A shotgun report echoes across Montana’s Bighorn river below Fort Smith telling all that the dove and grouse season is officially here, but for Cathy and I it’s the trico hatch and the rising trout in front of us that has our attention. I say rising but this morning that’s an understatement, gulping or gorging would be a better description for the Bighorn River browns and rainbows. We are here hosting two weeks of anglers on what we think is the best tail water in the American west. We may be prejudiced, we admit there is another famous Montana tail water, but we’ve just heard it is not fishing at all, too warm and no hatches and certainly there are others, but for us this is it – the best of the best.
The fishing starts early with duns showing up just after sunrise and the heaviest spinner falls follow and last until noon, unless the wind shows up and puts an end to the fall. Our group has been lucky and the weather is close to perfect with cool mornings and warm afternoons. As we’ve done for many years, we are working out of Kingfisher Lodge, just below three mile access. The guides show up around six thirty each morning and we’re on the water shortly thereafter.
Tricos are small for sure and there are literally thousands in the air here each morning and when the tiny spent spinners fall, the river comes alive with heads showing everywhere. If you listen on a quiet morning you can hear the feeding fish. Out comes our size 20 and 22 trico spinner imitations which we attach to a ten foot 4X tippet, add a spot of fly floatant, and we’re in the game. 4X may sound too heavy for a size twenty fly but the weed beds take their toll on hooked fish and a 4X RIO fluorocarbon does the trick. If the glare on the surface becomes a problem with seeing our flies, we do a two fly combo with a larger darker dry followed by the small spent spinner. The darker fly becomes the strike indicator that we can see.
Four or five weight rods are perfect for this kind of fishing. We have a new four weight Sage MOD with us and it’s a beautiful rod on trico feeders. It’s been a popular rod this week, it’s so much fun to fish that it’s a contest to see who gets to fish it; Cathy, myself, one of our clients, or one of our guides who keep asking if we are leaving it here at the lodge. They were told not to hold their breath. Sage rod designer Jerry Siem continues to pull the rabbit out of the hat with new materials and rod tapers, but this may be one of his best for those of us who enjoy a more moderate type action that protects extra light tippets.
For those who love the game of fishing small dry flies in a spring creek-like environment it’s happening here as we speak, the weather outlook continues to look good so if you can pack your gear and get here, you should do so ASAP.
So until next time….from the Bighorn.