406-666-2368

Rick Gehweiler

Rick Gehweiler

The lodge welcomed Rick and Cheryl Gehweiler to the team as general managers in the summer of 2012. Their backgrounds in property management, the hospitality industry, and guiding brought a fresh outlook to the lodge dynamics. Avid fly fishermen, they have spent much of their free time fishing the Northwest, parts of the Bahamas and the Yucatan. Rick and Cheryl have been fishing the Bighorn each summer for almost 20 years prior to their employment at the Bighorn River Lodge. Their friendly attitudes, attention to detail, and fishing expertise will ensure that every guest has the experience of a lifetime.

Monday, 15 July 2019 17:58

Bighorn River fishing is red hot

If you have been waiting for the Bighorn River to really turn on, wait no longer. Our guides are reporting 10-20 fish per angler per day consistantly and the fish are big, health and strong. A lot of fish in the 18"-20" range with some up to 22". While flows are at 9,500 cfs currently the fishing is really good. If this liitle girl (my neighbor) can catch fish ( she had 8 this day) then by golly you can. The flows are expected to drop to 7,000 soon and 5,000 perhaps by the end of the month. The water temps are in the mid 50's which have the fish really agressive and on the feed. As the flows drop, all of the water will be coming through the turbine gates which should keep the water temps down. Nymph action is best on size #14 grey or tan Ray Charles and #16 Caviar Scuds along with with PMD nymphs, Olive Flashback PTs, pink Soft Hackle Sowbugs #18 Black Tung Teasers and Caddis Pupa. The other good news is that we are seeing PMDs, Yellow Salleys and Black Caddis. Dry flying action is on the rise as some fish are taking these patterns in the back eddies and fast riffles. As the water flows drop and the temps hold steady this could produce some epic dry fly action. Hey if this liitle girl (my neighbors) can catch 8 of these beauties in one day then I would certainly think you can. Take the challange. Call Cheryl in the office at 406-666-2368. Life is short. The Bighorn is calling. The fish are waiting. Why are you?!!. See you on the river!!

Tuesday, 25 June 2019 11:32

Bighorn River - Big Fish

While we are experiencing higer flows than anticiapted for June the good news is that the flows are beginning to drop and the water is clear with temperatures in the mid 50's which has produced some veryu prolific fishing.  The other good news is that while fish counts may be down the size and health of the fish is as good as we have ever seen.  Our guides are reporting consistant 20 fish days with sizes ranging from 15" to 22" and a few above that.  Do not let the high flow myth deter you from coming to the Bighorn.  Some of the best fishing I have ever had has been in high flows.  That is proving to be true today.  And do not let the fish count information deter you either.  I am telling you these fish are big, beautiful and strong with a large percemtage being Rainbows.  It is a question of quality over quantity.  Take a look at this 22" brown caught by Dee Rolph and ask your self "would I rather catch 20-30 cookie cutter fish in the 13"-15" range or 12-20 in this size range."  Pretty sure we would all agree on the latter. Come see us at the lodge and let's go fishing!   Call Cheryl today  406-666-2368  

Friday, 22 March 2019 12:05

Looks like a Good Year for Bighorn River

 

After 10 years of high water and difficult conditions at times, Mother Nature looks like she is going to give us a break and return to a normal water year. According to the weather gurus, we have now entered into a La Nina year which means warmer and dryer conditions in the Northwest and wetter and cooler conditions in the Southwest. The storms pounding central and southern California and lower snow packs in the Northwest would indicate they are right.

Snow packs in the mountains on the eastern slopes are about 85% of normal rather than the 125% we saw at this time last year. Of course, we still have February and March to get through but if the current trends hold, hopefully we will not see those huge water releases from the Yellowtail Dam. Right now, the river is running crystal clear and cold at just under 3,000 cfs. and during some of the 40-50 degree days there are some nice midge hatches and fish rising to them as well as decent streamer and nymph fishing.

