Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On The North Platte River In
From the southern state line of Wyoming to Seminoe
Reservoir, the North Platte River flows ninety miles
through canyons and wide valleys. The most popular
area is located from the Wyoming - Colorado state line
down to the town of Saratoga. Access is available where
the stream runs through Medicine Bow National Forest.
Below that it runs through mostly private land but there
is still plenty of access. Fly fishing the North Platte River
varies from section to section.
All of the uppermost section lies in very remote
country. The river flows through steep canyons with a lot
of fast flowing pocket water and even some white water.
It can be floated in places using small portable
watercrafts but there are no launches in the uppermost
area. Since the river is a pure freestone stream, its flows
vary greatly with the rain and snowfall.
The lower half of the stream down to Saratoga flows
through ranch bottom land and looses its fast water,
canyon like appearance. It flows through long pools with
riffles and runs. There are sections with islands in the
river and cottonwood trees grow along the banks.
Floating becomes more popular in this area.
Below the town of Saratoga the river changes character
again. It flows through the high plains desert with sage
brush. The river has some very long flats. The trout are
mostly rainbows and cutthroat trout in this section. In
general, the sections nearest Saratoga fishes better
than the sections nearest Lake Seminole. The lowest
section isn't as popular and probably don't contain as
many trout but it has some very large ones.
North Platte River
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You can fish the river any day of the year
unless it is iced over.
Fly fishing the North Fork of the Platte River
is very limited during the winter due to ice.
Spring is good after the ice melts but before
the runoff from about March 1 until April 30th.
Fly Fishing Guide to North Platte River in
The methods and techniques depend largely on the
stream levels.The fishing depends greatly on the
particular area of the stream you are fishing because
the river undergoes several changes and consist of a
variety of different types of water. In the uppermost
part within the state of Wyoming, in the Medicine Bow
Forest and down to the Bennett Peak Campground
area, the river runs through canyons where the
declination in elevation is steep and theres a lot of
fast water and even rapids. The stream has some
huge size boulders and plenty of pocket water.
Attractor flies work fairly well in this part of the river.
This entire section is open to the public to fish but
difficult to access in some areas. Below the Bennett
Peak Campground, the river flows through private
property. Access is available at the Campground and
downstream near the Treasure Island near the
Encampment River confluence.
Recommended Tackle & Gear
5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 to 12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Superb Five or Ultimate Six
For 5/6 line size
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
In the foothills and ranch land areas the river
slows down and becomes wider. The
Encampment River increases the volume of
water. There are long pools with
interconnection riffles and runs. There are
few public access areas but even so the
stream sees more anglers. The trout average
a larger size in this section and hatches are
abundant. During the larger hatches, it may
become necessary to match the hatch.
Below Saratoga, the stream leaves the ranch
land and flows through the high desert. The
fish become less plentiful the farther you fish
below Saratoga but they still average a large
size. The best part of the river is the section
immediately below Sarotaga. Drift boat fishing
is very popular in this area of the river.
Streamers often offer a good option in
the lower river section due to the fact the
water often becomes slightly stained or
off color. The fish tend to be found
concentrated in certain areas rather than
dispersed evenly and continuously. It
usually take some effort in locating the
fish in this part of the river. The water
can slow down even more in some areas
of the lower section of the river. The
smooth flows can become a little tricky to
fish during at times, especially during the
North Platte River Hatches and Trout
Our information on aquatic insects is based on
our stream samples of larvae and nymphs, not
guess work. We base fly suggestions on
imitating the most plentiful and most available
insects and other foods at the particular time
you are fishing. Unlike the generic fly shop
trout flies, we have specific imitations of all the
insects in the North Platte River and in all
stages of life that are applicable to fishing. If
you want to fish better, more realistic trout
flies, have a much higher degree of success,
give us a call. We not only will help you with
selections, you will learn why, after trying
Perfect Flies, 92% of the thousands of our
customers will use nothing else.
