Fishing is great around the Bighorn Mountains

Posted By on August 1, 2014

Fishing is great in the Bighorn Mountains this season.  If you have not made it out, you need to get here soon.  August and September are going to get even better than the past month.  Some of the bigger waters are higher than they have been in years, but the Grey drakes, PMD’s and Flavs are starting to get awesome.  There are great caddis hatches through out the mountain range as well.  The classics are doing fine, but the grass hopper season is looking like it may not be around at all this season.  None to speak of now, but hopefully we will see good numbers by the end of August.  Hope to see as many people as possible the next two months.  People have not been utilizing the Bighorn Mountains to its full extent the past few seasons.  I hope people will take some time to stop by the store and take some time to explore the greatness of the Bighorn Mountains and it fantastic fishing.    I fished yesterday with a great friend of mine and we had a ball.  The hatches on the North Fork of the Tongue were sparce, but we each caught too many fish to remember how many.  I fished my favorite bamboo rod and dry flies all day.

Come see all the beauty and the fun of fly fishing.

Thanks Roger












Fishing is great, get out and get fishing!

Posted By on July 25, 2014

Stop by the shop and pick up some flies and accessories asap.  If your not fishing yet, you have missed most of the season.  August and September will be great.  Have fun and see you soon.




Fishing is on in the Bighorn Mountians

Posted By on July 9, 2014

IMAG2473If you are not fishing yet, get out and get fishing.  The majority of the waters are fishing great.  The canyons are still higher, but they are coming down every day.  The hatches are starting to get thicker and more mayflies and caddis are popping every day.  Thanks for stopping by and have fun on the mountain.








Time to get out and fly fish the mountains

Posted By on July 1, 2014

Even though the creeks are still high and harder to fish, the summer is coming to an end faster than everyone thinks.  It is now July 1st and it seams like most people have not even dusted off their equipment.  The water is slowing and the hatches are starting.  I have seen salmon flies, golden stones, yellow sallies, flavinila, Grey drakes, midges, BWO’s and even some PMD.  I have also seen three different caddis out already.  If you have not gotten out to fly fish, it is time you get out this year.  Test your skills and figure out how to get better than you currently are.  Have fun.  Check us out on Face book at Fly Shop of the Bighorns.  Also check out our store and other blog site at

The water is slowing, but not done.

Posted By on June 12, 2014

We’re half way there!  Run off is slowing to a small roar.  West Fork Big Goose, East Fork Big Goose and West Fork Little Goose are swollen and clearing.   Another couple weeks we will be in July practically, but we will have some fishing that can be done.  Some of the small tributaries on the mountain are fishable, but still not summer quality.  We will have great fishing this summer, if we can wait for it.  But why wait,  fish the lakes and reservoirs.











Runoff 2014

Posted By on May 19, 2014

The run off this season is finally started.  Waters are rising and it is unknown how long the waters will be higher.   There is a lot of snow pack still in the mountains this season. The good news is that fishing in July, August and September will be great.  If we can link in some grass hoppers this season, it will be a season you do not want to miss.  The majority of big stone flies will be hatching out this season during high water, so they will have high success rate of replenishing their species and the fish will benefit from lack of fishing pressure.   Hatches of all insects is going to be epic, so try not to miss this season.  It is going to be very short.  4 months and ticking down as of now.

We should not have any late season water issues this season in the Bighorn Mountains, so plan on fishing as much as you can in late summer.  As always each year, high water means great fishing in the lakes and reservoirs while the rivers and creeks are unfishable.  So get out and get some practice before the great fishing gets rolling.  You don’t want to wait any longer to get out and have some summer fun.  With out any practice you will likely miss out on the first few days of your summer getting back up to speed.  Be prepared and get some practice in, you will thank me later.  The fish are always ready to teach you the lesson of you are out of practice.  Be honest with at least yourself. You definitely need the practice.  Why do you think guides are so good at everything fly fishing?  It is because they are practicing all year round, so when you show up, they don’t look bad in front of you.

The down side is that early season fishing will be high and difficult.  High and difficult make you a better fisherman weather you want to be or not.  As long as you are safe about wading, the fishing is actually easier than you think.  The fish are on the edges in the back eddies.  You figure out the rest.  Talk to you local shops and use the obvious choices for flies.  Heavy, bright and big.  Works great every year before the fish start inspecting the fly before eating the fly.

The good news about high water is that the Bighorn Mountains will have easier fishing earlier than most other areas. If people are smart, they will get some early fishing in around the Bighorn Mountains in the creeks and lakes to get some practice in before the prime time season of August and September.   The low level lakes are ready for you to get back in top fishing form.  The fish are hitting faster and softer than ever, so get prepared!

The famous rivers are going to be high for a long time to come, so don’t be surprised when you get out west in June and early July.  I see this behavior every year.  The Bighorn river is running at 8500 cfs as of a few days ago, and will likely not come down until at least late July or maybe late August this season.  Other big rivers will be similar through out the west.  2014 will be a great water year, but it will also be more difficult for the average to beginner fisherman to have a lot of success in June and early July.  This does not mean you should not fish, just the opposite.  You should fish more, much more and enjoy every second of it regardless of how many fish you catch.

