Fly Fishing The Bighorn River in Fort Smith, Montana
Unquestionably one Montana’s most famous trout rivers, fly fishing the Bighorn River is on every angler’s bucket list. Its trout-filled waters flow from the base of the Yellowtail Dam in Fort Smith, Montana and abundant insect hatches produce exceptional rainbow and brown trout fishing almost year-round for both novice and expert anglers alike. With a team of the most hardworking and courteous guides in Montana, the Bighorn Angler is second to none when it comes to outfitting, having offered high-quality fly fishing packages for over 30 years. Their wide array of lodging options, top-notch guide service, and home cooked meals are the perfect ingredients for the ultimate Bighorn River fly fishing experience. You will also find a fully-stocked fly shop with knowledgeable and courteous staff on-site.
The Bighorn Angler offers a wide array of lodging options consisting of lodge rooms, cabins, and even custom homes to accommodate angling groups of any size.
Connected to the fly shop, the Lodge Rooms offer anglers the best mix of quality, convenience, and price in Fort Smith. Rooms come with either two or three beds, and are equipped with air conditioning, satellite television, and wireless internet.
Deluxe Lodge Rooms
Across from the parking lot, the Deluxe Lodge Rooms are similar to standard lodge rooms, except they are slightly larger in size, have two queen beds, and have front porches. They also include air conditioning, satellite television, wireless internet, a mini fridge and microwave.
Bighorn Angler Cabins
Adjacent to the fly shop, each of the two cabins have two bedrooms, one full bath, full kitchen and sitting area, along with a covered front porch. They also include air conditioning, satellite television, wireless internet, and a gas grill.
Two identical cabins are located on the bluff about one mile from the fly shop. Surrounded by over 40 acres of private land and a quarter mile of river frontage, each cabin is 2,000 square feet with three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. There are six beds in each cabin, and each cabin is outfitted with a furnace, fireplace and air conditioning. The kitchen has all stainless steel appliances, concrete countertops, wine rack, herbs and spices for cooking, pots, pans, dishes, and silverware. The living area has extremely comfortable leather furniture, reading lamps, fireplace, and 50-inch plasma television with surround sound, DVD player, and satellite television. Each cabin also has a gas grill and wireless internet access.
You will not find a nicer property to rent on the Bighorn. Consisting of 4 bedrooms and two and a half baths, this property accommodates groups of 8 anglers with ease. In addition to these four bedrooms you will find a full kitchen, large family room with fireplace, laundry room and a covered wrap around deck with the finest views of the river. Gas grill, wireless internet, satellite television, bedding, and towels are also provided.
This custom home located two miles from the fly shop is the perfect retreat after a day on the river. The house sleeps up to 6 anglers and features 3 Bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, full kitchen, large family room and covered deck. Internet, satellite television, laundry, and gas grill are also on site.
Food and Beverages
Meals are served in their dining hall which is located behind the fly shop. The breakfasts are hearty and dinner is prepared by their in house chefs from scratch each night. Each meal consists of a salad, entree, and dessert. The menu is set nightly ahead of time. Fort Smith is located in the Crow Indian Reservation, where the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited. Alcoholic beverages must be purchased in Hardin or Billings prior to your arrival.
Non-Angling Activities and Options
This is primarily a fishing-focused destination. However, there are a few sights that non-anglers and anglers will find fascinating. The Little Bighorn Battlefield is located 45 minutes away. You can take a tour of the battlefield where Custer’s famous “Last Stand” and defeat to Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse occurred. There is also a historic museum on-site as well. Bighorn Lake is a short 10-mile drive from the shop. It is a popular area for boating, fishing and wildlife watching.
Internet / Communications
Internet access is available at the the Bighorn Angler. Cell coverage in the Fort Smith area can be spotty. Be sure to check with your service provider prior to your trip regarding specific coverage in the area.
How To Get There
The closest commercial airport is Billings (BIL) which is about 2 hours away.
Arrival and Departure Details / Times
Upon arrival into Billings, visiting anglers will need to rent a car to get to and from Fort Smith. Rental cars are available at the Billings Airport.
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 a valid driver’s license or other photo ID 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.
The Bighorn River is a classic tailwater river, emerging from the depths of Bighorn Lake in Eastern Montana. The Yellowtail Dam has created a fertile river, displaying unique spring creek characteristics that allow rainbow and brown trout to thrive almost year-round. There is somewhere around 5,000 fish per mile in the Bighorn, with the highest population counts near the Afterbay Dam. Trout in the river average around 15 inches, with many fish pushing the 20-inch range. Bighorn river trout fight as hard as any on the planet, due to highly consistent water temperatures year-round.
Below Afterbay Dam, the fishing remains productive for about 30 river miles. From here, the Bighorn is broken into three distinct sections: Afterbay to 3 Mile, 3 Mile to Bighorn Access, and Bighorn Access to Mallard’s Landing. Each section contains variances in water temperature, fish per mile, aquatic life, hatches, and fish behavior. These characteristics create unique fishing conditions in which the angler may experience a wide array of terrific fishing throughout the year. Throughout the river’s length, rainbows and brown trout thrive on a steady diet of sowbugs, scuds, worms and midges year-round which accounts for the large average size of the fish in the river.
Boats and Equipment Required
Float fishing on the Bighorn River is accomplished with comfortable, Western-style drift boats. Remember that rods, reels, flies, tackle, waders, and boots are all included in your package if you do not have or bring your own. The Bighorn Angler also carries all the necessary equipment for purchase if you’d like.
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 lodge.
2019 Pricing (based on double occupancy unless otherwise noted)
3 nights / 2 days = $860.00 per person
4 nights / 3 days = $1,225.00 per person
5 nights / 4 days = $1,540.00 per person
3 nights / 2 days = $895.00 per person
4 nights / 3 days = $1,280.00 per person
5 nights / 4 days = $1,665.00 per person
Bighorn Angler Cabin (based on 4 anglers)
3 nights / 2 days = $950.00 per person
4 nights / 3 days = $1,250.00 per person
5 nights / 4 days = $1,365.00 per person
Riverbend Angler Cabin (based on 6 anglers)
3 nights / 2 days = $910.00 per person
4 nights / 3 days = $1,300.00 per person
5 nights / 4 days = $1,695.00 per person
Riverview Lodge (based on 8 anglers)
3 nights / 2 days = $900.00 per person
4 nights / 3 days = $1,290.00 per person
5 nights / 4 days = $1,675.00 per person
– Guided fishing
– All meals (cooler lunch, waters, sodas, etc on guide trips)
– All flies & terminal tackle provided by the guide
– Rods/reels and waders/boots (if needed)
– Transportation to and from the river on guided trip days
– Shuttle fees for guide’s vehicle
– Airfare (fly into Billings)
– Transportation to / from the lodge (rent a car)
– Fishing licenses (available at the fly shop)
– All alcoholic beverages (BYO)
– Gratuities for fishing guides
– Gratuities for lodge staff
– Lodging taxes