Bighorn River Montana Fly Fishing, Camping, Boating

Cody Wyoming
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Bighorn River

Rated as one of the world’s finest fisheries, the Bighorn River is a spectacular natural wonder while offering world class fishing and nearby hiking.

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  • Fish any time of year on this fabulous river
  • Go just below the dam for excellent fishing
  • Catch some mountain whitefish and channel catfish on the Bighorn River
  • Only two hours from Cody, it’s ideal for a day fishing trip

Fishing the Bighorn

Bighorn River in south-central Montana is a tributary of the Yellowstone River and stretches 112 miles. A top tailwater fishery with dense insect hatches, you can catch some mighty large trout here. It’s a favorite of locals and destination fisherman from all over.

  • Type of waterway: This cold, clear river became a spectacular fishing destination and the ideal habitat for trout after the completion of the Yellowtail Dam. It’s popular for boating, with two concrete ramps available. Fly-fishing is extremely profitable here, too.
  • Fishing seasons: The river is accessible the year through, but the best times to fish are spring, summer and fall.
  • Most common fish species: The most common game fish you’ll discover in the Bighorn River are rainbow and brown trout as well as mountain whitefish and channel catfish. There are many other species present, such as fathead minnow, goldeye, northern pike and smallmouth bass.

Other Nearby Attractions

  • Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area facilitates first class hiking and you can take in the awesome views from the Yellowstone Dam and from the Bad Pass Train, created by indigenous hunters over 10,000 years ago. Hikers can observe an incredible variety of wild animals from elk, mule deer, black bears and raptors nesting in the cliffs.
  • The Devil Limestone Cavern, housing remains of woolly mammoths and camels, is a must see and thrill-seekers can participate in motor boating and jet skiing on the river.
  • Travelling by water is a good way to spot the wildlife and the lake is also renowned for its fishing. The Bighorn Lake spans the boundary between Wyoming and Montana and is a perfect location for fishing with an abundance of different species of fish. Camping is available close to the main fishing areas and there is a visitors' center displaying the history of the area and information about local fishing and other recreational opportunities.


Bighorn Recreational Area can be contacted at 406-666-2412 for more information.

Directions and Access

Bighorn River is accessible about 5 miles south of St. Xavier on Highway 313. To get to the best fishing spots, try the area below the dam on the Crow Indian Reservation. This is only a two-hour trip from Cody. Just stop at any of the numerous fly shops around Ft. Smith to get a fishing license. Public access to the river exists from the dam all the way to the town of St. Xavier.