In an effort to control the rate of fill, which seems to be a real and perpetual struggle the last eight years and made worse when starting runoff with inadequate available storage), Reclamation is making the following changes to Bighorn releases:
On Friday at 8pm, river releases will increase 750cfs, bringing releases from 5,500cfs to 6,250cfs.
On Saturday at 8pm, river releases will increase another 750cfs, bringing releases from 6,250cfs to 7,000cfs.
Note these changes will be made a 8pm both evenings.
I will dispense with any commentary for the moment, and just lay things out.
In what is becoming an annoying, annual occurrence, a fairly routine spring weather event which occurred in the southern basin is forcing Reclamation to increase releases to the Bighorn to keep pace with releases from Boysen Reservoir.
Tomorrow at 4pm, releases to the Bighorn will increase 500cfs.
Thursday at 4pm, releases to the Bighorn will increase another 500cfs.
It is of interest to note that the first 500cfs and 225cfs of the second bump will be run through the river outlet. Expect water temperatures to gradually rise subsequent to these releases.
Please continue to report river and algae conditions, but it is not necessary to continue with rainbow spawning activity reports.
Late this afternoon, Reclamation stated that releases to the Bighorn need to be increased in order to control the rate of fill. Therefore, on Monday at 4pm releases will be increased 500cfs from 4,000cfs to 4,500cfs.
Reclamation has made a small change in plans for releases tomorrow.
Instead of two bumps of 250cfs (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), there will be just one bump at 4pm of 500cfs.
A big thanks to those who called or wrote with spawning reports. Those reports convinced FWP that it was OK to have one slightly larger release rather than two smaller ones, and they passed this along to Reclamation. This makes anglers and guides much happier, too, as the morning bump seems to always put the fishing down for the day.
Special thanks to Reclamation and WAPA for making this important accommodation!
Reclamation is telling us that “inflow forecasts indicate the release to the Bighorn Rover needs to be increased”.
Therefore, look for releases to jump 250cfs twice a day for two days starting tomorrow. Bumps will occur at 8am and 4pm. Flows should be at 4,000cfs shortly after 4pm on Wednesday.
I know many of you will be angry, and especially those of you fishing and guiding Tuesday and Wednesday, and will be looking for answers to 1) why do releases have to be increased at 8am and 2) why push the rainbows off the spawning beds at the worst possible time? I’ll give you my two cents worth.
A large, wet storm hit the Bighorn basin south of us. Storms like this are not all that uncommon during April and May, the two wettest months of the year. However, when water is managed too conservatively and inadequate storage is available to handle both runoff and sporadic weather events like this last event, reactions to wet events must unfortunately be quick and often. That’s what we’re seeing now. The average lake elevation for this time of year is usually 8 or 10 feet lower than it is at present (3,616.67ft). Those 8 or 10 feet of lake elevation amount to a good deal of storage, which is currently filled with water, which must be released to make room, and that, my friends, is why you’ll see AT LEAST 4,000cfs this week.
As always please report river and algae conditions and floating and/or take out hazards. Thanks to all of you who have been contributing!
Citing updated water supply conditions, Reclamation will increase releases to the Bighorn on Wednesday at 4pm from 2,600cfs to 2,750cfs. Releases to the Bighorn canal are currently 150cfs, and the lake elevation is sitting at almost 23 feet from full pool.
Citing the postponement of irrigation due to recent precipitation, Reclamation will increase releases to the river by 100cfs this afternoon at 4pm. This will bring the total river releases to 2,600cfs.
This time of year is crucial to a robust rainbow spawn. Please reports sightings of rainbows on redds to help biologists better evaluate the impact of rising releases on the spawners.
The April through July inflow forecast indicates Reclamation needs to increase releases to make storage available. At 4pm on Thursday, releases will increase 250cfs, from 2,250cfs to 2,500cfs.
2,500cfs is the minimum flows required to sustain a healthy fishery.
Citing a turn for the better with regards to precipitation and snowpack, Reclamation will increase river releases 250cfs. Look for the increase to occur at 4pm on Thursday.
This small increase will bring releases up to 2,250cfs, up from 2,000cfs. Minimum releases to wet all important side channel habitat is 2,500cfs.
The current lake elevation is just shy of 3,620ft. which is nearly 12 feet higher than historical averages.
Citing dwindling gains, early irrigation requests but despite a storm approaching. Reclamation has decided to cut river releases another 250cfs, and isn’t wasting any time.
Look for releases to drop this afternoon at 4pm from 2,250cfs to 2,000cfs. The current lake elevation is approximately 3,620ft, or 20 feet from full pool.