Water & Politics on the Wind River

What You See in Clear Water Geoffrey O'Gara manages to guide the reader though a conflicting set of water resource issues on the most legally confusing of all landscapes... the Wind River Reservation. Read my book review on What You See in Clear Water: Life on the Wind River Reservation


Wind River Wyoming

Wild Brown trout caught and released on the Wind River

Draining a huge alpine watershed, the Wind River can be broken down into several unique stretches of water. Upstream from Dubois, Wyoming, the Wind River takes on the character of a high mountain creek as it climbs toward its headwaters around 9,658 ft. high Togwotee Pass. The upper Wind River runs through private ranches, willow flats, beaver ponds, and becomes public water in the Shoshone National Forest.

The Wind River below Boysen Reservior provides some of the best trophy trout water anywhere in the West.

In its middle stretch below Dubois, the Wind River expands into more of a river drawing flows from the peaks of its name-sake range (The Wind River Range), as well as the Absaroka and Owl Creek Mountains. The majority of this stretch is private or inside the Wind River Indian Reservation. (Note: a special license is required to fish on the Reservation.)

That said, Wyoming's Fish and Game Department acquired a number of public access sites along U.S. Highway 26/287. The upper and middle freestone runs typically come into shape after the mountain run-off declines in July. The timing will vary here, so keep an eye on early summer flows.

The Wind River Canyon tall rock walls raise above the river.

Last, but most certainly not the least of the Wind River is the tailwater stretch below Boysen Reservior. Below the dam the River courses through the narrow Wind River Canyon. The run here is as scenic a stretch of water you'll find anywhere in Wyo. But, the scenery isn't what draws anglers to this water. The Wind River below Boysen holds large, well-feed brown and rainbow trout. Wyoming Fish and Gaem biologist Mark Smith reports that a wopping 2,850 trout per mile reside in this stretch as of a 2009 survey. Smith adds, "The river is among the most productive trout fisheries in our region... the size of the trout the river produces is fantastic."

The Wind River below Boysen Reservior is home to large brown trout.

Boat access below the dam is limited to guides authorized to float through the canyon which is on tribal land. The river is big with large holes and boulders the size of small houses. To put yourself in the position to access the big fish here, you'll want to consider hiring an authorized guide. The outtfitter for such a journey in and and around the Wind River Canyon is Wind River Canyon Whitewater & Fly Fishing.