Today was our guided fishing trip on the Bighorn River, and we were scheduled to meet our guide at 8:00 a.m. at the Bighorn Trout Shop.
That was late compared to any other fishing trip I've been on. But apparently the water in the Bighorn River is so cold that it takes awhile for the trout to warm up and become active. We were right on time and introduced ourselves to our guide, Shawn.
Shawn re-rigged our fly rods with medium indicators and a scud with something called a "Flash Back Quill" about 18 inches below the scud.
Then we drove about a half a mile to the boat ramp below the Afterbay Dam. Shawn launched the boat while we were required to just stay out of the way.
Within seconds of getting in the boat, Shawn was giving us instructions on where to cast. And within a few minutes I had my first fish on. However, it wasn't a trout - it was a native fish called a Mountain Whitefish.
After netting and releasing the Whitefish, I got a quick few seconds to snap a picture back upstream.
Soon thereafter, I landed a nice Rainbow and then a nice Brown Trout. Within the first half hour to an hour, I landed five fish. Linda started off slowly as she had trouble with her casting technique and with setting the hook.
But then she got going and caught the next six fish.
I caught another Rainbow and Linda got my picture.
Linda took a break, and then I stopped catching fish. But as soon as she started back, she went on a Brown Trout tear. :)
After Linda landed that last fish, another boat went by with both fishermen hooked up - a double.
Linda & I had a couple of "doubles" of our own before the day was over. Here was her half of our first double.
There are two fishing access points on the river that most people use - Three-Mile access and Thirteen-Mile access. Shawn told us that the moss was really bad below Three-Mile and that only one out of three casts would be worthwhile. So, he suggested that we float the first three-mile section twice. Okay by us.
On our way to the Three-Mile boat ramp, this beautiful Bull Snake was swimming across the top of the frigid water.
Someone shuttled Shawn's boat trailer to the Three-Mile access, and we loaded up and headed back to the Afterbay Dam launch. On our second time down, we didn't start off quite as quickly.
Shawn was surprised at how finicky the fish were in the afternoon although we were still having a good time. We each caught a few, and then Linda took another break. I finally caught up with her and passed her in numbers of netted fish.
But after her break, she quickly caught a few more, including this lovely Rainbow.
We were tied 12 to 12. And she had the tie-breaker on the line on our last drift, but it got off before getting to the boat. We caught a couple dozen nice fish in our day of floating with Shawn. Of course, she only fished about half the time I fished.
I told Shawn that her technique isn't always great, but she manages to always catch a bunch of fish. And so it went. Her casts would land weakly too close to the boat, and Shawn would gently chide her to do better. But it didn't matter. It seemed no matter where her cast landed, it was soon "Fish on!". :)
Shawn changed flies, changed weights, directed our casts, untangled our lines, and netted our fish for us. It was nice not to have to worry about all that. And we learned quite a bit about the river in case we want to float it ourselves. Of course, we wouldn't have the necessary expertise to row ourselves into the proper places, but we could pull over and do some wading near the hot spots.
A little after 5:00, we pulled into the fly shop's parking lot. We unloaded our stuff and I gave Shawn a tip for putting up with us. He certainly made it seem easy, although he and some other guides claimed the fishing was "slow". I guess it just goes to show what a fabulous fishery the Bighorn River is.
We had a great day. :)
Back home, there was only one other rig left in the north Afterbay Campground. We prepared for our overnight trip above the Yellowtail Dam. I'm really looking forward to exploring the Bighorn Canyon.
Once we were packed, I grilled a couple of bacon-wrapped filets and we had a quiet dinner. Soon, the night air was providing relief from the 90-degree temps and we called it a night.
Tomorrow's Journal entry will have to wait until we get back from our overnighter, but it should be a good one. :)