Bighorn River Update: June 5, 2013

Spring fishing continues to be excellent. Water flows are still low, and it looks like they will remain near this level for the foreseeable future. There’s a slight chance they will ramp up the flows later this month or in early July, but we’ll need to receive additional moisture.

Dry fly fishing has been good, but insect hatches are starting to taper off somewhat as we get into June. Expect Baetis and midge hatches to subside, but low-water years like this one can support good surface action throughout most of the summer. There always seems to be just enough insects to bring some fish up. If you’re a good dry fly fisherman and are patient, there will be opportunities. Stop at a nice flat and just watch for a while. Usually a fish will show itself.

Nymph fishing is steady on Baetis nymphs and midge pupa—all the regular patterns are working: Flashback Quill Nymphs, RS-2s, Zebra Midges, Cream Midge Larva, etc.. Trout stomach samples are revealing an increasing number of red midge larva. This is normal for June, so make sure you have the imitation in your fly box. At times, this is far and away the best nymph pattern, especially when there isn’t a large hatch. I like to trail one behind an “indicator fly” in shallow water, especially if the fish are rising sporadically or displaying the “bulging” type of riseform. For some reason, trout will often move several feet to take the red midge larva.

June fishing is usually very good, but it can be a transitional time as conditions change and the hatches wane. Water temps begin to climb slowly and the fish start to hold in different areas. The fish eat more sowbugs, and PMD nymphs become effective in late June. The angler has to adapt to all these changes in order to remain successful.

Scott Minich nets a hefty brown trout near the Red Cliffs