I recently spent a week fly fishing the North Platte River and its tributaries at A Bar A Ranch just outside Encampment, Wyoming. My family and I spend a week there every summer and the fishing is fantastic, this trip being no exception. When we arrived, recent rains had muddied the North Platte, which was running near 1600 CFS. Throughout the week the river dropped and cleared to a flow of around 700 CFS, partially due to irrigation upstream. The Salmon fly hatch was practically over but large Golden Stones were out and about. Cream and Tan Caddis in sizes #14-18 hatched out in large numbers throughout the entire week. Large PMDs were sporadically hatching as well along with small BWOs in sizes # 20-26. In the beginning of the week, large dark streamers and big Stonefly nymphs were the ticket with the off color water. Occasionally hatching Caddis brought fish close to the banks creating dry fly opportunities. However these opportunities were limited with the stained water, so nymphing was the most effective technique. Large Golden Stonefly nymphs with small Hares Ear droppers picked up lots of fish. Kaufman’s Stonefly nymph and a pattern called the Wired Stone were killers throughout the week.
In the beginning of the week I spent most of my time nymphing the tributaries to the Platte including a creek called Big Creek. Here large rainbows and browns readily pounced on size # 14 Pheasant tails and Prince nymphs fished deep on 4 and 5X. For some reason a bead head Red Copper John in sizes # 14-16 worked extremely well. As the Platte cleared throughout the week, the evening fishing was excellent as trout rose tight to the banks for Caddis and PMDs. These conditions often called for 5X and a size # 16 Cream Elk Hair Caddis or a size #14 PMD Comparadun. Grasshoppers and Crickets were just starting to appear in the beginning of the week but the fish weren’t quite keyed in on them yet. I took a few fish towards the end of the week on large foam Hoppers such as the BC Dropper Hopper and Tan Chernoyble Ants. A streamer known as the Thin Mint was incredibly affective along with a classic Zonker streamer in sizes # 6-8. A Silver Crystal Flash Wooly Bugger also accounted for many fish. Throughout the week we fooled lots of wild browns and rainbows averaging 14 inches long. Quite a few fish were in the 15 to 17 inch range. The largest fish of the trip included a rainbow and a brown of 21 and 20 inches respectively. As the summer continues, the fishing will only get better as large dry flies like Hoppers and Crickets will become more effective. The famous Trico hatch on the Platte is only a couple of weeks off as well. All in all the fishing was great and it was a treat to fish for these western trout.