Bighorn River

Saint Xavier, Montana

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The Bighorn River is 112 miles in length; however, most anglers find interest in the 13-mile stretch below the Afterbay Dam (just a few miles downstream from the Yellowtail Dam) at the town of Fort Smith. Prior to 1965, the Bighorn River was warm, silty, and of little interest to trout fishermen. The completion of the Yellowtail dam, and subsequently the Afterbay dam in 1967, changed the character of the Bighorn virtually overnight by allowing the silt to settle and the water to cool in the deep water of the newly-constructed Bighorn reservoir. The portion of the river that flows through Crow Indian territory was closed to the general public in 1975. It was re-opened following a heated Supreme Court ruling that declared the river public in 1981. Public access is now available at three points on the upper 13 miles of river: Afterbay, 3 Mile (Lind Ranch) and 13 Mile (Big Horn Access). Types of Fish: Brown and Rainbow Trout, Whitefish. This fly-fishing chapter describes the "where, when, and how" for fishing in this area. It includes a full-page map and information on the known hatches, suggested equipment to use, the best flies to use, season, limits, nearby accommodations, and camping.
Fly Fishing Montana

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Fly Fishing Montana

by Brian & Jenny Grossenbacher (No Nonsense Fly Fishing Guidebooks)

The Bighorn River is 112 miles in length; however, most anglers find interest in the 13-mile stretch below the Afterbay Dam (just a few miles downstream from the Yellowtail Dam) at the town of Fort Smith. Prior to 1965, the Bighorn River was warm, silty, and of little interest to trout fishermen. The completion of the Yellowtail dam, and subsequently the Afterbay dam in 1967, changed the character of the Bighorn virtually overnight by allowing the silt to settle and the water to cool in the deep water of the newly-constructed Bighorn reservoir.

The portion of the river that flows through Crow Indian territory was closed to the general public in 1975. It was re-opened following a heated Supreme Court ruling that declared the river public in 1981. Public access is now available at three points on the upper 13 miles of river: Afterbay, 3 Mile (Lind Ranch) and 13 Mile (Big Horn Access). Types of Fish: Brown and Rainbow Trout, Whitefish. This fly-fishing chapter describes the "where, when, and how" for fishing in this area. It includes a full-page map and information on the known hatches, suggested equipment to use, the best flies to use, season, limits, nearby accommodations, and camping.

©  Brian & Jenny Grossenbacher/No Nonsense Fly Fishing Guidebooks. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Fly-Fishing
Nearby City: Saint Xavier
Trail Type: Several options
Season & Limits: Year-round
Local Contacts: Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Custer National Forest, Crow Indian Reservation
Driving Directions: Directions to Bighorn River

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Apr 2018