10 Top Rocky Mountain Float Trips

10 Top Rocky Mountain Float Trips

A resource guide for driftboat anglers

  • By: Troy Hawks
They meander through high alpine meadows, carve through placid valleys and rage through perilous canyons and falls. Deer, moose, elk, bear, fox, coyote, antelope, bald eagles and osprey come to them to find water or prey. The rivers of the West are undoubtedly one of this nation's greatest resources, and then there's the trout fishing. The list we've compiled here reviews some of the Rocky Mountain's 'top' floatable trout waters. By 'top' we're speaking in terms of numbers of trout, ease of access and convenient accommodations.Each of these rivers are stuffed with trout and offer landmark fishing adventures, days that will play themselves over in the mind's of anglers forever. So which river fishes the best? In the end that's for the river, the trout and you to decide. . Henry's Fork of the Snake, Freemont County, Idaho. ( Below Island Park Reservoir) The best dryfly fishing in the world can occur on any river at any time. It can happen at 6:32 PM on a stream just four miles away or it can happen on an early spring morning on a remote river in Argentina. Yet for millions of anglers around the world, all relating similar stories of releasing 20, 30, 40 fish or more in a single day, it has happened on the Henry's Fork. Although we've all heard stories of how much better the fishing was in the old days, the Henry's Fork from the boulder pocket water of the Box Canyon, to the flats, long riffles and runs near Harriman State Park and below, continues to deliver renowned dryfly fishing. RIVER STATS Season: Memorial Day to the end of November. The lower sections of the river, from Warm River down, are open year round. Fishing in Harriman Park opens June 15. Trip Length: In all, the river runs 150 miles; the best fishing runs from Island Park Reservoir to Chester Reservoir. There are several day-trip options within this stretch, call for local conditions to determine the best float. Estimated fish per mile: 2500 -- 4500 fpm CFS Flow Rate: Average flow rates are between 600 -- 800 cfs with spring highs nearing 2000 cfs. The river is unfloatable below100 cfs. Difficulty: Class I Fly Box: By late July look for caddis, stoneflies, Pale Morning Duns and gray, brown and green Drakes. Try stone fly nymphs or streamers like the Muddler Minnow or sculpins. Float Recommendations: For pocket water fishing float the three-mile Box Canyon section. Below it lies the seven-mile stretch through Last Chance and Harriman State Park for unique spring-creek style fishing. Farther down, the river flows eight-miles through Cardiac Canyon, again pocket water fishing. Put-In/Take Out: Enter the Box Canyon off of Hwy. 20 just above Pond's Lodge, then turn off just short of the dam down to the boat launching spot. The Cardiac Canyon section flows to Upper and Lower Mesa Falls featuring waterfalls of 65 to 115 feet in height created between 600,000 and two million years ago. Take out at Hatchery Ford. There are several other access points for other sections. Nearby Attractions and Entertainment: The Henry's Fork lies in the heart of Targhee National Forest: float along the five-mile National Scenic Water Trail, hike on the Old Union Pacific railroad bed, play a game of golf at Island Park Resort or take a horseback trail ride. Camping: Contact Idaho Parks and Recreation for campsites at Henry's Lake 208- 558-7532. Snowy River Campground in Last Chance has RV and tent spaces as well as cabins. Call 208-558-7112. Others include Mack's Inn 208-558-7272 and Red Rock Campground 208-558-7442. Local Fly Shops, Shuttles, Lodges: Hyde Outfitters HC 66 Box 482 Island Park, ID 83429 Phone: 800-428-8338 Email: info@hydeoutfitters.com Web: www.hydeoutfitters.com Henry's Fork Anglers 3340 Hwy 20 Island Park, ID 83429 208-558-7525 www.henrysforkanglers.com TroutHunter on the Henry's Fork 3327 N. Hwy 20 Island Park, ID 83429 208-558-9900 www.trouthunt.com Teton Valley Lodge 379 Adams