1 800 594 4726
The hatches vary some depending on the
section of the river but the insects listed below
are plentiful throughout most of the stream
from its headwaters to its lower section. During
the early season, before runoff, the main
hatches consist of Western March Browns and
Blue-winged Olives. The BWOs can start as
early as March but April usually is the most
consistent time for the hatch to begin. There's
also a Fall hatch of the BWOs. It usually takes
place from late September and throughout
most of the month of October.
Of course, midges will work well anytime the
water is too cold for most other insects.
There's also plenty of small black winter
stoneflies that hatch in the early season, even
when there's snow on the ground.
You will find some hatches of Salmonflies
become to come off in early July in the fast
water sections of the river. Sometimes the
runoff effects the fishing conditions during the
hatch and on other years it misses it. It all
depends on the snowpack. LIttle Yellow
Stoneflies are also plentiful in some areas in
late July and early August. Within a week or
two of the end of the Salmonfly hatch in July,
you will usually find Golden Stoneflies
beginning to hatch. The hatch last into the
month of August, depending on the location on
Both the Salmonflies and Golden
Stoneflies start hatching in the lower
section and move upstream as the days
The first caddisflies to hatch are the
Little Black Caddis, called the Mothers
Day hatch in most places in the West.
This hatch starts in the lower section of
the river in late April and last about a
month. In late June and early July,
there's plenty of Spotted Sedges that
begin to hatch. These are the most
plentiful of the caddisflies and the
different species hatch throughout most
of the Summer.
The next most important caddisfly hatch
are the Green Sedges. They hatch from
May through August, depending on the
species. Imitations of the Green Rock
Worms, or their larvae, work year-round.
In late June, usually before the runoff
ends, Pale Morning Duns will start
hatching. There are a few Green Drakes
that hatch but the numbers are usually
fairly low. There are also some Flavs, or
Small Western Green Drakes, but the
numbers of them are relatively low.
The PMD hatch will last most of the
summer and is the most consistent
mayfly hatch. In some areas of the fast
water you will find some Pink Ladies that
hatch in late August and September.
Late Summer, in August and September,
terrestrials will play an important role in
the trout's diet. Don't forget imitations of
grasshopper, ants and beetles.
The fishing is great from about mid June
for the next couple of months due to the
Float fishing can be limited because of low
water levels but the fishing is good for
Thumbnail Images: Click to enlarge
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Headlines: The water temperature
in most parts of the river is down to
the high thirties. You would be much
better off fishing the Gray Reef or
Miracle Mile, which are tailwaters on
the North Platte River. Midges are
about the only thing hatching at this
time. Keep track of the latest
information by clicking the above link
to our North Platte River fly fishing
North Platte River Map
10/14/15 The October Caddis hatch is happening big time and trout are taking the big egg
layers from the surface. Conditions are as good as they get in the Fall. Several other insects
are hatching including Little Yellow stoneflies, Spotted sedge caddisflies. Blue-winged olives
and others are hatching. Terrestrials imitations are working good.
10/21/15 Blue-winged Olives have started hatching agian. The river is in good shape
through the Medicine Bow National Forest as well as in the lower section. Stream levels are
fine and the time and the weather turning cooler but not cold. Brown trout are either
spawning or in the pre-spawn stage and taking streamers like our Brown and White Belly
sculpin flies very well.
10/29/15 Conditions are good right now and from all we can foresee, it should remain that
way. We didn't receive any reports from customers last week but anyone should be able to
catch trout at this time. Watch the water levels closely. This isn't a tailwater. It is strictly
controlled by Mother Nature. Blue-winged olives and October Caddis are the two main
11/05/15 Hatches have about wound down to Blue-winged olives. Midges will once again
become more important and the water temperature drops. Right now, we think fishing
streamers, especially the Perfect Fly Brown Sculpin, is an effective method to use. Stream
levels are fine and the weather is finally getting a little cooler.
