Thursday, September 17, 2015

Wyoming/Colorado 2015 – Day One

I started out on a new adventure the last part of August. I have been fishing at different places out west before so that part wasn’t different. What was different was that I had no place to be after the first three days of my trip. Remember the old western movie called “Have Gun will Travel?” Well, I was have fly rod will travel. I will get to all the coin tosses and random decisions later. First, let me tell you about Wyoming. 

So I drove out to Loveland Colorado and met up with my friend Darrick. After grabbing some really awesome breakfast burritos, the next morning we headed from there to the Grey Reef area on the North Platte River near Alcova, Wyoming. And here started my first adventure…a driftboat. I had never been in a drift boat much less paddled one on the river. After driving to Wyoming, going through the whole process of renting the boat, then having to run to the local quick shop to talk to Ed (the guy who was to shuttle my truck down to the take out point) and then launching, it was well after 1:00 pm. Did I mention that it was a 93 degree day? We sat as we launched the boat and watched a lady land two nice rainbows. Darrick and I were psyched. We took off. 

My truck looks pretty good with a drifboat behind it
It wasn’t long until it was my turn at the oars. Remember the game PONG? I really figured I would be kind of like the little ball that bounced back and forth between the banks, but I surprised myself. It was more like a muted PONG. I kept us off the bank, but there were a few times that Darrick had to cast off the opposite side of the boat because I had flipped of around.

As with any hot summer day we drifted nymphs. We hit a few fish, but never really had anything close to the boat. One nice thing about nymph fishing is that you can sort of do it one handed. Did I mention that the driftboat manufacturers did a really good job of locating can holders right there on the casting platform? That was a good thing because it was a hot day. Luckily, the North Platte River has no rapids or complex maneuvering required. 

Finally, as the sun began to drop and the air started to cool, the fish started surfacing for emergers. It wasn’t long until we were in the middle of a really nice evening hatch of brown Caddis. We stopped paddling, filled our can holders, and started fishing dry flies to rising fish. It was great. I only landed one rainbow, but I cannot tell out how many time I hooked up or missed a rising fish. The hatch finally became so heavy that our fly simply became one among thousands. The fish seemed to get really picky after that happened. 

Rainbow landed on the North Platte River
So it was nearing dark and we realized that the only map we had was a brochure from the Grey Reef Fly Shop and Driftboat Rental and it was pretty simple. The guide at the fly shop said it was about a 6-hour float to the take out point. From the best of our calculations we had spent about 6 hours and according to our simple little map we were about half way. What did that mean…Paddling. We paddled and we paddled. The Caddis were hatching and fish rising all around us, but we paddled. The water was pretty slow so the current didn’t help us one bit. The one that wasn’t paddling was trying to lighten the load by emptying the cans that fit into the little can holders. It was getting pretty dark, but we got kind of lucky…Did I mention it was a full moon that night? We rolled into the takeout point about dark thirty. We had to grab lanterns and headlamps so we could see hook up the boat and unpack our gear.  

Got to love the things you will find on the river back. The dreaded 3-legged dinosaur of the North Platte River. 
We had no idea where we were. We didn’t know the direction to Alcova. And worst of all, the last two hours of paddling had negated all the effects of us trying to empty the cans. What would we do with out GPS? I had set a GPS waypoint at the fly shop. I just hit return and off we went. 

What a great view from the river.
I should note that the Sunset Bar and Grill is only place to eat in Alcova. It is right across from the fly shop…you can’t miss it. It is also the only place to drink in Alcova. Lucky for us. With diftboat in tow, we whipped in and tried it out. It was exactly what you would think of from a small bar in barren south central Wyoming. The place was filled with fly fishermen from the river and walleye fishermen from the nearby lakes. I guess there isn’t much to do in Alcova at night because all the guides were hanging out there as well. There was even this really nice old weathered cowboy at the bar drinking iced tea and playing the video game. His name was…Cowboy. Who would have guessed?

One night I had the burger and the next I had the Chicken Fried Steak. The burger was awesome. I highly recommend it. The CFS I would warn you against. It may be the best CFS in Wyoming, but because I am from the south, I know fried foods and in my opinion it lacked a bit. Go for the burger. It was great.

Just past the fly shop is the Pete’s Draw Campground. It recommend it if you stay in Alcova. About midnight we rolled into camp and took the very last spot. The full moon helped us out and we made our nest for the evening. Pete’s Draw is a BLM campground so it does cost $10 a night to camp, but you are sitting on the banks of the river. 

Full moon setting at sunrise over the North Platte River and Camp...West from Pete's Draw Campground.

I am so jealous. Darrick can sleep anywhere.

Grey Reef Outfitters.

Fly Shop Review...Grey Reef Outfitters. 
Advise: Great - What they said the fish would hit, they were hitting on. They didn't mention the Caddis hatch, but I am not sure they expected us to be on the river at darkish. 
Cost for boat: Not sure. First time renting a driftboat - $65 for 1/2 day or $120 for all day.
Cost for Flies: WHEW! they are the only game in town and they know it. Flies started at $2.79 each. Yes, I bought 18 flies just to pay for the advise they gave us and a sticker for my back window. 

 I am never really sure how to write up my fly fishing adventures. Writing in first person always sounds kind of flighty, but third person sounds too stuffy. In the end I would rather be thought of as flighty rather than stuffy. I hope you enjoyed the tale. After writing up the first day of my adventure I realized I am really full of it and it is going to take more than a single story to tell you every thing. Hope you enjoy the tale and come back for more. 


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