The Miracle Mile stretch of the North Platte River is a well-known trout fishery, with a deserved reputation as a productive big-trout destination.
Rainbows, browns and Snake River cutthroat along with suckers, carp and walleye call the Miracle Mile home. The Mile trout population is roughly 50:50 rainbows and brown trout. Good numbers of resident trout are in the river year-round, but there are also large numbers of both migratory rainbows and browns from Pathfinder Reservoir. These fish move into the Mile during certain times of year, with larger numbers of migrants being seen in the spring and fall. The interchange between river and reservoir environment is one of the most interesting and important aspects of the Miracle Mile. Pathfinder Reservoir has a high growth rate when it comes to trout: a 20-inch fish is approximately three years of age. That said, the health of the Pathfinder trout fishery is dependent upon the level of the reservoir. And increased food and habitat provided by a full bowl, in short, is a boon for the river’s trout population.
Along with various species of baitfish, the Mile has a multitude of invertebrates and is a virtual food factory for the fish that call it home. Some of the signature food sources include crayfish, golden stones, caddis, scuds, leeches, midges and mayflies. Make no mistake the Mile is second to none when it comes to productivity. With this large food base, it’s easy to understand why the fish can grow to such large sizes on the Mile. Fish in the 25- to 30-inch class are caught annually.
TThe Mile is a world-class fishery and it offers the angler the possibility of catching fish on nymphs, streamers and dries. All things considered, (weather, water conditions and season) the nymph rig is king on the Mile. But nymphing here is far more than packing on length and weight. It’s about understanding the hatches, the water conditions and fish behavior. Any hatch on the Mile can bring fish to all levels of the water column and using that knowledge to your advantage can be the difference between a slow or a great day on the water.
Streamer fishing and swinging are the second most productive methods on the Mile. These fish are not afraid of a big meal. Stripping flies with a single hand rod or swinging with a two-hander can yield some of the best big fish days of the year. Matuka and bugger-style patterns are most productive—sufficiently imitating the leeches, crayfish and baitfish that live in this system. Good selections of articulated flies are also important to have in your box. Most importantly, when it comes to streamer fishing/swinging the Mile, it pays off to experiment with both floating and sinking lines. It is critical to get to the right depth.
Lastly and surely not the least is the potential for dry-fly activity on the Mile. It exists, just not with the consistency of the other two. For those looking to fish dries, both the golden stone and caddis hatches are the go-to events. Any of the other hatches can bring trout to the top when conditions are prime, it’s just being there on the right day, under the right conditions. As with many other fisheries, overcast days and some degree of calm weather help trigger the topwater bite.
Contrary to its name, the Miracle Mile is longer than a mile. This section of the North Platte fluctuates in length from about 5 to 8 miles, depending on the level of Pathfinder. Nestled between the Seminoe and Pedros Mountains the Mile boasts a dynamic range of water: Steep canyon walls, large boulders, pocketwater and classic riffle/run scenarios are all present. Flows can range from 500 to 3,000 cfs during an average year, but can exceed 10,000 cfs on years with high snowpack. Obviously this section of the Platte is important to hydroelectric production; therefore it can fluctuate on a daily and even hourly basis. Regardless of fluctuating flows the fishery would not exist without the aid of its dams. The consistent water temperatures provided by the upstream reservoirs and the close proximity to Pathfinder make it an ideal tailwater.
Situated in central Wyoming the Miracle Mile section of the North Platte River is approximately 60 miles (1hr 20mins) from Casper, WY, and 50 miles (1hr 30mins) from Rawlins. The closest airport is located in Casper (Natrona County International Airport). There are no paved roads directly accessing the Mile. Safe travel to and from the river depends on both the weather and the season. It’s essential to use good judgment when navigating this part of Wyoming.
The Mile is located below Kortes Reservoir and flows into Pathfinder Reservoir. The largest impoundment upstream, Seminoe Reservoir and Dam, was completed in 1939. Kortes was added in 1951 to serve as an afterbay dam to Seminoe for power production. An inherent part of the Reclamation Act of 1902, these water projects were essential in providing sustainability to the arid lands of the American West. Due to its location and design, the Mile is one of the largest stretches of public water on the North Platte. The river is completely accessible via Bureau of Reclamation land.
Big fish and ample public access are the most attractive features of this great western tailwater. But let’s be honest, it’s not for everyone. The location can make getting here a challenge and the weather and river can test your angling skills. However, for those willing to put in the hours on this section, the rewards can be spectacular.
The Reef Fly Shop and North Platte Lodge in Alcova, Wyoming, are a 30-minute drive from the Miracle Mile in dry conditions. During wet weather all roads will be muddy and snowdrifts can make passage near impossible at times. The Mile is located at least 45 miles from the nearest emergency services. Call the shop or visit the current fishing and road conditions page.