While the Bighorn River is unquestionably one of the most productive trout fisheries in the world, year in and year out, the water conditions that we face is always a shot in the dark. Preparing for a big runoff from an above average snowpack throughout the Bighorn River basin, dam managers evacuated a large amount of the water from the lake and ran the river much higher than normal this spring in order to prevent a water flow disaster like we encountered in 2011. With the current flow release schedule that was sent out a few days ago it appears that the bureau grossly overcompensated for the snowpack we had in the mountains this year. Here is the official release:
Confirming that the three major reservoirs in the Bighorn Basin are in good shape to handle the remainder of spring runoff, river releases will begin to be reduced starting today.
Starting today June 3rd and continuing through Thursday, releases will be reduced by 500cfs each day at 4pm. With releases currently at 8,320cfs, this 1,500cfs reduction will bring releases to 6,820cfs. Releases are being reduced gradually to minimize bank sloughing as water is evacuated.
Additional releases are expected next week, with flows winding up around 5,100 cfs by the end of next week.
The bureau is cutting releases now to ensure that the reservoir is full for the rest of the year, since they initially released too much water this spring. At the time of writing this flows are currently at 7,300 cfs. Flows by the end of next week around 5,100 will put smiles on many peoples faces. It is truly an ideal flow for this river. The river will be much more wadeable, taking out a boat at Bighorn Access will be much easier and all the side channels will remain fishable and floatable. With the drop in flows expect the water temperatures to remain about the same or even go down a little bit as flows are reduced. This cold water should prolong the BWO and Midge hatches out there.
The big question around the shop is when or if our summer hatches will show up. Our summer hatches seem best when water temp’s reach the mid to upper 50’s. Expect the water temp’s to remain in the upper 40’s or possibly the lower 50’s throughout June. Expect to see a great emergence of Black Caddis this summer, we are hoping for Yellow Sally’s and PMD’s in July and crossing our fingers for good emergences of Tan Caddis and Tricos.
As for right now be prepared to fish the ongoing Blue Winged Olive and Midge emergences both underneath and on top. Anglers looking for fish on top are finding plenty of fish to cast to. Renegades, Dewey Midges, Cripple Thors, Sparkle Duns and Tailwater duns will all take fish. Underneath carry Wondernymphs, Juju Baetis, Quill’s, Zebra Midges, Cream Midges and Juju Midges. Using a San Juan, Firebead Sowbug or Ray Charles as a point fly above your midge or bwo nymph will get you plenty of fish.
When fishing the side channels, try to stay restrain from fishing to the rainbows as they complete their spawn. The spawn has reached its peak and you should expect to start catching post spawn rainbows(dropbacks) throughout the river.
Categorised in: Fishing Reports
This post was written by Bighornangler