Road Driggs, ID 83422 800-455-3190 www.tetonvalleylodge.com San Juan River - Navajo Dam, NM With red sandstone plateaus, hills stretching on each horizon and waves of sand and dry desert brush everywhere in between, the scenery surrounding the San Juan river below Navajo Dam might not fit the postcard-perfect image of the Rocky Mountains, but it's all that Tim Chavez knows. "I've heard some people say that they don't like our scenery, at least compared to Montana or Wyoming, but this high mesa sandstone and sage brush are in my blood; I love it," says Chavez, owner of Born 'n' Raised on the San Juan River, Inc. Yet with an astounding 18,000 fish per mile, thousands exceeding 20 inches, you won't likely spend much time looking at the scenery. If you're looking for solitude, the San Juan, which realizes over 200,000 angler hours per year, is not for you. "This river sees a lot of pressure and in the past I've wondered how much it could take, but I'm amazed at its resilience," says Chavez. "There was a period when the average fish size was down a bit, but right now the river is in incredible shape." Float the San Juan and you have an immediate advantage over the other anglers. The river runs broad in spots leaving areas only float anglers can reach. Once you find a good hole, drop anchor and have at it. RIVER STATS Season: Open year round Trip Length: 4.25 miles Estimated fish per mile: New Mexico Game&Fish estimate nearly 18,000. CFS Flow Rate: Expect consistent flows of 500 cfs with maximum spring flows of 5000 cfs. The US Bureau of Reclamation is debating to lower flow rates to 250 cfs but the river becomes unfloatable much under 330 cfs. Difficulty: Class II Fly Box: When you fish the San Juan you want to make sure you've got lots of small red nymphs and emergers like Red Hots, red Brassies, Desert Storms, Zebra midge and Scintilla midges in sizes 18-24. San Juan Worms in red, orange, tan, and brown are a must. Watch for Blue-Wing Olives in the spring and fall. Float Recommendations: There are several islands in the upper portion that are only accessible to floaters, so spend plenty of time fishing here as well as other notorious holes such as the Lower Flats, Lunker Alley and Beatis Bend. Put-In/Take Out: Follow NM 511 toward Navajo Dam. Put in at the boat ramp near Texas Hole, take out at the Gravel Pit. Nearby Attractions and Entertainment: Visit a 450-room pueblo first built in the early 1100's at the Aztec Ruin National Monument located on Hwy. 550 in Aztec, or travel to Cortez, Colorado to visit the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. Gambling can be found at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, CO. Camping: Campgrounds include Cottonwood Campground (505) 632-1770; Navajo Lake State Park 505-632-227. Local Fly Shops, Shuttles, Lodging: Abe's Motel and Fly Shop P.O. Box 6428 Navajo Dam, NM 87419 Phone: 505-632- 2194 Email: abes@cyberport.com Web: www.sanjuanriver.com Rizuto's Guide Service P.O. Box 6309 Navajo Dam, NM 87419 Phone: 800-525-1437 or 505-632-3893 E-mail: rizutos@rizutos.net Web: www.rizutos.net Soaring Eagle Lodge PO Box 6340 #48 CR 4370 Navajo Dam, NM 87419 800-866-2719 www.soaringeaglelodge.net Sandstone Angler Inc. 83 CR 2929 Aztec, NM 87410 888-339-9789 www.sandstoneanglers.com Rainbow Lodge PO Box 6488 Navajo Dam, NM 87419 888-328-1858 www.sanjuanfishing.com Green River, Dutch John, UT. (A Section below Flaming Gorge Reservoir) The first time I floated the Green River I hardly noticed it had a shoreline. The river could have been lined with little pink houses for all I knew. I've never seen water so clear. Then again, I grew up in Wisconsin… Just standing at the boat ramp you can see hundreds of trout, and when you're on the water you see thousands more. The Aquarium, as many affectionately call the Green, is enough to cast you under a trout trance. Several trips later and I've also come to appreciate the local scenery of the Flaming Gorge, so named for its high sandstone cliff walls, some reaching 