5 TIPS for Fishing the Bighorn In the Spring

We consider Mid March – May as ‘Spring’ on the Bighorn.  The river behaves a lot different than the Summer months.  Water temps are cooler, days are a bit shorter and often times we deal with colder weather.  To be a successful angler, sometimes you must break the rules and old habits. Here are a few tips we suggest to help you find fish on the Bighorn this time of year:

  • Know the Water – Spring fish are very similar to winter fish.  The water temps are still at their lowest point, but just starting to climb.  Don’t spend too much time in the fast, shelf type water.  4-7′ is generally the rule of thumb.  Think of a slow walking pace, (very similar to good steelhead water)
  • Fish From The Boat – The majority of fish we catch this time of the year are out in the deeper ‘ troughs’.  Often times much further than you can wade to.  Getting long drifts from the boat in these big runs often yield the most fish of the day.
  • Pattern Selection – Midges and Sowbugs – Keep it simple!  Although we carry 30 different Sowbug and Midge variations in the shop, each year we find ourselves as guides going back to what we have confidence in.  The fish generally haven’t seen a ton of pressure so are willing to eat a variety of flies.
  • Wade Fishing – Generally in the Spring, the fish are not at the top end of runs, but rather about midway down and into the tailouts.  Even the slowest paced water will hold way more fish than a great looking riffle.  Don’t overlook the slow inside water.  Often times a shallow, light nymph rig can be deadly!
  • Sleep In – Don’t worry about getting on the water at 8AM.  I’m surprised how many folks arrive super early to the Bighorn this time of year.  The water temps take quite a while to warm up during the day.  You’ll have your most success generally from 11-3.  (Some years if the Midges really get going, the early morning can be great, but is generally a very short window)