Thinking About the BigHorn
by Jon Spiegel

The Bighorn River is considered by many to be one of the best fisheries in the west. Does it fish as well today as it did before the droput years? Fish counts are down (from 5000 to 1500 per mile) but the size of the average fish is dramatically larger.

One of the major factors contributing to increasing sizes is the availability of bait fish. With the water flow being low, the baitfish have very few places to hide from the Browns. This means that fishing streamers in the fall should be outstanding.

Midges are a primary food source for the fish. They hatch year round in unbelievable numbers. Rafts of midges are encountered at any time, particulary in the late winter and early spring.

The first mayflies to hatch in the Spring are the Baetis (Blue Wing Olives). My favorite month for BWO's is April. A.K. Best's Para Quill Olive and a Barr Emerger are great options.

Pale Morning Duns, Caddis, and Tricos overlap one another in the summer months producing outstanding days on the river. The PMD's will start to show up about the third week in July, and start to disappear in the later part of August. In the neighborhood of August 20 through September an angler can expect the little black mayflies (Trico's). Early risers can expect to see clouds of Trico's prior to the spinner fall. This can be a fun yet challenging time on the Bighorn.

Lets not forget hoppers, ants, little yellow stones, and various attractor patterns.

Hatch
Time
Patterns
Baetis (Blue Winged Olive)
April - May
Baetis Emerger #18-22, Baetis Flashback Emerger #18-22, Baetis Beadhead Emerger #18-22, Pheasant Tail #16-20, Bead Head Pheasant Tail #16, Flash Back Pheasant Tail #16-20, RS-2 #18-22, Blue-winged Olive #16-20, Parachute Blue-winged Olive #16-20, Blue-winged Olive Thorax #16-20
Caddis
August - September
Caddis Emerger (Green, Brown #12-16), Peeking Caddis (Olive, Cream) #12-16, Soft Hackle (Yellow, Olive, Hare's Ear), Z-Wing Caddis Emerger (Olive, Amber) #12-16, Elk Hair Caddis (Grey, Tan, Olive, Brown) #12-18, Black Elk Hair Caddis #14-18, Goddard Caddis #12-16, Stimulator ( Tan, Olive) #12-16
Little Yellow Stonefly
June - August
Little Yellow Sally #12-16, Li'l Yellow Stonefly #12-16
Midge
All Year
Brassie #16-22, Palomino Midge (Black, Olive) #18-22, Chironomid Pupa (Black, Brown) #16-20, Disco Midge #16-20, RS-2 #16-22, WD-40 (Grey, Brown, Black, Olive) #18-22, Pheasant Tail #18-22, Zebra Midge #18-22, Griffith's Gnat #18-22, Real Midge (Black, Cream) #18-22
Pale Morning Dun
July - August
PMD Emerger, Pheasant Tail Nymph #14-18, Bead Head Pheasant Tail #14-16, Hare's Ear Nymph #14-18, Cripple Pale Morning Dun #14-18, Parachute Pale Morning Dun #14-18, Comparadun Pale Morning Dun #14-18, Pale Morning Dun #14-18
Scud
All Year
Scud (Olive, Tan, Orange) #10-14
Streamers
April, September - November
Wooly Bugger (Black, Brown) #4-10, Bead Head Wooly Bugger (Black, Brown, Olive) #4-10, Matuka (Black, Olive) #4-10), Conehead Bite Me Bugger (Olive, Black, Brown) #8-12, Muddler Minnow #4-10, Conehead Muddler Minnow #4-8, Zonker (Black/Silver, Natural/Pearl) #6-8
Terrestrials
July-October
Ant, Black Fur #14-18, Ant, Flying Black #14-18, Parachute Hopper #8-12, Dave's Hopper #8-14, Whit's Hopper #8-12, Parachute Stone Hopper #8-12, X-Hopper #8-12
Trico
August-September
Pheasant Tail Nymph #18-22, Trico Emerger #18-22, Trico Spinner #20-24, Parachute Adams #18-22, Griffith's Gnat #18-22
Aquatic Worms (San Juan)
All Year
San Juan Worm (Brown, Red, Pink & Orange) #12-16
Attractors
May-October
(Royal, Grizzley) Wulff #12-16, Humpy (Yellow, Royal, Red) #12-16, Royal Coachman #12-16, Renegade #14-16