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Experience the serenity of the Bighorn River and learn how to flyfish from our professional river guides

Rick Gehweiler

Rick Gehweiler

Sunday, 29 October 2017 00:00

Fall float down the Bighorn

A beautiful 68 degree day gave Cheryl and I a shot at resonable weather to take what is probalby the last float down the Bighorn River we will make this year.  The river is running 5,000 cfs so even getting on at 10:30 we had enough time to wade fish 3 or 4 spots.  Fishing has been a bit tough lately but we had a pretty good day.  Cheryl landed a nice rainbow and two 17" browns foom the boat and I was fortunate to find one wade spot that produced 6 fish out of one hole.  Beautiful sunny warm day and a great way to end our fishing season.  We will spend the next month getting the lodge ready for winter. doing invertory and putting orders together for next year. We had our best year ever and look forward to another one next year.  Same staff will be returning including our fabulous Chef Shawn Smith. If you are considering returning or coming to the Bighorn River Lodge for the first time remember to book early to make sure you can secure the dates and the guides you may prefer.  

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 00:00

Fall Fishing

                            FALL FISHING PICKING UP !!                  

Fall has come to the Bighorn River and with the change of cooler weather and some cloudy days the fishing has shifted gears a bit.  The Trico hatch is still on as well as some prolific Pseudo hatches. Dry fly action in the morings and in some cases carrying on into the afternoon can be awesome.  Nymping is still mediocre due in part to the floating grasses still breaking loose from the river bottom and banks as they continue to deteriorate in the cooler weather. However streamer fishing is good especially on those cloudy days.  Fall is just a spectacular time on the Bighorn and our guides will find the fish whatever the conditions may be. Call the office, talk to Cheryl and take advantage of great fall fisiing. 

Tuesday, 08 August 2017 00:00

Bighorn River Fishing Report

                                          BIGHORN RIVER FISHING REPORT

Water Flows:  As of today the water is running at 4,000CFS. Only a couple of weeks ago we were at 9,000.  The Bureau of Reclamation who controls the water releases from Yellowtail Dam have been dropping the flows at a 500 cfs clip almost daily for more than a week. I would expect that we may see some further reductions this coming week. The good news is that with these lower flows more wade spots are now available and fish should move into some riffles for the more oxygenated water. 
 Water Temperatures: The water temperature yesterday at 3-mile was 62 degrees which is a bit confusing given the fact that with these lower releases all the water from the dam is coming through the turbines and off the bottom of the lake where the water is the coldest.  Hopefully we will soon see the water temps back in the higher 50's which is better for the fish.
 Fishing: The bite is definitely back on as of this past week.  During those two weeks of daily flow changes the fish were confused and fishing was challenging,  But this last week they seem to have gotten their bearings.  Our clients are having 20 fish days with the occasional 20 inch Rainbow or Brown. I was out two days ago with one of our guides Ron Ford and I had a 25 fish day with a nice fat 18" Rainbow to cap off the afternoon. . 
  • Dry Fly Fishing: Dry fly fishing has dropped off considerably with the end of the Trico hatch. Some fish can be found taking midges and the occasional Black Caddis, but these are one or two fish with very sporadic activity and the pod action on significant hatches is pretty much over for the time being. 
  • Nymph Fishing:  The Nymph fishing has been excellent the last week and should continue. After a week or two of constant changing water flows the fish seemed to have regained their bearing and focus on eating.  20+ fish days are common. Grass growth is an issues so having a good guide that knows where the clear lanes and spots are as well as what kind of set up to use is critical.  
  • Streamer Fishing: Streamer fishing has been hot and cold. We had one guides who said he turned 50 + fish one day and then couldn't get their attention the next.  Cloud cover and the hot patterns are the key to success.
Fly Patterns
  • Dries: #18,20 Sipper Midge,#18,20 Midge Cluster, #18 CDC Black Caddis, #18 Black Hemingway Caddis, #14 Mahogany trailed with a #18 quil nymph or Black Tunk Teaser.
  • Nymphs: #16,18 Pink Soft Hackle Sow Bug, #16,18 Tan or Grey Soft Hackle Ray, #16,18 Orange or Pink Scud, # 16,18 Flashback PT, #18,20 Sunken Trico,  #16 Chenille San Juan Worm in wine or two tone wine/brown, #4,6,8 Red Wire Worm.
  • Streamers: # 6 Emerald Shiner, #4,6 White or Cream Wooly Bugger, #8 Black Squirrel Leech, #6 Thin Mint Wolly Bugger, #4 Grey Zonkeo, #4,6 Bighorn Wooly Bugger (yellow/brown)
Saturday, 22 July 2017 00:00

