Saturday, June 8, 2019

Guided and dined in Wyoming's flatland

I've heard Casper called things like "Wyoming's butthole," but had I never known that, I'd never have guessed.

I and a media crew were recently dispatched to Casper and the North Platte River upon invitation from Visit Casper. The team was me, Tia Troy, our gracious liaison and wrangler, Mike Sepelak (you might know his blog), and Kent Danjanovich who does Sportsman's Warehouse's in-store magazine - he said he travels 160 years a year on trips like this!

I'll get to Casper, but we were there to fish.

The North Platte River doesn't exactly have Casper's notoriety and it was poised to surpass its reputation, as Wyoming fisheries do.

To me, the North Platte is like a mini-Missouri River - an industrial insect mill loaded with 15- to 22-inch rainbows, though smaller water than the Mo'. Mix in the occasional cutthroat and 20-plus-inch brown, scuds and sowbugs and blanket hatches and you can see why it's one of the West's best trout rivers. There were excellent baetis hatches throughout the weekend we attended, but virtually no fish rising. We caught so many 16- to 21-inch trout (like the one below) on P-tails, Periwinkles and wire worms. Our guides from the Reef Fly Shop worked hard to get us into that many fish - innumerable slight depth changes, subtle split shot adjustments and upstream oar strokes. My only regret is that we did not fish the Miracle Mile or Fremont Canyon, which looked so ripe.

On a media trip, you can count on a paparazzi scene now and then

Baetis weather!

Eric from the Reef Fly Shop floating us down.

Release.


Fremont Canyon. Ooh la la.

Some say that the North Platte is becoming a bit crowded, but that seems like an overreaction. A few boats of course, especially at Grey Reef Dam, but it's pretty easy to spread out on the myriad sections.

Casper seems to have plenty of money to fund arts, culture, history and restaurants. There's a tasty brewery making novel beer, a distillery that stands out for it's creative designs and cocktails, an unexpected modern art gallery, an awesome last-of-its-kind western store, and the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center was truly fun and engaging with all of its life-size dioramas and interactive exhibits.

Aged men looking more authentic than Sam Elliot approached to tell you
about the store or ask about your hat, at Lou Taubert's Ranch Outfitters. That leather smell... 
The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center is all about the
Oregon, California, Mormom and Pony Express trails, and is very cool.  

And everything but the guide tip was comped. Yes, I am a big deal, and the dream of fishing for a living feels one step closer.

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