11/12/15 The water is getting cold. The last reading we got was 42 degrees. That puts it
down to fishing midges and maybe streamers for the post spawners that are hungry. We
didn't receive any reports from anyone fishing and we think the snow is the reason.
Conditions shouldn't be that bad this coming week.
12/03/15 Sorry for missing last weeks fishing report. The weather was very cold with winter
storm warning out and I doubt anyone cared or fished. The weather is improving but the
water will remain cold all winter. It is ice you need to worry about and the gauge (USGS) is
already frozen. Midges, midges and more midges should be the only flies considered.
12/10/15 The North Platte River is cold but trout can still be caught in some sections of the
river. Fish the slow water. Trout won't hold in the fast water at low water temperatures. They
will expend more energy than they can take in food to replace. Midges are still the most
important aquatic insect to imitate. We did add Winter stoneflies to the list.
12/24/15 There is a couple of more days of snow, then clearing for a few days. The water is
cold, or about an average of 37 degrees and less in places. There is some ice and lots of it
around the banks. It is possible to catch trout, but we would say it is also difficult. Midges and
Winter stonefly nymphs are the best choice for flies. Stream levels are fine but the water
stained in some areas due to snow melt.
12/31/15 For the first time this year, and barely within this year, we are recommending you
fish a nearby tailwater instead of the freestone, North Platte River. The water is just above
freezing in most sections with ice in many sections near the banks and where the flows are
01/05/16 The North Platte is very cold with lots of ice around the banks and anywhere the
water is still. The average water temperature is about 36 degrees. That makes is very tough
to catch trout. We recommend either the MM or Gray R. tailwaters at this time. They are
01/19/16 The weather isn't that bad at all, with air temperatures above freezing most of the
time. The water is cold though, and that's where the trout are lying almost dormant. Water
temperatures are barely above freezing in most places. Fish on of the two tailwaters
01/28/16 The water temperature is barely above freezing and in many places, frozen. Simply
put, the North Platte River is still too cold to be worth fishing. We recommend the Miracle Mile
or the Gray Reef instead.
02/03/16 Simply put, the water is just too cold to attempt to catch trout. The average water
temperature is about 33 degrees and the air temperature isn't going above freezing for the
next week. We are recommending the two tailwaters downstream.
02/10/16 It will get into the forties a few days this coming week with no chance of rain or
snow. This may bring the water temperature up enough to be worth fishing. Right now it is
around 33 degrees with lots of ice along the banks and some slush ice in the water.
02/17/16 Warmer than normal weather continues for North Platte Country but the warm air
keeps melting snow in the watershed and cooling down the water. It is staying just above
freezing most areas. Midges are about the only logical choice if you do choose to fish.
03/10/16 The weather continues to be unseasonably warm and melting snow and ice in the
watershed. It is almost like a runoff common in June but not quite that drastic. The water is
still in the mid thirties and the water stained. We don't recommend fishing at this time.
03/17/16 The warm weather has finally come to an end and returned to a more normal early
spring pattern than it has been the past two weeks. The warm air did little to change the
water because it created a mini-runoff and kelp the water temperature stained and cold.
03/27/16 The water has finally warmed up enough to get the USGS gauge we use to show
water levels working again. The flows are a little high right now and the water still very cold,
just barely above freezing. There isn't much opportunity at this time, but it won't be long
before the river gets into good shape.
04/14/16 The North Platte is blown out. It is high and dirty through out its length from the
headwaters to the first lake. You will have to watch the levels but we think it will be a while
dropping and clearing. There is rain or snow forecast through next Monday.
04/21/16 The river is still flowing very high and stained. There is more rain coming and we
don't think it will drop to a level that provides a decent chance to catch trout anytime soon.
You will just have to watch the levels. The water is still cold with it averaging around 44
04/28/16 The river is very high, or in fact, blown out. It is mostly from melting snow and rain
from the previous week's warm weather. It is returning to a more normal weather pattern this
coming week. There won't be much opportunity for fly fishing this coming week.
