Apr 13, 2012

Bighorn River - Should Have Been Here Yesterday

Bighorn Brown
I Shut the lid on the Dell Intel inside for a few days. Once again, I found myself in the Red Headed Step Child’s F-150 – this time heading east. The day was perfect: warm and calm, but three and a half hours had left me with a sore neck and left butt cheek that had dozed off about 150 miles back on I-90. We pulled into Hale Harris’s Bighorn Trout Shop. We said hello. Hale’s face said it all, but he reaffirmed it by asking us,

“Have you guy’s ever heard the term, should of been here yesterday?”

Bastard. Of course I heard that one. But I like to be the one to say it… Was that the sympathetic way of saying it? Or was that Hale just being creative. Either way his message was no joke. They were ramping up the flows out of the dam from 3000 cfs to 7000 cfs over the following two days. What a crock. What were the chances? Under ordinary circumstances, The Bighorn River should be one of the finest trout fishing streams on the planet, but this guy was telling us otherwise. Alright, we’ll see about that…

The drift started out well. New water, drifting, casting moving some fish. Most of the guides were pulled over nymphing the various riffles and shelf drops. We floated on by. Jed hooked a couple fine fish before he took over on the sticks. The water was clear providing a windexed window to the bottom and the hordes of trout lazily spooking off the bow. We drifted along a shallow, graveled bank where I began an all out streamer assault. Immediately the shadows lit up, came alive. The browns were everywhere in there, jetting out with gumption from their holds but then throwing it out the window when the time came to fully commit. I rubbed some river salad on the bug to cover any bad aromas, but still only managed to sting a few. It was a wonderful few minutes of fishing – to be able to witness these fish shooting out of their holds like bottle rockets.

After a couple of hours and a few fish later, the river turned into a real mess. It was like all the vegetation in the river had been put in a blender and whipped up into a frothy goo. Like a crouton in the heart of a giant salad, we continued on down the additional 8 miles to the take-out.

Yup, “Should have been here yesterday.”

Back in the truck. We had planned to camp out, eat brauts, drink beer and fish the next couple of days but since we shouldn’t have been here today or very likely, the following two, it was time to go home. We resolved to spend the following day on the Yellowstone where we wouldn’t have to pick chunks of dislodged vegetation off our flies after every cast. But before that, we had to revisit the 200 miles of road we had just passed over that morning. I settled back into the passenger seat and immediately, my neck began to tighten.

Minus the gale force wind that picked up early afternoon, the Yellowstone fished pretty well. Clear skies and aggressive fish led us on down 16 miles of river. There were times when it turned on and times when you couldn’t buy a fish, but one of the benefits of a long float is they got to eat some time…

Here are some shots from the past couple weeks.


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  1. Who's the gorgeous blonde?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


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