Bighorn River 2021 Fishing and Flow Forecast

It’s finally that time of year where we can get a pretty good read on how the Bighorn River will play out this year.  Judging by our analysis of current snowpack and water levels in other basins, we’re on track for a similar water setup as 2020 – Low, clear, cold water for most of the season.  Will it hit 5 or 6k CFS?  Possibly, but not looking like it.  March and April are still big rain and snow months, but as it stands today, we’re looking pretty good as there are no big storms in the foreseeable future.  Bighorn Lake is sitting in the low 80% range.  The upper river drainages (Wind and Shoshone in Wyoming) are sitting at or below average, which gives us some breathing room…


Hatch wise, we might be a little ahead of schedule.  Some of our guides have recorded temps in the low 40’s near 3 Mile access in the afternoons.  Generally we’re still in the 36-38 degree range for this time of year.  We’re already seeing some big Spring Baetis on the upper river and below 3 Mile.  Early April might be the Baetis window?  Hard tellin, not knowin’.  Midges are more plentiful each week.  A few fish are looking up for them.  The big boys are not, yet, but get the river to that 43 degree range and things should change.

If everything holds as is, we are setup for a great summer and we would all like a repeat of last summer.  THICK PMD’s in Mid July transitioning into Tan and Black Caddis.  Throw in some of the biggest fish in the river looking for Hoppers and you have a dry fly fisher’s dream!  Our Tricos got put on the back burner the past 2 seasons.  They were there, but our main fish who gorge on them weren’t.  This year, looks a bit different..

Just an example of some of the great fish available in the Bighorn right now!


Fish numbers – Looking very promising.  Lots of 12-14″ fish right now and plenty of those 18-20″+ fish with the 15-16″ fish a bit on the lower side, but we’re still seeing good #’s.  No word on fish count numbers yet.  This year we are graced with a great recruitment of past year’s fish, which Bighorn regulars know will only get bigger by summer.  These are the fish who will keep us busy this season for the dry fly game, while Walter the 2 foot brown sips quietly under the weed mat in the corner..  We’re not at the levels we were 5 years ago, but it’s heading that direction rapidly!

We have some openings still in the Spring months and early Summer, so give us a call to check on lodging, guides or rental boats. Our local base of anglers and guides all agree this should be a season not to miss on the Bighorn River!