2000 feet, that blaze bright red and orange in the midday sun. It's sandy shores, according to history, were a favored hiding spot for outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In all, the Green travels nearly 30 miles to the Colorado border, but the best fishing is found within the first seven miles, or on the A section. RIVER STATS Season: Open year round. Trip Length: 7 miles Estimated fish per mile: 6,000 to 15,000 CFS Flow rate: Releases from Flaming Gorge Dam have held steady at 800 cfs, flows of over 4000 cfs have been recorded during runoff. Remains floatable at its minimum 800 cfs. Difficulty: Class I -III Fly Box: Look for Blue-Wing Olives in the spring and fall and Pale Morning Duns in June. Tiny midges in sizes 22, 24 or smaller and scuds in olive, tan or pink can be fished year round. In the later summer months and into fall throw terrestrials like Chernobyl Ants, foam hoppers and crickets. Try bright colored streamers when dryfly fishing is slow. Float Recommendations: The upper four miles is mostly flat deep water with several shallow pools and eddies near shore. The water runs faster in the lower three miles providing more pocket water fishing. In all, there are nine rapids that demand your attention no matter what the flow rate. Put-In/Take Out: From Dutch John follow Hwy. 191 south. Follow signs to put-in below the Flaming Gorge Dam. There are three landing ramps at Little Hole on the left side of the river, if you miss the first one, you have two more chances. Nearby Attractions and Entertainment: Remember you're in Utah, so you're best advised to bring your own entertainment. You can belly up to the bar at the Flaming Gorge Lodge, or travel 78 miles to Dinosaur, Colorado to explore Dinosaur National Monument. Camping: There are several RV and camping sites available through Flaming Gorge Recreation Services or the US Forest Service. For reservations call 800-280-CAMP or for general information contact 435-784-3445. Local Fly Shops, Shuttles, Lodging: Flaming Gorge Lodge 155 Glendale US 191 Dutch John, UT 84023 Phone: 435-889-3773 Email: info@fglodge.com Web: www.fglodge.com Trout Creek Flies Hwy 191 Little Hole Rd P.O. Box 247 Dutch John, UT 84023 Phone: 435-885-3355 or 435-885-3338 Email: fishgreenriver@union-tel.com Web: www.fishgreenriver.com Flaming Gorge Recreation Services P.O. Box 326 Dutch John, Utah 84023 Phone: 435-885-3191 Email: fgrec@fgrecservices.com Web: www.fgrecservices.com South Fork of the Snake -- Bonneville County, Idaho "When you feel real passionate about something, you take a stand for it," says Trout Unlimited Home Rivers Project Manager Matt Woodard. Woodard has plenty of reason to feel passionate about the South Fork; it cuts right through the wheat and barley farm he grew up on. Woodard recalls floating this section of the river for the first time in the early 1960's. He didn't see another angler the entire day. Better yet, with no pressure the fishing was easy. Not so today, he says; sometimes during the prime summer months you can see 15 to 20 other boats floating right there with you. Woodard and his Snake River Cutthroats Trout Unlimited Chapter continue to lead on issues over reduced access points, loss of trout habitat and are fighting to remove heavy stockings of hatchery rainbows that threaten the native Yellowstone Cutthroat trout. Fortunately the predominant population of resident brown trout, some measuring over 24 inches are, and will remain, in good supply. RIVER STATS Seasons: Year round Trip Length: Over 49 miles from Palisades Dam to the confluence of the South Fork. Estimated fish per mile: 3000- 5000 fpm. CFS Flow Rate: Flows reach highs of over 15,000 and lows near 1200. Difficulty: Class I-II Fly Box: Look for mayfly hatches of Blue-Wing Olives, Pale Morning Duns and mahogany duns. June to August sees stonefly hatches of golden stones, salmon flies and yellow sallies. Keep a variety of hoppers and crickets from July into fall. Midges work well year round. Float Recommendations: