Category Archives: Bighorn River

Late Winter on the Bighorn

sparkleCottonwood Camp here we come!  It’s been a long winter in the mountains of Montana, and those of us on the West side of the state have certainly seen our fair share of it.   With the first signs of the season’s thaw, a great crew of friends gather together on the Bighorn River in South Central Montana for our annual getaway.

bitterroot river guides on the bighornWe showed up on a Wednesday eve and planned to fish til Sunday morning, weather permitting.  Our temperatures were great the first two days, allowing for purple sequined sparkle shirts and big straw hats, and also providing easy fishing conditions.  The whole crew, seven of us total, found great fishing throughout the 3 to B stretch, even finding pods of trout rising to midges and scoring Crow beach all to ourselves for a two hour nymphathon.

DSum on the HornAs our trip drew down to the last couple days, the weather made a serious turn for the worse, with cold storms blowing in from the North.  Frozen guides were inevitable, stalling your casts every few minutes or so and forcing you to clean the ice off the entire length of the rod.  The fishing remained steady, so at least we stayed enthused through the punishment; and what the hell, we didn’t drive 400 miles to paint, as my brother John put it.

bighorn river in februaryOur last day about froze us out, but we hung in there.  Midday bonfires eased the 22 degree average we were putting up with; find your run, get a serious blaze on, and rotate between fishing and thawing.  As long as the fish kept taking our bugs we’d stay, knowing that the other alternative was to keep on chugging down the river into the bitter North, unprotected in the boats.  We finally beached at the Bighorn access one last time, and partied down one last evening at Cottonwood.  An early start sent us rolling back to western Montana, 400 miles to go and one degree Fahrenheit on the windshield.  Till next year my friends.bitterroot river guides on the bighornbighorn river eveningbighorn river three rivers runbighorn brown

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2014 Season Opener: Bighorn

bitterroot river guides hamilton montanaHere we go again!  Another December behind us and another ice off on the warmer rivers, the higher altitude streams still waiting many months to release their lock up from the long Montana winter.

Of course on the Bighorn, it’s game-on year round.  Some good folks and I made a February journey to these historic waters, hoping to find our first real fishing of the season that didn’t include ice augers and egg balls.  Cottonwood camp, right out of Fort Smith and five minutes from the three mile access, would be our home for a few days.

bitterroot river guides hamilton montanaDrift boats in the water, mists rolled off the river as we started tossing articulated streamers, letting them sink a bit on clear tipped weighted 7wt lines before retrieving them in short strips.  Real quick, like the first run, we figured out why the Bighorn is so bad ass: fish are everywhere. Quick strip the shorelines, rip through the riffles, backdredge the insides and points, we even stuck a couple on dries: pretty much anywhere that could hold trout, held trout.  And this kept up for all three days!  Maybe we hit it good, maybe the fish gods smiled upon us, shithouse luck possibly, but the Bighorn treated the six of us foreigners pretty nice for a February fishing trip.

bitterroot river guides hamilton montana