Bighorn River Fishing Report with Owl Creek Flies

Thursday, 5 May, 2016
Water Clarity
Fished with Larry and Ray today, just a half day, which is perfect for the amount of fishable water right now. Buffalo Creek is on round 2 of dumping in red mud. It had cleared pretty good after last week's rains but I guess we got quite a bit of snow up in the Bridgers and with the warm weather the last few days it's got the creek flowing good. River is MUDDY after the red cliffs. But with all that said we had a pretty good day. Hooked about 30 of these.

Lots of break offs today. Fat feisty rainbows on 5x. Baetis nymphs were our best bugs. Saw a few guys out there today throwing streamers only saw one boat get one. Other boats said no good. But it is a good option in the dirty water. Hoping the river clears by the weekend but we are forecast to get a little more rain. So we'll see. River is at 990cfs. And we have a few trips going out next week but still plenty of days available if you're interested. Also the dry fly fishing is still pretty good, at least it was on Tuesday when I went out with Adam. Besides the bwo's we are seeing quite a few caddis and a lot of fish are taking notice and even moving out of their feeding rhythm to eat them. And a minor psa, please respect the property owners' rights... it is private property from the first highway bridge below wedding all the way past buffalo creek and the red cliffs. We don't need this place turning into the reef. Have fun out there!
Fishing Water Report
The Big Horn River in Thermopolis, Wyoming is the lesser known sister of the Big Horn in Fort Smith, Montana. An intimate tailwater which meanders through the farm fields and ranches ... moreof the Big Horn Basin, the river hosts Browns, Rainbows and Cutthroat trout. These fish grow large and fight hard, making for fun and challenging fly fishing. The Big Horn can be an excellent dry fly fishery - if conditions are favorable, trout will readily eat mayflies, cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets, ants and stoneflies during sometimes prolific hatches. Of course what happens on the surface is only part of the story. Trout fodder is abundant in the Big Horn, and often the best way to find fish is to go subsurface. The river fishes well in all seasons, and as we live right here in Thermopolis, we offer guided trips year round. A guided float trip is the best way to get the most out of this section of the Big Horn - due to water laws and private ownership, much of the river is not open to anchoring and wading. That being said, there are some spots where you could get out of the boat and wade fish if this is of interest to you. We invite you to come experience some of the best fishing Wyoming has to offer with one of the fishiest husband & wife teams in the West.
Where does this river begin? This question remained unanswered well into the 19th century. In fact, the Wind River and the Bighorn River are one body of water artificially divided ... moreby two names. Because the river’s course is largely set by the surrounding mountain ranges, The Wind River Range that extends southeast to northwest along the continental divide and the Bighorn Range that rises east of Shoshoni and curves north to Montana, the river changes direction and appearance more than once during its long journey. Overhearing Native Americans describe this basin, mountain men, adventurers and mapmakers just assumed they were talking about different rivers. 

Today the Bighorn River arbitrarily starts at the end of Wind River Canyon at a spot known as the Wedding of the Waters near the town of Thermopolis. From Thermopolis to about 20 miles below the Wind River Canyon, the river runs cold enough to support ample trout, with the best fishing actually beginning on the Wind River below the Boysen Reservoir, 15 miles upstream. Roadside access to this year round, world-class destination is unlimited as long as you obtain a Wind River Indian Reservation fishing permit.

One of the vagaries of Wyoming law is that landowners can own and control access to shorelines and riverbeds, making it illegal for anglers to wade or anchor in private water. Thankfully, most of the Bighorn River around Thermopolis is owned by the town, which provides many points of public access. You’ll be fine with the law if you wade upstream or down, as long as you stay below the high-water mark. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has designated several fishing access points and easements over private lands to provide public use of the river.
Game Fish Opportunities:
Reporting Outfitter
Wyoming Fly Fishing at its Finest Owl Creek Flies offers fly fishing adventures and guide trips on the Bighorn River in Thermopolis, Wyoming. We make seasonal forays to the upper ... moreGreen & New Fork Rivers near Pinedale and the Shoshone River between Cody and Yellowstone National Park.
Reported Trip
  • Expert guide
  • Lunch on full day trips
  • Beverages and snacks
  • Shuttle
  • Flies, tackle and rod and reel if needed
The Bighorn River begins life as the Wind, flowing ESE out of the mountains of Western Wyoming, through the town of Dubois and the Wind River Indian Reservation. At Riverton the river ... moreabruptly turns North and begins to back up as Boysen Reservoir behind a 220 ft. dam built at the head of the beautiful Wind River Canyon. Emerging from the dam a river once more, the Wind flows through the Owl Creek Mountains, leaving the Wind River Basin.

As the river exits the canyon and spills into the Bighorn Basin, its name is changed to the Big Horn. One river, two names. It is here at Wedding of the Waters where we begin our adventures and float through the town of Thermopolis, home to the world's largest mineral hot springs.

A Dry Fly Paradise
Beginning in March, thick hatches of Midge & Blue Winged Olives bring trout to the surface after a long Winter of eating tiny nymphs. By late June, Tricos appear on the scene and hatch en masse every morning until October. It is common to see pods of rising trout 30 or 40 fish deep, making a flat piece of water look like a riffle. Several species of Caddis are available throughout the summer as well as terrestrials. The Blue Wings will make one more appearance in the Fall after the water has cooled.

3,000 Trout per Mile - Browns, Rainbows & Cutthroat
Fishing nymphs can be productive year-round but is best in late Winter or early Spring before moss becomes an issue. Average sized fish is 16-18 inches with many 20 inches and beyond. Streamer fishing can be hard work on this river, but the rewards often make it worth the effort.

Most fishing is done from the boat, as Wyoming Water Access laws limit anchoring and wading opportunities to certain sections of the river.

We can accommodate anglers of all abilities. All trips include flies (we tie 90% of the flies we use on guided trips), shuttle, terminal tackle, the use of a rod & reel if needed, and lunch on full day trips; half days include water and snacks. We practice catch & release of all Wild Trout.

We are First Aid/CPR Certified, Insured & Permitted Guides.
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