What Worked Best?
At the end of every fishing day here at the Bighorn River Lodge the guides and clients gather on the deck overlooking the bass pond and discuss the day’s activities. Invariably they talk about which flies worked the best. It is always interesting to hear what fished well at certain points on the river and what time of day it was. Because as we all know there is a multitude of factors that affect what the fish are eating at certain times of the day and it is different in different parts of the river. That is what makes it so challenging and fun to figure out.
Why does one section of the river produce more worms than another and a different section produces more sow bugs? Part of the answer is water temperature, the river bottom, which can be very grassy in some sections and clean gravel in others, sunlight and cfs flows.
A Little Stomach Pumping
To best learn what is going in a certain section, pump a fish or two and see what is in their stomachs. Seining may show what is in the water, but often that is not what is in the fish’s stomach. Who knows why these fish key on certain food sources? Even more interesting is that often the Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout key on different bugs. So pumping stomachs is a key to successful fishing. Also remember that bugs tend to evolve as the day progresses. So you may want to change that nymph in the morning to an emerger or adult pattern later in the day.
I'm sharing an email I got from a friend who had just been here fishing this week. I think you will find his comments and pictures very educational.
Let’s Go Fishing!!
Seine and use a stomach pump. They tell all.
Always take a bug vile. Put river water in it. Then take a picture of the bugs up toward the sky. Why? because the fish sees them that way so you should look at them the same way. It will change your perspective. Spin the bug bottle so they move all around and take macro tiny close ups and then enlarge the pics on your phone. You will see things you’ve never seen before.
SEINE didn’t reveal any significant population of sowbugs
The first vile is from the seine. Could not find a sowbug bigger than a 24. ttttttiny.
but we did learn why two toned worms work so well….depends if the worm is straighten out or “squished all together” because the color varies widely.
Tale of two stomaches - with a pump as the inspector
Stomach of a big rainbow #1.
Jammed with case caddis. A few sowbugs, but not many as a percentage. Wild.
Stomach #2, Another Rainbow
Down river a mile or so, totally different story.
Damn near adult caddis with a huge reveal on their bodies, below their thorax and under their wings. Lots of green. Lots of green. Huh. Really challenges me to be much more creative on my adult black caddis bodies.
The Spring fishing on the Bighorn has been just excellent even with the higher water flows currently running at around 7500cfs. Record breaking snow pack and a wet Spring has resulted in the higher flows from the Bighorn Lake. These higher flows have been great for the river, scouring out and rejuvinating the river bottom and creating excellent conditions for the hatches to follow. While the wade fishing spots are a bit more restrictive the boat fishing has been very good. Even with the water temp at around 39 degrees, nymphing with #18 red midge larve patterns under a #6 orange or red wire worm has been very productive. Smaller Zebra midges,soft hackel grey rays and fire bead soft hackled sow bugs are also working well. As the water temps warm up moving in to May the fish will continue to be even more active. Some drye fly action is available now as the midge and baetes hatches are coming on. All indications are that May should be a spectacular dry fly month. If you are thinkng of making a trip to take advantage of these excellent conditions, we recommend that you call Cheryl at the lodge and book now as reservations are already filling up.
See you on the river!
This summer and fall has produced some of the most SPECTACULAR FLYFISHING on the Bighorn River in recent memory. Every guide I talked to said they had never really ever seen anything like it. Two years of high water and excellent weather conditions produced a large volumn of water that increased the overall capicity of the river to house large numbers of fish, giving anglers opportunities for unprecedented number of hook-ups. Our guides here at the Bighorn River Lodge were consistently providing their clients up with 30-80 fish days. Perhaps hard to believe, but I had many of those days myself. Once again the Bighorn River has proved itself to be the Premier Blue Ribbon Trout River in the US. Indeed virtually every client this summer told me they had never had better fishing experience. Some were new to the Bighorn river Lodge, but most were customers that return every year.
The most productive nymph patterns seem to be grey & pink Ray Charles or a pink soft hackle Sow Bug in the #16 to #18 range with a #18 Black/Green Skinny Nelson as a dropper....deadly! A number of other patterns not usually seen here worked as well and if fact at times it didn't seem to matter WHAT you used...the fish would eat it. The fish this year were just beautiful, healthy and strong with Rainbows and Browns averaging 15"-20" and the occasional 20"+ not uncommon. Dry patterns changed with the hatches of course including Brown and Black Caddis and more Trico and Baetus patterns as we got into late September and early October. Fall fishing continues to be strong with warmer than usual fall temperatures still hovering in the 60's this week. I will post again soon and bring everyone up to date on our current CAST AND BLAST PROGRAM, running through December.
Fall fishing continues to be very productive on the Bighorn. Warmer than usual weather for this time of year has made for great days on the river with temps staying in the mid 50's for the last 2 weeks. Today and tomorrow temps are in the 60's!!!. The fish seemed to have move into deeper water, although some riffles and flats are still holding fish. A little more effort required to find them, but then we were pretty spoiled August through Ocotber when the fish were just everywhere you looked. Grey, tan and especially pink rays coupled with a size 18 Quill Nymph or Skinny Nelson still working pretty darn good. Flashback Pt's also worth try. Dry fly fishing a little tough lately although there are still very good Baetus hatches daily, but the fish aren't as focused on them as you might think. Still doable with a little patience however, and the focus could change in the blink of an eye Streamer fishing is picking up especially on overcast days, although it has been pretty bright and clear for the most part so waiting until late afternoon when the light is lower in the sky is better.
This is a great time of year to be fishing here with very few boats ( we saw maybe 3-4 yesterday) and the fish are still eating like gangbusters as winter approaches. The Bighorn River Lodge is open into December so take advantage of our off season rates, the great weather, great fishing and no crowds with excellent opportunities for double digit fish days. See you on the river!!!