Bighorn River Update: 06/22/2014

The river has transitioned from the typical spring “midge/Baetis” scenario to a early-summer “waiting for the next big event” routine. The next big event should be the PMD hatch, although it remains to be seen how abundant the bugs will be. Historically, after a few years of normal to above-average flows, the PMD hatch is quite good. Last year was a low-water year, this year a high-water one, so we’ll see what happens. I expect to see a fair amount of PMDs around the middle of July.

In the mean time, we have some algae issues. Most anglers refer to it as moss, but it’s actually algae. Don’t confuse any of this with aquatic grass, which is still to come. Anyway, algae is a significant challenge at the moment and you need to have an effective strategy to deal with it. One technique is to stay at home and play “Reel Fishing II” on your Sony PlayStation. The graphics are great and you won’t get sunburned. Another idea is to look for faster, riffle water and try to spot some fish. The water temperature has climbed of late, and fish have moved into this type of water. “Sight nymphing” can be great fun and very effective, as many of the fish in shallow water are definitely on the feed. I’d recommend getting rid of the indicator completely, or switching to a small, yarn one that won’t spook fish. If you’re adept at spotting fish, you can often do really well. For those of you who have trouble spotting fish, set up a shallow-water rig with the strike indicator about four feet above your upper fly. With a smidgeon of tungsten putty, you’ll be close enough to the bottom to entice the fish. Wade quietly and be aware that shallow-water fish tend to spook easily. Sometimes it’s helpful to throw more line in order to avoid getting too close to the fish.

From the boat, obviously you need to avoid the water where the algae has taken over. Stay in the current and fish less weight. You can also rig up a shallow-water system for the boat fishing, using a strike indicator or a hopper fly as an indicator. Concentrate on the shallow, faster water.

This angler is putting some side pressure on a trout he hooked in shallow water