05/02/16 The stream level is still high and stained and from the looks of the weather forecast
this coming week, it most likely will stay that high or higher. There is rain in the forecast
everyday next week. The Mother's Day hatch or Little Black Caddis hatch, is next but we
don't think it will happen this week.
05/05/16 The river is still blown out from runoff. Remember, this water comes from some very
high elevation in the Rockies from northern Colorado and takes a while to warm up and
clear. You will just have to continue to check this report and the stream levels to see when
there is much opportunity to fish.
05/25/16 The river is in a rage, with high, muddy and cold water. It's called the spring runoff
and something else to see, but something not to fish. When all this get over, you can look for
some big trout slowly sipping your little dry flies and leaping in the air trying to get away
before you can take a smiling picture.
06/02/16 The flows are not all that high right now, but too high to fish. They will increase big
time this coming week with the much warmer weather expected. There isn't going to be any
opportunity for fly fishing within the next two week for sure, and probably more.
06/09/16 Yikes, the river is a site to see but not to fish. There are twelve foot seas....well, I'm
joking but it is high and a raging mess and that's normal at his time of the year. It is a good
thing in the seen it means there is a good snow pack that will keep the water cool and flowing
this summer and fall.
06/16/16 he stream levels are falling. There is no rain in the forecast this coming week to
add to the runoff water. The stream levels are still very high and the river not worth fishing.
We hope the runoff comes to an early end. At least it seem to start early this year but it all
depends on the weather.
06/23/16 The river fell a lot this past week and is down to the 4000 cfs range but needs to
come down a lot more. It is clearing us some but still stained. We don't think it is worth fishing
yet, but will be soon. There is little to no rain in the forecast for the coming week to add to
the flows. Certainly, it will be getting close within another week or two.
07/07/16 The river has dropped down to a good level just a little on the high side. It can be
fished from drift boats but isn't safe to wade in most places yet. There are a lot of insects
hatching and our customers reported catching some good numbers of fish in the upper part
of the river the past couple of days. The levels will continue to fall and get better each day.
07/07/16 Our customers sent in some very good reports this past week. They are catching
trout in all sections of the river including the canyon. The stream levels are still in good
shape, with mostly clear water. There is a lot of insects hatching, including three species of
stoneflies, lots of caddis and a few mayflies. It varies from section to section.
07/14/16 The stream level is way down from last week, with water low enough to allowing
wading in some places it normally doesn't. There are many different species of insects
hatching but they vary from the headwaters through the canyon to the fist lake in the system.
This is as good as this river gets at this time of the year. The water is likely to go even lower
with no rain forecast.
07/21/16 The river is in great shape with good stream levels and clear water throughout its
length. There are a large number of hatches taking place including Green drake, Pale
Morning duns, Yellow Quills, Spotted and Green sedges, little Yellow stoneflies, Golden
stoneflies and more. They do vary depending on the section of water you fish.
07/28/16 We received two more good reports this past week. They were fishing the
uppermost section of the river. It is in decent shape from the upper river downstream to the
first lake but the water is getting low. There are still plenty of hatches but they vary greatly
with the section of the river you may be fishing.
08/04/16 The weather is going to be just a little cooler this coming week. The water levels
are even lower but there is rain in the forecast from Friday through the weekend. Fish the
uppermost section of the river. It is best to fish mornings as the water temperature gets too
warm in the afternoons.
08/11/6 The river remains in good shape stream level wise. The weather will be a little cooler
this week. We still recommend fishing the upper most sections of the river. There are still a
lot of hatches taking place including Pale Morning duns, two species of caddisflies and lots of
little Yellow stoneflies. Fish early mornings and late afternoons for the best results.
