New Fork River Fishing

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Sculpted into the basin of a remote, high alpine meadow lies a pair of glacial lakes named Lozier Lakes. Gannett Peak, Ladd Peak and Mount Whitecap rise to over 13,000 feet to the east casting their morning shadows over this pair of high country lakes. The outflowing glacier melt from Lozier Lakes is the origin of the 70 mile long New Fork River. The river in its infancy tumbles as a stream downward from Lozier Lakes through a steep canyon, unforgiving boulder fields and mountain scree until it widens at New Fork Lakes 10 miles north of Cora, Wyoming. New Fork Lakes supports a healthy population of Brook and Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout, or Char, and Kokanee Salmon. A Forest Service road provides access to the lakes where camping and boating is a popular source of recreation. 

At the spillway of New Fork Lakes, the River becomes the New Fork River Drainage. Traversing multiple private ranches as it presses southeast past Pinedale and then southwest toward the confluence of the Green River near Big Piney, the New Fork becomes the main watershed for several inflowing tributaries. Marsh Creek, Duck Creek, Willow Lake Creek, Pine Creek, Pole Creek and others significantly expand the banks of the New Fork which departed New Fork Lakes as a narrow stream. Thus, the River is scarcely floatable until it reaches the town of Pinedale and largely inaccessible due to its proximity to privately owned land. In addition, unless you are close friends or kin to the numerous private ranchers and land owners along the river course, you will be exceptionally hard pressed to acquire access without trespassing. Be advised that trespassing is strictly enforced. Therefore, a local guide such as Rendezvous Anglers is indispensable and will be your only means of access to legally fish the New Fork without setting foot on private property.

For those of us who are familiar with the rivers here in Sublette County, it is no mystery that the New Fork pales in comparison to size with the Green River. The Green River Basin is composed of 4,000 square miles of land mass, while the New Fork Drainage covers only 1,230 square miles. However, you will do yourself a great disservice to mistakenly assume that the quality of fishing follows suit with the size of the respective drainage areas. The New Fork River is commonly synonymous with Trophy German Brown Trout exceeding the 5 pound class and voracious, line stripping Rainbow Trout!! I can testify that you will be pleasantly surprised at what a tiny nymph under an indicator will produce. I have nearly had my rod ripped from my hands by these exceptionally powerful predators! The only way you will know the thrill is to fish it for yourself.

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Let’s take a moment to explore a bit of the River’s history and its modern importance. The New Fork River is much more than a tremendous trout fishery. During the quest to reach the west coast in the mid 1800’s, the River presented a perilous barrier along the course of the Oregon Trail. Travelers were confronted with the treacherous crossing of the river just south of Pinedale along a primitive wagon road constructed by the US Government. The timing of their arrival at the New Fork after descending South Pass out of Lander, Wyoming often placed them at the River’s edge during mid June to early July. Their timing couldn’t have been more precarious! The Spring Runoff was at or near full capacity and the New Fork would have been swollen beyond its banks. Many of these adventurous pioneers lost all of their possessions and some were even swept away by the rushing ice cold current in their attempts to cross the river. A private cable crossing was eventually strung across the New Fork just a short distance downstream from the established trail. Unfortunately, the $4.00 fee was an exorbitant cost which most folks were not willing or even able to sacrifice. Circumspectly, approaching the New Fork River provided a respite for the emigrants and livestock alike. Nourishing grass along the river rejuvenated hungry livestock while plentiful fishing and hunting would impart sustenance for these wayfarers en route to Fort Hall in Pocatello, Idaho. A historical park and interpretive trail was recently developed in 2014 just a mile north of where state highway 351 crosses the New Fork River. This point is the exact location of the original Oregon Trail River crossing. 

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new fork river fishing

Today, the New Fork River provides an essential and critical source of water necessary for the irrigation of this otherwise high plains desert. Ranchers along the New Fork rely heavily upon the River for the growth of their annual hay crop. Hay is a vital element needed to sustain the Angus cattle through the long harsh winters here in Western Wyoming. Unlike other fertile agricultural regions around the country, the growing season in this part of Wyoming only provides for a solitary cutting of hay. It then goes without saying that the importance of the New Fork River Drainage to our local ranching community is paramount. 

For you as an angler, floating the New Fork River provides splendid scenery as you will be drifting along expansive meadows, elevated mesas and Black Angus ranch country with the spectacular Wind River Mountains towering in the background! Natural gas production fields are also situated along a short section of the New Fork River. The rich history, critical agricultural importance and superb fishing make it an exceptional destination to get a real taste of Wyoming’s unmatched beauty and pristine environment. A quality guide service is a must for the New Fork River. A qualified outfitter is a plus! Colby Spencer and his guides of Rendezvous Anglers is more than a guide service, he is a trout fishing outfitter and native to Western Wyoming as well as a permanent resident of Pinedale. No matter your skill level, whether you are a seasoned angler or your first time on a drift boat, Colby will make your day on the New Fork most memorable! Perhaps you are new to the sport without any equipment of your own, no need to forego this extraordinary experience as Rendezvous Anglers can provide all of the gear that you will possibly need for a successful day on the River. Their knowledge of the fishing here in Sublette County is unsurpassed. I would strongly encourage you to schedule your outing with Rendezvous Anglers, your personal ambassador to extraordinary fishing on the New Fork River!

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