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Rick Gehweiler

Rick Gehweiler

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.

Wednesday, 04 January 2017 00:00

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!

Tuesday, 01 November 2016 00:00

Staff Field Trip

                                                            Staff Field Trip     

So guess what the boys do when they get a day off in October.  You bet they go pheasant hunting!  Not a bad haul for a morning's work.  Matt Clawson our fishing outfitter lower right, Matt Ernst 2nd guide lower right and Shawn Smith our incredible chef standing.  Dietz, Red, Gus and Moose attending the after party.  Shawn served up some fresh pheasant parmesean with the most incredible red sausce ever.  Man o man what a feast.  

Oh yeah fishing.  Well the first part of October was okay, some really good days and some just satisfactory.  The truth is the 2nd half of October was a bit tough.  Lake turnover effect and some work on the dam really turnded the water off color and that combined with a lot of floating grasses due to vegiatation die off as the water cooled down was a tough combination for effective fishing. The Bighorn River is an incredible fishery and we tend to get spoiled if we aren't boating 20 fish or more or if the dry fly fishing isn't epic or if the Brown and Rainbows aren't 19" plus.  But that just reminds us of how great the river really is.  Still the best trout fishery in the lower 48 and has fished consistently extremely well all season.

Fall Fish

November will usher in the Brown spawn, the water will clear and the streamer fishing can be explosive as the Browns and Rainbows get aggressive with winter approaching.  It truly can be some of the best fishing of the year with hot fish and low crowds.  Thinnk about it!  For those of you coming back to the Bighorn River Lodge next year I have only one thing to say...BOOK EARLY....BOOK NOW.  This will ensure you get the dates and the guides you want.  Make plans and call Cheryl 406-666-2368.   See you on the river!

Rick 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016 00:00

Fishing Report October 12th

This week still produced some dry fly Trico time below 13 mile access for about an hour between 9:30-10:30. Guides have also seem some pseudos.  Fly patterns for nymphing and streamer have not changed much from last weeks post.  Try some pseudo nymph psstterns if you see the adults.  

The lower river seemed a bit more friendly for nymphing and streamer fishing as the upper river is suffering from a lot of floating grsses due to the dying and braking loose of bottom growth.  This condition should continue for about another week or possible two.  This condition requires some adjustment is how you fish. Shorter casts for streamer fishing and quick upward retrieve when nymphing.  Dragging the fly through the water will only catch the floating grasses and that can be tiresome.  

Once the grasses have gone the traditional November and early December fishing can be awesome.  So keep chekcing my reports and I will keep you posted on conditions. 

 Water Flow 2286

 Water Temp 60 degrees at 3 mile

Weather Temp in the 60's with occasional shower for the next week.  

Sunday, 02 October 2016 00:00

Fishing Report October 3rd

                           Bighorn River Fishing Report

Current Conditions

The Bighorn is currently running at 2286 cfs and flows could increase as the lake continues to fill.  Water temp is 60 degrees at 3 mile.  The water is fairly clear but rain is forcast for Monday and Tuesday which could effect clarity.  

Nymphing is steady and strong on some days.  The fish are concentrated in deeper runs at the end of rifles and below shelves where the water is cooler and oxyagenated so a bit of weight is a good idea.  If the cfs increase and water levels rise I would expect the fish to spread out a bit more.

Dry Fly action is still happening with Trico Hatches still happening in the morning after around 9:00 for an hour or so.  However the Tricos are now really small so the fish are picky and not concentrated in the larger pods we had last month.  Still can tag a few however and the fish are bigger.

Streamer fishing has been good especially on cloudy days.  The Browns are coming into their spawning season and are getting more aggresive so this is a good time to put in on streamers.    

Good Fly Patterns

Nymphs

Size #18 in the following patterns: Pink soft hackle sow bug, Soft hackle grey ray, Soft hackle tan ray, Zebra midge, Flash back pheasant tail, Drowned trico, Doc's blond baetis if there are some pseudos around.  I like to drop any of these patterns below a #6 red or orange wire worm.  Also try a brown or two tone brown and orange chenille worm below the wire worm.  

Dry Patterns

#20 Trico Dun, #22 Trico spinner, #20 Student, #14 Mahoganey or Royal Wulf.  I like to use the latter two as a lead fly I can see.  In fact the fish will commonly take the Mahoganey.  

Streamers

White and white/grey are the good colors right now tied sparsely.  Brown and gold combos are also a good choice. Good patterns: #8 Bighorn Special, #8 Squirrel Leach, #6 Thin Mint Wolly Bugger, #4 Cream Wooly Bugger.  

River Flows:  2286

Water Temp: 60 at 3 mile access

Weathern Conditions: Days in the 60's with clouds and occasional showers.  Tuesday and Wednesday calls for rain.  

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 00:00

EAT, SLEEP, FISH, PART II

                                                                                   SLEEP

One of the major resons The Bighorn RIver Lodge is the best lodge on the river is the quality of its accommodations.  The main lodge has 5 well appointed rooms and we have a separate large cabin that can sleep up to 6 more guests. That gives us a capicity of 16 which is a perfect number of guest to keep the atmosphere friendly, social and not too large.

