Welcome to Eye of the Guide

Part Eighty-seven



Big Horn Outlook, Spring 2005

By Bob Krumm, Sheridan, Wyoming


The Big Horn River has been at record low flows for the past two years and it looks like this year will be no different. At present, the flow is 1500 cubic feet per second (cfs). With the drought stretching into seven years, the outlook isn't too shining: the Wind River drainage has a snow pack that is 100 percent of average-good news! But the Shoshone River drainage is at 60 percent of normal. (The Wind River drainage supplies more water to the Big Horn River than the Shoshone, but it can't make up that much shortfall).

Okay, so what does that mean to you? It means that the flows will probably be maintained at 1500 cfs-normal minimum flow is 2500cfs. Less flow results in fewer trout per mile of river - about 1600 per mile - while the average size of the trout has increased from 14 to 18 inches and the condition of the fish is phenomenal (football shape).

With decreased flows over the past five years has come a shift of the aquatic invertebrate population: the main food items in the river are scuds, sowbugs, midge larvae and pupae, aquatic worms, and black caddis. The blue-winged olive (Baetis) hatch remains good and has been occurring from late April to early June. The pale morning dun hatch has been sparse, as has the Trico hatch while the yellow Sally hatch has been non-existent. Black caddis have been thick as per usual. The midge hatches have been unbelievably thick: some days in April, May, and June the afternoon scene can resemble a living carpet of insects. A hatch that hadn't occurred prior to the prolonged drought, the mahogany dun, is something to witness. The late August/early September spinner fall of size 12 dark brown mayflies puts all the trout in the river on a feeding frenzy. To top it off, the spinner fall can last up to five hours. So many insects are on the water that the trout can't eat them all so feeding goes on the backwaters and eddies up until dark.

Another change in the river is that baitfish have become more common, hence the brown trout are more prone to take streamer flies about any time during the year. Though the browns are now the minority trout species in the river, the ones that remain are substantial fish! (As per usual, the rainbow trout are fat, full of energy, and ready to show you how much backing your reel holds).

Through efforts of the Bighorn River Alliance, there will be a flushing flow early this March. It looks like the Bureau of Reclamation will release 5,000 cfs for eight hours to clean out much of the accumulated silt in the upper 13 miles of the river.

Speaking of flushing flows, the North Platte River upstream from Casper, Wyoming has been receiving spring and fall flushing flows for a number of years now. The river has become a great trout fishing stream, much like the Big Horn. In addition, there is an abundance of pronghorn antelope and mule deer along the river-extremely rare sights on the Big Horn. The stretch of the Platte below Grey Reef has three species of trout: rainbow, cutthroat (Snake River), and brown. Many of the trout exceed 20 inches. Nymphs, streamers, and dry flies are the three most productive methods. For further information contact The Platte River Fly Shop (307-237-5997) or visit the website www.wyomingflyfishing.com. I guide for the shop now and then. I find that the shop's competent local guides know every trout in the river by name.

As per usual, I offer trips on small streams around Sheridan. We can fish some of the small streams in the Big Horn Mountains, the Tongue River in Montana, or the Little Big Horn River in Wyoming. Going to a different stream for a day helps anglers to enjoy the best of both worlds.

A real plus for this year is that I will be able to offer you a unique two day fishing experience on the Tongue River in Montana. The Lodge at Diamond Cross Ranch is about ten miles downstream from the Tongue River Dam. The first three or four miles of water below the dam contain some superlative trout water. (I have caught 22-inch rainbows with 13-inch girths in this stretch). Further downstream the river is loaded with smallmouth bass. We could fish for trout the first day, stay at the lodge that night and float for smallmouth the second day. To check out the lodge, surf to www.thelodgeatdiamondcross.com or you can call the manager, Dick Hosford, at 406-757-2220 and he'll be glad to tell you more about the great recreational opportunities and fine facilities that he offers.

My son, Glint, still works with me. Few others exceed his guiding expertise and his humor is unequalled. Any day spent with Clint is bound to be enjoyable and memorable.

My rates for this year are $275.00 for a single angler for one day; $350.00 for 2 anglers; and $500.00 for three anglers. If you elect to fish three or more days, the three-day price would be $750.00; $1000.00 and —— $1450.00, respectively.

Well, I look forward to hearing from you and hope that you will honor me with your presence this year. Take care and stay well. ~ Bob Krumm

About Bob:

Our congratulations to Bob and Carol on their marriage this past December. Best wishes for a long and happy life together!

Bob Krumm is a first-class guide who specializes in fishing the Big Horn River in Montana, (and if there terrific fishing somewhere else he'll know about that too.) Bob has written several other fine articles for the Eye Of The Guides series. He is also a commericial fly tier who owns the Blue Quill Fly Company which will even do your custom tying! Bob is a long time Sponsor here! You can reach him at: 1-307-673-1505 or by email at: rkrumm@fiberpipe.net


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