This is a large river with fast water sections, deep-pools and swift eddies. Stay clear of diversion dams. Put-In/Take Out: Multiple put-ins and take-outs can be found below Palisades Reservoir to Lorenzo near the junction with the Henry's Fork. Nearby Attractions and Entertainment: Watch black and grizzly bears roam free on a drive through Yellowstone Bear World or dune buggy across 41,000 acres of the St. Anthony Sand Dunes. Camping: Look for various campgrounds available near Heise Hot Springs, Kelly's Island, Table Rock and Palisades. Reach the local BLM District office call208-524-7500. Local Fly Shops, Shuttles, Lodges: Drifters of The South Fork 2984 US Highway 26 Swan Valley, ID 83449 Phone: 208-483-2722 Email: info@ catchourdrift.com Web: www.catchourdrift.com South Fork Lodge PO Box 22 Swan Valley, ID 83449 208-483-2112 877-347-4735 www.southforklodge.com Jack Dennis Sports 50 E. Broadway Jackson, WY 83001 800-570-3270 307-733-3270 www.jackdennis.com Westbank Anglers 3670 North Moose Wilson Road Wilson, WY 83014 800-922-3474 www.westbank.com Teton Valley Lodge 379 Adams Road Driggs, ID 83422 800-455-3190 www.tetonvalleylodge.com Rexburg Chamber of Commerce 420 W. 4th South Rexburg, ID 83401 888-INFO-880 www.rexcc.com Bighorn River, Bighorn County, Wy. (Afterbay Dam to Bighorn Access Site) On June 25, 1876 Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his regiment of 655 US Cavalry soldiers assembled near the confluence of the Bighorn and Little Bighorn rivers prepared to fight one of America's most historic battles. Looking back, Custer and his men would have been better off showing up with peace pipes and fly rods. Some 2000 to 4000 Sioux Indians surrounded and killed the entire regiment. Although no records indicate what the local fishing conditions were at the time, it's likely that the Blue-Wing Olives were coming off in droves. At any rate, the Bighorn remains one of this nation's finest fisheries, not just for its local history, but for its trout, which average over 15 inches. RIVER STATS Season: Open year round Trip Length: 13 miles Estimated fish per mile: 3000-5000 fish per mile CFS Flow Rate: Ideal flows on this length fall between 2,000 to 5,000 cfs, but fishing is still productive up to 7,000 cfs. The river has fallen below its minimum 1500 cfs on a few occasions but remains floatable even at 1300 cfs. Difficulty: Class I Fly Box: If your fishing in August look for black caddis and swarms of size 16 trico's, especially in early morning and evening. The yellow stonefly hatch happens early in July; use Elkhair Caddis or yellow Stimulators in sizes 16-18. Blue-Wing Olives hatch in April until June, look for PMD's in July and use midges year-round. Float Recommendations: A good trip for novice floaters, make sure to cover the whole width of the river. Another option here it to float the short stretch of river from Yellowtail Dam to the Afterbay Dam. Consult with local fly shops for the best option. Put-In/Take Out: Access to the Bighorn is available via Route 313. Take out the Bighorn Access Site. Nearby Attractions and Entertainment: Elk, bison, grizzlies, canyons and waterfalls make up a good portion of the nearby attractions. For a look at history visit the Little Bighorn National Monument or watch a reenactment of Custer's Last Stand. For night entertainment visit nearby Livingston. Camping: Grandview Campground in Hardin offers full-service RV park and camping grounds. Call 800-622-9890 or 406-665-2489; visit: www.grandviewcamp.com Local Fly Shops, Shuttles, Lodging: Eagle Nest Lodge P.O. Box 509 Hardin, MT 59034 Phone: 866-258-FISH (3474) or 406-665-3711 Email: info@eaglenestlodge.com Web: www.eaglenestlodge.com Bighorn River Lodge P.O. Box 756 Fort Smith, Mont. 59035 Phone: 800-235-5450 Email: info@bighornriverlodge.com Web: www.bighornriverlodge.com Madison River, Madison County, Wy. (Lyons Bridge to Ennis) The world is filled with dreamers. Golfers imagine greens the size of soccer fields, skiers pray for endless fields of