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Bighorn River MT

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  • Bighorn River MT

    Hey All,

    I just got back from 2 weeks of fishing in Utah. We've been doing this trip for 10 years to the Middle Provo and some surrounding streams. The fishing used to be great there but has steadily declined due to the number of "guides" and local rapala fishermen. The good runs we used to fish are now hammered 7 days a week for most of the year and produced only small fish this year; all but 1 fish had markings of being caught before. The Heber Valley, where the Middle Provo is located, is expected to double in population over the next decade. The river just can't support that kind of pressure and there is no regulation of guides; anyone can be a guide with no licensing required.

    So my 2 buddies and I are looking to find another place to begin going in September. One of my buddies is 70 years old and able to walk and wade OK as long as it's not too extreme. He's a good nymph fisherman but doesn't have the eyesight to throw dries. We're also not wild about fishing in grizzly country.

    A friend recommended the Bighorn River in MT. After doing some internet research, it look like the preferred method is via drift boat, which is not an option for the 3 of us.

    Anyone have any experience fishing and wading the Bighorn river?

    Thanks very much,


  • #2
    I have 3 trips under my belt to the Big Horn. It is the best, or close to the best dry fly river I have fished out West---when it is on. It does fish the best from a drift boat, especially when the dries are on. It is not a tough river to float, I have a buddy who fishes it from a float tube.

    But last year we hit the Big Horn on an extremely hot year at the end of the season. The fishing was not great and we waded a bunch. You can not wade anywhere you want and the water level has to be fairly low but it can be done. Go to Afterbay put in and walk downstream and you will get to some water. The best wading is around 3 mile put-in, pretty good downstream and better up-stream. Even with low water you need to be careful, the river can be pushy. And most times you have to clamber down a bank to get to the water. Sometimes you have to hoof it pretty far to get to open water. Take this into consideration with a 70 year old.


    • #3
      Agree with JD. not a destination if you are planning to wade
      They will rent you a drift boat, put it in and take it out. Easy to row, not technical. Actually great for 3 folks


      • #4
        I cant comment on the Bighorn, but the Madison, both inside and outside the park, can be wonderful in September.

        And, your hesitation about fishing in Grizzly country is not really a legitimate concern. Just this morning, I read this in an article about Yellowstone : since the park was established in 1872, at least 22 visitors have been killed in the thermal pools, and only 8 deaths due to bear attacks.
        Just strap on some bear spray and fish.


        • #5
          Thanks for the replies

          Thanks everyone for the information. As always, NGTO has some awesome folks who are willing to help.

          I like the idea of renting a drift boat. CTA Mike, who should I contact about renting a boat?

          Thanks again everyone,

          John Barker


          • #6
            If you fish out of Twin Bridges, you'll have the Bighole, Jefferson, Beaverhead, and Ruby all within a few minutes. All amazing rivers. The Madison is a relatively short drive away too.

            We fished with Troy who guided out of the Four Rivers Outfitter there. Highly recommended.


            • #7
              Thank you True!


              • #8
                Many of the fly shops and some of the lodging will rent boats and do the put in and take out
                Look over the archived fishing reports, looked like a tough year. Early high water, middle year hot weather and recently lot of grass in the river. Make your own decision, rowing is easy and the river has a bunch of big fish, but there are downsides


                • #9
                  Sept trip recommendation

                  Easy wading, 35+ miles of if you can see it, you can fish it access, reasonable lodging on or near the water, and great nymph fishing for 2500 fish per mile of river for Browns, rainbows, west slope cutties, and occasional bulls. Fantastic scenery and lots of wildlife. Im talking about Rock Creek, Clinton, MT. Less than one hour from the Missoula airport. Call Rock Creek Mercantile for detailed info.


                  • #10
                    ditto on Rock Creek. Also close to the Bitterroot, Clark fork and the Blackfoot. Miles and miles of great trout water. Look for lodging on Rock Creek. Lots of cabins for rent. September is good. Crowds are gone. Look to local fly shops for fly patterns. Fish can be picky that time of year.