I just returned from enjoying a couple of days over on the Bighorn during the long weekend. We were planning on taking a boat over there, but scratched that idea once I looked inside my boat and realized that about 300 pounds of snow and ice has all managed to accumulate around the rear seat! So, off we headed sans boat for a couple of days wading the upper part of the river.
We arrived late afternoon on Saturday to some amazing winter weather that kind of made the trip worth it in itself. Sure, there were plenty of other folks out around 3-Mile, but there are so many fish in those riffles and runs that crowds are hardly ever an issue if you just want to catch some fish. So, we headed out across the channels and managed to get into a few runs and bring plenty of fish to hand on various sowbug and midge patterns that first evening. I witnessed one of those amazing sunsets that come this time of year, but stuck to fishing rather than picture taking.
Sunday morning greeted us with a brisk reminder of that it is still winter here in Montana. With the temperature hovering around 15, I opted for the Tenkara setup and we headed out in 9 layers of poly-pro and waterproof/breathable material. I was particularly glad to have my Patagucci R-1 gloves that morning as the fish were eating and my hands stayed dry and warm while releasing them. We went through several patterns that morning before the “code was cracked” – gray ray with a cream colored midge pupa in case you’re wondering. Same code for Monday too.
The river is low and there are still lots of Browns on the redds in skinny water next to the banks and in the side channels. Eggs and brightly colored scud patterns were getting plenty of fish too, but the midge pattern seemed to find better quality fish that were feeding more on bugs than eggs. It’s hard to not walk on redds right now in the river, so practice caution around clean gravel by waling well below them even though the wading might be more demanding.