Bighorn River Update: March 1, 2013

I just checked the snowpack survey sites and the average for our drainage is 92%. So far, so good. I’m going to predict a normal water year with average flows of 2,500 cfs, bumping up to 5,500 cfs on June 3rd, and staying at that level until June 19th, at which point they’ll bring it down to 4,000 cfs for 18 days, then step it down to 2,500. I throw that prediction out there because people love specific numbers and hard figures, even if they are totally without any scientific foundation.

One of my friends ran a company that made herbal toothpaste. Newsweek magazine was doing an article on herbal products and they telephoned my friend, asking her about the size of the herbal toothpaste market share in relation to the overall toothpaste market. My friend told them she had no idea, as far as she knew nobody had conducted research on the subject. My friend was then asked for an estimate. She said, “Okay … 5%.” That estimate was later published in Newsweek, and from that time on, my friend and her associates were able to cite the Newsweek article as definitive proof of the 5% market share.

Anyway, keep in mind that March and April often hold the trump card regarding snowfall, but in the mean time feel free to say, “Experts are predicting a normal water year on the Bighorn River.” Heck, tell them “Experts are predicting a normal water year in the northern Rockies.” Throw in all of North America if it makes you feel better.

Water temperature is hovering around 41 degrees, which is typical for this time of year. Nymph fishing can be very productive some days, not so much on other days. Barometric pressure might be one of the factors—a cold front can sometimes put them off the bite. Come to think of it, sometimes a warm front can put them off the bite. Years ago, friends of mine floated the Madison River with a guide who attributed the poor fishing to “seismic activity.” I’ll have to remember that one.

You need to consider the nature of Bighorn River fishing reports: the fishing is almost always “good” and that really isn’t fly shop promotion. If you’re a decent nymph fisherman and can read water, you’re usually going to do quite well. There are definitely times when fish are off the bite, but these are usually one-day or even half-day events. Since the Bighorn has thousands of fish per mile and the insects and crustaceans are small, the fish can’t be off the feed for very long.

Prime dates, especially May and August are already booking up. Give us a call if you’d like to book a trip.

The Red Clffs in late February