The Gray Reef section of the North Platte River was recently voted #1 by American Angler Magazine in its winter edition of 2005, as the top spot in the world for large trout.
This is where good eastern brook trout fishermen come to find nirvana-you have a better chance at a trophy rainbow (or, for that matter, brown) on the North Platte than you do just about anywhere else in the lower 48.-American Angler Magazine
The Gray Reef, located 30 miles south of Casper on Wyoming State Highway 220, is one of two Blue Ribbon tailwaters on the North Platte River. It is considered one of the best Rainbow trout fisheries in the country with fish averaging 16-20 inches and plenty of fish in the 10+ pound range. The Reef begins below Gray Reef Reservoir, a small impoundment just below Alcova Reservoir, and flows north towards Casper. This area is high desert country with very few trees and virtually no cover from the elements. Wind is definitely a factor when fishing the Gray Reef. You can expect to fish in 15 to 25 mile per hour winds any given day, especially during the spring. Unfortunately, spring is one of the most productive times to fish the reef, especially April through June. The Gray Reef does stay open year around allowing for some great winter wade fishing; if you decide to float in late winter make sure to contact Four Seasons Anglers to see if the river is frozen before the first boat ramp. This doesn’t happen very often but portaging a drift boat over and ice shelf sure can ruin a float trip.
The Gray Reef is a slow moving river with lots of frog water and very few island braids making it hard to read at times. Summer flows range from 2000 to 3000 cfs and the winter flows are typically held at 500 cfs. We get tremendous hatches on this river, including BWO’s, PMD’s, caddis, Yellow Sallies, and Trico’s. Unfortunately, this is not a great dry fly fishery. The best dry fly action is at dusk for caddis and in the mornings during the Trico hatch. The best way to have productive days on the Gray Reef is to dead drift a nymph and indicator rig along seams and drop offs. Streamers can also be productive, especially during the spring and fall.
The upper 7 miles of the Gray Reef is the most famous and also the most heavily fished section of this 40-mile stretch or river. Public water on this section is limited to three access points: the Gray Reef Access Area right at the dam, Trapper’s Route #1, and Lusby Public Fishing Area. Fishing from a drift boat or raft is the best way to explore this area because of the limited public water to wade fish. When floating this stretch be careful where you drop anchor or get out of the boat. Wyoming state law states that the landowner owns everything but the water that you are floating on. There have been several fishermen that have been fined up to $250 for trespassing on private land. The largest public stretch of river is located below Government Bridge, at Clarkson Hill and By the Way Ranch Public Fishing areas. There are several other less significant access points that are mainly used as boat launching points, including Government Bridge, Sechrist, Bessemer Bend, and Robertson Road, each of which has a boat ramp.
Routt to Six Mile Gap 9.8 MILES
Six Mile Gap to Pickaroon 8.5 MILES
Pickaroon to Bennett Peak 17.5 MILES
Bennett Peak to Treasure Island 11.8 MILES
Treasure Island to Saratoga 11.9 MILES
Saratoga to Foote Access 6.3 MILES
Foote Access to Pick Bridge 4.5 MILES
Float times on the Gray Reef will change depending on how much water they are discharging out of Gray Reef dam. To see current Gray Reef River Flows click here.