Lowering Alcova Reservoir and the Grey Reef Trophy Trout Season

Grey Reef is the ultra-tailwater. This is a phrase we use to describe what the Grey Reef section of the North Platte River is and why it is such a consistent, productive, and trophy class fishery. We are blessed to have 5 reservoirs, closely spaced, immediately upstream from Grey Reef Dam. Two of these giant “settling ponds”, Seminoe and Pathfinder, are both very large each boasting a million acre-foot volume. The other unique feature to the arrangement of Grey Reef and its supporting impoundments are that there are no major mountain ranges to collect a snowpack and very sandy and rocky substrate that fails to create a traditional runoff scenario below the head of Seminoe Reservoir, the first lake in the system. Pre runoff fishing is superb,  peak runoff and Grey Reef is often the only good option in the game, post runoff is stellar and late season fishing is still rocking with a healthy water supply and heavily foraging trout. Water demand is reduced with the end of the irrigating season so Grey Reef flows are reduced to a very floatable, wadable, and productive 500cfs for the remainder of the fall and winter season.

This October Grey Reef is being utilized as a surrogate to unwanted water in Alcova Reservoir. The Bureau of Reclamation has scheduled some needed maintenance on Alcova Dam and as a result, they are lowering the level of the lake significantly. Since Oct 1st Grey Reef flows have been over 2000cfs or 4 to 5 times the “normal” October volume. This isn’t high water but it is high for the time of year. It has created some unique opportunities and big fish production has been a very welcomed result. But, what we might be the most excited about is the moment the BuRec cuts the surplus flows to Grey Reef. Imagine all of those crawdads and young-of-the-year fish displaced and scurrying to relocate into or near their normal October habitat. While the old fall flush is a fond memory of the past, this abrupt reduction of flows should parallel that event.

As of 10/19/20 Grey Reef flows are at 1300cfs and Miracle Mile Flows are 540cfs. Grey Reef streamer fishing has been exceptional and will only improve. Wade anglers thrive at these flows.