Montana is a breathtaking state riddled with nature that remains largely unspoiled. Crystal clear rivers, staggering vistas, and crisp mountain air make it a dream location for many outdoor enthusiasts. Fishermen are no different—they come from all over the world to fish Montana for premium trout. The Bighorn River is a pristine location for trout fishing.
The river begins at Boysen Reservoir in Wyoming and winds its way down into Montana 150 miles downstream. From the river, you can see the Pryor and Bighorn mountains rise up to the south and west to create gorgeous panoramas. Many fish this river year-round, and it’s not a bad idea to pack your gear in a waterproof duffel bag, as the rocks here are notorious for their slippery texture created by moss.
The Bighorn River is a destination for some of the best trout fishing in the U.S. Fish in this river are consistently large and average around 15 inches for a brown trout and 16 inches for rainbow. It’s estimated that the fish population in the area is between 3,000-5,000 fish per mile. This river features consistent fishing conditions and a steady flow due to the dam that regulates river flow.
The most popular area to fish can be found in the 13 miles after Afterbay Dam, where people wade, shoreline, and drift to fish. Fly fishing is insanely popular here, and it’s easy to find success. According to the National Park Service, “though many different patterns of fly will take fish, some are more popular and productive. Here are a few of each type:
- Dry: Midges (dark), sizes 16-22 or as small as can be managed, work well as midge hatches occur at any time of the year.
- Wet: Numerous nymph patterns will take fish. Scud (freshwater shrimp), San Juan Worm, Hares Ear, Muddler Minnows, Pheasant Tail Nymph, and the Zug Bug work well.
- Streamers: The Bighorn Special, Wooly Buggers, Dirty Red or Yellow
- Grasshoppers: Various grasshopper patterns produce well at times, fished wet or dry.”
Fly fishing is high-quality here year-round, so pack your long sleeve fishing shirts and layer for warmth to enjoy winter fishing at this gorgeous spot.
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