Earth Day Road Trip

Addition to Spring Newsletter

April 22, 2005


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Kirk “the Doctor” Bollinger and I had Friday April 22nd off and thought we’d head over to the Big Horns at Ft. Smith, Montana for a day of fishing.  This would be my first trip to the Big Horn.  I had always heard how good it had been in the past but after 7 years of low water many reports spoke of gloom and doom.  We found it to be exactly as Grey Thomas had reported in Fly Fisherman’s Magazine- “very respectable numbers of big fish.” 

We started our trip with a stop at Ft. Smith Fly shop. Now this is what I call a one stop fits all shop- dogs are welcome, people are friendly, and coffee and orange juice were complimentary.  After we filled with coffee and conversation we headed over to the After Bay access to get started. 

 There were 10 to 15 vehicles at the put in, but it was no where near as crowded as I had heard it would be.  We waited till most of the other boats had left and set out to get dialed in on “the Horn.”  We set up 2 rods with nymph rigs and one with a dry midge.  The water was crystal clear, like a spring creek.  The water was so clear we began to spook fish with the boat as we floated downstream.  Lots of fish! 

In the first hour we hooked a couple but couldn’t break the ice.  Fish were already rising on the tail outs but we concentrated on the riffles with the nymph rig.  About 11 AM we settled on a double soft hackle sow bug setup and began to pick up fish.  You can judge for yourself how healthy the Rainbows and Browns were from the pictures at right.  Stopping at every vacant riffle we caught plenty of nice fish. 


About noon time we came to the famous “drive in” hole that is lined with old cars.  We stopped to take pictures of each other using our best tough guy look!  You know how guides are. 

It was a beautiful day and there were pheasants and sandhill cranes on every bend.  Around 12:30 the midges really came off.  It was a blanket hatch, but not many fish keyed on them.  Check out these rafts of bugs. 

To top off the day, we started fishing buggers as the sun went down and I nailed this 24” Brown.  Not much girth but just a cool old fish.  Kirk caught the last fish of the day by pounding the banks with the bugger.  Check out this nice Brown. 

All in all, neither of us could understand why anyone would say the Big Horn is finished.    We would like to commend the guides, fisherman and state park people for keeping this river so clean.  We saw virtually no trash in the 13 miles of heavily fished water.  The Horn has evolved and with some careful observation and a little luck anyone should be able to have as stellar a day as we did.

To see the entire day Big Horn Trip in pictures click here.


Tight Lines…Scott and Kirk

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