Here is a great article from Christine Peterson from the Casper Star Tribune. It is a great write up about how the North Platte is doing, along with a few other select bodies of water. Great to see that our river appears to have a rather large obesity epidemic!
“Wyoming measures blue ribbon fisheries by those with more than 600 pounds of fish per mile. It’s the highest honor a stream can receive in the state, achieved by only about 15 rivers.
But the Gray Reef section of the North Platte River makes the 600-pound mark seem small. In 2014, it had 3.5 tons of trout per mile, or about 5,200 actual trout.
You read that right: 3.5 tons — almost 7,000 pounds — of fish, said Al Conder, Game and Fish’s fisheries supervisor for the Casper region.
“Habitat, habitat and habitat,” Conder said. “The physical habitat in the stream is good. With the flushing flow the Bureau of Reclamation provides, we have good clean gravel every year which provides good spawning habitat and vertebrate production.”
It’s also a tailwater, which means the water comes from a dam at the bottom of a reservoir. Tailwaters are generally more productive because temperatures stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, helping trout’s ability to grow.
And anglers take advantage of teaming brown and rainbow trout populations. In 2009, the most recent date available, more than 18,000 anglers fished between Gray Reef and Robertson Road. That equaled more than 85,000 hours fishing, Conder said, and it is likely a bit higher today.
While Gray Reef has more pounds per mile of fish than any other Wyoming stream, it is certainly not the only river worth fishing.
Middle Fork of the
southern Big Horns
This iconic section of water near Kaycee tumbles through a rocky canyon and harbors almost 4,000 trout per mile, or about 3,000 pounds, said Paul Mavrakis, fisheries supervisor in Sheridan. The rainbow and brown trout average about 12 inches long. Its perk? Not many people are willing to drive the long back roads and hike down the steep canyon trail to reach the river, which limits competition.
Sand Creek, Black Hills
When you think of classic Western trout rivers, this one may not come to mind. It’s not all that wide, and wanders calmly through grassy meadows with oak trees, turkeys and whitetail deer. But don’t let Sand Creek’s placid nature fool you, it has one of the highest concentrations of trout per mile in the state. The stream in far northeast Wyoming near Sundance has about 4,500 trout per mile. They’re not as big as other streams – the average size is 8 to 12 inches – but it still totals around 1,000 pounds, said Mavrakis said. Credit limestone soil and aquatic vegetation. Despite high numbers, it can be tricky to fish, he cautions. “Skilled fishermen have good luck, but those getting started have a hard time,” he said. “It’s more like a black diamond ski run. You have to know what you’re doing to fish Sand Creek.”
Upper North Platte River, Saratoga
The top end of the Gray Reef section might not have quite the same number of fish as the bottom, but it’s still one of the top streams. Fisheries biologists have recorded just under 2,000 fish per mile at the Treasure Island area of the upper North Platte River near Saratoga. In pounds, that comes to about 1,600, said Leland McDonald, Laramie regional fisheries biologist. “It’s all a wild trout fishery,” he said. “We haven’t stocked fish in those sections since the mid-‘80s.” Sizes average 12.5 inches, but can grow up to 26 inches.”