Champagne powder and fly fishermen long for quarter-mile casts and fish rising in riffles half a state long. Fortunately for the fly fishermen it isn't just a dream-well, except for the casts. From Quake Lake, which was formed by an earthquake in 1959, the Madison runs north to Ennis Lake. There are no deep pools, sharp turns or steep rapids. The 50-mile riffle, as its called, runs shallow along grassy banks in one swift, broad channel nestled between the 10,000-foot jagged peaks of the Madison Range and the pine covered Gravelly Range, and in the water lie thousands of fish per mile. No, you're not dreaming. RIVER STATS Season: Varies; check special regulations for the section you intend to fish. Trip Length: There are several day-trip options Estimated fish per mile: Up to 2,000 brown trout per mile and 500 rainbows per mile. CFS Flow Rate: Recent flows have remained between 600 and 1000 cfs. During runoff the river has reached 5000 cfs. Floatable at its minimum 600 cfs Difficulty: Class I Fly Box: Look for the Madison's Mother's Day caddis hatch in early May. The Madison salmonfly hatch usually comes in late June and in August. Look for good hatches of tricos in the morning and evening and callibaetis mid-day through afternoon. Float Recommendations: Without rapids, pools or eddies this river can be difficult to read. Watch for deeper water. The river braids into channels and islands as it nears Ennis Lake. Put-In/Take Out: There are various day-trip options on the Madison and several boat ramps located along the river. Check with local guides or fly shops to plan the best trip. Nearby Attractions and Entertainment: See the West the way it was by visiting nearby Virginia City or Nevada City, or drive 50 miles to Bozeman. There are many good restaurants and bars in Ennis. Camping: Hebgen Lake offers seven campgrounds, contact the Hebgen Lake Ranger District at (800) 280-2267. There are also campgrounds near Palisades and Ruby Creek. Local Fly Shops, Shuttles, Lodges: Madison River Outfitters P. O. Box 398 117 Canyon Street West Yellowstone, Montana 59758 Phone: 800-646-9644 Email: trout@madisonriveroutfitters.com Web: www.madisonriveroutfitters.com Riverside Motel&Outfitters P.O. Box 688 Ennis, MT 59729 Phone: 800-35-4139 E-mail: theriversidemotel@yahoo.com Bud Lilly's Trout Shop PO Box 530 West Yellowstone, MT 59758 800-854-9559 www.budlillys.com Madison Valley Ranch&Eaton Outfitters 307 Jeffers Road Ennis, MT 59729 800-755-3474 www.madisonvalleyranch.com Flatline Outfitters&Kings Motel 307 South Main Twin Bridges, MT 59754 800-222-5510 www.kingsflatline.com Experience Montana 53 Elser Lane Sheridan, MT 59749 800-505-5134 exprnzmt@3rivers.net Rainbow Valley Outfitters 670 Painted Canyon Drive Bozeman, MT 59718 406-586-5408 www.rainbowvalleyoutfitters.com Rainbow Valley Lodge PO Box 26 Ennis, MT 59729 406-682-4264 www.rainbowvalleylodge.com Blue Ribbon Flies 309 Canyon Street West Yellowstone, MT 59758 406-646-7642 www.blueribbonflies.com Old Kirby Place 1475 Hwy 287 N, #6 Cameron, MT 59720 888-875-8027 www.oldkirbyplace.com Blast&Cast Outfitters PO Box 824 Ennis, MT 59729 406-682-4420 www.blastandcast.com Jacklin's Fly Shop PO Box 310/105 Yellowstone Ave. West Yellowstone, MT 59758 406-646-7336 www.jacklinsflyshop.com Frontier Anglers PO Box 11 Dillon, MT 59725 406-683-5276 www.frontieranglers.com Colorado River-- Grand County, CO (Pumphouse to State Bridge) It sounds ludicrous. Snow on La Poudre Pass melts into trickles that meet with other trickles and eventually carve their way through the Grand Canyon and pour out into the Gulf of California some 1,440 miles away. Along the way this now mighty river provides essential water to millions throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. That's better than Santa Claus. Dale Fields, owner of Summit Guides in Keystone, Colorado, tells us that sometimes the sights along the Colorado aren't always what you'd expect. Fields has fished the Colorado for several decades now and he recalls a period when like