The North Platte River is a 550 miles long that begins in the state of Colorado and flows north into Wyoming. Fly fishing the North Platte River in Colorado is quite different from fishing it in the state of Wyoming. The rugged Rocky Mountains surrounding the headwaters of the North Platte have at least twelve peaks over 11,000 feet. The river flows to the north about 200 miles out of the Routt National Forest and North Park near Walden, Colorado.
Fly Fishing the North Platte River in Colorado varies from dealing with smooth flowing meadow streams, to rough pocket water, not to mention the windy conditions that are an everday factor. The North Platte River is formed from the confluence of Grizzly Creek and Little Grizzly Creek in the Rabbit Ears Mountain Range at about 9,000 feet in elevation. Roaring Fork Creek joins the river as soon as it reaches the North Park valley. This is located near Walden and Cowdrey, Colorado. Three other tributaries, the Illinois River, Michigan River and the Canadian Michigan river converge with the North Platte in North Park. The North Fork River leaves the North Park valley and flows into the North Gate Canyon and into the state of Wyoming. This is the most scenic section of the river. Access to this section is provided by the Routt Forest off of Highway #125 that leads to Saratoga, Wyoming.The North Gate Canyon begins downstream of the access at Windy Hole in the Routt Forest. This section of the North Platte is designated Gold Medal water by the state of Colorado. With the exception of about a half mile of the river that lies on private property, all of the water in the Routt Forest access to the Six Mile Gap is open to the public. This section of the river is about nine miles long. The water in the canyon is mostly heavy pocket water with some deep pools and long riffles mixed in. Rainbows and brown trout are plentiful and average about 12 to 15 inches.
The food supply for the trout is varied and plentiful due to the different types of water. There are fast water sections and slower meadow sections that provide a diverse population of aquatic insects. There are far too many insects, crustaceans, baitfish species and sculpin to mention here, but some of the more important ones are as follows: Blue-winged Olives, Pale Morning Duns, Green Drakes, and Tricos. There are several different species of caddis including, little black caddis, and October Caddis. Stoneflies are also very plentiful and include some of the giant Salmonflies, Golden Stoneflies, Little Yellow stoneflies, and a few other species. Terrestrial insects play an important part of the trout's diet during the late summer months. Sculpin are also very plentiful and important to imitate anytime there is a low light situation.
A write up from our customer David Mead
Pursuing Perfection On the North Platte River
Perfection is unattainable. Period. That's always been the message. You can try to be perfect. You should try to be perfect. But you will not get there. Not in this lifetime. And it's logical; "No one is perfect," wouldn’t be cliché if it wasn't. But I hate that message, and know for a fact that it’s wrong. At five O' clock in the morning on March 16th, 2013, my dad, my brother, and I hit the road: destination, Heaven. It's pretty much your typical heaven, only instead of streets paved with gold, there's dirt covered boulders; instead of pearly gates there's barbed wire fences; and instead of clouds and celestial earth bustling with angels, there’s moss and ill-tempered water teaming with trout.
Although nothing went horribly wrong during the car ride, the struggles were simply biding their time. This day strove to stamp out perfection. The fish were unforgiving, refusing to eat anyone's bug but mine. My dad’s fly was particularly unappetizing to the fish. I can't be certain, but I imagine watching the kid you taught to fish haul in trout after trout from water you failed to connect with mere moments prior is disheartening. While it undoubtedly gave him a sense of pride to see my success, his frustration in his own lack thereof was palpable. And how could it not be? He is human. He can't be perfect. His frustration didn’t dissipate as the day wore. It grew worse. Soon, Dan, my brother, began to catch fish too. Every 10 minutes one of us was yelling for a netter. But Dad continued to drift his red rock worms through holes all but guaranteed to be fishy, and he continued, and continued, and continued, and continued to come up empty. And his frustration grew, and grew, and grew, and grew to the point where not even he could deny it. There, on the banks of heaven he whimpered, "I'm just not feelin' it." It wasn't right. In fact, it was absolutely wrong. How could the sage of my fly fishing doctrine be so out of sorts in this deific refuge? Imperfection had found definition. The sun began to flirt with the horizon, and quitting seemed the clear option. But we are fly fishermen, so at least two of us were not ready to call any cast our last. We decided to make one last decent to an area less traveled to give our flies one more chance.
Sitting, engulfed in a rocky hallway with walls 30 feet high, racing the red, orange, and purple sky, we all began to fish. Dan caught a fish. Dan caught a Fish. I caught a fish. I caught a fish. Dan caught a fish. Then—I would know that whistle anywhere. Dad was on a fish. Both Dan and I grabbed our nets, scrambled up, down, and over boulders for 500 feet, and there, against a watercolor background, was a 52 year-old man wielding a 10 foot fly rod that was bent in a semi circle. Dan and I slid into the river, nets in hand, over eager to scoop up whatever was trying to rip the fly rod out of Dad's hands. Five minutes later, though, we were still waiting. By that time the initial adrenaline had subsided, and we were calmly wading in the water, gently talking, laughing, and kind-heartedly poking fun at each other. I looked at Dad and said, "You feelin' it?" "Yeah Dave, I'm feelin' it." And suddenly perfection wasn't so unattainable. Perfection was us. Three men, standing in a river, with a trout tugging on our souls.
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