We are a few weeks into the season on the Bighorn River, excited and looking forward to a fresh season. This spring fishing has been good and the size of the trout being caught is similar to the early years when the average size was 16-18 inches long. The Bighorn River has returned to its classical form and once again finds itself as the most consistent clear water fishery in the state of Montana and here is why:
In the past few years, the Bighorn has experienced higher than normal water flows in the spring and sometimes summer. Mother Nature threw us a little curve ball and our guides responded with veteran intuition and continue to get our guests into plenty of beautiful Bighorn trout every day.
Thankfully, the awkward trend in pesky dam management has come to an end due to the critical involvement on the part of the Bighorn River Alliance. Although this information has been broadcast in their newsletters and public announcements, it’s still a mystery to most that do not receive them, so we have decided it would be wise to shed a little light to the public through our channels what’s been done. To be honest, it is quite impressive what they have accomplished.
The Bighorn River Alliance has established a technical group comprised by various state and federal agencies to better the dam management for the health of the Bighorn River. This work group has changed the way the dam forecast water flows in and out of the Yellowtail Reservoir. In the past they used only the basic gauges in the mountains to predict snow pack. They are now taking into considerations historical rainfall in the spring, the old snow pack gauges and most importantly the mid and low-level snow fall in the Bighorn River Basin. All of this translates into the Bighorn River will remain the incredible fishery that it is now and always will be. For more details visit the report on the Bighorn River Alliance website. It’s most definitely something a Bighorn River veteran angler wants to read.
How the low river flows will positively affect the Bighorn River:
The first thing we have seen this spring is a healthy and productive rainbow trout spawn un-inhibited by the aggressive currents flowing over the spawning beds. Next the vegetation is starting to grow back and with it the billions of insects that thrive on the numerous grass and moss species in the Bighorn River. These insects include scuds, midges, sow bugs, Baetis nymphs, PMD Nymphs, Yellow Sally’s, worms and many other insects and annelids living in the Bighorn River. The trout’s food source is abundant and creating a healthy habitat for numerous and thriving Bighorn River trout. The long term effect of the consistent low flows will be huge returning numbers of brown trout. Smaller fish from the previous year’s spawn will thrive in this food rich, easy living water.
Where we are now:
The fishing has been consistent with multiple 24+ inch trout caught every week this spring. Now is the time to visit the Bighorn River in case you are a big trout hunter! The water clarity is remarkable and the moss/ grass is extremely low. The experience couldn’t be better on the Bighorn River. Where else in Montana can an angler fish crystal clear water with nothing but wilderness in the background? The Crow Indian Reservation and healthy ranch community keep the riverbanks free from housing clutter. Stream access and consistent river flows make the Bighorn River one of the most scenic and enjoyable rivers in the nation.