Welcome to Eye of the Guide

Part Ninety-three

Big Horn Outlook, Spring 2008

By Bob Krumm, Sheridan, Wyoming

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 September.

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 per day.

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, friendly places.

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

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