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Fly Fishing The Grey Reef – Wyoming

The Grey Reef is one of the best trout fisheries in the country. Just outside of Alcova, Wyoming – this North Platte River tailwater is home to many large Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout. The average fish are between 16 inches to 20 inches, with much larger fish being present. Every year there are trout in the 5 to 10 pound range that are caught here. The Grey Reef is a “Blue Ribbon” stretch which has around 8,000 trout per mile. This rating is similar to the Colorado “Gold Medal” designation.

Although there is some wade fishing available, a lot of this section is private. Therefore, it is much more productive to float the Grey Reef than to wade it. The good news is that this section is really mellow with no rapids – so even beginner rowers can cut their teeth here to get some practice. The only real issue is the wind, as with most of Wyoming! Using a low side drift boat is a good way to cut through the wind without being blown around.

This area is home to other great sections as well – we have previously covered the Miracle Mile and Fremont Canyon. If you make a trip to this part of Wyoming, there is no shortage of amazing trout water.

This article will cover the best access on Grey Reef, the flies to use, best months to fish here, as well as local lodging options. This is one of the top getaways for Colorado fly fishers, as it is only about 4 hours from the Denver front range. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, this is it.

Accessing The Grey Reef

As far as wade fishing goes, access is extremely limited as we mentioned before. The only main areas are listed below:

The dam access right below the Grey Reef Dam. This is good for wade fishing, but it’s a pretty short stretch. Trappers Route #1 is another small access point for wade fishers. The Redds access offers about 1 mile of public fishing. Petes Draw is a campground and also offers fishing access. The Lusby public fishing access provides wade anglers with access. You can also wade fish around the boat ramps, but the fish are usually spooked due to all the boat traffic.

Other than this, floating this section is going to be your best option. If you don’t have your own boat, there are plenty of professional outfitters in the area. Below, we’ll list the main float sections and their mileage.

Grey Reef Dam to Lusby – 8.4 miles – 4 hours – This section fishes well, but it recieves the most boat traffic.

Lusby to Government Bridge – 4.5 miles – 2.25 hours

Government Bridge to White Tail Landing – 2.3 miles – 1.25 hours

White Tail Landing to Chalk Bluffs – 1.1 miles – .5 hours

Chalk Bluffs to Sechrist – 7.4 miles – 3.75 hours

Sechrist to Bessemer Bend – 6.4 miles – 3 hours

Bessemer Bend to Robertson Road – 8.8 miles – 4.5 hours

As you can see, there are plenty of floats that will take you all the way to Casper. Having a boat is the best and most productive way to fish this section. Since the floats vary a lot by mileage, you can choose between half days and full day floats.

Flies To Use On The Grey Reef

There are many fly patterns that will work on the Grey Reef. Tailoring your fly picks for each season will help you be more successful on this river.

Spring Flies

The Grey Reef produces thick Baetis hatches in the spring, which can offer good dry fly fishing and nymphing. Having a selection of Baetis in sizes #18-#20 is always a good idea. I also like to fish Stonefly nymphs in the spring, primarily Pats Rubber Legs in sizes #8-#12. Since the Rainbow Trout start to spawn during this time, egg patterns are a great choice. Yarn eggs and pegged eggs will work just fine. Streamers in the spring work well too. I like to fish articulated patterns such as the Goldie and Dungeon. I will also throw Woolly Buggers and Sculpzillas.

Summer Flies

Summer on the Reef offers really good dry dropper fishing. You will see hatches of Yellow Sallies, Caddis, Pale Morning Duns and Tricos. Chubby Chernobyls and Hoppers will also work. For nymphs, I like to throw larger Pheasant Tails, Pats Rubber Legs, and bead head Caddis Nymphs. There’s a real plethora of flies to use during this time. Go with your larger confidence patterns. Streamers work well in the summer, especially when fishing from the boat.

Fall Flies

Fall is definitely streamer season up here. The Brown Trout start to get more aggressive and they’re willing to chase. Larger articulated streamers are my go-to. I like Dungeons, Circus Peanuts, and Sparkle Minnows. Nymphing will also produce plenty of fish during the fall season.

Winter Flies

Midge patterns will be your top producer in the winter months. You can also fish scud patterns and leeches. The crowds really slim down during the winter, and it is a perfect time to nymph. Streamers can work as well, as long as you fish them slow and deep.

Best Months To Fish The Reef

Spring and fall are my two favorite times to fish here. The Rainbow Trout are really aggresive in the spring, and you’ll often hook into larger ones over 20 inches. The fall is the next best time, as you can hunt for a trophy Brown Trout. Bust out the streamer rod or the trout spey rod and fish your larger patterns.

With this being said, the Reef can fish well pretty much all year round. Since it is a tailwater, the water temps are consistent and the fish are always happy.

Lodging Options

My personal preference is to stay in Alcova, just because it is so close to the Grey Reef. The Inn At Alcova offers cabin rentals – and you can split the cost with buddies. These cabins have bunk beds as well as full kitchens. This puts you about 5 minutes away from the Gray Reef dam, so you can get up and start fishing right away.

You can also rent cabins at By The Way Ranch. These are offered by Wyoming Anglers and they include private fishing access.

Staying in Casper can be another option, but it puts you further away from the fishing. It is much more preferable to stay in Alcova.