All images copyright and courtesy of Mark Boname Photography
Thanks to Mark Boname of North Platte River Fly Shop in Casper for providing us with our first Wyoming hunting & fishing blog! Mark has some great input as well as remarkable photography — visit their website or their Facebook page, and give them a call for your Wyoming fishing answers…and THANKS Mark for the blog post and great photos!
It’s that time of year again! If you’re a farmer or rancher, you are probably saying some four letter words under your breath, but if you’re a fisherman you’ve got to love it. The Natrona County Extension Agency is predicting another record infestation of grass hoppers this year. By what I’ve seen so far they’re correct, however it seems that there are pockets around the county where the hopper populations are higher than others. Unfortunately for fisherman this year, in anticipation a lot of property owners below Gray Reef Dam have sprayed and we are not seeing as many hoppers in the upper reaches of the river.
Last year was the first real hopper fly fishing season on the North Platte River since I started guiding in 1987. With the culmination of a high hopper population, high water and windy conditions, fishing hopper patterns along the banks has been unbelievable. Watching 20 inch rainbows rise from nowhere to smash your fly is a more aggressive style of fishing and quite thrilling. Half the time it would scare you to death with a reaction that caused you to take the fly away from them.
Hopper fishing on the North Platte is definitely better done from a boat as you can drift down along the banks and cover more of the water. You can wade fish using hopper patterns, but can only present the pattern for so long over a single piece of water before you will have to move on and find a new stretch of untouched water. In addition, if you quarter your casts up river you will get better drag free drifts.
High mountain hopper fishing is exceptionally good and usually lags a couple weeks behind what we find down along the valley floors. As with any dry fly, it is best to fish hoppers upstream, casting to pockets and seams and letting the fly drift back to you. Just make sure that you’re stripping enough line so that when it comes back to you and you get a strike, you can set the hook more efficiently.
With the introduction of high density foam into the fly tying arena, a lot of great new hopper patterns are out on the market today. These new patterns are not only more durable, but also float higher and longer without the need for putting fly floating on them. Although the old spun deer hair hoppers like Joe’s Hoppers are still just as effective, I’m noticing the hoppers right now in all different colors and sizes – so don’t worry too much about the color as much as the durability and floatation factor.
Thanks again Mark! Stay tuned to our new blog category for info on hunting & fishing, as well as the other category topics listed… Our fall issues of Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine and Wyovore will be coming out before long for fall 2011!
‘Til next Time,
Kati Hime, Editor