We are experiencing some of the best springtime weather I can remember here in Red Lodge. Warm and sunny, bordering on hot and sunny! Quite a change from our usual two season pattern of winter and August.
Rivers are still blown out and will be for a couple more weeks. Flows from Yellowtail Dam are dropping. The Bighorn River is below 12000 cfs for the first time in weeks. That’s still very high, but better than the 14000 cfs it has been. Fishing is fair, with nymphing producing the most fish. The usual worm and scud combo is working. Prepare yourself to fish a long leader and lots of weight. There is a fair amount of grass to contend with.
Lakes are fishing well in the morning and evening. As usual, fishing is pretty slow when the sun is high and hot in the sky. Damsels and dragons are the prominent insects on area lakes with this warm weather. Try small olive or brown wooly buggers. Stubby, fat patterns fished deep in the grass for dragons, sparse patterns fished just below the surface for the damsels.
Not bad for a first timer!
Lake fishing in the Beartooth foothills. Amazing!
Wow, this hot spring weather has rivers and streams near record levels. Makes it tough right now, but bodes well for fishing by the first week of July. With our huge snowpack this year, I was anticipating a late start to the season. For those new to fishing in the Red Lodge area, the entire month of June is almost always a bust for river and stream fishing. Our rivers are not controlled by dams. June is always when the snow really starts melting and the run-off lasts until the last week of June or first week of July. The heavier the snowpack, the later run-off ends. Unless we get hot temps in early June. If we keep this warm weather, especially overnight temps in the forties, we may get rid of most of this snow in time to start fishing the Stillwater sooner than later. BTW, overnight temps in the forties is hot weather around here in early June.
Chris Fleck and I fished the Big Horn yesterday. The ‘Horn is typically the only river within three hours of Red Lodge that is fishable in June. Because it’s controlled by a dam. The ‘Horn is flowing at an outrageous 14000 cubic feet per minute. They are releasing water from the reservoir to accommodate run-off from the huge snowpack in the Big Horn drainage. Let me tell you, we were flying down the river. We anticipated that the fishing would be marginal, and it was. Streamer fishing was very slow. Nymphing with the standard tail water fare was OK. Wire worms and sow bugs on a long, long leader with plenty of split shot did produce. The upside was the beautiful weather and the spectacular wildflowers. The ‘Horn is not known as a scenic float. This spring, it’s alive with blooming wild roses and a spectrum of other spring wildflowers. We floated 13 miles in five hours. Not many spots to anchor the boat, much less wade fish. Like I said, we were flying down the river. I was wishing for some of those goggles pilots used to wear in open cockpit airplanes! Pretty sure Chris had bugs in his teeth. He smiles a lot.
Smilin’ Chris Fleck on the Horn in February. He was wearing a Speedo yesterday in the 80 degree weather, so I did NOT take pictures.
The word is that the flows will be reduced to 8000 cfs by July.
Area lakes are fishing well in the morning and evening. Avoid fishing midday. Damsels and Dragons are active in response to the heat, so concentrate on Damsel and Dragon nymph imitations. Slow retrieves or dead drifts are most productive. Don’t expect much on the dry fly in the hot sun.