Late Fall

I hear people complain about the fishing pressure now and then, and this is understandable. The Bighorn is a popular destination. Sometimes you have to outsmart both the fish and the folks to be successful. This can be difficult if you’re new to the river or struggled in middle school. However, if you want to enjoy some amazing fishing nearly devoid of angling competition, you need to be here in November. Yeah, I know, the weather can be unpredictable. It can blow and snow. Caribou sometimes migrate through. But they have clothing for conditions like this. It’s called Gore-Tex, merino wool, capilene, PrimaLoft, and down. If you dress right you can enjoy relative solitude on the Bighorn River. And here’s something else to think about: water temperatures stay on the warm side relatively late in the year, at least on the upper river. Temps are in the mid 50s now, so if the air temperature is too chilly, get in the water.

The aquatic grass and algae has cleaned up a lot this past week. The water is still greenish but at this time of year I think this actually helps the streamer fishing. The fish are aggressive and because of the reduced visibility, fish have to make a quick decision. The water is low, so fish a floating line or light sink tip. Don’t bother with light tippets—ten-pound test in various spinning lines works just fine. Fish a leader around 7’ in length for floating lines, and around 3.5 feet for sink tips. Some anglers fish two streamers at a time. Simply tie your tippet to the bend of the hook of the first fly, and then tie the other fly on about 18 inches below. The two-streamer guys sometimes mix dark and light patterns in their setups, or they might go big and small. If one of the patterns is getting most of the attention, make that your end fly. Another advantage to two streamers is that the upper fly tends to gather up the algae while leaving the end fly clean. The downside to the two-fly setup is increased difficulty in casting and more chances of tangles. The two-fly setup is not for the novice. Actually, there are times it might not be for the expert.

As the grass clears out it’s time to break out the two-handed rods. Called Spey rods by some, the two-handed rods are becoming increasingly popular on the big trout rivers of the west. These rods are great for covering a lot of water, plus they’re nice for practicing your casting for steelhead fishing. Later on, when you go steelhead fishing, you can practice your casting for trout fishing. Very few people actually catch steelhead. But I digress. For Bighorn River trout, I recommend throwing a light tip with a Scandi line. As water temperatures plummet and you really need to dredge the deeper water with heavy sink tips, go with the Skagit system. I recommend an occasional strip during the swing while fishing the Bighorn. The increased action elicits more strikes.

Dry fly fishing has ramped up also this past week. The fall Baetis have made their appearance and you can enjoy good dry fly fishing. Steve Hilbers says the bugs are hatching at 1:53 PM. Of course, that’s when he arrived at the Afterbay to go fishing, but our customers like specific information, so 1:53 it is.

Nymph fishing has been good. The venerable Quill Nymph has been working along with various scud and sowbug patterns. The size and condition of the fish is top notch.

We have special room rates in November. Give us a call.