Driving through the classic high arid plains, sagebrush hills and pitched strata of central Wyoming, the average passerby wouldn't know it even existed. But weaving its way through this dry, dusty and desolate landscape is a clear river that runs cold all year long. It's here, thirty miles west of Casper, the North Platte River forms two top-of-the-line tailwaters that are ripe with rainbows.
March & April
Both of these Blue Ribbon fisheries are full of great runs, riffles, slow pools, and submerged gravel bars, and it's in these hallowed waters that trout are measured in pounds instead of inches. Offering both brown and rainbow trout, surveys suggest that many sections of these tailwaters offer visiting anglers up to 5,000 trout per river mile.
As Mother Nature warms these hollowed waters in the spring, catch rates increase, as well as the smiles on the faces of anglers. The first tailwater is the famed Miracle Mile, and it offers anglers nearly 6 miles of access. Open year round, "The Mile" produces numerous hatches throughout the year, but in the spring it's the blue-winged olive and midge that are on the agenda when March and April roll around. Meatier patterns like leechs, scuds and San Juan worms will catch the attention of the healthy residents when they drift by as well. Bait fish are also present so brown, cream and olive colored streamers can work well.
April & May
The Gray Reef section begins below Pathfinder Reservoir and eventually makes its way to the dry plains of Nebraska. Unlike the Mile, it has no definite end, but gradually loses its tailwater traits around Lusby.
Public access for the wade angler on the Reef is limited compared to other sections of the North Platte, however; well-maintained walking trails make it easy to sample the river. The Lusby Lease is the most significant section, but Trapper's Route #1, Government Bridge and the Gray Reef Access Area near the dam also offer excellent rod-bending opportunities.
Fish counts on this section of the North Platte are extremely good, and size is also typically better. It generally produces the same hatches as the Mile this time of year, but changes slightly when summer arrives.
Needless to say, both of these blue ribbon fisheries are Wyoming gems. Simply put, if you haven't fished the North Platte, you haven't fished one of the best found in the Rocky Mountain West.
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Anglers like their tools close by. And it's even better if it's connected to you so it doesn't go in the drink. T-Reign retractable gear tethers hold onto your pliers, hemostats or landing net. Several size options. Carabiner connects to D-ring, belt loop or strap, or use the stainless steel clip on belt or pack.
Suzuki DF15A/20A EFI
Suzuki's two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki's Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
Rapala is hoping the new Scatter Rap Series lures and their 'evasive action ' will be as popular as the original 'wounded minnow ' style action that the company is famous for. The new lure has a 'Scatter Lip ' that creates an evasive, erratic, aggressive sweep-ing action. Ideal for multispecies gamefish, the Scatter Rap Series is available in 14-16 classic and new color patterns. Baits 5- to 9-feet deep.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There's enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
Honda Marine's BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
TACKLE TOTE VEST
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you're standing in deeper waters. It's adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
FLEX 'N GO TACKLE SATCHEL
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano's new Flex 'N Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
www.cabelas.com Jackets MSRP, $249.99-$269;
Cabela's Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
BERKLEY JAR BAIT FOLDER
Anglers who use jar baits know it's a pain to carry more than a few. Berk-ley now has two Jar Bait Folders to keep the baits at hand and make them easy to transport. Model 1170 holds 10 jars. Model 1490 holds 16. Both have various pockets and a D-ring for pliers.
BERKLEY TRILENE XL
Berkley says they've improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.
The new AV Micro is a complete underwater camera system that is the same size as a smart phone. On the boat or off the dock, use it to see where fish are hanging out. 3 1/2-inch diagonal display. Built-in rechargea-ble lithium ion batteries.
Smithwick Rogue's has been a stand-ard in bass-anglers' tackle boxes for years. Now they've got a new twist on the famous jerkbait. The
Perfect 10 Rogue has a new lip de-sign, to get deeper, quicker than other jerkbaits.
SIMMS WEATHER GEAR
MSRP, jacket $349, bibs $299.
Simms designed its Contender Gore-Tex jacket and bibs for anglers who need reliability when they are motor-ing on the water at 70 mph in rain and wind. Waterproof and breathable. Cuffs are water tight and adjustable.