The First Annual Trip
A couple of my friends and I decided that after college we wanted to stay in touch and still fish together occasionally. As we moved around the country, we decided the best way to maintain our friendship was to start an annual fishing trip where one person would pick the place and we would all meet up for a few days. This year, the choice was made to go the Gunnison River to fish the well-known salmonfly hatch in the Black Canyon. Unfortunately, record snowfall in the mountains of Colorado caused record runoff. Where the Gunnison is normally fishing well by the second week of June, the water has finally started to drop off just recently in July.
We e-mailed constantly back and forth for the final two months before the trip trying to think of alternatives around the area. We considered the Frying Pan, Roaring Fork and Taylor rivers in Colorado as well as the Green River in Utah. However, we finally decided to fish one of the tailwater sections of the North Platte River in Wyoming known as the Grey Reef. We had all heard the stories of the huge brown and rainbow trout that lurked below the dam at Grey Reef Reservoir and were excited with the opportunity to fish for them. Having guided on a different section of the Platte last summer, I had always wanted to fish the Grey Reef but never got the opportunity.
My friends cannot get together without some way to find out how we stack up against each other. Enter the I Heart (actual heart symbol) Trolling trucker hat that had to be shamefully worn by the person who caught the least amount of fish the previous day. Also on the line was a brand new Gerber knife that was to go to the person who was lucky enough to land the biggest fish. I ended up receiving neither.
When we arrived at the dam we knew we would not be the only ones fishing there. One of my favorite things about fishing has been the opportunity to get away from other people and just be by myself. This time I did not mind as I was with my friends I had not seen since college and we had four days to explore the water.
Within an hour of rigging up, almost all of us were sticking some nice fish. Although we were expecting some big browns, every fish but one was a rainbow. Our collective average for the day was around 18 inches with each of us at least hooking into fish exceeding 20 inches.
The following day proved to be more challenging with fewer fish being caught. The bright sun beat down on us by10 a.m. and the scrubland of Eastern Wyoming did not provide much shade. The heat was scorching and the best place to keep cool was in the river, so we ended up fishing straight through every day from around 7 in the morning to 8 or 9 at night.
The second evening we wanted to check out a stretch that was known to be less pressured. When we arrived the river resembled a large spring creek with grassy banks and smooth currents. In the first pool we fished, four nice rainbows were landed and two more big ones were lost, both by me. The name of the game for the most part was nymphing with a small window for dry fly action each evening. Although nymphing is my least-favorite technique, I wanted to catch fish, and dry flies and streamers were not working.
One species that is very popular to fish for in the reservoirs is carp. I have never fished for carp, and the guides in the local shop told us this was their favorite way to kill time in the middle of the day. Although no fish were taken, it was fun to stalk the carp in a flats-like environment as they tailed in the shallows rooting for food.
Each night the whiskey was reduced and the beer cooler was relieved of its cargo as we sat around the campfire and told familiar stories of stupidity and ignorance from the past four years in college. It is always good to reminisce with old friends and share a drink and a laugh. Next year, it’s my choice and I have already run a dozen locations, and species of fish, through my head. Planning for next year’s trip begins promptly on August 1.
Wet Boots Are a Way of Life.