Bighorn River Update: 8/7/2013
River water temperatures remain cold, which is par for the course during any low-water year. This has delayed insect hatches significantly—PMDs and black caddis are still not major events on the upper river. I expect this to change soon. This is setting up to be an outstanding late-summer and fall. The bugs won’t wait forever, so it should be dry fly Shangri La later this month and in September. Also, tricos should be a factor soon, and will probably provide good fishing throughout October.
Baetis are still hatching late morning and early afternoon. Midges also, when there’s some cloud cover. Still fishing CDC Compara Duns with a Student dropper for the picky fish. Sometimes a Baetis nymph dropper or midge pupa is the key. The bottom line on the dry fly fishing is this: if you are patient and you are a good dry fly angler, you will find fish to throw to. If you aren’t real accomplished, or have Attention Deficit Disorder, you should be throwing nymphs or playing Doodle Jump on your IPhone.
Regarding nymphs, there are a large variety of patterns working. For the “up fly,” small grey sowbugs are producing, as are pink soft hackles. A Beadhead Hare’s Ear seems to be a good attractor, as well as various PMD nymph patterns. PMD nymphs are showing up in stomach samples. Some people claim they’re catching fish on San Juan Worms, but these people tend to drink a lot of beer. Just saying.
“Down flies” of choice include the JuJu Baetis, Zebra Midge, Baetis Wonder Nymph, and Root Beer Midge. I know, it sounds like the spring lineup, but it is what it is.
Hopper patterns are bringing a few fish up, but hopper/dropper setups are a safer bet. Fish a PMD nymph, sowbug, or S.J. Worm below it, or if you want to stay on the surface, try a PMD Dun or Yellow Sally. Yep, there are a few Yellow Sallies out there, especially downstream of Bighorn Access. There are also black caddis and a few tricos down that way.
Streamer fishing can be outstanding at times, especially during some of those cloudy afternoons. Sometimes it’s not about the clouds, and you’ll do better in the sun. You just have to start pitching in order to find out.
I’m probably forgetting something, so come on up and figure it out.