Bighorn River Fishing Report

River flow is now at 9,000 cfs with expectations that further reductions will be coming again this week. At this level of release about half of the water is coming over the dam spillway from the top of the lake thus producing the higher river temps. We expcect river releases to begin to come down this week.  Once we can get down to around 7,000 all the water from the dam will be coming from the bottom of the lake which hopefully bring the water temps back into the high 50's.  This should encourage more activity from the fish which are fairly subdued right now due to the higher water temps.

High water temps have made nymph fishing tough in the last few weeks but that improved significantly yesterday for our clients in the lodge.  Several had a 20 fish day. Without a doubt having a good guide is critical under these conditions. 

Dry fly fishing for Tricos in the very early morning with spinners and BlackCaddis in the late afternoon and early evening has been very good.

Nymphing can be good as well but in selective spots.  The fish are sitting in deeper holes where the window of opportunity is short when fishing from the boat.  Again having a guide who know where these select spots are is criticacl. Still it can be good if you know where and how to fish these spots. 

Streamer fishing is still pretty productive.  All that water coming over the spillway continues to dump lake shinners into the river.  Casting to the bank with an off white clouser style fly is working quite well on the upper three mile section.

Fly Patterns                                                                                              

Nymphing:  #14,16 Soft Hackle Grey or Tan Ray, #18 Black Caddis or Sparkle Pupa, #18,20 Drowned Trico, #16,18 Flashback Pheasant Tail, #12,14,16 Orange Scud, # 14 Soft Hackle Pins Sowbug, #18 Black Zebra Midge or Tung Teaser, #18 Quill Nymph, #6 Red Wire Worm, #18 Wine or Brown Chinneal San Juan Worm.

Dry Fly: Lead fly #14 Mahogany, Second Fly #18 CDC Black Caddis # 20, 22 Trico Spinner

Streamers: #6 White or off white Clouser, #6 Emerald Shinner, #4 Grey Zonker, #6 Thin Mint Wolly, #4,6 White or Grey Wolley Bugger

Tuesday, 11 July 2017 00:00

Bighorn River Lodge Fishing Report

The river flow is running at 9500 with a water temp of 63 degrees at the three mile access.  Higher water temps are a result of the Bighorn Lake top water coming over the spillway at these higher lake discharges.  This higher water temperature is producing some Trico hatches in the morning as well as Black Caddis hatches in the late afternoon and evening on the upper three- mile section of the river.  Can’t remember when we have ever seen Tricos this early in the season. The Trico hatch should continue to improve as long as the water temperature stays warm.  It remains to be seen what the water temps will do once the lake discharges drop as the summer progresses.

019

Dry Fly

  • For Tricos I would recommend a set-up using a #14 Mahogany as a lead fly (Almost a third of the fish are actually taking the Mahogany!) and a trail fly in #20 Trico spinner.
  • For Caddis a number #18 CDC or Elk Hair Black Caddis or/and a #18 Hemingway Caddis.

The high water flows this year should have scoured out the river bottom setting up great conditions for PMD and Yellow Sally hatches. We are beginning to see some already but the fish are keyed in on Tricos and Black Caddis at the moment.  Stay tuned.

