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Bighorn River Fishing in April

Bighorn River Fly Fishing in April

As winter loosens its grip, April promises many anglers early-season warmth. This provides ideal hatch conditions for midges and BWO mayflies, giving anglers fishing Montana’s Bighorn River the opportunity for excellent nymph and dry fly fishing.

The time of day and water temperature play an important role in how to plan the day. The morning hours are cold and provide for reliable nymph fishing. As the sun rises, so will the water temps, giving anglers an opportunity for dry fly fishing beginning in the early afternoons and continuing into dusk.

Water temperatures are still very cold in April. Focusing on deeper slower runs is key to success when targeting Bighorn River trout during the early season.

Bighorn River Fly Fishing Hatches in April

A healthy selection of crustaceans such as sowbugs and scuds are the trout’s primary diet. Having an abundant selection of different patterns will be important. Both midges and Baetis are present in April, with midges being stronger earlier in the month, and Baetis making a more frequent appearance mid-month and into May with increasing water temperatures.

Warm and cloudy days are ideal for dry fly fishing in Montana during the early season. Expect blanket hatches of BWO mayflies and midges when the conditions align.

Bighorn River Fly Box in April

Bighorn River Fly Fishing Techniques for April

Long nymphing leaders 7 to 9 feet in length under a strike indicator is the most effective method when targeting the slower deeper runs. Fishing a tandem nymph rig with a sowbug or scud as the lead fly, followed by either a midge pupa or a sparse Baetis nymph is common practice.

Focus on the slow-moving shallow water along the banks where trout use the least amount of energy to feed. A typical presentation for dry fly fishing on the Bighorn requires standing behind and fishing up to feeding trout, or slightly to the side in order not to “line” them. Smoke Jumper and midge cluster dry fly patterns are ideal choices for midges. As for BWO dries, an Olive Mole Fly or CDC Comparadun are go-to-patterns.

To achieve the best results while streamer fly fishing, use long sinking leaders to dredge the middle of the river with small, heavily weighted flies. Thin Mints, Leeches, and other thin profile patterns are good choices during this time of the year when water temperatures are still very cold

Bozeman Fly Fishing Guide Pro Tip:

Floating anglers fishing the upper 3-miles of the Bighorn River can find rising trout along the skinny-water riffle seams during heavy hatch events. Take a slow approach, upstream along a riffle seam while watching for slow-rising fish on the inside of the faster water. Large Brown Trout will often be found in these shallow water lies during the early stages of hatches on the Bighorn River.

Bighorn River Fly Fishing Guide Trips in April

April is a surprisingly busy time of the year on the Bighorn River with anglers flocking to the river from across the region as spring arrives to the northern Rockies. Cold water temperatures find the fish relatively sluggish and deep trout near the tailouts of long pools often represent the angler's best opportunities. Floating with one of our Montana fishing guides enables the angler to fish deep rigs along long, drag-free drifts down through the most productive Bighorn River runs.

Fins and Feathers Guide Service has been outfitting Montana fly fishing trips on the Bighorn River for over two decades. Our Bozeman fly fishing guides are available from March - October for 3-day minimum bookings with advanced notice at $695 a day for 1-2 anglers. Contact us for short notice or single-day inquiries; we will gladly offer references if we are unable to accommodate your group.

A few days of Bighorn River fly fishing is a great way to either end or start a Montana fly fishing tour with Fins and Feathers. Consider adding the Bighorn to a custom fly fishing itinerary that also includes a few days of fly fishing in the Bozeman area. On these tours, we typically fly fish the lower Yellowstone River near Reedpoint, Montana on the day between Bozeman and Ft. Smith.

Reservations for Bighorn River fly fishing trips can be made online, through e-mail, or by calling us at 1-406-468-5019. Our experts are here to help, use our online Contact Form for help with planning your Montana fishing trip to the Bighorn River.

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