Wyoming Stone Fly Frenzy

What I did on my summer vacation – John Doss

With the threat of 118-degree weather and my wife wanting me out of her dossigan-hqhair, I decided to take a week-long camping trip with my Jumping Jack trailer.

My adventure started with a trip to the Rim to Knoll Lake with good friends Alan Davis, Ken Richter, and Jim Rondoni. Continued on to Colorado and Wyoming.  Alan was giving his kayak another run, and Ken brought his 14-foot aluminum boat. Fishing was a little slow, but the weather was great, and camping, cigars, wine, and beer can sure take the edge off. And as always, enjoying another fantastic Ken Richter gourmet meal and campfire stories (except no campfire due to fire restrictions) made for a great time.

The Arkansas River in Colorado
The Arkansas River in Colorado

On Sunday morning we separated, and I continued my journey northeast toward Colorado and Wyoming. A few weeks earlier I had heard that the stone flies would be hatching and the fishing would be “epic”. Also, Joe McDonnell indicated he was going back to Wyoming, and I didn’t want Joe to fish alone.

My first stop was in Buena Vista, Colorado to camp for three days. I contacted Landon Mayer, who spoke at our March general meeting, hoping to fish with him. Unfortunately, he was busy with a video production so I had to fish on my own. I started at the South Platte River, where Landon advised there was good fishing, and ended on the Arkansas River. Fishing was pretty good and the scenery was spectacular.

john-joe-cutthroatFrom Buena Vista my journey continued north to Casper, Wyoming, where I met up with Joe and stayed at Jason Ostrander’s Grey Reef Anglers lodge. Wow, did he do an amazing job on his new lodge. Our guide, Andy Brust, was great, extremely helpful, and made sure we had a great experience. Andy helped improve our fishing skills, and his knowledge of the river assured we had lots of opportunities to catch large fish.

The first day we fished the North Platte below Grey Reef Dam. Both Joe and I caught a few fish, with Joe getting the better of it. Days two and three we decided to check out the Miracle Mile with hopes that the stone flies would be hatching. Typically, stone flies don’t start hatching until the end of June, continuing into the first week of July. Incredibly, though, they were hatching. Actually, they had been in the hatch cycle for over a week according to Andy because they were dropping eggs. Fishing was great. Watching the fish come out of the water to hit dry flies was awesome. We caught 20 to 30 fish during the three-day excursion with none less than 18 inches. The fish above is a 23-inch cutthroat. Two of the three days we hit the trifecta (rainbow, brown, and cutthroat).

2016062495161653In addition to the great fishing, the wildlife was spectacular. Wyoming has more antelope than people. Deer were also quite common. With the hatch, the seagulls, swallows, and many other birds were as excited as we were. Eagles, osprey, and pelicans were always on the lookout for an unsuspecting trout patrolling for a stone fly.

I would have to rate this trip a 9 on a scale of 10. The only other trip that comes close was our Grey Reef Anglers trip in early May (this was my second trip with Grey Reef Anglers). Both trips were experiences of a lifetime.