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Bighorn River Fishing Report

Date: 04/18/2024
Posted by: Toby Swank

The Big Horn River near Fort Smith, MT, is some of the best fly fishing in the state. The tailwater provides an extremely healthy trout population that offers Montana anglers opportunities throughout the year and is a prime option during spring, as temperatures here are typically much milder versus the Bozeman area. 

The forecast for the next couple of days looks like some typical spring weather with rain, overcast, and light wind, this should be a bit more mild compared to the Bozeman MT area. Fishing has been fair with flows around 4,500 CFS, this is typical for this time of year but the increase has brought some floating debris which poses a bit of a challenge. Nymphing deep with Scuds, Sowbugs, Midge Larvae, and Aquatic worms continues to be the program.  Floating or wading between Afterbay FAS and Bighorn FAS is the best water right now and fish are holding in large seams off into the slower water and in deep pools. Once you figure out what the wild trout here are focused on during their feeding, high numbers can be caught in these localized areas.

Fly fishing with streamers has been hit or miss, mainly depending on the conditions. Some anglers are finding success with white or two-tone flies like a Barley Legal. Our Bozeman fly fishing guides have found that using a sinking tip line and making medium-length strips has been best. 

Dry fly fishing has slowed a bit with a slight bump in flows and drop in water temperatures but this should get good again this week as thick hatches of Midges and BWOs should continue to take effect. If you see some trout rising to the surface, a Midge Cluster #18-16 / Parachute Adams #18-16 paired with a good cast typically fools them. 

Make sure you stop by some of the fly shops in Fort Smith, MT like the Bighorn Angler and the Bighorn Trout Shop to get the latest information and conditions regarding the river.

Bighorn River Fishing Report Streamflow

Click to enlarge

Flows

USGS CFS Data is not available for this date.

Montana Fishing Licenses

A Montana fishing license is required to legally fish in Montana on the Madison River.

Bighorn River Shuttles

Bighorn Angler 406-666-2233