North Platte River float with the Cowboy Drifters

Trip Report from Casper Wyoming by RFS staff, Brierley McCubbins

Destination fly fishing often comes with high expectations. We spend hours scrolling through articles, maps and images online. All of the research builds until boarding the plane or loading the car is the last thing you have to do before the fly rod is in your hand. 

My trip to the North Platte, guided by the Cowboy Drifters, was no different. As the plane touched down in Casper Wyoming I already had a dream trout in mind and was anxious to get on the water.

The morning of the float from Grey Reef Launch back to the Lusby Access Area,  I was nervous, eagerly wanting to begin landing fish. But as the drift boat settled into its place on the glassy wide river, I realized this trip would be about so much more than just putting trout in nets. 

Guides can and will make or break trips like these. The ability to connect with your guide on the water will ultimately speak to your overall experience and comfort. That’s why the authentic, rugged and fun heart of the Cowboy Drifters team makes them one of the best outfitters in the Casper area. 

Their love for the watershed and its inhabitants was immediately evident. Observing not only fish activity, but also the surrounding natural beauty, the 8 mile drift teamed with life. Bald eagles soared overhead, and quiet deer bedded in the tall grass. Pheasants proudly strolled the riverbanks and muskrat popped up for air. 

Not only were the guides genuinely engaged with the environment around them, they were more than ready to do what they needed for that ‘dream’ trout moment. 

They tirelessly revisited runs, and identified hotspots, setting you up for trout after trout. Their years of experience and knowledge were passed on as easily as the cold beers from the cooler. 

The guide’s relaxed tone dissolved any pressure that can come with lofty trout expectations or the self assigned pressure of fly fishing with a guide. The guides made the day feel like it was ours to be enjoyed and shared with everything around us, and soon enough, trout, smiles and laughter filled the boats. 

The fishing itself was hunting for deep pocket water, full of stacked rainbows, or thinner riffles blanketed with bedded browns. Mending line was crucial and the steep canyon walls allowed overhead casts with lots of room. Fish ate the buffet line presented to them, mainly consisting of peach colored beads and small midge. 

The North Platte is filled with vibrantly colored wild fish. From golden buttered browns flecked with turquoise and red, to hearty, rich and abundant rainbows these fish prove the west simply does it best.

The guides excitement in landing fish nearly exceeded my own. They are passionate about what they do and the memories they help create. Each fish caught is handled with not only care, but also admiration for it’s life, color and spirit. My obsession with everything about trout was not only shared by the guides but  encouraged and fed, allowing me to photograph stunning fish in awe without pressure. It was ensured that each gorgeous fish swam away upright and healthy, to live another day on the great North Platte. 

The advice and observations given by the guides allowed room for growth, without being too critical and I truly felt I left the river a better angler. 

Our party fished long into dusk, sunlight fading off the canyon walls. As the day came to a close a genuine sadness came over me to leave such a special place. 

The guides at Cowboy Drifters helped to create memories I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. Fishing the North Platte with my father, brother and uncle reminded me that these moments can’t be bought or sold, but rather they have to be created. I’ll cherish my time on these waters, and with the team at Cowboy Drifters. 

I’m leaving Wyoming inspired to live a life brimming with beautiful trout, cold beers, great company and abundant laughter. 

To find out more about the Cowboy Drifters Lodge, visit their website at

The Reno Fly Shop can coordinate trips both domestically and internationally. If you are interested in a destination or a certain species. We can help you figure out the details. Please swing by or give us a call. Additionally we host international trips several times a year. Christmas Island, Bolivia, Mexico and Mongolia are all options. Let us know if you are interested in learning more info by calling or emailing us here at the shop,

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