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Monday, April 4, 2011

Fishing Expectations for 2011

Quite a turn of events. 2010 welcomed an excess of water and 2011 will likely have even more. The reality is the system will sometimes be thirsty and sometimes it will be waterlogged. It will always have amazing trout fishing. It is a no brainer when the river is low. Structure is obvious and hatches apparent. As the flows approach 1500-2000cfs folks get squeamish.

There are two issues. What can we expect the river to do in 2011? How can we deal with the big river and be successful? Big flows have many more advantages than disadvantages and our staff fisheries biologist might shed some light on the scientific angle. For now we will touch on the obvious.

What should we expect from Grey Reef and Miracle Mile for 2011? They are going to be big. Currently Grey Reef is at 4000cfs and will be running at 4500cfs in a matter of days. Miracle Mile is 44oocfs and will increase as well. All this water and runoff hasn't even started! Depending on how severe spring temps increase and for how long will dictate the amount of water released from the North Platte River Systems Dams. Unlike last year, all of the reservoirs have a lot of water in them so the Bureau of Reclamation is pushing, no shoving, water down the ditch to try to cull the reservoirs. I would imagine they are expecting flows on the upper Platte to, at the very least, match the 20,000cfs that was entering Seminoe in late spring of 2010. Miracle Mile went over 17,000cfs for a short stint and Grey Reef saw 7200cfs. I don't see why we should expect anything less? Fremont Canyon will not be the cute little Disney Land fishery we have come accustom to. It will, however, get included in the system and once again it will benefit from a more natural set of circumstances.

I wouldn't be surprised if some low lying areas are effected and there will probably be some property damage. These are things we should always expect...just like we should expect to be completely worried about the river drying up in a few years. Right? How will this effect the fishing? Grey Reef fished amazing last year even at the height of its flow. Miracle Mile fished well at 12,000cfs and above. Boats will play a larger part when Grey Reef is big. Miracle Mile has so much publicly available water that boats are unnecessary.

The benefit to higher flows on Grey Reef are many. Increased flows make fish more prone hang out near the bank like a typical trout stream. This makes it very easy for an angler unfamiliar with the typical idiosyncrasies of Grey Reef. Generally, when a local guide witnesses a visitor floating down the river concentrating on the outside corners and banks he will know that they will have limited success most times of year. Higher flows increase bank structure and Grey Reef will harbor more fish than normal along the banks and outside corners.

Increased flows make it easier for an inexperienced oarsman to deal with our wind. The ability to to take advantage of real current makes it much easier to get your boat down river and to the ramp. It also makes it easy to spot places to fish. Slow current? Good chance there are fish there. Big water also gives the banks enough depth and structure to hold fish. This will be imperative during hopper season. Hoppers + good bank structure = the most amazing fishing many of us will ever experience. Big water also develops lots of "new" places to fish. Back channels become much better as a result.

How will increased flows effect the wade fisherman? It will limit your ability to wander around in the river. It will also form good holding water close to the banks. You will not be fishing the same water that you do at 800cfs, but you will be able to find plenty of big Grey Reef trout in runs that are still accessible to wading. The hopper fishing is excellent from the bank. Just start at the bottom of an area and systematically work your way up. Wade fishers should take the opportunity to rent a drift boat from The Reef Fly Shop for a day. Take advantage of the flows and explore the river...there are a lot of cool things to see and tons of fish catch.

Big flows at Grey Reef will make our mid summer algae bloom much less apparent. Fishable channels are bigger and some areas don't get the vegetation like they do in lower flows. However, once the river drops in the fall the weeds will become much more obvious.

What about the "Mile"? Things are a little more serious at Miracle Mile...regardless of the flow. It is more difficult to wade due to pushier current, big slippery rocks and the potential for water flows to change at short notice. Just like Grey Reef or any trout stream, Miracle Mile will experience big flows and fishing will remain good. Again, new runs will form up near the banks and in back channels. Hoppers and stone flies will be available very close to the banks and lure lots of fish within easy striking distance of an angler.

The fact is, fish like water. Grey Reef trout don't stop feeding because they are in a life and death struggle with the current. They move to easier lines and pack themselves with the ridiculous amount of available food. Also, Grey Reef is ultra insulated from run off, in fact, we don't really have run off on the upper couple sections. The only thing that effects our water quality is if we have a very local weather event. At high flows these events clear themselves very quickly. Our reports alway inform of dirty water situations as it happens. Check HERE and HERE for the most current reports on Grey Reef.

Don't confuse high water at Grey Reef and Miracle Mile with runoff. Our water and fishing conditions remain excellent during typical runoff season. Don't confuse high water at Grey Reef and Miracle Mile with limited or no fishing success...quite the contrary. It does require a different approach, no doubt.

*Be careful when wading. It is probably not a great idea to step off the bank if you are unsure of the bottom. Floaters should also use caution as things will happen faster at bigger flows. There will also be lots of sweepers as the river is now up to or in the trees.

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