Nymping

Nymphing has been fair lately using the following patterns:

  • #16, #18 SH Grey Ray
  • #14, #12 Orange Scud
  • #18 Black Caddis Pupa
  • #16, #18 Olive Flashback Pheasant Tail
  • #18 Black Tung Teaser
  • #18 Quill Nymph
  • #4 San Juan Red Wire or two-tone Wine Chanile Worm.

Streamers

With so much water coming over the dam spillway a large number of shiners are washing over from the lake into the water.  The fish have been going crazy gorging on this bait food.  So, top drifting of twitching a white clouser-like pattern just under the surface along the banks has been extremely effective and the takes can be explosive.  Try these patterns:

  • #6 Emerald Shiner
  • #4, #6 White or Cream Wolly Bugger
  • #6 Thin Mint Wolly Bugger
  • #8 Squirrel Leach
  • #4 Grey Zonker

The Bighorn River Lodge is excited by the aspect of an excellent water year and another year of great fishing.  Here are some of the factors that we will be monitoring.

Snow Pack, Temperatures and Water Flow Point To Plentiful Spring and Summer Fishing

Snow Pack:  Early snows this year have helped bring the average snowpack levels back to a normal trend for the Bighorn Basin after a few years of lower than normal levels.  Current snowpack is at 108% of normal and given the standard trend for more snow in February and March we should be in great shape for the year.

Temperatures:  A return to normal freezing temperatures this winter is a good sign for the river for a couple of reasons.

  • Consistent colder temperatures mean the snowpack stays around longer.
  • Should this trend continue it will also be interesting to see what effect it will have on algae and grass growth in the river.  Hopefully this will reduce the prolific growth we saw in mid and late summer in 2016.

Water Flows:  Currently the river is running at 2626 CFS.  The Bureau of Reclamation which controls flows has set this as the winter flow level. However, the Bighorn River Alliance will be monitoring the situation and hopefully working with BOR to suggest adjustment to water releases as the situation dictates. The factors that affect these releases are.

  • Snow pack levels. While it looks like we are in for a good year based on current levels, we must stay vigilant of spring conditions which effect snow melt rates and therefore river flows.
  • Winter temperatures.  The colder it stays the longer the snow pack remains and conversely warmer mid-winter temps can deplete the snow pack too early resulting in early higher level releases from the lake. 
  • Spring precipitation.  Again, too warm of a spring and too much precipitation can push the BOR to order higher than welcome flows.

bighorn river snowpack 17The key is to work with the BOR who traditionally want to store as much water as possible in the lake to cover their needs. If storage capacity in the lake is near maximum and we are looking at a large snowpack then hopefully we can persuade them to modify their approach, raise winter flow rates to avoid large releases in late spring and early summer.  These large releases can negatively affect dry fly hatches in the Spring and Rainbow spawning in the summer months. But bottom line is it looks REALLY GOOD for 2017.

Wednesday, 04 January 2017 00:00

Fly Fishing Basics

Fly fishing dates back hundreds of years, but it gained the most popularity in North America during the 19th and 20th centuries. From presidents to the common man, the challenge of fly fishing, including everything from the difficulty of casting to the diverse fishing conditions, appeals to all. If you are just starting out, here are the basics you need to know.

The Basic Materials

While many experienced fly fishermen have dozens of lures, lines and leaders, the beginner only needs the following:

  • Rod
  • Reel
  • Line
  • Leader and Tippet
  • Flies
  • Snips

 

Rod

Fly rods are different from other types of fishing rods. These rods bend in a specific way, allowing you to put the fly exactly where you want it. Finding the right rod consists of knowing (a) where you will be fishing and (b) what type of fish you will be catching. A 9-foot rod is the most common type among fly fishermen. Depending on the type of fish, you will use a specifically weighted rod. For example, a 3- and 4-weight rod would be used for smaller panfish, like bluegill and small trout.