The key is if BOR will manage their release properly to avoid large flows and if they do and the flows stay under say 6,000-7,000 this spring, we should have a good chance for a nice BWO hatch in April-May. It just looks pretty promising right now to have a great year, so I would encourage everyone to make your plans and call Cheryl in the office at 406-666-2368 to secure some dates this year. Life is short, a and the fish are waiting.
Cheryl with a really nice rainbow caught on a #20 psuedo

See you on the river!
Rick

Saturday, 28 October 2017 19:00

Fall float down the Bighorn

A beautiful 68 degree day gave Cheryl and I a shot at resonable weather to take what is probalby the last float down the Bighorn River we will make this year.  The river is running 5,000 cfs so even getting on at 10:30 we had enough time to wade fish 3 or 4 spots.  Fishing has been a bit tough lately but we had a pretty good day.  Cheryl landed a nice rainbow and two 17" browns foom the boat and I was fortunate to find one wade spot that produced 6 fish out of one hole.  Beautiful sunny warm day and a great way to end our fishing season.  We will spend the next month getting the lodge ready for winter. doing invertory and putting orders together for next year. We had our best year ever and look forward to another one next year.  Same staff will be returning including our fabulous Chef Shawn Smith. If you are considering returning or coming to the Bighorn River Lodge for the first time remember to book early to make sure you can secure the dates and the guides you may prefer.  

Monday, 25 September 2017 19:00

Fall Fishing

                            FALL FISHING PICKING UP !!                  

Fall has come to the Bighorn River and with the change of cooler weather and some cloudy days the fishing has shifted gears a bit.  The Trico hatch is still on as well as some prolific Pseudo hatches. Dry fly action in the morings and in some cases carrying on into the afternoon can be awesome.  Nymping is still mediocre due in part to the floating grasses still breaking loose from the river bottom and banks as they continue to deteriorate in the cooler weather. However streamer fishing is good especially on those cloudy days.  Fall is just a spectacular time on the Bighorn and our guides will find the fish whatever the conditions may be. Call the office, talk to Cheryl and take advantage of great fall fisiing. 

Monday, 07 August 2017 19:00

Bighorn River Fishing Report

                                          BIGHORN RIVER FISHING REPORT

Water Flows:  As of today the water is running at 4,000CFS. Only a couple of weeks ago we were at 9,000.  The Bureau of Reclamation who controls the water releases from Yellowtail Dam have been dropping the flows at a 500 cfs clip almost daily for more than a week. I would expect that we may see some further reductions this coming week. The good news is that with these lower flows more wade spots are now available and fish should move into some riffles for the more oxygenated water. 
 Water Temperatures: The water temperature yesterday at 3-mile was 62 degrees which is a bit confusing given the fact that with these lower releases all the water from the dam is coming through the turbines and off the bottom of the lake where the water is the coldest.  Hopefully we will soon see the water temps back in the higher 50's which is better for the fish.
 Fishing: The bite is definitely back on as of this past week.  During those two weeks of daily flow changes the fish were confused and fishing was challenging,  But this last week they seem to have gotten their bearings.  Our clients are having 20 fish days with the occasional 20 inch Rainbow or Brown. I was out two days ago with one of our guides Ron Ford and I had a 25 fish day with a nice fat 18" Rainbow to cap off the afternoon. . 
  • Dry Fly Fishing: Dry fly fishing has dropped off considerably with the end of the Trico hatch. Some fish can be found taking midges and the occasional Black Caddis, but these are one or two fish with very sporadic activity and the pod action on significant hatches is pretty much over for the time being. 
  • Nymph Fishing:  The Nymph fishing has been excellent the last week and should continue. After a week or two of constant changing water flows the fish seemed to have regained their bearing and focus on eating.  20+ fish days are common. Grass growth is an issues so having a good guide that knows where the clear lanes and spots are as well as what kind of set up to use is critical.  
  • Streamer Fishing: Streamer fishing has been hot and cold. We had one guides who said he turned 50 + fish one day and then couldn't get their attention the next.  Cloud cover and the hot patterns are the key to success.
Fly Patterns
  • Dries: #18,20 Sipper Midge,#18,20 Midge Cluster, #18 CDC Black Caddis, #18 Black Hemingway Caddis, #14 Mahogany trailed with a #18 quil nymph or Black Tunk Teaser.
  • Nymphs: #16,18 Pink Soft Hackle Sow Bug, #16,18 Tan or Grey Soft Hackle Ray, #16,18 Orange or Pink Scud, # 16,18 Flashback PT, #18,20 Sunken Trico,  #16 Chenille San Juan Worm in wine or two tone wine/brown, #4,6,8 Red Wire Worm.
  • Streamers: # 6 Emerald Shiner, #4,6 White or Cream Wooly Bugger, #8 Black Squirrel Leech, #6 Thin Mint Wolly Bugger, #4 Grey Zonkeo, #4,6 Bighorn Wooly Bugger (yellow/brown)
Friday, 21 July 2017 19:00

Bighorn River Fishing Report

River flow is now at 9,000 cfs with expectations that further reductions will be coming again this week. At this level of release about half of the water is coming over the dam spillway from the top of the lake thus producing the higher river temps. We expcect river releases to begin to come down this week.  Once we can get down to around 7,000 all the water from the dam will be coming from the bottom of the lake which hopefully bring the water temps back into the high 50's.  This should encourage more activity from the fish which are fairly subdued right now due to the higher water temps.

