We do hope that you are doing well and that winter isn't
too severe. In beautiful, downtown Sheridan, Wyoming and
Ft. Smith, Montana the winter has been typical so far, i.e.,
highs in the mid-30s with lows in the teens with a snowstorm
every five days or so.
Looking back on 2007, we must admit that it was some of the
best dry fly fishing we had seen since the mid-90s—the
blue-winged olive hatch lasted from early April to July. It
seemed that a parachute Adams trailed by a BWO cripple was
a dynamite combination for thee months.
Mid-summer brought sparse, but consistent hatches of pale
morning duns—again a cripple pattern worked well.
The hatch that lasted nearly forever was the black caddis.
They appeared on the lower river in early July and finally
disappeared from the upper river in late October. We spent
many evenings working on pods of rising trout consuming the
spent black caddis. A number 18 black CDC caddis trailed by
an 18 black caddis emerger was a great one-two punch.
Another hatch that was overlooked was the Pseudocleon; this
small (22) mayfly had some fantastic blanket hatches throughout
Last year the tricos were non-existent and the mahoganies were
sporadic. Fortunately, there were a few sedge caddis and tan
caddis to keep the trout looking up.
The average size of the trout was a little lower than last
year—a typical brown trout was 14 to 16 inches while the
rainbows were 16 inches plus or minus an inch. There are a
slew of 10 to 12-inch rainbows on the lower river.
While we have no immediate estimate for the trout numbers in
the Bighorn River, the steady flows of 1500 cfs, coupled with
cool water temperatures practically guaranteed that the trout
populations didn't decrease. If I were to guess, I would guess
that there are 2,000 browns per mile in the upper 13 miles and
about 500 per mile in the lower river. The rainbows probably
number 2,500 per mile on the upper river and upwards to 3,000
per mile on the lower river.
The 2007 season had some definite swings in climate. May to
mid-June the area was blessed by abundant rain, in fact,
downright frog choking rains. On June 8 Ft. Smith had 4.4
inches of rain—mainly in the late afternoon. Soap Creek was
running more water than the Bighorn River. There was a
substantial rapids where Soap Creek dumped into the Bighorn.
The rain caused two creeks that run into Afterbay Reservoir
to dump a considerable load of silt into it. The river was
unfishable for two days. For about a month the countryside
was as green as it has ever been.
The monsoon season ended abruptly in mid-June and there
weren't any puddles in Ft. Smith for the rest of the
summer. It was late September before the area received
enough rain to create puddles.
Presently the Bighorn is flowing at 1900 cfs but it flowed
at 1750 cfs all summer and it wasn't until November the flow
was increased to 1900. The battle continues between the folks
on the upper end of the reservoir and the users of the river
below the reservoir. The Friends of Bighorn Lake want more
water held in the reservoir so that they can utilize the upper
end of the lake for boating, fishing, and other forms of
recreation. They contend that they need a chance to develop
their tourism potential. Of course, the Friends of the Bighorn
River say that more water is needed in the river, a minimum of
2,500 cfs so that the side channels will have water in them and
that the young of the year trout will have places to escape
larger trout. The whole argument really focuses on a problem
that many areas of the world are facing, namely, not enough
water to satisfy all the users. This problem will only be
exacerbated with continued global warming.
Speaking of flows and outlooks, at present the Wind River drainage
has about 92 percent of normal snowpack while the Shoshone has 98
percent and the Bighorn Basin, 99 percent. About sixty percent of
the water in Bighorn Reservoir comes from the Wind River so it is
the one that is the most crucial to the well-being of the Bighorn
River. Most areas of Wyoming have been receiving fairly heavy storms
over the past month or so; with any luck the Wind River snow pack
could make it to 100 percent by April. If you want to check on the
snowpack see ftp://ftp.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/data/snow/update/wy.txt
If you are looking to fish the Bighorn River this year when
it is less crowded, may I suggest you look at March, early
April, October, or November?
Last Summer Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks closed many of the
major streams in the state due to warm waters and low flows.
Many anglers came to the Bighorn because it stayed cool and
had a minimum flow. The river was crowded on the upper 13 miles.
The lower river had a degree of solitude.
My son, Clint, and I would like to encourage you to book ASAP
so that we can fit you in to our schedules.
Our rates for 2008 are $325.00 for a single angler, $400.00
for two anglers, and $525.00 for three anglers. We still
provide all the flies, leaders, tippet, etc. plus the best
streamside lunch on the Bighorn. We ask a deposit of $100.00
On a personal note, we have a new grandchild, Brooke Lauren
Krumm, born to Stephanie and Clint on February 8, 2008. Brooke
joins Lily Claire to make for two beautiful grandchildren
residing nearby. Stephanie is taking some maternity leave
from her veterinary practice but will be at the Moxey-Schreiber
Veterinary Clinic in Sheridan in three months.
Carol and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary on December
31 and look forward to many more. Carol is now working at the
Sheridan Home Depot in the lawn and garden department. I am
working again at the diesel engine electrical generator repair
shop just down the block from our house. I am also teaching a
fly tying and fly-fishing courses for Sheridan College.
As per usual I will recommend three places for you to stay when
you visit: Big Horn Trout Shop (406-666-2375, www.bighorntroutshop.com ),
Bunk Bed & Breakfast (406-666-2427, www.BunkhouseBNB. com ), and
Kingfisher Lodge (406-666-2326, www.bighornkingfisher.com ). The
folks that manage these places are good friends and run very nice,
Well, I guess that is about the long and short of things. I hope
that this finds you well and happy and that this year will bring
you loads of joy, love, and fishing. Do take care and stay well.
~ Bob & Clint Krumm