The Fremont Canyon and Cardwell stretch of the North Platte River is defined as the section between Pathfinder Reservoir and Alcova Reservoir. In the past 10 years, minimum flows (72cfs), have been established courtesy of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Wyoming Fly Casters.
Due to the minimum flows implementation, abundant bug life and intimate nature of this tailwater, it has been increasingly popular with anglers and is truly a world-class fishery. This particular fishery has both rainbow and brown trout with most recent population estimates (2013), courtesy Wyoming Game and Fish, being 248 browns and 947 rainbows per mile, respectively.
There are not as many trout in this section, but plenty for the small size of the stream. Cardwell is a technical place to fish simply because the fish are not easy to catch. However, you can fish this water without getting your feet wet and there are very few obstacles to interfere with casting. Rainbow trout make up a majority of the population for Fremont Canyon fishing, but all species grow to incredible size in the canyon.
Rainbows, Browns, and Cutthroat trout coexist in small numbers in Fremont Canyon. The Wyoming Game and Fish has been attempting to stock this section of the North Platte River for several years but the program has been largely unsuccessful. Their initial study, before the stocking began, found that there were approximately 150 fish per mile, which is still the accepted population of Cardwell. While the stocked fish don’t seem to survive, the wild fish are alive and well, which makes for a more interesting fishery.
Midges, baetis, caddis and tricos are the primary hatches at Cardwell and Fremont Canyon. PMDs and sallies also occur here but not with the frequency or size of the other hatches. Aside from these hatches-scuds, leeches, crayfish, annelids and small forage fish round out the diet for Cardwell and Fremont Canyon trout.
As with both the Grey Reef and Miracle Mile sections of the North Platte, Cardwell and Fremont offer fantastic fishing year-round. That being said, nymphing is the most productive technique on a daily basis. While you can nymph all year long, the dry fly fishing and streamer fishing can be some of the best in the whole North Platte system. The dry fly fishing can be consistent when there are baetis, caddis, tricos, and midges present. Concentrate on the flats in the Cardwell section when the fish are looking up. The boulders, deeps pools, and the tailouts hide some aggressive trout waiting to eat your streamer, especially on the cloudy days.
As the river leaves Pathfinder Dam it makes its way through a small canyon-before entering what is known as Cardwell. Approximately 1.2 miles in length, this section of the North Platte meanders through the valley floor and would be best characterized as a meadow stream. Pocket water, riffles, seams and small pools make up the Cardwell section of the North Platte. Access is allowed on both sides of the river and it is very wading friendly.
The hike down into the canyon for wade fishing may be difficult; the fishing is well worth it. The Fremont Canyon section of the North Platte is full of boulders, riffles, pools, and large hungry trout! The scenery, with large granite cliffs and abundant wildlife makes this section of the North Platte one that should not be missed. With 1.5-2 miles of fishable water Fremont canyon offers the wading angler an unforgettable experience. That said the wading could be difficult, especially in the winter when there is ice present on already slippery boulders.
Fremont canyon is located immediately downstream of Pathfinder Reservoir, just 10 miles from The Reef Fly Shop. The most scenic access is via Kortes Road in Alcova, Wyoming. After driving through some very interesting geological formations along Kortes Road you will come to a fork in the road. A large road sign will direct you to the left for Miracle Mile or to the right for Fremont Canyon and Pathfinder Reservoir. Merge right and you will drive toward The Cardwell Access area.
The short 15 minute drive from our shop offers you some of the best fishing on the North Platte. As always, for up to date information shoot us an email or give us a call at the shop and we can set you up with everything you need for an awesome day at Cardwell and Fremont Canyon.