The Bighorn River is a tranquil, calm water river that rewards those who take their time learning how to fish it.
At this point, Bighorn River nymphing has been phenomenal – with sallies, PMDs, Caddis flies, crawfish sow bugs, and crane fly larvae all providing incredible success for anglers nymphing and hopper fishing during the daytime hours. Hopper fishing also works very well.
The Bighorn River near Thermopolis, Wyoming, is an exquisite trout stream. Although the current conditions have made fishing less than ideal, as evidenced by some murky spots and patches of moss-covered waters, fishing remains productive. Fish targeting sow bugs, midges, annelids, and long-dead drifts on nymph rigs will yield many hook-ups – baetis should soon arrive! At current flows with low lake levels, the river should stay cool without stirring up silt that clouds up its waters from entering.
Black Caddisflies are a species of caddisfly found throughout trout streams globally. They typically hatch between late spring and early summer and provide food sources for trout, with dark colors and distinctive mottled wings with lines running across them. Furthermore, their rear end features a “flipper” that helps them drift freely along currents.
Female black caddisflies lay their eggs either at the water’s surface or by diving under to deposit them. Once done, she returns briefly to the surface before flying off again; either way, their eggs make an excellent food source for trout and can draw them in large numbers.
Caddis larvae live their entire lives at the bottom of a stream, protected by an elaborate protective case constructed of branches and rocks. When it’s time for pupation, they shed their issues and swim towards the surface, where they shed their adult wings and take flight – ready to provide trout with delicious meals for generations ahead.
On the Bighorn, several varieties of black caddis hatches occur between late spring and early summer, all at approximately the same time. Caddisflies are familiar sights in trout streams and highly attractive to trout; therefore, they should be essential equipment for anyone fishing high mountain streams.
Grasshoppers are insects belonging to the order Orthoptera. Grasshoppers can be found in many habitats, from grasslands and deserts to forests and forests. Like their orthopteran cousins, grasshoppers possess chewing mouthparts with chewing action, two pairs of wings (one narrow and rigid and another comprehensive and flexible), long hind legs for jumping, and colorations that help camouflage in the landscape. Some grasshoppers change colors as they move, which allows them to avoid predators or find food sources more efficiently.
A grasshopper is a medium-sized insect, typically measuring from one to seven centimeters long as adults. Found all over the globe except where temperatures are too cold to support their lifestyle (i.e., the north and south poles), this omnipresent creature feeds off plant matter; being such effective eaters, they can become an issue for farmers, devouring entire fields in no time!
Male grasshoppers who want to attract a mate can create sound by pressing one of their rigid hind wings against its body’s rough surface, causing vibrations in its wings that cause it to produce noise similar to when bowing a violin is played – known as a song. Females listen for this signal that someone could potentially become their mate.
In temperate North America, grasshoppers typically overwinter as nymphs before emerging as adults in spring. On cooler nights, some species retreat beneath litter or canopies of grasses for protection; others rest without particular shelter. On sunny days, many species rise 1-2 inches off the ground to face directly towards the sun – their front body parts only experiencing its rays.
Simple grasshopper collections can be conducted by anyone using only essential equipment: a net, killing jar, insect pins and spreading board are needed, as well as label-making materials (paper, quill pen/rapidograph pens with India ink/crow quill pens, India ink pen and scissors). Once specimens have been identified as grasshoppers, they should be preserved by being pinned to cardboard while searching for wings emerging or molting as well as after.
As we transition into fall, the Bighorn River near Thermopolis, Wyoming, remains an outstanding fishing spot. Flows have dropped to approximately 1400 cfs, and most stretches are clear. Annelids, tricks, and sow bugs are primary food sources for trout in these waters; most effective methods include nymphing with Pheasant Tails, Jigged Hare’s Ears, or Pill Bug patterns, while streamers may also produce results, especially when present and there are plenty of moss present!
Sow bugs (also referred to as pillbugs or roly-polies) are crustaceans resembling tiny shrimp and crayfish in appearance. When threatened or attacked, these crustaceans can roll up into tight balls quickly before becoming invulnerable, but they have two tail-like appendages that prevent this action ultimately. Their backs also feature rigid individual plates for identification.
Sow bugs are aquatic crustaceans that depend on moisture for survival. Therefore, they often inhabit damp environments outdoors but sometimes find their way indoors, where they become annoyed by feasting upon food and wood; in potted plants, they can even damage roots by eating their seeds or sucking out soil from potted plant roots.
Pill bugs and sow bugs play a critical role in aquatic ecosystems by breaking down decaying organic material in the water and returning essential nutrients into the soil through their feces. Furthermore, these crustaceans may help moderate climate change by eating fungi, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere if left alone.
As part of a science activity, have students collect some sow and pill bugs and place them into two egg cartons. Make marks in each bottom so that rectangular spaces are approximately 1″ up from their base so the bugs cannot escape; ensure these lines line up well so bugs cannot escape! Observe which carton the insects prefer over time!
The Bighorn River is one of the world’s premier trout fisheries. The cold, clear water flowing out of Yellowtail Dam creates a spectacular 71 mile wild trout habitat that biologists dream about. Thanks to Afterbay Dam installed one mile below Yellowtail Dam, fluctuation no longer becomes an issue; year-round flow creates optimal fishing conditions akin to tailwater fisheries with gravel islands, side channels, and inviting riffle corners that provide a world-class fly fishing experience!
The Big Horn River is an outstanding all-year fishery, especially during the winter when anglers can enjoy its solitude. There are plenty of opportunities to fish this river – the brown trout spawn is underway while blue-wing olives continue to hatch strongly, altogether making for an exciting fishing experience on this legendary river!
Winter fishing at Bighorn River is predominantly dry fly, and anglers should concentrate their efforts on nymphing and streamer fishing techniques. Anglers should try using caddis flies, sow bugs, yellow sallies, and crawdads for maximum success during this period; Tricos or antialias also work well during this season.
A practical approach for Bighorn River nymphing involves employing weighted nymphs such as the PT or BH Scud, particularly for faster runs and riffles, or size 16/18 parachute Adams parachutes for slower stretches and pools.
The Bighorn River is a classic tailwater river that requires extra care when fishing successfully. To be most effective, keep your fly low to prevent trout from skittish in this environment, and always cast high out of the water to avoid tangles when launching your line.