pic of the week

Saturday, May 12, 2012

North Platte Water Conditions

Below is a link to an article in today's Casper Start Tribune discussing the night and day differences between our water supply from this year to last. Record highs last year followed by record lows this year will make things interesting.

Wyoming's Meager Spring Runoff

A quick summary of the North Platte River Drainage...1800cfs entering Seminoe,(some folks feel the peak runoff is already over) which is at 83% of capacity and the first reservoir on the North Platte River system. 1000cfs departing Seminoe into Kortes, Kortes is full and that same 1000cfs discharging from Kortes into Miracle Mile. 1000cfs entering Pathfinder at 87% of capacity. Pathfinder's capacity was increased significantly last winter by raising the spillway several feet. Pathfinder Dam is releasing 1450cfs down Fremont Canyon, not including the water being diverted to the power plant. We aren't sure of the reasons for the big water in Fremont but aren't complaining. Alcova Reservoir is full and this is where the math becomes interesting for early May. 2300cfs out of Alcova into Grey Reef and down the Grey Reef section of the North Platte River. Glendo is at 87% and 4000cfs pushing through Wendover Canyon.

May 12 seems early to be pushing so much irrigation water into eastern Wyoming and Nebraska?

Keep in mind that Seminoe and Pathfinder are both million acre foot facilities.  Lots of water above us!

I have been doing a bunch of digging the past week and the soil is like dust. The dry spring has been helpful in the weed department so far. These are the types of years that thunderstorms can cause big issues. One of my big concerns is the tiny culvert that the BLM placed in the "temporary", now seemingly permanent road at the Bretty Place. I can see that becoming a problem in a downpour.

All in all the fishing is amazing and will continue. We should see great caddis and stonefly activity along with our typical PMD, trico and psuedo hatches.

2300cfs is very wadable but a boat is a great way to access the goods. The Reef Fly Shop has Clackacraft driftboats available to rent.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Evolution of a Tailwater

  Tailwaters as a whole are a pretty simple science.  In the West they create trout fisheries that normally would not exist.  In the case of the North Platte, three major tailwaters (Miracle Mile, Fremont Canyon and Grey Reef), have stable water conditions suitable to trout and offer year-round fishing opportunities.  The cooler water temperatures and various other abiotic factors(substrate, flow, etc.), help dictate the bug species in the river.
                                           *stomach sample taken May 2011
  Over the past several years all three, particularly Grey Reef, has seen drastic changes in flow.  Last year's record 8,400cfs scoured and re-shaped the river, a flow that has not been seen since the 80s.  Prior to the high flows, years of drought encouraged sediment deposits throughout Grey Reef.  This fine "muck" engulfed entire sections of the river, to some degree altering the bug composition of Grey Reef.
  We are all familiar with the notorious "Reef Worm" aka "Rock Worm" aka little red thing that catches the hell out of em!  Well, it was late winter and we were spending alot of time wadefishing the upper river.  Digging around in some of our favorite spots and occasionally pumping a fish or two, yielded a couple of our little red friends.   This was again brought up by Erik several weeks ago, mentioning the fewer number of blood midges he was seeing.  (Few is a relative term, considering they have existed in huge numbers.)  Without question they are still around, just maybe not by the numbers we once saw.
  Well, what happened?  The "muck" discussed earlier is a composition of fine sediment and silt, a virtual dead zone on the bottom of the river.  The oxygen free environment is friend to very few.  But this is where the  blood midge makes it's living.  It's red color is due to hemoglobin, oxygen rich blood, allowing it to thrive in it's nearly oxygen-free environment.    
  With the high water seen over the past few years tons of sediment have been moved down Grey Reef.  The upper river has been the most altered-a bottom now mostly composed of sand, gravel and cobble.  Substrates friendly to our mayflies, stones and caddis.  Does the mean we are seeing the end of BIG RED?  Absolutely NOT.  But we could be seeing a little shift in invertebrate composition.  Huge hatches of sallies, PMDs and caddis could be on order in 2012....