The most popular stretch of the Bighorn is from Fort
Smith to the Bighorn access. This stretch is the upper
end of the river which runs the coldest during hot summer
months. Bighorn access to Hardin is also a very productive
stretch of river that should not be over looked. There
are miles of river in this area all of which are very
productive throughout much of the season (season is open
The trout in the Bighorn are healthy and strong very
capable of bolting down river taking you into your
backing. Finding holding water is best done by looking
for soft seams along the banks, below islands, tails
of pools, or in areas of broken currents. Nymph fishing,
like on many western streams, is productive throughout
the day. Dry fly fishing on the Bighorn is excellent
also, especially on overcast days, mornings, or late
afternoons and evenings. Streamers and Woolly Buggers
take a good number and some of the biggest fish of
every season. Hatches on the Bighorn include Midges,
Blue-winged Olives, Tricos, and Pale Morning Duns.
There are also good numbers of caddis in tan, black,
and ginger as well as stoneflies. The hatches are not
very diverse but the ones that come off do so in prolific
numbers. In fact, the Tricos can be so blinding that
fishing larger "cluster" patterns can work
well. There are so many flies on the water during this
hatch that a larger pattern, which is tied like an "oversize" Griffith
Gnat, can look l ike a group of Tricos stuck together.
This can be a very productive pattern during the late
summer months when fooling a fish into taking your
tiny fly seems impossible with the amount of food on
Fort Smith is a tiny quiet town with a nice surrounding.
Quality restaurants, accommodations, shops, and service
is readily available along the Bighorn river. It is
a favorite destination for many anglers throughout
the country and especially for the locals who fortunately
have this tremendous fishery at their dispose everyday.
If you're planning a trip to fish the Bighorn, the
nearest commercial airport to Fort Smith is in Billings
which is approximately 55 miles west of Hardin.