42° 34' 3.25'' N 106° 42' 11.60'' W

Monster Trout on The Grey Reef- Wyoming’s North Platte River

Aaron McHugh

Fish on! My wrist and forearm was fatigued from landing countless feisty rainbows over our two-day guided drift of the Grey Reef. Just outside Casper, Wyoming, the North Platte River empties nutrient rich tail water from the namesake Grey Reef Reservoir. Monster trout incubate in this special section fishery providing the perfect combination of temperature, depth and food.

Me holding one of the day’s prized catch

In October 2012, I spent two days fly-fishing the Grey Reef on a guided drift boat with my friend Bruce. We caught dozens of huge fish upwards in size of 21″ and 5 lbs. For fly fisherman, those are big fish.

The Grey Reef is commonly fished from guided drift boats, as public access points are limited. Day one, we put in and began our voyage at the Gray reef access area about thirty-five miles southwest of Casper, WY. Download this PDF map to give you a visual of the Grey Reef section. Check out Casper’s visitor bureau detail on the Reef.

Bruce and Cody staying warm in the October breeze at our lunch spot

Abundant Wildlife

One of my favorite parts of fishing the Reef was the abundant wildlife that we encountered including Bald Eagle, Antelope and pheasants. The land surrounding the Reef feels very remote and desolate. If feels like you’re in the badlands of South Dakota while you float through middle dozens of private ranches.

Happy is easy to find on the Grey Reef with hungry rainbows

Guide Service Options

St. Peter’s Fly Shop Fort Collins, CO
We used St. Peter’s for our two-day float. They are a little cheaper than the local Casper, WY shops but offer the same trip options. Cody our guide rigged every fly, unhooked our fish and rowed the drift boat through windy weather. Best of all, he stuck us on every honey hole he knew of.

Grey Reef Anglers
Their floats range between 8 to 22 miles. Full day for 1-2 people, guide and boat $475.

The Reef Fly Shop
Great information on their website about traveling from Denver or Salt Lake City. Their price list offers some additional options for trophy trips and specialty trips.

Cody our guide freeing one of the monsters

Gear Recommendations

I’d recommend bringing a 6 weight fly rod. I fished a 5 weight and after two days, I was genuinely sore from pulling in big fish. The guide services list what flies to use for each season on the Reef. When we fished in mid-October it was windy enough that we needed to wear a protective shell jacket and waders in the boat. Plan on fishing nymph rigs primarily unless you are late summer.

There are no stops or services available along the river. Make sure you bring everything you need for a long day: sunscreen, water, extra food.

Choosing a Guide Service

I highly recommend hiring a guide and floating the Reef. The little amount of access you can gain from public access is too small to experience greatness of the Grey Reef.

I’d recommend calling and interviewing a few guide services. It is important to find a fit for your wants and needs. If you’re bringing your ten-year-old daughter, which is a different trip than if you’re fishing with your college roommate.