08/18/16 The weather is going o be a little cooler this coming week and that will help keep
the water temperature down in better shape. There are still many hatches taking place but
they vary with the elevations and section of water being fished. Caddisflies are hatching
everywhere and in large numbers. Fish as late in the day as possible. That is when the egg
laying takes place.
08/25/16 The stream levels are low, but not too low to fish. Large drift boats may have
problems in some areas. We recommend fishing the upper sections of the river, all the way
up to the Colorado state line. The water is cooler and more hatches are taking place. Of
course, hiking is required to reach some of the better sections.
09/01/16 The river is a little low but still in good shape. There's enough water to float it in
drift boats. The low levels allows wading in some areas you normally couldn't wade. The
hatches continue to go good. There are a lot of caddisflies but other species like the Little
Yellow stoneflies, Tricos in the slow sections and other insects. Terrestrial imitations are
09/08/16 Remember, this is a very diverse river, with lots of different types of water. Right
now, it is in good shape in all sections. In general, the uppermost water can be waded and
the lower sections of water is best fished from a drift boat. Our customers did well over the
last long weekend. Good numbers of trout were caught and large ones were taken in the
early mornings on streamers.
09/15/16 The river is flowing just a little below normal levels for this time of the year. Our
customers are sending in some very good reports. Some are fishing the upper part by hiking
in and one the lower section from a drift boat. Terrestrials are working but there are still
plenty of hatches taking place. Mahogany duns have just begin to hatch. There are lots of
caddisflies in all sections.
09/22/16 The stream levels are in good shape but rising. There is rain forecast through
Saturday and they may come up some more, so keep a check on them. October Caddis are
starting to hatch. There are lots of caddisflies and some baetis Blue-winged olives. Our
customers are catching good numbers of trout.
09/29/16 The North Platte rarely gets in any better shape than it is right now. The stream
levels are about normal for this time of the year and there are some major fall hatches
taking place. October Caddis are everywhere. Blue-winged olives and Mahogany duns are
hatching good. Our brown sculpin streamers are working good when there's some cloud
10/13/16 The stream levels are still in great shape, running about normal levels for this time
of the year. October Caddis have been hatching good for the past two weeks. Blue-winged
olives and Mahogany duns are hatching good as well and our customers are catching lots of
trout. The conditions are ideal and you couldn't pick a better time to fish the river.
10/20/16 The river is flowing at a good level and our customers are catching lots of trout
including some big ones. The Brown sculpin is catching the pre-spawn brown trout good.
Some are already beginning to spawn. Please don't wade through the redds. October caddis
are still hatching and Blue-winged olives hatche are going good, especially when it is
10/27/16 The weather is beautiful and it is nice and warm. There are some wind warnings out
and that makes it tough. Blue-winged olives are hatching very good but the wind will blow
them off the water in a hurry. Things should settle down by the middle to the end of the
coming week. Sculpin streamers continue to catch some of the pre-spawn browns.
11/03/16 Stream levels are about the same, actually rising as I write this but there isn't any
more rain in the forecast for the next week. Conditions should remain the same. We deleted
terrestrials and some other insects from the fly list. We did add midge which will become
more and more important.
11/10/16 The river is in good shape with good stream levels running about normal levels.
The water is clear and Blue-winged olives are hatching good. Cream midges are also
plentiful. Our customers have been catching good numbers of trout in the upper and middle
sections of the river. The forecast for next week looks good.
11/17/16 The river is still in good shape with good stream levels. The weather is turning
much cooler and that is going to drop the water temperature down a lot the next few days.
Midges and Blue-winged olives will become the main insects to imitate. The sculpin streamer
fly patterns, like our Brown and white Belly sculpin, have been catching some big trout.
11/24/16 The stream levels are up and too high to do any wading but fine for drift boats. The
upper section of the river is the preferred section at this time. The canyon is to swift. Blue-
winged olives and midges, creams and reds, are the only insects hatching. The brown
sculpin streamer has been the most effective fly for the past month.