Bighorn River Fishing Report: August 9, 2012

Young angler, Jack Galloway, leans back on this brown trout as his father, Dan, readies the net.

Dry fly fishing is the main event if you have the skills. Of course, everybody reading this thinks they have the skills (“Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills”—Napoleon Dynamite), so pay close attention if you want to hammer the fish. PMDs continue to hatch on the upper 3 miles and anglers are reporting large numbers of rising fish. Fish are eating the duns well, especially in water where there’s some current. You may have to put the fly over them a number of times, but you can usually get them to eat if you’re persistent. A #16 orange parachute is very effective, as is a #16 Compara Dun with a snowshoe rabbit wing. Just to clarify: the snowshoe rabbit wing refers to hair from the foot of the snowshoe rabbit. I didn’t want you to think that we were actually killing and using the wing from a winged snowshoe rabbit, as these are quite rare. If you want to rack up large numbers, the PMD hatch is all about being in the right place. The trout are less selective in the moderate riffle areas where they have to make a decision quickly. In slower water, where fish have time to examine the fly thoroughly and ponder the meaning of life and the expanding universe, they often choose not to eat your fly.

Below 3-Mile the PMDs seem to disappear. It’s all about Baetis and black caddis down there, although a PMD nymph is still a top producer subsurface. Baetis continue to hatch every afternoon, and the black caddis are becoming a major factor. Also a few tan caddis bouncing around in the afternoon and evening. I’ve been fishing a black CDC caddis up and a Student down setup. The Student is the go-to fly for selective fish on Baetis, but about a third of the fish are eating the caddis. You can also fish a caddis dry up and a caddis pupa below it. This works well in the riffles and tail-outs when a caddis emergence is taking place. Watch for swirling, bulging rise forms. Also, a Hemingway Caddis is a great fly during a caddis emergence and during egg-laying flights. At times, the Hemingway seems to have magical, fish-attracting powers. I love this fly very much, and sometimes get almost weepy when I extract one from my fly box. This usually happens after a couple of beers, but not always. Regardless, the fly works very well. Come to find out, Mike Lawson invented this fly, and named it after Jack “Bumby” Hemingway, Ernest’s firstborn son. I’d recommend buying this fly from us, as it is kind of a pain to tie.

Still some hopper action going on. We’ve had a few windy days that have brought fish up to the big bugs. Bighorn to Mallards is quite good. Some guys drop a caddis pupa or San Juan Worm below their hopper, but this unnecessarily complicates life—too much drifting moss.

Nymph fishing remains good on PMD nymphs, Baetis nymphs, caddis pupa and sowbugs.

Tricos are just around the corner.