Grey Reef Float Guide in Sections:
• Grey Reef to Lusby (this article)
• Lusby to Government Bridge
• Government Bridge to Sechrist
• Secrist to Bessemer Bend
• Bessemer Bend to Robertson Road
• Robertson Road to Evansville
• Evansville to Edness Kimbal Wilkins State Park
• Edness Kimbal Wilkins to Big Muddy
Grey Reef to Lusby (Also know as the Reef to Lusby, Dam to Lusby or the Upper)
Grey Reef gets its name from the dam and after bay where the North Platte River emerges. The most frequented boat ramp to “put in” is at the campground directly below Grey Reef Dam. The next available boat ramp to “take out” is at the Lusby Access area eight river miles down stream. This section is by far the most popular float of the Grey Reef system. The average size of the trout in the upper reaches of Grey Reef is very large and there are many trophy class trout here as well. Generally the average size of the trout decreases as you get downstream 15 miles or so. But, there are monsters in each and every section of the river.
River shuttles and drift boat rentals can be obtained at The Reef Fly Shop. There are two campgrounds very close to The Reef Fly Shop. Grey Reef Dam has a campground with tables, trash collection and pit toilets and the boat ramp. There is great wade fishing at the Grey Reef Campground. The Outhouse Hole (Pete’s Draw) also has a campground with tables and pit toilets. There is not a boat ramp at The Outhouse Hole but there is great wade fishing. Lusby is a day use only area and is the location of the second boat ramp on the system. There are a number of good runs in the Lusby area. You must park in a designated parking area and walk to the runs you wish to fish. Lusby is only available for public fishing on river left and has roughly 2 miles of continuous public access. There is no overnight camping at Lusby. The boat ramp is easily spotted from the river if you are floating it for the first time. The ramp is gravel and 3 lanes wide. There is a privy that is easily seen from the river and your vehicle will also be easy to spot.
The upper section from Grey Reef Dam to Lusby is the busiest section of the North Platte River. Busy is relative; in the springtime there may be 15 boats on the upper…or more. During the summertime you will only see a couple boats and the same for the fall. Being that it is the furthest section upstream and below five dams is the least likely to suffer the effects of a wet snowstorm or cloudburst. The tributaries downstream will dirty the river during runoff. In any given year the water will be dirty below Government Bridge for 2 to 3 weeks in late April to early May. The upper 13 miles will generally remain in good condition.
Float times vary. Grey Reef to Lusby is generally regarded as an all day float. It is easily made into a shorter float is you row between runs and limit your back rowing. The water in between the runs can be productive fishing at higher water levels, but typically not worth spending much time in during low or winter flows. 500 cubic feet per second is the North Platte River winter flow from October through April.
Pontoon boats or float tubes are not a very productive way to fish Grey Reef. The wind can make downstream progress very difficult and a majority of the river bottom is private prohibiting the fisher from putting their feet on the bottom. A long dead drift is the most effective and can easily be done from a drift boat, but in a float tube it is a challenge to try to get an effective drift and not be directly downstream of the indicator.
Nymphing is generally accepted as the most productive way to catch the trout at Grey Reef. Unlike many trout streams, you will often be fishing toward the middle of the river. There is very little bank structure especially on the upper 8 miles. Streamer and dry fly activity can be amazing (although not typical), read the current fishing report to get the latest info.
Private property dominates the upper section, although there has been public property added in the past couple of years. From the boat ramp downstream to the end of the Outhouse Hole property is public on river left (left side as you look downstream). This stretch is roughly 2 miles and encompasses several world class runs. The public access extends to the middle of the main river channel. If you anchor or wade on private property on river right there is the possibility of getting a trespassing citation.
Once you leave the public property at the end of the Outhouse Hole you will enter private property on both sides of the river. Roughly a mile downriver you will pass square blue signs on both sides of the river. The blue squares designate entering public property. This are is called the Fence Hole (maps list it is as Ledge Creek, but Ledge Creek is actually a half mile downstream and is entirely on private property). The Fence Hole is where most anglers stop for lunch and to wade fish.
The Fence Hole access area is a third mile long on the right side and half that on the left. If you float the main river channel (lower water levels require floating the main channel) you will see a red sign on the left bank. The red square signs indicates you are entering private land. On the right side of the river is also mostly private here but poorly marked. You are responsible for knowing where you are in Wyoming, as the landowner isn’t required to mark their property. The back channel is still all public access until you get to the bottom of the back channel. From this point you will be floating over private property for roughly 4 miles before you get to the Lusby access area. The Lusby access area is available to the public on the left side of the river. Once you pass the blue sign at the top of Lusby you will still have another mile to the Lusby boat ramp.
The upper stretch is the most popular for good reason. The fish are big and plentiful.