clockwork he'd see a 260-pound neo-hippie woman bathing nude in a nearby hot spring. "Let me tell you it was a scary site to be coming around the bend and find her waiting on the bank waving at you," says Fields. Amid of some of Colorado's finest Gold Medal trout water, it does sound ludicrous. RIVER STATS Season: While the fishing season here is open year round, this section of the Colorado often freezes over from November to March. Sections downstream near Glenwood often remain open year round. Trip Length: 14 miles Estimated fish per mile: Not Available. According to Barry Nehring, research biologist of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, this section of the Colorado has never been shocked to determine fish population. CFS Flow Rate: Floating not recommended under 400 cfs. Difficulty: Class I - III Fly Box: You've got a period of about three days, somewhere near the middle of May, to catch the salmonfly hatch. If you miss it, look for Blue-Wing Olives in the spring and fall. Pale Morning Duns, Red Quills and green Drakes in July and August. Casting hoppers and streamers off of the banks works well in the fall. Float Recommendations: Although the completion of Wolford Dam in 1995 has improved water clarity on the Colorado, the river still turns to chocolate milk during runoff or after heavy rains. Always call for local conditions before planning your trip. On windy days allow yourself extra time and paddle strength to battle winds that can actually push you up stream! Put-In/Take Out: From Hwy. 9 take Grand County Road 1 to the Pumphouse boat ramp. Take out State Bridge. Shuttles available at Ranch del Rio 970-653-4431. Nearby Attractions and Entertainment: Visit nearby Summit County to enjoy golfing, sailing, mountain biking, skiing, bowling, breweries and fly shops. Enjoy deep-fried pickles at the Quarter Circle Saloon in Kremmling. Camping: There are campgrounds right at the Pumphouse put-in and several others on the river. For more call the local BLM field office at 970-724-3437 or the Colorado Division of Parks and Recreation office at 303-866-3437. Local Fly Shops, Shuttles, Lodging: Colorado Fishing Guides PO Box 40-A Bond, CO 80423 800-461-5267 www.web2000.com/cofishing.guides Summit Guides 22138 US Hwy 6 Keystone, CO 80435 Phone: 970-468-8945 Email: guides@summitguides.com Web: www.summitguides.com Mountain Angler 311 S. Main St. Breckenridge, CO 80424 Phone: 800-453-4669 Email: info@mountainangler.com Web: www.mountainangler.com Yellowstone River In 1806 there were no dams on the Yellowstone River and the only kind of trout you'd catch was a cutthroat. Remarkably there are still no major dams on the Yellowstone, and you can still catch a bunch of Yellowstone cutthroats, albeit mixed in with some browns and rainbows. Running over 600, miles the Yellowstone is the longest free-flowing river in the continental United States and is a credit to sustaining natural history. True, it sees thousands of anglers each season, but even in 1806 you might not have had the entire river to yourself. In July of 1806, during the return leg of their historic expedition across the Louisiana Purchase, William Clark floated the Yellowstone to meet up with Lewis on the Missouri River. During their journey they discovered 173 new plants and 122 species and sub-species of animals. Remarkably there is still plenty to discover here today. RIVER STATS Season: Memorial Day to the end of November. Trip Length: Gardiner to Livingston -- over 50 miles Estimated fish per mile: up to 5,000 trout per mile in some sections CFS Flow Rate: The river averages high flows of over 3000 cfs in June and lows near 1200 cfs in January and February. Difficulty: Class I-III Fly Box: Look for salmonflies and golden stones late in May until July. Hoppers fish well from July until early September. Try large streamers, Hare's Ear and Pheasant Tail nymphs when fish aren't rising. Float Recommendations: Stay within casting distance of the banks when fishing hoppers. For good action, land