Rod Weight Water Fish
1 - 2 Weight Extreme Light Freshwater Small Panfish
3 - 4 Weight Light Freshwater Small Panfish, Trout
5 Weight Freshwater Trout, Panfish, Small Bass
6 - 7 Weight Medium Freshwater/Light Saltwater Large Trout, Bass, Bonefish
6 - 7 Weight Medium Freshwater/Light Saltwater Large Trout, Bass, Bonefish
6 - 7 Weight Medium Freshwater/Light Saltwater Large Trout, Bass, Bonefish
8 - 9 Weight Heavy Freshwater/Saltwater Carp, Bass, Bonefish, Snook, Baby Tarpon
10 Weight Extreme Heavy Freshwater/ Medium Saltwater Tarpon, Salmon, Permit
11 - 12 Weight Heavy Saltwater Large Saltwater Species
11 - 12 Weight Heavy Saltwater Large Saltwater Species
13 - 15 Weight Extreme Heavy Saltwater Extreme big fish, tuna, sharks

 

Line

Fly rods and line are designed to work together, like a dynamic fishing duo. For instance, a 5-weight rod will work best with a 5-weight line. Most rods have the information printed on the shaft. As for color, some fly fishermen prefer a brightly colored line so they can see it easily in the water. Others prefer a color that blends into the background. Choose the color that works best for you.

Reel

A fly reel holds the line, and you operate it by stripping the line off of the reel and manipulating it with one hand and casting the rod with the other. Most fly reels have a disc-type drag system, although you can find some with a coiled spring mechanism, which automatically pulls the line into the reel.

Leader and Tippet

The leader and tippet are used to connect the fly to your colored line with a material that won’t scare the fish away. The leader also allows you to cast your line in a straight line. The leader is the clear material connected at the end of the fly line. The tippet is the lightweight material attached on the end of the leader and fly. Light and strong are two qualities of a great tippet. Tippets are used to help present the fly in the most realistic way.

Flies

There are three basic groups of flies, including streamers, nymphs and dry flies. The type of fly you use during your fishing trip depends on the flies or insects that are common in the area you are fishing. If you aren’t sure which flies to choose, check with the experts at your local bait shop.

Don’t forget a quality fly fishing vest for your first fly fishing trip! You can find one at a high quality retailer like Carhartt, along with other fishing gear essentials. Now go catch some fish!

Tuesday, 01 November 2016 00:00

Staff Field Trip

                                                            Staff Field Trip     

So guess what the boys do when they get a day off in October.  You bet they go pheasant hunting!  Not a bad haul for a morning's work.  Matt Clawson our fishing outfitter lower right, Matt Ernst 2nd guide lower right and Shawn Smith our incredible chef standing.  Dietz, Red, Gus and Moose attending the after party.  Shawn served up some fresh pheasant parmesean with the most incredible red sausce ever.  Man o man what a feast.  

Oh yeah fishing.  Well the first part of October was okay, some really good days and some just satisfactory.  The truth is the 2nd half of October was a bit tough.  Lake turnover effect and some work on the dam really turnded the water off color and that combined with a lot of floating grasses due to vegiatation die off as the water cooled down was a tough combination for effective fishing. The Bighorn River is an incredible fishery and we tend to get spoiled if we aren't boating 20 fish or more or if the dry fly fishing isn't epic or if the Brown and Rainbows aren't 19" plus.  But that just reminds us of how great the river really is.  Still the best trout fishery in the lower 48 and has fished consistently extremely well all season.

Fall Fish

November will usher in the Brown spawn, the water will clear and the streamer fishing can be explosive as the Browns and Rainbows get aggressive with winter approaching.  It truly can be some of the best fishing of the year with hot fish and low crowds.  Thinnk about it!  For those of you coming back to the Bighorn River Lodge next year I have only one thing to say...BOOK EARLY....BOOK NOW.  This will ensure you get the dates and the guides you want.  Make plans and call Cheryl 406-666-2368.   See you on the river!

Rick 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016 00:00

Fishing Report October 12th

This week still produced some dry fly Trico time below 13 mile access for about an hour between 9:30-10:30. Guides have also seem some pseudos.  Fly patterns for nymphing and streamer have not changed much from last weeks post.  Try some pseudo nymph psstterns if you see the adults.  

