Bighorn River Update: April 18, 2013

We just finished a spell of inclement weather. This was a real winter storm, not a spring one. Temperatures were in the 20s and low 30s and our guides were icing up all day. Despite the challenges keeping hands and feet warm, the moisture has been a blessing. A very unscientific glance and evaluation of the snow survey sites reveals that we’ve basically gone from 70% to 90% of normal for snowpack in the last three weeks. There will probably be a water bump in June. Refer to an earlier blog post for exact projections on water flows (ha, ha, ha).

Fishing has been excellent overall. Subsurface, the fish are eating midge pupa and Baetis nymphs, plus the occasional sowbug. I’ve been throwing a Hotbead Sowbug and a black Tung Teaser a fair amount of the time. Some guys are using a pink sowbug on the upper fly and doing well. Almost everyone is fishing a midge pupa on the bottom fly, sometimes switching to a Baetis nymph midday. The Flashback Quill Nymph is still a top producer.

The dry fly fishing can be a bit more complicated. Fish are often eating single midges, and for this I like a Sipper Midge or an Adams Parachute with a black post. The Student also works well as a single midge. I like to fish a visible “indicator fly” like a sizeable CDC Baetis dun pattern (#18) on the up fly, and fish the single midge pattern below it. When the fish are really picky, and this depends on the type of water you’re fishing or the time of day, fish a pupa pattern below your indicator fly. It’s not quite as much fun, but can be very effective.

The Baetis hatch is getting better every day. I used to tell people not to count on the Baetis until the third week of April. I guess this is still true, but we have already been enjoying decent Baetis fishing between 1:30 -3:00 PM. The hatch will really start cranking in the month of May. I fish the Student as my go-to fly a lot for this hatch. If they won’t eat the Baetis CDC Sparkle Dun, they’ll eat the Student. Or go to a Baetis nymph in the film if they’re being really snotty. But if they’re on the surface, the Student usually gets it done.

Temperatures are creeping back up to near normal in the next few days. Not a bad time to go fishing.