. Late October has brought considerable snowfall to the high-country, even with some decent accumulation. Small ice shelves form on the riverbanks each night and break free in the mid-day sunlight. Fish remain territorial from spawning season, so when nymph rigs are not producing, big streamers have been successful in getting large trout to move from their feeding lanes or under cut-banks.
Our freestone fisheries will likely remain open and fishable throughout November until snow and ice freeze the rivers in December. Small pockets of fishable water may remain where there are spring creek confluences, or if we happen to have some “warm” winter days. However, the vast majority of our fly fishing options are in hibernation until next spring’s float season when our rivers open back up.
We’re hoping for good snowpack levels in our neighboring mountains this winter, so that our fisheries get fed throughout next summer. We looking forward to seeing you at our first ice fishing expedition of the winter!