The lower river seemed a bit more friendly for nymphing and streamer fishing as the upper river is suffering from a lot of floating grsses due to the dying and braking loose of bottom growth.  This condition should continue for about another week or possible two.  This condition requires some adjustment is how you fish. Shorter casts for streamer fishing and quick upward retrieve when nymphing.  Dragging the fly through the water will only catch the floating grasses and that can be tiresome.  

Once the grasses have gone the traditional November and early December fishing can be awesome.  So keep chekcing my reports and I will keep you posted on conditions. 

 Water Flow 2286

 Water Temp 60 degrees at 3 mile

Weather Temp in the 60's with occasional shower for the next week.  

Sunday, 02 October 2016 00:00

Fishing Report October 3rd

                           Bighorn River Fishing Report

Current Conditions

The Bighorn is currently running at 2286 cfs and flows could increase as the lake continues to fill.  Water temp is 60 degrees at 3 mile.  The water is fairly clear but rain is forcast for Monday and Tuesday which could effect clarity.  

Nymphing is steady and strong on some days.  The fish are concentrated in deeper runs at the end of rifles and below shelves where the water is cooler and oxyagenated so a bit of weight is a good idea.  If the cfs increase and water levels rise I would expect the fish to spread out a bit more.

Dry Fly action is still happening with Trico Hatches still happening in the morning after around 9:00 for an hour or so.  However the Tricos are now really small so the fish are picky and not concentrated in the larger pods we had last month.  Still can tag a few however and the fish are bigger.

Streamer fishing has been good especially on cloudy days.  The Browns are coming into their spawning season and are getting more aggresive so this is a good time to put in on streamers.    

Good Fly Patterns

Nymphs

Size #18 in the following patterns: Pink soft hackle sow bug, Soft hackle grey ray, Soft hackle tan ray, Zebra midge, Flash back pheasant tail, Drowned trico, Doc's blond baetis if there are some pseudos around.  I like to drop any of these patterns below a #6 red or orange wire worm.  Also try a brown or two tone brown and orange chenille worm below the wire worm.  

Dry Patterns

#20 Trico Dun, #22 Trico spinner, #20 Student, #14 Mahoganey or Royal Wulf.  I like to use the latter two as a lead fly I can see.  In fact the fish will commonly take the Mahoganey.  

Streamers

White and white/grey are the good colors right now tied sparsely.  Brown and gold combos are also a good choice. Good patterns: #8 Bighorn Special, #8 Squirrel Leach, #6 Thin Mint Wolly Bugger, #4 Cream Wooly Bugger.  

River Flows:  2286

Water Temp: 60 at 3 mile access

Weathern Conditions: Days in the 60's with clouds and occasional showers.  Tuesday and Wednesday calls for rain.  

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Montana’s Bighorn River Lodge has drawn avid fly fishing enthusiasts and sportsmen alike for decades. Known as the finest trout river in the country, the Bighorn River boasts an abundance of trout ranging in size from 14 to 18 inches, many exceeding 20 inches. Recent fish counts indicate an unsurpassed fish population of 5000 - 6000 brown and rainbow trout per river mile. The Bighorn River is situated on the eastern edge of the Rock Mountains just north of the Wyoming-Montana state line. If you are looking for a once in a lifetime Montana fly fishing vacation, this is your destination!

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The Bighorn River Lodge provides the ultimate in Montana comfort as well as outdoor adventure. We specialize in creating the perfect fly fishing experience for our guests with expert Montana fly fishing guides, resort-like accommodations and gourmet cuisine. Guests may choose to stay in one of the 5 comfortable lodge bedrooms, fitted with two beds and Big Sky charm or rent our spacious private Caddis Cabin with its 3 bedrooms, accommodating up to 6 guests. With its log cabin atmosphere and western hospitality, the Bighorn River Lodge is the ideal Montana fishing destination.

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301 Bighorn River Lodge Loop
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