Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bighorn River Report

Since so many readers of this blog knew I was playing hookey yesterday to float Montana's Bighorn River, I thought I'd give a quick report:

Well, I had a GREAT day which started off cool, cloudy and a bit ominous. For the first time in weeks, I wore more than a light cotton shirt adding a fleece pullover to my fashionable ensemble. I accessorized with a buff and the added warmth was welcome until the sun eventually returned Montana to the dog days of summer. Then the buff fulfilled its usual purpose of protecting my face from lethal doses of solar radiation. 

I was in my kayak for the day and I didn't make it far from my put-in at the 3-mile access before I saw enthusiastic rises dimpling the tailouts of the riffles in the first set of braids. I was soon out of my boat and it was two hours before I checked the time. A size 18 parachute Adams had done the trick and my day was now officially a resounding success. But I soon realized, I had almost ten miles of river to float so I reluctantly left my rising midgets and paddled off downstream. 

I again, didn't make it far. At the Duck Blind Channel, I caught a couple nice browns on a Morrish hopper then saw some mayflies pop up. The hatch was light, but the fish were totally zeroed in on these blue winged olives (about a size 18-20). I started with a blue dun, but with only sporadic success, I switched to a blue quill as the quill's brown body better represented the body color of the bugs that were coming off. I fished this hatch at a couple other of my favorite dry fly spots, but by 2:00 PM, I had made it exactly 2.5 miles down stream.

So I made a rule that at each of my next few "favorite" spots, I could only catch one fish, then I needed to move on. Thank God the hatch soon petered out or I still might be locked onto some big nose on the upper river. For the rest of the day, I fished a hopper in the shallow riffles. (Man, I love the take of a big brown on a hopper in fast water... they just attack it!). In each riffle, I caught one or two nice fish on the hopper then somewhat reluctantly added a bead-head pheasant tail nymph as a dropper and usually picked up a couple more big fish.

The anglers fishing conventional Bighorn nymph rigs were also killing them. I chatted with a few of my guide friends and they were using mostly sow bugs or worms for their up-fly followed by a BWO or midge nymph as a dropper. Root beer and a tungsten zebra midges were the midge nymph of choice.

Due to the unseasonably cold water temps, the long awaited PMD and yellow Sallie hatch has not as yet, arrived. Any day now and when it does, I'm playing hookey once again! 

I made it off the river in time to drive the legendary Good Luck Road on my way home before dark. Why do that call it the Good Luck Road?... that's my next post!


  1. Snowshoe hare foot BWO. That's all I'm saying. Oh, and get back to work. What choo think this is, summer camp?

    1. Man , I'm having some fun lately eh? Come out Friday and join me. I think I'm going back!

  2. I wish I could, thanks for the invite. Still have a little to do getting this house the way we want it and R is away for a couple days so I'm keeping Kaiser the wonder dog company and fed. When you float like that, do you go with someone to shuttle vehicles or do you use a service or hitch hike back up to your put in? Paddle back upstream?

  3. now that I am older and less ambitious, I pay for the shuttle. I used to put my mountain bike in my SUV in order to save $20.00!