pic of the week

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Grey Reef's Dry Fly Season 2008

While none of the local outfitters promote Grey Reef as an epic (gratuitous use of an overused brah word {no offence to brahs}) dry fly destination, when it happens it really is epic. The 2008 season has delivered some excellent dry fly opportunities.
We are so fortunate to be within a couple hundred meters of the North Platte River. We can stroll a few minutes to easily get our fill of this seldom seen Grey Reef activity.
Fish really start looking up during the spring baetis hatch. If you know where they like to eat duns you can fish the surface often. But, for most Grey Reef visitors it becomes most obvious if and when the BuRec drops the water flows in May. You will find many risers, right below Grey Reef Dam, sipping baetis and midges on the surface or right below. This is all fine and good. The real fun happens when the Tricos make their presence. This can happen anytime between the beginning of June and the end of July. The second wave starts roughly a month later. The 2008 season was graced around the middle of July.
North Platte River trout will start their feeding frenzy on the duns, but they really like the spinners. Spinner fall normally happens between 7AM and 9AM. Trout will stack up in shallow riffles, seams and eddies and begin their oblivious feast. The "hatch" can last for as little as an hour, or in rare cases, well into the afternoon.
Fly selection is not the most important part of stinging trout during the trico spinner fall. Rythm is the key. Even if you have the perfect imitation it will not be taken unless it intersects a gulping trout. It is very important to watch a particular fish and try to place the fly in the exact location you believe the fish will take its next meal. Long drifts rarely net a fish. Typically the trout are so tuned into feeding that they will not spook off of fly line, obnoxious dry fly imitations, tippet or the occasional miscast. This works to the anglers advantage.
Select a reasonable fly pattern. Or use an unreasonable pattern. Several of our guides will start with a size 14 Royal Wulff or another easily visible attractor pattern. This really works. You can normally poke a couple trout out of the pod before you need to switch to a reasonable pattern. A Parchute Adams is hard to beat. I personally like bunny duns or hairwing duns.
Pick a fish on the downriver side of the pod and start working him. It might take a while to figure our his feeding pattern, but soon you will solve the puzzle and will sore lip an 18"-24" rainbow or cuthroat. Browns do come to the net attached to a dry...sometimes. You will be amased at the size of fish that get themselves into very shallow and vulnerable situations. The biggest mistake that trico fishers make is continuing to push the pod up to the top of the riffle and eventually dispursing all of the risers. Trico fishing is as much about waiting as it is about rythm. When it seems that you spooked your fish and the fish further upstream are the only ones available...stop and wait. After a couple minutes the fish will return and you never had to take a step. Staying power and rythm...sounds like sex...but, sex is so much better.
The first wave of tricos is still going right now and the next should start around the 1st or 2nd week of September. Don't pass up the opportunity to fish the tricos. I have no doubt that you would catch more fish by nymphing, but fly fishing isn't really about numbers...is it?
Erik Aune