Forrester’s Fly Bench Fishing Report and Waterfowl Watch 11/1/2018


River Data:

River flow: 2800 cfs

Water Temp: 52 F

The days are getting shorter and the weather a little cooler.  Late fall on the Bighorn is famous for two things.  Great fishing and incredible waterfowl hunting.  We haven’t seen the big push of waterfowl yet, but a front is moving in this weekend from the Northwest and with it the first large flight of ducks and geese.  There is no section on the Bighorn better than the next for waterfowl hunting so find a spot that looks ducky and setup a spread of decoys.  They don’t appear to be shy on the spinning decoys yet, so be sure to include one in your setup. 

Blue Wing olives will be absolutely nuts this weekend with the cold front moving in.  If you can stand a little chilly fishing you could have the best dry fly fishing of your life.   The Browns are really starting to move on the Spawning beds.  The cloudy days should make for some amazing streamer fishing.

Hot Flies:

Nymphs: Sow bugs, Baetis nymphs, mini leeches and scuds.

Method: 4-7 foot 3x or stronger leader to one BB.  1ft or so to the first fly and1ft or so to the second fly on your tippet.

Size 16-18 Tan Soft Hackle Ray Charles

Size 16-18 Gray Soft Hackle Ray Charles

Size 16-18 Carpet Sow Bug Gray and Tan

Size 14-18 Olive and Orange scuds

Size 18-22 Black Baetis Nymph

Size 16-20 Wonder Nymph (olive and black)

Size 14-16 Miniature leech pattern

Size 6-16 San Juan worm

It seems the cloudy fall days are here and they are producing some amazing baetis nymph fishing in the shallow riffles and in the deep holes below them.   The tan sow bug is still a big player so run that or a scud as your first fly and a baetis nymph below. There  are thousands of tiny leech or snail larvae crawling around the river bottom and the fish definitely key into them but they are hard to fish.  They cling to the bottom exceptionally well so if you tie one on I would suggest running heavy weight and fishing it though slow water.  The strikes will be hard to see so set the hook on anything. 

Dry Flies: Fall Baetis Period

Method: 9-foot 5x leader to the top fly. 1ft or so leader to the second fly.

Size 14-18 Baetis Duns and Spinners  (smoke jumper, cripple thor)

We have ten days of incredible Blue Wing Olive weather headed our way.  So dust off the dry fly box, put down the guns and get out to the Bighorn for one last incredible hatch.  The Blue Wing Olive’s have been as big as size 14’s. 


Colors: Try them all but any color should catch fish if you fish the right spots.

The brown’s are moving onto the spawning beds!  Brown trout are very aggressive this time of year and will attack anything large moving through the water near their nests.  This is the best time of year to have great success with streamers on the Bighorn River.  Target the spawning beds, but remember a lot of the browns still make dime reds along the banks.  So traditional streamer techniques work really well.

Waterfowl Report

The big migration has yet to start, but cooler wintery weather starts this weekend and the waterfowl should start pouring in.  Even though the big migration hasn’t arrived yet we are seeing ducks.  Setup a small to medium spread as that’s what the ducks are looking for.  A recommended spread right now would be 6-12 mallards, 4-6 green wing teal and 6 widgeon decoys.  There are wide variety of ducks flying around right now so a diverse spread will help.   Geese aren’t really loading up in the fields yet and we haven’t been seeing the huge flights in the air, so don’t set any floating geese yet.

Ducks were seeing:

Ring Necks


Green Wing Teal




Wood Ducks




Happy Late Fall Fishing and hunting from Forrester’s Bighorn River Resort!