Slight change to Wednesday’s Bighorn releases schedule

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!

Bighorn release to jump another 1,000cfs to 4,000cfs by Wednesday


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!

Bighorn releases to rise 100cfs this afternoon

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.



Recent precip means slightly increased flows to the Bighorn River


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.

Fluctuation of Bighorn River Flow Downstream of Boysen Dam

Wyo.-The Bureau of Reclamation has scheduled a flushing flow in the Big Horn River downstream of Boysen Dam, according to Wyoming Area Manager, Carlie Ronca. This operation is at the request of, and in coordination with, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“The purpose of the flushing flow is to improve trout reproduction by flushing fine sediments from spawning gravels in the river,” said Ronca. The flushing flow also improves insect production in the stream by opening up interstitial spaces between gravels and cobbles. The flushing flow is generally welcomed by anglers because it provides easier wading conditions. Following the flushing flow there is a reduction in floating algae.
Flows in the river below Boysen Dam will fluctuate from 600 cfs to 5000 cfs during the flushing flow. On Mar. 21 at 2:00 a.m., the release of water from Boysen Dam will be increased to 3000 cfs and further increased to 5000 cfs at approximately 7:00 a.m. for 10 hours before being reduced gradually back to 600 cfs by approximately 10:00 a.m. on Mar. 22, 2016.
The public is urged to use extreme caution during this period of rapid fluctuation of flows below Boysen Dam.