your boat and try fishing at the mouths of various small creeks that feed into the Yellowstone. Towards Livingston, look for braids and channels that are fairly deep, these often get overlooked by other anglers. Put-In/Take Out: Fish Bridge to Sulphur Caldron -- Look for the boat ramp near the parking lots on the loop road on the west bank of the river. Gardiner to Livingston - There are several state access points along Hwy. 89, which runs parallel to the Middle Yellowstone, making access easy. Consult local fly shops to determine the best day trip. Nearby Attractions and Entertainment: You're minutes away from all of the beautiful rivers, canyons, waterfalls, geysers and mountains of Yellowstone National Park. Or visit the International Fly Fishing Center, the Yellowstone Gateway Museum or Livingston Depot Center. When you get hungry there are some good restaurants and bars in Livingston. Camping: There are several campgrounds operated by the National Park Service. The Park does not take reservations and are operated on a first-come, first-serve basis. There are also KOA campgrounds in Livingston and West Yellowstone call 800-562-7591. Local Fly Shops&Shuttles: Yellowstone Angler, Inc. P.O. Box 629, 5256 Highway 89 South, Livingston, Mt 59047 Web: www.yellowstoneangler.com E-mail: staff@yellowstoneangler.com Bud Lilly's Trout Shop 39 Madison Avenue West Yellowstone, MT 59758 Phone: 800-854-9559 Web: www.budlillys.com Email: info@budlillys.com Hubbard's Yellowstone Lodge 287 Tom Miner Creek Road Emigrant, MT 59027 406-848-7755 www.hubbardslodge.com The Blue Winged Olive 5157 Hwy 89 South Livingston, MT 59047 800-471-1141 www.bluewingedolive.net James Marc, Spring Creek Specialist 5 A Lovell Avenue San Rafael, CA 94901 415-302-4224 www.flyfishmontana.net Dan Bailey's Fly Shop 209 West Park Street Livingston, MT 59047 800-356-4052 www.dan-bailey.com Rainbow Valley Outfitters 670 Painted Canyon Drive Bozeman, MT 59718 406-586-5408 www.rainbowvalleyoutfitters.com North Platte River -- Carbon County, Wy. "The best thing about the North Platte," says Michael "Hack" Patterson, owner of Hack's Tackle in Saratoga, "is simply getting to go." Yet with two Blue Ribbon tailwaters, a Gold Medal tailwater and over 100-miles of freestone river, just where do you go? With the North Platte, you've got a great a choice. It all starts in Colorado with a six-mile Gold Medal stretch through Northgate Canyon across the Wyoming border to Six Mile gap. Over 37 miles north lies the 12-mile freestone section from Treasure Island to Saratoga. Beyond that the river runs another 60 miles between Saratoga to Seminoe Reservoir. The first Blue Ribbon tailwater, or the 'Miracle Mile' lies below Seminoe Reservoir flowing seven miles to Pathfinder Reservoir. North of this is Alcova, or Grey Reef Reservoir, the second Blue Ribbon tailwater. No matter which section you choose, you'll be among thousands of fish per mile. "If you pay attention, you'll see something different every single day, it may be in the scenery, the wildlife, the fish, this truly is one of the last of the frontiers in the lower 48 states," says Patterson. RIVER STATS Season: Fishable year-round. Trip Length: Several day trip options Estimated fish per mile: Average 2300 fish per mile CFS Flow Rate: Flows can drop below 200 as early as August. Look to float the tailwater sections during low water periods. Difficulty: Mostly class I -- III. Some sections can exceed Class V at high water. Fly Box: From June to August look for mayflies such as Blue-Wing Olives, Pale Morning Duns, tricos, and mahogany duns. Stone flies hatch from mid-May to mid-June. When dryfly action is slow try weighted streamer and stonefly nymphs. Float Recommendations: Be aware that the river flows through large tracts of private land. Respect private property, do not land your boat or wade fish. Put-In/Take Out: With over 20 public access points you have a plethora of day-trip options. Fishing varies depending on time of year and flows, call a local