Drove 11 hours to Bozeman, MT for the second time this year to visit a good friend, Matt Carara, that Product Line Manager at Simms, and to pick up a small trailer for our raft. On the way home, we snuck in a day and a half on the Bighorn River. This is my favorite Montana river, mostly because of its relative proximity to the Front Range of Colorado. And, it is the Montana river I fished first and have fished the most often. I have always felt at home on the Bighorn, and Fort Smith has always treated up with kindness and hospitality.
Our Takes: Fish populations were way down in 2019, but they have begun to rebound. While numbers are still down, there seems to be more large fish in the system. There were also plenty of smaller fish (6-8 inches) that could be spotted rising in the slicks. At any rate, the water levels were around 2000 cfs and the water temperatures were in the mid-fifties. Fish were on sowbugs and soft hackle Ray Charles (especially hothead varieties) as well as baetis nymphs and caddis pupa.
Flies: Dries include Purple Haze (12-14), any caddis dry (14-16) Nymphs: Beadhead Caddis Emergers (14-16), Pheasant Tail
Nymphs (16-18), Ray Charles (16-18), Sowbugs (16-18) Fish 4x and 5x mono with dries, 4x and 5x fluoro with nymphs.
5 or 6 weight rod.