Thursday, August 22, 2013
Got back to Bozeman late last night from the last several days on the Bighorn. I was supposed to originally be over there for a week but the old dude decided that he didn't want to do the Horn this year. Only problem was that I had booked some other guys over there already so instead of working 5 days there, I only worked 3 and had two to play around with friends, which was nice. Should have worked today, but found a more than capable replacement for me on a large group trip we have for the next few days. I get my turn tomorrow and it sounds like the group is very fun.
Anyway - back to the horn - and the rambling ranting thoughts on life on the Bighorn. First off, the river still smells like a sewage pool and Mosquitoes were awful at my campsite. It gets better though. The water is cold and the weeds are pretty much non-existent in relative terms...a little swat and they are gone...fish still don't like flies with a little bit of weed on them in case you are wondering if "not bad" weeds is the same as "no weeds." Great dry fly fishing from around noon-3 is on Mahoganies and PMD's...you need to be able to cast 20' and see a size 14 dry to make that work though - I found out. There is a big difference between 20' and 60', I think many people could benefit by actually pacing off 10 yards in their backyard prior to a trip and try to cast a piece of yarn into a small area...say an area that is like 10' X 10' (yes that is feet). If they can do that great, if not, just tell the guide they would like some help on casting instead of what they are doing wrong...a low hanging fast ball in my world which I will hit out of the park every time you throw it at me. Anyway, there was a lot more wrong than right going on in my boat when it came to dry fly fishing, but the fish were rising good from 12-3. Coincidentally, the nymphing wasn't as good during that time too...not bad, but not as good. The horn is like that...an honest river with honest fish...they follow the hatch progress and feed accordingly or they just eat worms and sowbugs just because that's what they always do. I said over 100 times in 2 of the 3 days, "sowbug" when the guys asked me which bug the fish ate. On the 3rd day, I said Ray Charles and they acted like I had finally figured it out as that's what their buddy had been using the day before, as we had too. A Ray Charles is a sowbug pattern and instead of saying Ray Charles, I chose to say sowbug. Fish moved up into skinny water late morning and ate the crap out of little PMD nymphs which Steven tied 18 for me before the trip. At the end of day 2, I had 4 left and the guys informed me that they each only lost 2 flies all day...I thought to myself...why was I tying new flies on all day?
Bigger picture thoughts? Bighorn guides don't like guides from other areas coming over there to guide. I guess the majority of them don't give a crap, but some of them really don't like that. I think that FWP should really look at how they read statistics as there is no way that the Bighorn is less crowded that the Madison, especially in terms of angling pressure densities. You spend most of the day fishing where you can rather than where you want to because there is always someone ahead or behind you. Sure, you catch a lot of fish which is fun and you don't have to be on the river everyday to read it, understand it, or to catch lots of fish...that's exactly why it is so popular.
It is a cool place to see and fish, put my guiding days on the river are over...I think. I am tried of boating 40+ fish and losing another 20 and having people be disappointed that it wasn't better. You can go out with just about anyone on the Bighorn and catch your fish, but if you want to learn some stuff and become a better angler...you might have to look a little harder. It is always amazing to me to watch the same anglers over there day after day doing the same thing, catching fish without a clue. We have more than enough water around Bozeman to fish in the summer, I will leave the horn to those that need the horn to catch fish.
Jeremy Gilbertson that just might be the honest to God best guide on the river and I would encourage anyone that wants to learn about the river, how to fish it, and catch of lot of fish to give him a call if you want a guide on the Bighorn, he won't dissappoint and he will show you a much different view of the Horn that anyone else over there. He's also a great guy and a good friend for many years now.