One of my primary goals for Freeflow Outdoors is to be an accurate and reliable resource for fishing and hunting throughout southern Wyoming. In that spirit, I will be posting a fishing report every couple of weeks throughout the season to provide updates on water conditions, hatches, and fish activity throughout the 2020 fishing season.
Upper North Platte
The Upper North Platte runs over 150 miles from its headwaters in North Park, Colorado to Seminoe Reservoir near Sinclair, WY. We focus primarily on the area between the mouth of Northgate Canyon at Routt, Colorado and the town of Saratoga, WY.
The Upper Platte has been fishing well this spring, and continues to improve as air and water temperatures increase and more insect activity starts occurring. Runoff makes this section very much a day-to-day fishery at this time of the year. When flows drop just a bit and clarity improves, fishing can be phenomenal; when the flows start increasing and clarity starts to worsen, be ready for a slow day of fishing. Keep an eye on flow rates, as well as day time and night time temperatures, and look for brief windows of cooling temperatures and dropping water for the best fishing on the big river right now.
We have been seeing caddis and some BWOs on the river lately, but have not seen much for fish feeding on the surface just yet. Streamers and nymph rigs continue to be the top producers for the time being. Medium-sized streamers such as Double Bunnys, Sculpzillas, Slumpbusters, Tequeelys, and Platte River Spiders, fished in either single or tandem rigs, thrown tight to the banks have been producing fish. Double or triple nymph rigs with a large stonefly imitation coupled with a worm or caddis pupae imitation have been effective as well.
Salmonflies have come and gone for the most part, although there you may still see a few stragglers fluttering around the canyon, and an eager trout may still be willing to take a salmonfly surface imitation.
The North Platte is slowly dropping this week following a late-season snow storm. Watch for clarity and fishing to improve as the river continues to reach more wadeable levels and we enter the post-runoff period of the season.
Upper North Platte Tributaries
Like the North Platte itself, tributaries vary day-to-day at this time of year. Pre and post-runoff windows can provide excellent fishing on some of the Platte River tributaries depending on conditions. Fly selection on these smaller streams is similar to that on the Platte - stoneflies, worms, caddis pupae, and smaller mayfly imitations should still make up a majority of your nymph selection, while small-to-medium sized streamers have been effective as well. Larger streamers such as Sex Dungeons and larger Sculpzillas have been triggering some aggressive strikes as well.
Watch for surface activity to come more into play in the coming weeks. Caddis and BWOs are showing up more and more throughout most drainages and with water levels dropping, clarity should only continue to improve.
Big Laramie River
Water is rising throughout the Laramie River Valley this week following a late-season snow storm that dumped 6" - 8" throughout the Laramie Valley. The river saw a rapid spike in flows on Monday evening, and continues to rise today. I would expect poor fishing until the river starts to drop and clarity improves.
Once the river begins to drop and we enter the post-runoff window, I expect hopper-droppers to be the name of the game as clarity improves and the fish start looking up for caddis and BWOs. It will also be time to start looking for Green Drakes to start making an appearance.
Snowy Range Alpine Lakes and Streams
Snowy Range mountain lakes and streams are still mostly frozen, however a lot of pockets are starting to open up. Ice-off can be a very productive time to fish these alpine lakes with small streamers as fish are generally very eager to eat during the short summer feeding window.
Look for pockets of open water near shoreline and slowly strip a small wolly bugger, hale bopp, or other small leech pattern.
Alpine fishing should continue to improve as the lakes open up and the smaller streams drop to more fishable flows.