The main lodge has a spacious great room with a river rock fireplace, wet bar area, poker table and a beautiful deck that overlooks our 5 acre bass pond and the mountains beyond.  A gallery kitchen and adjoing dinning area are a focal point of the lodge.  Providing toal comfort and a feeling of "being at home" in the lodge is what we strive every day to provide for our guests.  

Four of the rooms in the lodge, two of which look out onto the bass pond, have twin beds which can be converted to a king bed should a guest request that.  The fifth room has two queen beds and a single twin as well.  The rooms are very comfortable and beautifully decorated with western art and furntiure some of which was made by the owner.  

A day at the lodge begins with breakfast usually at 7:30 after which clients will meet their guides and begin gearing up for a day on the river.  We are known for our boat lunches and those are served at mid day somewhere on the river.  About 5:00 pm guides and guest return to our private boat ramp.  We are the only lodge in the upper 13 miles of the river locted right on the river and with our own ramp.  A short walk up the driveway and everyone is back at the lodge.  No having to load up in vechiles and drive 10 miles or so to return to a lodge which all other fisherman must do.  

A shower, a change of clothes and our clients gather on the deck or in the greatroom for some refreshments followed by appetizers at 6:00 and dinner arond 7-7:30.  Perhaps a poker game after dinner or a cigar and cocktail on the deck and everyone is ready to turn in a get a wqelcome good nights sleep.  Tomorrow is another day and the fish are waiting.  Life is good. 

If you haven't ever been to the Bighorn River Lodge you are missing a fantastic experience.  Check out our Trip Advisor reviews and think about making plans to come for a visit.  You won't regret it.  Call Cheryl in the office at 406-666-2368 and make some plans.  

See you on the river! Rick

Friday, 22 July 2016 00:00

EAT. SLEEP, FISH Part 1

EAT

We are extremely excited to have Shawn Smith our Chef back for a third year.  Shawn worked here at the Bighorn River Lodge for two years, took a sabatical for one year in Salt Lake, and has returned with a new and spectacular assemblage of dishes that are receiving rave review from our clients.  We are consistantly told that the dishes Shawn prepares are as good or better than the best restaurants in cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and San Diego just to name a few. So I want to feature Shawn and some of his creations because the food experience here at the lodge is a major contributor to the overall experience that our clients are so complimentary about.  Just look at some Trip Advisor comments and you will see what I mean.  

figs

Here is a beautiful pickled nectarine and fig salad with charred raddishes and a whipped ricotta dressing.  The nectarines are pickled in a beer vinegar and the raddishes come from our own garden,  YUM

lamb chop1

Look at this presentation of a roasted rack of lamb, with a romesco sauce and pickled Zursun beans.  The lamb chop is pan roasted and butter basted and the beans, which are heirloom Christamas limas from Zursun beans in Idaho, have been marinated in sherry vinegar, olive oil and herbs.  Both of these courses are Shawn's own creations and I am constatly amazed at what he always suprises us with.  He just has a huge talent for creating something new and mouthwatering all the time.  

 

Thursday, 21 July 2016 00:00

Dry Fly Action Picking Up

The Bighorn River is in full summer swing and the dry fly action is heating up.  Anglers are finding decent hatches of PMD spinners in the morning, Yellow Sallies mid day and Black Caddis from about noon to dark.  There are even some Tricos showing up in the early hours.  Check out this phots of Gary with a beautiful 20" brown caught on a size 20 rusty spinner. Shawn McClure, his guide, put him on this bad boy and Gary made a perfect cast in some tough wind conditions.  Atta baby Gary!  This is a great time to visit us if you love fishing with dries.

The nymph program still remains strong.  The old reliable Wire Worm with a Soft Hackle Pink Sow Bug is still hard to beat, but Bighorn anglers are also doing well with Quill Nymphs, Caddis Pupa patterns, Split Case PMDs, Wonder Nymphs and olive Pheasant Tails.

If  you want to try something different, a Hopper witn a Black Ant dropper is always a hoot fished to the bank.  Those big splashy takes are always my favorite.  Any angler no matter what your skill level will have a good time right now at the Bighorn River Lodge so see if you can find a few days and start packing!  Remember EAT, SLEEP, FISH.

See you on the River!

Rick

 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016 00:00

Early Summer Fishing Report

Well the summer fishing is red hot right now.  River flows have dropped from 7,000 cfs in early June down to 4,000 cfs currently.  This lower flow opens up more wade spots and tends to push the fish into more concentrated areas.  With the hot weather they are congregating in deeper clear runs and shallower fast moving riffles.  Nothing like tagging a 19¨rainblow in a fast riffle.  Get your had out of the way of the reel on that first run!!  The go to set up is still a number 4 red wire worm and and 16 soft hackle pink sow bug or grey ray.  The river is crystal clear and the earlier flush has resulted in a good scouring of the bottom setting the stage for what we hope is a good PMD, caddis and yellow sally hatch as the summer continues.  We still have some availablity in July and August so give Cheryl a call and make your plans to fish the best trout river in the US and enjoy some of the finest cusine this side of the Mississipp1...no kidding.                                                                                                                                                                                          See you on the river !    Rick

Wednesday, 25 May 2016 00:00

Worm Bite is On !!

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!

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"Everyone, and I mean everyone, met the highest standards of hospitality, fishing, food and good cheer."

~ Gary Scholick

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