Grasshopper infestations have taken on mythic tones here on the arid prairie of northern Wyoming — they blanket highways, eat T-shirts off clotheslines and devour nearly every scrap of vegetation on area ranch land. The myth may come closer to reality this summer than at any time in decades.
Not great news for the ranching community, but it’s hard not to get excited as trout anglers.
According to the USDA and a federal survey of farm areas taken last fall found high numbers of adult grasshoppers in all parts of Wyoming. (See Image Below)
“They’re grass eaters,” said Chuck Evitt, a rancher near Buffalo. “They’ll eat the leaves and leave the stem. But if they’re thick enough, they’ll eat the stem too, you see.”
“When they’re really thick, people say they’ll eat T-shirts on a line,” he said as he recalled a time in the mid-1980s when the grasshoppers were so thick that you couldn’t put your hand on the shady side of a fence post without squashing one.
“In Wyoming and Montana, we may see some of the most severe grasshopper outbreaks that we’ve seen in nearly 30 years,” said Charles Brown, the national grasshopper suppression program manager at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
It seems a safe assumption that swarming insects will flutter en masse into rivers like the Bighorn, Piney Creek and the Powder. In other words, the trout don’t know it yet, but a veritable smorgasbord of protein is about to rain from the sky. In fact, we’re already seeing hoppers popping along some Colorado rivers right now, months earlier than normal.
There is nothing better than watching the slow, deliberate rise of a trout eating a grasshopper fly. If that’s something that floats your boat too, and you were thinking about a western fishing jaunt, Plan for July, August and September 2010. It’s going to go off, maybe in epic proportions.