Big Horn “Tonic”


A “Handful” Of Brown

My brief sojourn to the Big Horn River was tonic for my indigent soul.  Hindsight scrutiny revealed that one desperate trout fisher tested his luck dodging lightning bolts instead of napping in the truck, awaiting the clearing of skies. No luck was necessary to bring vigorous brown and cutthroat specimens to net.


A Plethora Of Lodging Choices?

This stream originates in the Big Horn Mountains which formed 70 million years ago in what is now Wyoming and Montana. There are over a dozen peaks surpassing 12 thousand feet, capturing abundant snowfall; melting and flushing in spring to sustain aquatic life. Combining with the Wind River, a wonderful trout haven evolved providing anglers’ plentiful access. These lands are revered by the Sioux, Crow and Cheyenne tribes and thus should be respected and left cleaner than initially encountered.

The tailwater stream below the Yellowtail Dam is a great fishery with exceptional populations of rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout. There are cozy accommodations in Fort Smith and willing guides with comfortable drift boats waiting to take you to float this incredible fishery.



I caught several browns reaching the 20 inch measure and a few cutthroats to match. The rainbows were on the spawn and left alone. On some stretches of slack water the ‘bows were stacked nicely in rows, tempting anxious novices. I was fishing a pink San Juan worm under a couple of split shot and the bites were vigorous. I wish the G. Loomis #7 weight had stowed away in my duffle. A few of the bigger rascals were a handful when they got in the current on my #4 weight rod!