A Party on the Bighorn

I was freshly engaged a year ago when my best men asked me what I wanted to do for a bachelor party. Well, besides the obvious (That I wanted to party) I wanted to fish. I suggested a destination or two that I knew would yield good fishing. At first, I thought an exotic destination like Cabo, Central America or Cuba would be a great place to party and fish. Bonefish, permit and my favorite: Tarpon, would make for a sweet trip with my best buddies. I then quickly figured out that if you actually want your buddies to show up at your bachelor party AND your destination wedding then having a local and cheap party might be the way to go. Who am I to decide where my own party is anyway? Considering there are a handful of rivers in our neighboring states that I have not been to this local and cheap option sounded good to me.

The Green river below Flaming Gorge dam was the first river my best men suggested. I had never been but had heard good things. We spent months preparing the trip, from reserving a campsite to making sure all attendees had a spot on a boat. The plans were coming together nicely and the flows looked good until a couple weeks before our trip. With record snow pack they began releasing more and more water from the dam the weeks prior to our trip. We remained optimistic until the flows all of the sudden jumped to 8,000 CFS. I’m not really into white water rafting so we immediately established a back up plan: The Bighorn River in Montana.

Less than 8 hours from Denver …

… with 10,000 fish per mile, the Bighorn river offers great fishing

Effective flies on the Bighorn include everything from scuds like the bighorn original Ray Charles, to midges, caddis and San Juan worms. Even big streamers like the Sex Dungeon can be productive

With stream access laws that heavily favor public use, Montana is a great place to visit. The Bighorn has plenty of public use areas to access the river and camp. We camped at a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks property: Bighorn fishing Access site which also served as our take out.

Bighorn’s fish are educated, you must be quick on your hook sets or they’ll spit your fly faster than you think. While everyone in our group caught plenty of fish, even the beginners. One may assume that with 10,000 fish per mile the odds would be in your favor. Although, the fish in the Bighorn seem to fight like larger fish than they actually are. The fish in the Bighorn are wild and will give you and your rod a work-out …

… nothing is better than a hearty post work-out meal after a day spent flexing your guns and your rods

Although the Green River is still high on my must fish list, the high flows before our trip were a blessing in disguise. Fort Smith, MT is not the best place to throw a beer party. It’s a dry Indian reservation so buy your beer before you get there.


Snake River Cutthroat Trout

Snake River Cutthroat Trout Oncorhynchus clarkii ssp are a sub-species of the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri. They are native to the Snake River in Wyoming and Idaho. Even though these colorful fish are not native to Colorado, there’s a good chance of catching one.

Above photo by Mark Hudson

The Colorado Division of Wildlife’s fish hatchery system produces a significant amount of Snake River Cutthroat trout each year

These fish do really well in hatcheries. They have a high survival rate and once stocked they have the potential to grow to trophy size

Snake River Cutthroats are defined by their fine spots and reddish orange coloring

The “Dream Stream” stretch of the South Platte River below Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Eleven Mile Reservoir holds a healthy population of Snake River Cutthroats