Fly Fishing The Backcountry of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness
Located in a remote and isolated setting north of Yellowstone National Park, Absaroka Beartooth Outfitters – which operates July and August – offers isolated wilderness fishing from a well established and comfortable backcountry camp. The camp is accessed by riding 16 miles on horseback through some of the most beautiful and remote terrains in the northern Rockies. Once at the camp, you can fish Hellroaring Creek, high elevation lakes, and a few other small streams for native cutthroat trout. Almost all of the fish in this area are caught using dry flies, making this the ideal destination for those who love to catch fish on the surface using light rods and attractor flies. Camp accommodations consist of authentic wall tents. And each night you will enjoy a roaring campfire, hearty camp meals prepared by the camp cook, telling stories and jokes, and playing a few rounds of horseshoes. This is the perfect trip for anyone wanting to experience the real Montana backcountry.
The wilderness fly fishing pack trips are run out of Absaroka Beartooth Outfitters’ base camp located on Hellroaring Creek. It is sixteen miles into the heart of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness and the Gallatin National Forest. The camp sits on the edge of Bull Moose Meadow where three different forks of Hellroaring Creek come together. It is truly one of the most beautiful trout settings that you will ever lay your eyes on. Camp accommodations consist of cozy and roomy carpeted wall tents with padded cots. The camp also feature a hot shower, which is much appreciated after a day on the trail or a day’s fishing at high altitude. Each night you will enjoy a roaring campfire and eat in a central dining tent with delicious food prepared by the camp cook.
Food and Beverages
You will eat in a central dining tent with delicious food prepared by the camp cook. Expect hearty “camp fare” with plenty of thick steaks, chops, chicken, etc.
Non-Angling Activities and Options
While the backcountry offers numerous angling opportunities, non-anglers will no doubt enjoy the trip just as much. Wildlife is abundant in the area with elk, deer, wolves, bears, eagles, and coyotes all calling this wilderness area home. Sightings of grizzly and black bears in the backcountry is a potential. Hiking, eating great food, reading, and relaxing are all important elements of this trip. The Absaroka Beartooth Outfitter wranglers are well acquainted with the area where you will be riding, fishing, hiking, and exploring. Safety is their number one priority.
Internet / Communications
There is no internet available at the camp. Cell phone coverage is very spotty at best once in the backcountry.
How To Get There
Anglers traveling from out of state will want to fly to either Bozeman, Montana (BZN) or Billings, Montana (BIL). They will then need to rent a car to drive to Big Timber, Montana.
Arrival and Departure Details / Times
Big Timber is located on Interstate 90 directly between Bozeman and Billings. Anglers will need to fly in no later than the day before their trip officially begins, and should fly out no earlier than the day after the trip ends. The night before will be spent at the ABO “lodge” in Big Timber. Dinner and breakfast are provided.
Montana fishing licenses are available at all area fly shops and sporting goods stores, or online by visiting the following website: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. You will need to present a valid driver’s license in order to purchase your fishing license.
Yellow Dog works directly with and recommends Kanna Travel. They can assist with airline tickets, hotels, transfers and all travel logistics for every destination that we offer. Contact them at 855-739-3139 or [email protected] for more details on airfare ticketing, travel services, and trip insurance.
Each day of fishing is spent walking and wading either above or below camp on Hellroaring Creek. Every emerald-green colored pool or undercut bank contains smaller sized cutthroats that will not hesitate to come up and eat dry flies. The streams, lakes, and rivers that Absaroka Beartooth Outfitters target are among the most prolific and beautiful in all of Montana. The fishing locations are extremely remote and pristine, with healthy populations of native cutthroat trout. The fish do not get much angling pressure over the course of a year and are usually very cooperative, eating dry flies regularly.
Generally, basic attractor fly patterns are all that you will need. During the late summer weeks, hopper fishing can be fantastic. The high country is absolutely loaded with aggressive and willing cutthroat. One of the most effective techniques on the stream and in the lakes is to use a dry fly with a bead head nymph dropper. The weather during the summer months is usually very comfortable. Average daytime temperatures range from 60 to 80 degrees. On clear nights the temperatures can range from 20 to 40 degrees, so we suggest that you come prepared for the changing temperatures.
General Trip Itinerary
Arrival Day (the day before the trip)
Arrive at ABO Headquarters in the afternoon (anytime after 4 PM). Settle into rooms, have dinner, and trip orientation.
Leave ABO Headquarters after breakfast and caravan to the Box Canyon Trailhead. Ride on horseback about 6 hours to camp. Arrive by late afternoon and get settled into camp, explore the area, fish a little, followed by an evening campfire evening, and dinner.
Day 2, 3, 4
Fish Hellroaring Creek, ride/fish a high elevation lake, horseback riding, photography, hiking, etc.
After breakfast, pack up and ride back about 6 hours out to the Box Canyon Trailhead. Caravan back to Big Timber.
Boats and Equipment Required
Absaroka Beartooth’s backcountry camps are accessed by horseback, and all horses, wrangling assistance, and guiding are included in each package. The horses and mules used by ABO are well suited to the mountain terrain. They have clocked in many hours in the mountains and are as dependable as horses and mules can be. Previous riding experience is helpful but not required.
Remember that Yellow Dog’s services are completely free! When you book a trip with Yellow Dog, you never pay more than when you book directly with the outfitter.
$2,500.00 per person (based on at least 2 anglers)
2019 Trip Dates
July 15 – 19 (8 spots available)
July 22 – 26 (full)
July 29 – August 2 (full)
August 5 – 9 (full)
August 12 – 16 (8 spots available)
August 19 – 23 (6 spots available)
August 26 – 30 (8 spots available)
– (1) night of lodging at the ABO Lodge in Big Timber night before the trip
– Transportation from Big Timber to the trailhead on first day of trip (if needed)
– (4) nights of camping (double occupancy tent, cot, and sleeping pad)
– (3) days of fishing
– Use of horses, mules, saddles, tack, etc
– All meals and non-alcoholic beverages
– Lunches during ride in and ride out
– Transportation from the trailhead back to Big Timber on last day of trip (if needed)
– Airfare (fly into Bozeman or Billings)
– Transportation to Big Timber, MT (best to rent a car)
– Fishing license(s)
– Sleeping bag or pillow (BYO)
– Fishing equipment, flies, or tackle (BYO)
– Alcoholic beverages (BYO)
– Gratuities for outfitting crew