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Fly Fishing the Bighorn River in Montana

Very good
4 out of 5 (4 ratings)

Bighorn River summary

Bighorn River is a fly fishing location in Montana. This destination has an elevation of approximately 2687 feet. Please view the pinpointed location for Bighorn River on the Google Map to the right. If you'd like directions to this destination, please click here for directions (provided via Google Maps).
                   

Bighorn River reports

Eric Anderson (BIGHORNANGLER) reported - 2 - Good fly fishing: Midges and Blue Winged Olives hatching today. First big day of dry fly fishing on the 'horn it seems like. Fishing emergers behind larger dries and getting all the fish on the emergers. The baetis come off in the afternoons and the midges have been scattered throughout the day. Nymphing has been good on sowbugs, midges and baetis nymphs. Our best dries are Joca’s CDC BWO emerger #18, Single CDC Midge #18, Grey Hanging Midge #20. nymphs: Killer Mayfly black #20, Zebra Nymphs # 18 and 20, Firebead Ray Charles #18, Orange Scud #16 (03/20/11)
Eric Anderson (BIGHORNANGLER) reported - 2 - Good fly fishing: Fishing remains best in the early afternoons. We have been having some warm temperatures and are seeing quite a bit of snow melting, but it’s been getting cold. Nymphing with smaller midges and sowbugs has been the best method as of late. Streamer fishing is just ok throughout most the river and great in some of the deeper slower runs. The river is running clear and low and the bottom is very clean after a winter break off of all the grass. Flow: 2400 cfs Bugs: grey soft hackle sow bugs #20, Black Midge Larvae #18, Grey Poly-Wing Emerger #18, Give us a call if you need anything at the Bighorn Angler 1-866-658-7688 or 406-666-2233 (03/05/11)
Eric Anderson (BIGHORNANGLER) reported - 2 - Good fly fishing: We have had some decent weather and the water has been warming a bit during the day. It has been somewhat slow in the mornings, but the afternoons have been good. The fish are still deep and eating small sow bugs in Pink and Grey. Midges are your next best bet with red and black being the best colors. Sowbugs in size 18 and 20 and midges in size 16, and 18. Streamers have been a bit slow, but they are eating them occasionally. The shop is open, Stop by for the best shuttle prices as well as the largest selection of Bighorn Bugs anywhere. Give us a call with any questions at 1-866-658-7688. Check out our facebook page for the Bighorn Angler or our fishing report site at / (02/20/11)
Eric Anderson (BIGHORNANGLER) reported - 2 - Good fly fishing: Good nymphing with midges such as the black beauty and WD-40's. A sow bug was the best lead fly. We say a good BWO hatch for about an hour right after lunch. Midges were coming off, but not in numbers that get too many fish up on them (01/29/11)
Nick Forrester (ForrestersBigHorn) reported - 2 - Good fly fishing: The flows are at 2,749cfs. Streamer fishing is starting to be the preference for the angles this week. Casting toward the bank and stripping it back 20 feet or so. Out in the deeper pools can be exciting letting your streamer sink near the bottom before starting to strip. A light sink tip line is ideal for this style of fishing. There are some blue winged olives starting to appear and the fish are on them through out the day. River Flows —- 2,850cfs (02/10/10)
Nick Forrester (ForrestersBigHorn) reported - 2 - Good fly fishing: Bighorn River Fishing Report - 12/30/09.

Water flow: 2,825cfs

Visibility: 50 inches

Water temperature at mid-day: 50 Degrees F

Water condition: Clear

Best time of day to fish: 8:00am till dark (about 4:30)

Best stretch: Afterbay to Bighorn is the best stretch right now.

Best access point: 1st – After Bay 2nd – 3 mile 3rd – Bighorn

Fly fishing hatches in order of importance:

Small baetis
A few midges



Fish species: Wild Rainbow & Brown Trout

Fishing season: Year Round (Prime: April 1 – October 31)

Nearest airport: Billings Logan International Airport (BIL)

Recommended fly fishing leader: 9 Foot Leader

Recommended fly fishing tippet: 5X Tippet Size

Best fly fishing rod: 9′ 5 Weight Fly Rod

Best floating fly line: Trout WF


7 day outlook

This week it's cold but it looks like it's going to get into the 40's by the end of the week so it should be perfect. When fishing in this cold of weather you have to dunk your rod every few minutes to "de-ice" your guides. The water is still about 55 so it feels warm. The Browns are in full fall spawn now. They are being very aggressive and are jousting for there right to procreate. Streamers invite a fight for any brown that is in this courtship stage. Even with cooler weather, the dry-fly fishing is hanging in there. Baetis are starting to be heavier every day now. Streamers are effective as the browns are starting to get their spawn personality going. Mid day temps are expected to be in the mid 20's. Water temps are near perfect at 50.Tips of the Week.