High water temps have made nymph fishing tough in the last few weeks but that improved significantly yesterday for our clients in the lodge.  Several had a 20 fish day. Without a doubt having a good guide is critical under these conditions. 

Dry fly fishing for Tricos in the very early morning with spinners and BlackCaddis in the late afternoon and early evening has been very good.

Nymphing can be good as well but in selective spots.  The fish are sitting in deeper holes where the window of opportunity is short when fishing from the boat.  Again having a guide who know where these select spots are is criticacl. Still it can be good if you know where and how to fish these spots. 

Streamer fishing is still pretty productive.  All that water coming over the spillway continues to dump lake shinners into the river.  Casting to the bank with an off white clouser style fly is working quite well on the upper three mile section.

Fly Patterns                                                                                              

Nymphing:  #14,16 Soft Hackle Grey or Tan Ray, #18 Black Caddis or Sparkle Pupa, #18,20 Drowned Trico, #16,18 Flashback Pheasant Tail, #12,14,16 Orange Scud, # 14 Soft Hackle Pins Sowbug, #18 Black Zebra Midge or Tung Teaser, #18 Quill Nymph, #6 Red Wire Worm, #18 Wine or Brown Chinneal San Juan Worm.

Dry Fly: Lead fly #14 Mahogany, Second Fly #18 CDC Black Caddis # 20, 22 Trico Spinner

Streamers: #6 White or off white Clouser, #6 Emerald Shinner, #4 Grey Zonker, #6 Thin Mint Wolly, #4,6 White or Grey Wolley Bugger

Monday, 10 July 2017 19:00

Bighorn River Lodge Fishing Report

The river flow is running at 9500 with a water temp of 63 degrees at the three mile access.  Higher water temps are a result of the Bighorn Lake top water coming over the spillway at these higher lake discharges.  This higher water temperature is producing some Trico hatches in the morning as well as Black Caddis hatches in the late afternoon and evening on the upper three- mile section of the river.  Can’t remember when we have ever seen Tricos this early in the season. The Trico hatch should continue to improve as long as the water temperature stays warm.  It remains to be seen what the water temps will do once the lake discharges drop as the summer progresses.

019

Dry Fly

  • For Tricos I would recommend a set-up using a #14 Mahogany as a lead fly (Almost a third of the fish are actually taking the Mahogany!) and a trail fly in #20 Trico spinner.
  • For Caddis a number #18 CDC or Elk Hair Black Caddis or/and a #18 Hemingway Caddis.

The high water flows this year should have scoured out the river bottom setting up great conditions for PMD and Yellow Sally hatches. We are beginning to see some already but the fish are keyed in on Tricos and Black Caddis at the moment.  Stay tuned.

Nymping

Nymphing has been fair lately using the following patterns:

  • #16, #18 SH Grey Ray
  • #14, #12 Orange Scud
  • #18 Black Caddis Pupa
  • #16, #18 Olive Flashback Pheasant Tail
  • #18 Black Tung Teaser
  • #18 Quill Nymph
  • #4 San Juan Red Wire or two-tone Wine Chanile Worm.

Streamers

With so much water coming over the dam spillway a large number of shiners are washing over from the lake into the water.  The fish have been going crazy gorging on this bait food.  So, top drifting of twitching a white clouser-like pattern just under the surface along the banks has been extremely effective and the takes can be explosive.  Try these patterns:

  • #6 Emerald Shiner
  • #4, #6 White or Cream Wolly Bugger
  • #6 Thin Mint Wolly Bugger
  • #8 Squirrel Leach
  • #4 Grey Zonker

The Bighorn River Lodge is excited by the aspect of an excellent water year and another year of great fishing.  Here are some of the factors that we will be monitoring.

Snow Pack, Temperatures and Water Flow Point To Plentiful Spring and Summer Fishing

Snow Pack:  Early snows this year have helped bring the average snowpack levels back to a normal trend for the Bighorn Basin after a few years of lower than normal levels.  Current snowpack is at 108% of normal and given the standard trend for more snow in February and March we should be in great shape for the year.

Temperatures:  A return to normal freezing temperatures this winter is a good sign for the river for a couple of reasons.

  • Consistent colder temperatures mean the snowpack stays around longer.
  • Should this trend continue it will also be interesting to see what effect it will have on algae and grass growth in the river.  Hopefully this will reduce the prolific growth we saw in mid and late summer in 2016.

