Bighorn River Update: March 14, 2012

Snowpack for our water drainage is currently at 100%. Could this be the elusive “normal year”? I’m beginning to think that hoping for a normal year is kind of like the quest for the Holy Grail, or hoping to get a photograph of the Loch Ness Monster. This is our 26th year of business here at Bighorn Trout Shop and we’ve never experienced a year when something wasn’t a bit out of whack. Usually it was Mother Nature, with her drought, floods, fires and wind, although 9/11 foiled us when air travel was shut down. But maybe this is the year that the law of averages will finally rule in our favor.

Currently, the river is in outstanding shape, about 3,000 cfs and crystal clear. Trout are eating midges and sowbugs, and the fishing has been outstanding almost every day. We haven’t seen this many rising fish for years. Tie up some small midge patterns, both dry and wet. Sipper Midges in size 20 have been productive, as well as the tried and true, Parachute Adams. I like CDC Compara Dun patterns even when the Baetis aren’t coming off. The upwing is easy to see, and the fish eat it just fine. There are times when the trout are eating pupa in the film, and this is when you want to hang a #18 or #20 Black Tung Teaser below your dry fly. The Tung Teaser is a midge pupa pattern with a tungsten bead in the front. The bead helps it sink, and the fish love it suspended a few inches below the surface.

Nymph fishing continues to be good on midge pupa and sowbugs. You can catch fish all day on a size 18 Gray Ray Charles. I’m sure the S.J. Worm is working as well. Streamers have also been producing, but this is a bit more weather dependent. Cloudy days are preferred.

The Baetis hatch should come on strong in mid-April. Until then, enjoy some great early season dry fly fishing on midges. I’m hearing good reports about the lower river below Bighorn Access.