Bighorn River Fishing Report: July 12, 2012

Water temperatures are creeping up slowly and the fish are becoming very active. All sorts of things are starting to happen. We’re catching fish on hoppers—some days are good, some mediocre. The upper three miles is often the best for hopper fishing, especially if you fish it during the prime hours of 11:34 PM to 3:12 PM. (People like me to be specific about fishing info; hence the inclusion of minutes.) The Rainey’s Hopper, Moorish Hopper, and Schroeder’s Hopper (Parachute) work the best. A smaller species of Baetis is now coming off in mid to late afternoon. Some people still refer to these bugs as Pseudocloeon, but a few years back they were placed into the Baetis genus. Be sure to tell your less-knowledgeable friends this, and use a supercilious tone of voice when you do. Really torques them off.

Anglers are catching some fish on PMD duns and Yellow Sallies on the Bighorn to Mallard’s stretch. There are guides down there who aren’t aware everybody knows about this, so I’m hoping some people will go down there to spread out the boat traffic on the upper river. The best fishing is above St. X Bridge, but there are fish to be caught below there if you know what you’re doing. Moss and discolored water from irrigation return is still a problem. Nymph fishing is still challenging down there because of the this, but conditions are improving.

Speaking of nymph fishing, it’s been outstanding on the upper river. Stomach samples reveal lots of PMD nymphs, Baetis nymphs, Yellow Sally nymphs, and sowbugs. Various PMD and Baetis nymph patterns have been working great. The #16 Flashback Quill Nymph is still a top producer. Boat fishing is much improved. Use just a small amount of tungsten for weight and expect to catch most of your fish in the riffle water. There are also lots of fish in the tailouts, but make sure you get the fly well away from the boat. The fish are fairly boat shy in the shallow water.

Streamer fishing is great on certain days. If you can cast and slap moss well, you’ll catch lots of fish. All sorts of streamers are working. I’ve been using the smaller sizes (#6 & #8) lately, but I’m sure you can catch them on the big stuff.

I expect the dry fly fishing to explode in the next couple of weeks. When the PMDs and Sallies become a major factor on the upper river, we are going to enjoy spectacular fishing. Low water flows, lots of insects, and huge numbers of fish will create an ideal situation.