Water Flows:  Currently the river is running at 2626 CFS.  The Bureau of Reclamation which controls flows has set this as the winter flow level. However, the Bighorn River Alliance will be monitoring the situation and hopefully working with BOR to suggest adjustment to water releases as the situation dictates. The factors that affect these releases are.

  • Snow pack levels. While it looks like we are in for a good year based on current levels, we must stay vigilant of spring conditions which effect snow melt rates and therefore river flows.
  • Winter temperatures.  The colder it stays the longer the snow pack remains and conversely warmer mid-winter temps can deplete the snow pack too early resulting in early higher level releases from the lake. 
  • Spring precipitation.  Again, too warm of a spring and too much precipitation can push the BOR to order higher than welcome flows.

bighorn river snowpack 17The key is to work with the BOR who traditionally want to store as much water as possible in the lake to cover their needs. If storage capacity in the lake is near maximum and we are looking at a large snowpack then hopefully we can persuade them to modify their approach, raise winter flow rates to avoid large releases in late spring and early summer.  These large releases can negatively affect dry fly hatches in the Spring and Rainbow spawning in the summer months. But bottom line is it looks REALLY GOOD for 2017.

Tuesday, 03 January 2017 18:00

Fly Fishing Basics

Fly fishing dates back hundreds of years, but it gained the most popularity in North America during the 19th and 20th centuries. From presidents to the common man, the challenge of fly fishing, including everything from the difficulty of casting to the diverse fishing conditions, appeals to all. If you are just starting out, here are the basics you need to know.

The Basic Materials

While many experienced fly fishermen have dozens of lures, lines and leaders, the beginner only needs the following:

  • Rod
  • Reel
  • Line
  • Leader and Tippet
  • Flies
  • Snips

 

Rod

Fly rods are different from other types of fishing rods. These rods bend in a specific way, allowing you to put the fly exactly where you want it. Finding the right rod consists of knowing (a) where you will be fishing and (b) what type of fish you will be catching. A 9-foot rod is the most common type among fly fishermen. Depending on the type of fish, you will use a specifically weighted rod. For example, a 3- and 4-weight rod would be used for smaller panfish, like bluegill and small trout.

Rod Weight Water Fish
1 - 2 Weight Extreme Light Freshwater Small Panfish
3 - 4 Weight Light Freshwater Small Panfish, Trout
5 Weight Freshwater Trout, Panfish, Small Bass
6 - 7 Weight Medium Freshwater/Light Saltwater Large Trout, Bass, Bonefish
6 - 7 Weight Medium Freshwater/Light Saltwater Large Trout, Bass, Bonefish
6 - 7 Weight Medium Freshwater/Light Saltwater Large Trout, Bass, Bonefish
8 - 9 Weight Heavy Freshwater/Saltwater Carp, Bass, Bonefish, Snook, Baby Tarpon
10 Weight Extreme Heavy Freshwater/ Medium Saltwater Tarpon, Salmon, Permit
11 - 12 Weight Heavy Saltwater Large Saltwater Species
11 - 12 Weight Heavy Saltwater Large Saltwater Species
13 - 15 Weight Extreme Heavy Saltwater Extreme big fish, tuna, sharks

 

Line

Fly rods and line are designed to work together, like a dynamic fishing duo. For instance, a 5-weight rod will work best with a 5-weight line. Most rods have the information printed on the shaft. As for color, some fly fishermen prefer a brightly colored line so they can see it easily in the water. Others prefer a color that blends into the background. Choose the color that works best for you.

Reel

A fly reel holds the line, and you operate it by stripping the line off of the reel and manipulating it with one hand and casting the rod with the other. Most fly reels have a disc-type drag system, although you can find some with a coiled spring mechanism, which automatically pulls the line into the reel.

Leader and Tippet

The leader and tippet are used to connect the fly to your colored line with a material that won’t scare the fish away. The leader also allows you to cast your line in a straight line. The leader is the clear material connected at the end of the fly line. The tippet is the lightweight material attached on the end of the leader and fly. Light and strong are two qualities of a great tippet. Tippets are used to help present the fly in the most realistic way.

Flies

There are three basic groups of flies, including streamers, nymphs and dry flies. The type of fly you use during your fishing trip depends on the flies or insects that are common in the area you are fishing. If you aren’t sure which flies to choose, check with the experts at your local bait shop.

Don’t forget a quality fly fishing vest for your first fly fishing trip! You can find one at a high quality retailer like Carhartt, along with other fishing gear essentials. Now go catch some fish!

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