Apologies for the belated post, but I was on the river guiding (more on that in a moment).
With all the rains throughout the basin, coupled with increased releases from upstream reservoirs and already higher inflows, Reclamation had to move more water. It was decided late Friday afternoon to bump releases up from 6,000cfs to eventually reach 7,000cfs for the weekend.
Additional precipitation was forecast for Saturday and Sunday, so there’s is a very good chance, given that there is just under five feet of storage left in the conservation pool, that we’ll see higher flows as early as Monday. I will report those increases as soon as they are made official, so watch this site and/or monitor your email for updates.
About this weekend… I had the opportunity to guide with a very, very large group, which of course, also involved an incredible number of guides. Conditions were such that most of us were confined to the upper three miles of river because the rest of the river was pretty much unfishable due to algae and discoloration. It is a testament to professionalism of all the regular Bighorn guides that despite the incredible crowding and horrible fishing conditions, that event went off without a hitch. Hats off to you guys, and thanks for all your words of wisdom, your most welcomed advice, and your passion and incredible knowledge of the Bighorn fishery. I can’t imagine a better group of guides anywhere!
It looks like the heavy rains are accelerating the spring runoff, and in order to control the rate of fill into Bighorn Lake, Reclamation will increase releases into the river.
Starting Friday at 6am releases will increase from 5,000cfs to 5,500cfs.
On Friday at 4pm releases will increase from 5,500cfs to 6,000cfs.
As anticipated, in order to control the rate of fill, Reclamation will increase releases.
On Thursday morning at 6am, flows will increase from 4,000cfs to 4,500cfs.
On Thursday evening at 4pm, flows will increase from 4,500cfs to 5,000cfs.
Reclamation is hopeful they can hold releases at 5,000cfs if conditions (and the Corps of Engineers) allow it.
It looks like all our rain dances have paid off. The spring rains have been plentiful, the upstream reservoirs have increased releases, and Bighorn Lake is rapidly filling. In order to control the rate of fill, Reclamation will have to increase releases.
Starting today at 4pm, releases will increase 800cfs from 2,200cfs to 3,000cfs.
On Wednesday, at 6am, releases will increase 500cfs from 3,000cfs to 3,500cfs.
On Wednesday, at 4pm, releases will increase 500cfs from 3,500cfs to 4,000cfs.
Once at 4,000cfs, Reclamation will watch inflows and stay in close contact with the upstream reservoir to evaluate whether additional releases ay be required.
A big thanks to Reclamation for working hard to help us achieve good rainbow recruitment this year, and for working closely with FWP biologists in protecting our fishery.
Let’s give a tip of the hat to Reclamation this month for releasing an operating plan that further reduces the target peak lake elevation by another five feet to 3,630ft in order to protect the rainbow spawn that was mostly lost last year. You may recall Reclamation sat down in person with FWP and essentially negotiated a release that could be maintained through June, and so far, its look like they’re working hard to protect the fishery.
River users are prepared to see slightly lower flows this summer and fall in order to maintain a healthy rainbow population. Let’s keep up the rain dances for a few more weeks anyway.
Thanks, and good job, Reclamation!
Guides and anglers are still finding fish that are showing signs of gas bubble trauma in the upper 3 miles of the river. Reclamation has been notified and is looking into ways to use the gates at Afterbay to minimize the problem.
Hard-working guide Seth Byler sent in this photo yesterday of a brown caught near Red Cliffs.
Nitrogen gas super saturation is a problem common to most tailwaters, and low flows prevent fish from easily escaping it by moving to deeper water. Bighorn fish can typically tolerate fairly high levels of nitrogen. Anglers are encouraged to report dates and locations of fish found with symptoms of gas trauma.