The flows are at 2,825cfs. Streamer fishing is starting to be the preference for the angles this week. Casting toward the bank and stripping it back 20 feet or so. Out in the deeper pools can be exciting letting your streamer sink near the bottom before starting to strip. A light sink tip line is ideal for this style of fishing. There are some blue winged olives starting to appear and the fish are on them through out the day. A cast and blast trip is always exciting and right now the ducks and geese use this river as a main flyway for their southern migration. Hunt in the morning over decoys on the river, then mid-day fish and finally, catch the evening hunt. Makes for a very full and exciting day. The bottom tributaries are starting to clear up so the lower river is getting better. River Flows —- 2,850cfs

Fly Fishing Techniquest and Tips

Stripping streamers is best done from the middle of the stream and casting toward the banks and seams. Either wading on bars or from the boat this is the choice of most anglers right now. Dry fly fishing is best done from down stream from the fish, presenting the fly as a dead drift. Nymph fishing below indicators with 9′-3X leaders, 1 BB and a B shot seem to be the right weight. Orvis’ Helios Rod with it’s strong backbone, is really handling these bigger fish very well. I prefer the Helios 6 weight. (ZG Helios 906-4 Tip 9.5) (12/30/09)
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Bighorn River descriptions

Eric Anderson (BIGHORNANGLER) wrote - Let us show you everything this amazing fishery has to offer. We pride ourselves in educating each of our customers about the Bighorn River. If you are looking for a guided trip where you catch fish and get taken care of all day that is great we love to do that. If you are looking for a guide to instruct you on the river, it's bug's, and how to do in on your own, we do that too. We want to provide you with whatever you are looking for about of a guided trip and realize everyone has a different reason for hiring a guide on the Bighorn River in Fort Smith, Montana. (01/29/11)
Eric Anderson (BIGHORNANGLER) wrote - The Bighorn is a peaceful and majestic river flowing through the heart of the Crow Indian Reservation. It's plentiful trout and extremely consistent conditions make it one of the west's best trout rivers. (01/29/11)
Eric Anderson (BIGHORNANGLER) wrote - The Bighorn is truly a year round fishery as it is a tailwater below the 7th largest dam in the U.S. The prime fishing conditions team up with a graceful and grand river for consistent conditions day to day as well as very large trout and many of them. With hatches throughout the year it is a great dry fly river, but nymphing here always produces. Streamer fishing is best in the spring and fall. Floating the river is easy and many people rent drift boats as it is a a great place to hone your skills or learn how to row for the first time. (01/29/11)
Eric Anderson (BIGHORNANGLER) wrote - The Bighorn is a majestic peaceful river in the middle of the Crow Indian reservation. Only a Montana State Fishing License is needed which you can get at the Bighorn Angler, The Bighorn's first fly shop. Not really any rapids that can't be rowed around and tons of big healthy trout. It Flows from the the Bighorn Lake created by Yellowtail Dam and it is an extremely consistent tailwater. The prime strech is the first 13 miles below the dam originationg just on the outskirts of the tiny town of Fort Smith. If you have any questions give the Bighorn Angler a call at 1-866-658-7688. (01/29/11)
Mark Stroda (mtflyfishers) wrote - A River with alot of character, nice long runs with deep shelfs to fish. The average fish is 18' I've seen 28' Trout.
13 miles of very fishable both boat and wade fishing. (03/07/09)
Andy Idema (aidema) wrote - The Bighorn River is located in South central Montana and is one of the nicest tailwater fly fisheries in the West. Afterbay Dam provides miles of coldwater after and creates a productive trout fishery that remains steady throughout the season. The fish per mile count is extremely healthy and large fish are very common. Fly anglers can catch rainbows and browns. (08/07/08)
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Bighorn River businesses

Legend:
Shop Guide Service Lodge School (Classes) Travel Rods Manufacturer
Bighorn Angler
577 N Parkdale Ct
Fort Smith, Montana
Old Hookers Guest House
at the Bighorn
Fort Smith, Montana
Lodge Eagle Nest Lodge
PO Box 509
Hardin, Montana
Lodge Leaning Tree Lodge
Ft. Smith 10 Blk I
Fort Smith, Montana
Leaning Tree Lodge
Ft. Smith Park I Street #10
Fort Smith, Montana
Bighorn Angler
577 N Parkdale Ct
Fort Smith, Montana
Guide Service Osprey Outfitters Guide Service & Fly Shop
1963 North First Street
Hamilton, Montana
Guide Service Montana Hunting and Fishing Adventures
870 Sleeping Child Rd.
Hamilton , Montana
Flyandfloatfishing.com/Rock Creek Anglers
2876 Fontenay Rd.
Steelhead Alley, Ohio
Guide Service Montana Fishing Outfitters
716 N. Warren
Helena, Montana
Montana Troutwranglers
508 W. Central
Bozeman, Montana
Eastslope Outfitters
Bighorn River
Fort Smith, Montana
Guide Service Fly Currents, Inc.
1725 west stuart street
fort collins, Colorado
Guide Service Montana Fly Fishers
Ft. Smith Main St. West
Fort Smith, Montana
Bighorn Angler
577 N Parkdale Ct
Fort Smith, Montana
Other Bighorn Flies
# Golden Butte Dr.
Billings, Montana
Dry Fly Innovations
383 W Bloomington Dr
Meridian, Idaho
Other Tightline Outfitters
PO Box 154
West Yellowstone, Montana
Other Forrester's Bighorn River Resort
P.O. Box 7595
Fort Smith, Montana
Bighorn Trout Shop
P.O. Box 7477
Fort Smith, Montana
Other Fort Smith Fly Shop and Cabins
PO Box 7872
Fort Smith, Montana
Montana Troutfitters
1716 West Main Street
Bozeman, Montana
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Bighorn River comments and ratings

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2 comments
David Palmer (CzechNymph)
Fished right before the brutal cold snap. Natural colored scuds and sow bugs did extremely well. Have also seen midge and baetis hatches that were getting attention from some fish. (1/19/13)
David Palmer (CzechNymph)
With the higher water flows this year, the spawns seemed to have done very well this year which means there could be a large number of 8 to 14 inch fish next year. There was also a good class of 14 to 17 inch trout this year which means there should be a good class of 17 to 20 inch fish next year also. (1/19/13)

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