Fall 2021 Fishing Report

Big Horn North Platte Rivers

By Dan Pass - October 27, 2021

Written on 10-27-2021  

The water on the Big Horn has already dropped to winter level low of 679 and the North Platte Grey Reef to 450.  Still fishable for both rivers, but lower early than hoped.  Walk wade fishing in certain spots will be fantastic as fish will be moved into their winter holes early and/or pooled up with the low water.  Bad news for floating as you'll often be floating over the fishing spots with best water to be able to get down the river.  Still fun times to be had!  During Spawn you always hope for better water, but for Fall Spawn Rainbows and Brown Trout, the low consistent water is better than if it was high and then drops exposing Redds.  On that note, as we get into this time of year, please be aware of Redds, do not fish around, or almost more importantly, walk around them.  We all know it's tempting when you see a big fish in shallow water, but remember that fish is the key to good fishing in 3-5 years.  We've seen it all over the West...rivers that get "found out" especially rivers with big spawn runs, go downhill after a few years of heavy fishing. We are convinced a big reason for this is people catching/fishing/walking to spawning fish on Redds.  Also it's very important to remember that Brown Trout eggs do not hatch until the following spring alogn with Rainbow Trout Eggs...so even well after the active spawn is over, it's still very important to not walk on or around any possible Redds.  Sorry a bit of a lecture here, but for the good and if you don't already know this stuff, please be aware and pass it on.  Again...this behavior helps the fishing for years to come....the best fishing will be found in the runs below active Redds...there fish will be eagerly taking eggs, midges, sow bugs, etc.  


Onto the fishing report....Weather is starting to cool down, dress warm, be ready for the cold.  The BWO (Blue Wing Olive) hatch is under way and fish are looking up.  Any type of BWO pattern, nymph, emerger and dry...between sized 20-26 are working.  Remember the cloudier the day the better for Baetis..they do not like the suns uv rays....kills em.  HOwever they are not a fan of wind, well no one is right!!! So a calm cloudy day, or part of the day, will produce the best BWO fishing. On such cloudy days the hatch starts in the morning and will keep on past lunchtime with the afternoon being the time to fish spent/crippled on the surface.

It's almost Midge Season!  Have your purple, red, black and tan/green midges ready in sizes 18-26.  Midges are not as picky about weather and will actively hatch every day of the year and become a trouts primary snack in the winter months when the air temps consistently drop below freezing at night killing off larger/more temp prone insects.  An early  hatch in the morning and by afternoon fish will be eating adults coming back to water to lay eggs/reproduce.  

Caddis - We are in the waning days of caddis fishing, but they are still out there trying to get in the last few warmer days.  Don't be afraid to skate a caddis if you see them flying around and a larger haresear or any type of caddis nymph/emerger can get a great attractor fly...especially if eggs are not working or you just are sick of using eggs.  


Worms - Year round the old wire worm in red, pink, orange and purple is a staple on Wyoming Waters. Earthworm patterns can also be effective but generally only after rain/snow melt.  Annelids as we call them, can range from size 2-4 hooks down to 20's.

Scuds/Sow Bugs - as the hatches wane down these again become the staple big meals for trout, especially after the spawn is over.  18-16's are the best sizes to use however larger or smaller will work.  As we get later in the year don't be afraid to use a large sow bug pattern...they reproduce in winter and as the males attach to the females and they group up...the bigger sow bug patterns start to kick butt..don't be afraid to use even a size 12!

Streamer fishing....with the low water that's not going to help with streamer fishing as low water tends to put fish into the holes...but the chase is on and streamers/leeches are all working right now.  

Lastly Hopper fishing....again the days are waning for this action, low water does not help..but on those warmer fall days especially with wind...they can still be a good option.  Try dropping a worm or scud off the hopper, sometimes a great combo!

Thanks for reading, good luck out there!  Please keep us in  mind for your lodging and shuttle needs and as always, we do guide year round so if you want to treat yourself to some of the best fishing of the year, we'd love to get you on the water!  We are permitted to guide on the Big Horn, North Platte and Shoshone rivers among a few other smaller streams. We also recently were awarded a permit for the Powder River and are booking trip of a lifetime adventures for 2022. 

HUNTING UPDATE - Upland Bird numbers are down, if you find em go easy on them to help them recover for next year.  Ducks are starting to move in, it's taken a while with the warmer temps and low water.  Water Fowl did not have the best reproduction cycle either as low precipitation cut down on survival rates too.  

Two Rivers & Thermop Fly Shop

401 Park Street 

Thermopolis, WY 82443




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