Late Summer Is Wyoming’s Sweet Spot For ‘Fantastic Fly Fishing’

For many, late summer in Wyoming means hunting has begun, but it’s also the sweet spot for fishing. In fact, local outdoorsmen say, include a fly rod in your hunting gear.

Mark Heinz

September 01, 20234 min read

The West Laramie Fly Store in Laramie was hopping Friday afternoon, as people lined up to buy fishing licenses and tackle.
The West Laramie Fly Store in Laramie was hopping Friday afternoon, as people lined up to buy fishing licenses and tackle. (Mark Heinz, Cowboy State Daily)

This is the time of year many Wyoming outdoors enthusiasts are reaching for their hunting bows, and a little later their rifles. But don’t forget the fishing tackle.

“The cooler evenings and warm days we’re having will make for some fantastic fly fishing,” Brandon Specht, owner of the West Laramie Fly Store in Laramie, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.

The store was bustling as customers lined up to buy fishing licenses and tackle before heading out for the long Labor Day weekend.

Among them was Jordan Trueblood, a Nebraska resident on the way to his family’s traditional yearly trip to Saratoga Lake. He held a new fishing pole as he awaited his turn at the cash register.

“I’m hoping the lake has recovered and the fishing is going to be good,” he told Cowboy State Daily.

He was referring to the restocking of Saratoga Lake in May, after the Wyoming Game and Fish Department killed all the fish in the lake last year to rid it of invasive yellow perch.

Beetles And Hoppers

With high temperatures expected to linger for a little while, Specht and fishing guide Paul Ulrich of Pinedale both recommended that fly-rod anglers use “terrestrials,” or flies and lures made to resemble such tempting morsels as beetles and grasshoppers.

They also said that “hopper droppers” can work well this time of year. That’s a rig that includes a grasshopper fly on the surface, coupled with a nymph sunk deeper into the water.

And so long as hot daytime temperatures linger, anglers might want to consider moving to higher-altitude streams, Ulrich said. Or, perhaps consider skipping fishing during the heat of the day.

“It’s not very responsible to fish in water that’s over about 65-68 degrees,” he said. “Hooking into a large rainbow or brown trout, or if you’re lucky, a big cutthroat, in water that’s too warm can often result in killing the fish.”

That’s because fish, like any other critter, can suffer from heat exhaustion, he said.

‘More Surface Activity’

During hot weather, fish can be lethargic and hang out in deep holes where they’re hard to get to, Ulrich and Specht said.

However, cooler temperatures with fall’s approach will make them more active. And hungrier.

“We’re seeing some activity on the surface now, and we anticipate more,” said Ulrich, who guides fly-rod anglers on the Green River and New Fork River.

Fishing with bait and lures in lakes will also get steadily better as September and October wear on, Specht said.

“The fishing for Kokanee (salmon) is getting good in places like Rob Roy Reservoir and Lake Hattie,” he said.

Hunt Or Fish – Why Not Both?

Archery seasons, particularly for elk and antelope, have started to open all over the Cowboy State. And many big game rifle seasons will kick off in October.

That might push fishing to the back of many people’s minds, but there’s really no need to choose between hunting and fishing, Specht and Ulrich said.

“As much as I love hunting, when I am hunting — particularly up in the Wyoming Range — I always have my fly rod with me,” Ulrich said. “When the hunting gets slow in the middle of the day, I can find a stream and do some fishing.”

Specht agreed that trying to choose between hunting and fishing during the fall isn’t the kind of choice Wyomingites and visitors should have to make.

“One of the best parts of being outside this time of year is that you can multi-task,” he said. “You can always take your fishing tackle along with you when you go hunting.”

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter