Winter fishing on the Bighorn is about more than catching fish. Finding those good weather windows where you can get out and fish with some buddies to fish with in the past and enjoying a beer on the river is what it’s about to us. It also helps when the fishing is good!
I finally decided to make it out for a day and see how the ol’ Bighorn was looking these days. My buddy Chris picked me up and we were on the road by 10:30 or so. We picked 3-B as our float since it’s been very consistent this winter. I figured there would be a lot more folks out, but the wind may have kept them off.
We nymphed for the majority of the day and it was very productive. We’re not trying to blow smoke or squash rumors of tough fishing on the Bighorn (maybe the second part), but it was as good of winter fishing as I’ve seen in a few years. The fish size was awesome! The average fish filled the net at around 17-18″ and looked as good as a fish in prime summer shape who had been gorging on Tricos and hoppers and whatever else. We were surprised by some of the bigger fish hitting the 20″ mark, which you don’t see everyday, but seems like they’re here now! Most every run we stopped in or spent extra time in seemed to have fish, and multiple fish.
I kept the same 2 bugs on all day, which were a size 14 Jellybean Sowbug trailed by a 16 Tan Carpet Bug. Chris had a similar rig, with the addition of an old school Pink Scud as his back bug, which caught a good amount of fish. A little black and blue Slumpbuster picked up a few fish swinging, but still need the water temps to come up a bit more.
I can’t emphasize how important fishing the correct water this time of year is. I’ve said this before and will say it again, 80% of the fish are in 20% of the spots. We had run into a couple other boats who seemed to be from out of the area and they had reported the fishing to be slow. Not trying to sound cocky – if you aren’t getting into a handful fish right now, you aren’t fishing the right water.
Our Priorities for Fishing Winter on the Bighorn Are:
1. Find the right water type – Mid parts of runs and tailouts from 4-6′ are prime right now.
2. Adjust weight and leader length according to water type – At least 7′ from indicator to shot and a decent glob of putty or a couple B/BB shot.
3. Pattern selection – If you asked 6 people on the river right now what they were fishing and had luck on, chances are they are all not fishing the same exact pattern
With the water temps being just a bit higher than winters’ past, expect the trend of good fishing to continue through the Spring. We are still offering some special rates for the upcoming late Winter/ Early Spring. We hope to see you on the Bighorn in the upcoming weeks!Big Horn River fishing report, bighorn fishing report, bighorn nymph fishing, Bighorn River 2020
This post was written by Pete Shanafelt