The Spring run off from snow melt and Spring rains have required the Bureau of Reclemation to increase river flows which is usual for this time of year for the Bighorn River. This year the Bureau has been much more accomodatiing in how they manage the incremental increases. We are now running at 7,000 cfs which may seem like a lot, but it is a healthy flush for the river to remove the grasses and clean out the gravel which will create good conditioins for bug hatches throughout the summer. Additionally the inceased flows have kick loose a lot of worms and sowbugs into the water and the fish bite right now is fantastic. According to our guides it is the best of the year so far and we have already had some awesome fishing. A #6 red wire worm with a #16 soft hackle sow bug or grey ray has been very effective on both the Rainbows and Browns. These conditions should hold through June. We have a few opeining in June if you can get away. See you on the river!
The cooler, overcast and rainy weather in the last few weeks have produced some excellent BWO hatches and created some outstanding opportunities for great dry fly action here on the Bighorn River. The hatch has begun around noon and lasted until around 3:00. The game plan has been to get in and nymph down river to a typically good dry fly spot and wait for the hatch to come on. It will generally start with a few rises and increase as the hatch accelearates. After about thirty minutes the riffles and seams will be alive with heads. If you are adept at presenting the fly, in it has not been uncommon to have a 20 fish day. Even some of our novice guests under the excellent instruction of our guides are doing very very well. The hatch should last as long as the weather does. The typical set up has been to use a lead fly with a larger profile like a smoke jumber, CDC BWO cripple, or enven a Mahogany and trail that with the go to fly which has been a #18 Student or a variety of BWO emerger pattern. Even with the oncoming warmer weather, any return to cooler, cloudy weather will bring the hatch back.
In the meantime the nymphing remains steady using pink soft hackle sow bugs, pink scuds, or a grey ray charles with a trailing zebra midge or Bighorn Baetis nymph. The snow pack is at 90%, and the lake is at traditional levels with inflows matching outflows from the Bighorn Lake of around 2,600cfs which portends for a good water year and good water conditions for this season. Nothing like fishing the Bighorn which boasts 5,000-6,000 Rainbow and Brown trout per mile. Get your gear and come on up. See you on the river !!
April has brought cooler weather with overcast skies and perfect conditions for both midge and BWO hatches. Early morning midge hatches have the Brown and Rainbow trout looking up and the best patterns have been smoke jumpers, sipper midges and midge clusters. As the waters warms up in the afternoon (It needs to reach about 42 degrees) the Baetis hatch has been very good at times with a variety of adult BWO patterns being effective as well as Baetis smoke sumpers and emerger patterns trailed behind a larger flag fly like a Mahogany. Recent rains have contributed to increased snow pack in the mountains and the lake level continues to rise giving us the good water levels we will need this summer. Nymphing has been steady and pretty productive with pink firebead soft hackle sowbugs, orange scuds, trailed by zebra midges, and baetis nymphs working very well. Current river conditions and good lake levels portend an excellent season for the Bighorn River and the lodge. Call Cheryl at the lodge 406-666-2368 and LETS GO FISHING! Rick
The Bighorn River considered by many to be the best trout river in the country and home to a prolific population of beautiful Rainbow and Brown trout is also home to an abundance of spectacular bird and waterfowl residents. Elegant tuxedo-clad Canadian geese, grey coated doves, velour draped pheasant, green headed mallards, white helmeted bald eagles, huge purple cloaked Blue Heron and my favorite the majestic Sand Hill crane are just some of the entourage that provide some spectacular sights and sounds for the soul.
Spring time heralds the height of activity as each specie reenacts it annual mating and birth cycle. Each morning mother nature presents her symphony as the participants proclaim their place in the dance of rebirth. As the eastern skies lighten a few members of the symphony begin to tune up. First perhaps the soft flute coo of a dove, then maybe a crackle from a pheasant, and soon for sure the Canadian geese begin to stir up what only can be described as the bicycle horn section. As the first pink and orange rays of the rising sun peak over the eastern hills mother nature taps her conductor’s wand and the symphony begins with earnest rising in tempo and enthusiasm setting the perfect pitch for the day.
As the day moves forward the continuing intermittent music is accompanied by the sights of our four sets of resident pairs of nesting geese coming and going as they leave to feed in nearby fields and return to our five-acre bass pond filling the air with their calls and wheeling in for a close formation landing like a pair of top gun F-18s as the glide in, flaps down for a perfect water landing. Just off to the right a giant blue heron glides by its huge wing span needing no more than an occasional effort to propel its aerodynamic form effortlessly thought the air on its way to the river bank where it will stand like a statue in the shallows awaiting its unsuspecting breakfast. Then off in the distance you can hear the deep throated castoneted cackle of the elusive Sand Hills and then there they come, easily eight feet in length with gigantic wing spans, majestic elongated necks and beaks with long trialing spindled legs exchanging their calls and gliding off to who know where. Magnificent.
The Bighorn River is a wealth of wildlife and we can visit more about that next time, but it’s a beautiful day and there are fly rods to set up, dry fly and nymph patterns to consider, fish to be caught and I’m burning daylight.