Map for Fly Fishing at Grey Reef Ranch by Crazy Rainbow in Wyoming
Feb, 21 2013

Winter Fly Fishing On Grey Reef

Winter Fly Fishing on the Grey Reef

By Blake Jackson

For those of you suffering from cabin fever and missing your fly rod consider the Grey Reef stretch of the North Platte River. The reef offers the winter angler some incredible fly fishing in complete solitude. The size of the fish on the Grey Reef are amazing, averaging 17-20 inches. The fish are hard fighting and full of spirit. In my opinion, this is one of the best times of the year to get out and enjoy all that Wyoming has to offer.

The winter fishing is very consistent on the reef because of its location below the Gray Reef Dam. The water below the dam is warmer allowing the fish a consistent food source with open water year around. Concentrate your efforts in the first few miles below the dam.

During the winter months, the Grey Reef stretch of the North Platte River is flowing at a low 500cfs allowing the angler easier access to many well producing runs. The fish are also very concentrated this time of year which leads to greater success for the wading angler. In the cold months if you find one fish stick with that spot, chances are that there are more fish located within a close proximity. These fish due have a tendency to strike very softly this time of year so be attentive to any movement in the line or strike indicator. I suggest setting the hook on anything and everything.

As a common rule, fish will be holding in softer deeper water when cold, then moving into shallower faster water when a hatch is occurring or when temperatures are rising. A mid day winter hatch often brings the fish closer to the surface as well. This provides the angler with the potential for dry fly fishing and a great shot to use a dry/dropper set up. Look for these fish at the tail end of runs and in slower water. These fish can be caught using a midge cluster or small dry fly with an emerger placed a few inches below the dry.

Proper Clothing (it is winter):

Layering is the secret to surviving winter fishing trips. Wear synthetic garments both up and down These products are made to hold heat and wick moisture. Stay away from cotton and stick with high quality materials. Take care of your feet by wearing good socks. You may also consider wearing multiple pairs of socks this may call for a over sized pair of boots just for winter fishing.

Bug Selections:

When looking for the proper bug selections stick to the basics. The main food sources for these fish are midges, scuds, leeches, and some bwo’s. Come armed with gear that can do it all from dry fly fishing to throwing a long leader with heavy nymph rigs. I prefer a 5 or 6wt fly rod with a tendency toward the 6wt . These are a few patterns and bugs I would not leave home without. The Ugly Bug Leech, Ugly Bug Rock Worm, midges in green, brown, and black (size 18-20), eggs, scuds in green and brown (size 16-18) and size 20 Parachute Adams.

The Ugly Bug Fly Shop and Crazy Rainbow Fly Fishing offer winter fly fishing adventures. We have private wade fishing options for those looking to avoid public access areas and are the only outfitter on the Platte capable of offering float trips when ice is present above the Lusby access. We also offer cast and blast adventures for those looking to combine a hunting and fishing trip into one experience. For those of you looking for guided waterfowl, guided or unguided upland bird hunting, and sporting clays we can also accommodate your needs. We also have lodging options for interested parties. For information about any of our packages give us a call at 307-234-6905 or check us out at If you are in the Casper, WY area stop by the shop at 240 South Center Street in downtown Casper.

Blake Jackson
Ugly Bug/Crazy Rainbow Fly Fishing and Wing shooting
(307) 234 6905

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