fly shop to plan your best strategy. Nearby Attractions and Entertainment: Saratoga makes a good base area, larger cities of Casper, Cheyenne or Laramie are within reach. Relax at the Saratoga Hot Springs or check out the National Fish Hatchery. Lodging / Camping: Two options in Saratoga include the Saratoga Campground 307-326-8870 or Saratoga Lake Campground 307-326-5629. Campgrounds can also be found in any of the national forests near the North Platte. Call 877-444-6777 or visit www.ReserveUSA.com Local Fly Shops, Shuttles, Lodging: Hack's Tackle and Outfitters 407 North First St. P.O. Box 1225 Saratoga, WY 82331, Phone: 307-326-9823 Email: info@hackstackle.com Web: www.hackstackle.com Platte Valley Shuttles&Tours P.O. Box 1652 Saratoga, Wyoming, 82331 Phone: 307-326-5582 E-mail pvst@union-tel.com Web: www.plattevalleyshuttles.com Roaring Fork River - Carbondale to Glenwood Springs, Colorado "The Roaring Fork is a brown trout river. When you're fishing it, you've got to think like a brown trout," says Colorado Division of Wildlife Fish Biologist Alan Czenkusch. Czenkusch has been studying the Roaring Fork for 17 years and lays claim to being the fifth person to ever float fish it in a dory boat and the first person to float it in a single person cataraft. With the snow-capped peaks of Mount Sopris in the background the river rolls through scenic ranchlands that give way to housing developments, which give way to apartment buildings and businesses. The Roaring Fork is indeed an urban river. On top of being sandwiched between a state highway and an interstate highway, much of the prime floating water runs through Glenwood Springs, a city of nearly 10,000 people. Concerns over the future of this fishery abound as Glenwood Springs continues to sprawl south into the Roaring Fork Valley. Yet Czenkusch says that, "thanks to a lot of local influential people who care and awful lot about the Roaring Fork," the river has managed to maintain its status as a Gold Medal fishery. Although most browns here average 14 to 18 inches, a few of up to 10 pounds are landed each year. RIVER STATS Season: Open year round Trip Length: 11 miles Estimated fish per mile: About 75 percent of the river's 3700 fish per mile are brown trout. The remaining 25 percent are mountain whitefish and a small population of rainbows. CFS Flow Rate: June runoff averages about 5000 cfs, while flows in January and February normally fall below 500 cfs. Floating not recommended under 400 cfs. Difficulty: Class II - III Fly Box: Look for the Mother's Day caddis hatch in late April to early May. Blue-Wing Olive hatch in spring and fall and Pale Morning Duns and Green Drake can hatch anywhere from late-June to late-August. Midge hatches can occur year round. Bead-head nymphs, midge nymphs and streamers work well when fish aren't rising. Float Recommendations: This section features Class II and Class III rapids. Novices should be wary of several large boulders scattered throughout this section and areas that become even more swift during high water. Put-In/Take Out: Travel south on Hwy. 82 from Glenwood Springs about 11 miles. The put-in is located just below the intersection of Hwy. 82 and Hwy. 133. Take out at Two Rivers Park on the far side of the confluence with the Colorado River. Nearby Attractions and Entertainment: Soak in a hot spring the size of an Olympic swimming pool at Glenwood Springs. In the winter ski Aspen, Vail or several other nearby ski areas. Camping: There are several nearby BLM lands available for camping, contact the Glenwood Springs Field Office at 970-947-2800. Local Fly Shops, Shuttles, Lodging: Roaring Fork Anglers 2022 Grand Ave. Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 Phone: 970-945-0180 Email: flyfish@sopris.com Web: www.rfanglers.com Thunder River Lodge 0179 Hwy. 133. Carbondale, CO 81623-1527 Phone: 970-963-2543 Blue Sky Adventures 319 6th St Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 877-945-6605 Email: bsraft@sopris.net Web: www.blueskyadventure.com