That said, the waters in the Bighorn Mountains are going to be great for learning and practicing fast water conditions this season when the big rivers are too high and difficult for most fly fisherman.  I recommend you don’t waste your money or time floating down a big river nymphing and dragging a bobber like the thousands of other drones that will be there.  You would catch fish using float trip nymphing techniques, but you will not be getting much better as a fly fisherman.  Break free from the monotony and get fishing in the mountains, you will love the space, the air and most of all the freedom of mountain fishing.  Smaller fish yes, but more fun and more skill development than you can wave a stick at.

See you soon and have FUN, the real reason we all fly fish.

Wahoo, I am back

Posted By on May 9, 2014

Computers can be a huge pain in the A$$.  I have not been able to get into my sight for the past month due to some sneaky crap that somehow gets through Firewalls, Norton, Malware, PC Cleaner and a variety of other protections that are supposed to keep crap out.  Like most, I have no clue how to keep this stuff out of my computers, you just buy everything the computer people tell you to buy and install it.

Anyway fishing has been going since March for those that are tough and committed.  Run off is now starting to increase the flows pretty much everywhere.  The low level snow under 7000 feet has been off and on for the last month.  I have watched creeks jump from 20 cfs to 450 cfs over night and back down to 30 cfs a day or two later for the past three weeks.  Be especially careful in the afternoons or when it rains.  Flash floods or dramatic raises in flows can strand you for a while to all night if you are not careful.  This last batch of snow looks to be fairly thick, so we will see it melt off over the next few days. Water levels will be up and are probably going to stay up until July.  We still  have a large amount of snow in the high mountains.

From what I see and hear from people traveling through Montana, they are sitting with way more snow than we have, so I expect to see more people stopping through the Bighorn Mountains over the next couple of months looking for any fishable water.  I tell everyone that it is all fishable, it is just harder and more skills are needed.  The Bighorn River along with most rivers are much higher than they have been in the past.  Usually the Bighorn is maybe 3-5000 cfs this time of year and going up through May and July, but this year it has been over 7000 for the past 5 weeks and started raising at the end of March.  The fish will be very healthy this season and next.

Our waters will be high and off color for a while, but fishing will be great this season.  The fish I have been catching are for the most part healthy and in great shape.  Don’t get scared off by the runoff.  Not all the waters will be blown out.  The lakes and reservoirs will be fishing great while the rivers and streams are hard to fish.  The best part, fewer crowds to no crowds this time of year.  I have only seen a few locals out enjoying the great early season fishing.  This is another area that most people do not do enough to understand.  Fishing is generally slower, but usually much bigger fish are landed.

We all will again have to dig out our high, fast, cold and off color water skills this early season.  You can also fish the still waters.  I love this time of year.  It separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls.  It is much more challenging, but those of us that are great fly fisherman, are not dissuaded from a little diversity.  No, we forge ahead and become even better fisherman by fishing harder, studying everything and practicing our skills during these tough conditions.  If you have not tried to fish run off conditions, you should do it several times a week to ensure you are learning the right skills.

You also need to be extra careful when you wade.  As the waters get bigger through June, your safety is paramount.  I hear it is impossible to fish from the grave.  Here are some safety tips.  You don’t want to wade much at all.  Learn to fish from the banks or in shallow slow water.  The fish are mostly along the edges and slow seams, so you do not need to stand in these areas to catch out of them.  Find the slow pockets, back eddies and slow moving troughs to fish.  Use highly visible flies and bigger flies so the fish can see them better.  Break out all the skills and use all the fly fishing techniques of Nymphing, Streamers and Dry fly fishing.  Nymphing and streamers should be your focus, but keep your eyes open for those few select dry fly days.  They will be memorable.

If you need help, stop at your local fly shop and inquire what to do and what skills you should be working on.  If they don’t know, call us here at the Fly Shop of the Bighorns and we will tell you.  Bottom line, get out and fish early and often.

Check out this new Wyoming Fly Fishing Forum.  It is brand new, so you can be some of the first to get questions answered and learn about great Wyoming fishing.  IMGP1973







Spring Snows

Posted By on March 27, 2014

Many fisherman do not want to fish in the spring because of the weather, but this is a great time to fish.  I highly recommend everyone try fishing in an nice gently falling snow some time soon.  It is soothing and the fishing can be very good.


htc 563

htc 1966

Have fun.


Spring is here, at least at the lower elevations.

Posted By on March 25, 2014

If you are planning on venturing to the Bighorn Mountains this year, plan on a bit more water than you are used to fishing.  High water actually makes the fishing better, it also makes it a little harder.  More food, bigger hatches and healthier fish are what you can expect during high water.  If you don’t like to fish high water, you will have to wait until Mid to late July this season.  I can tell you this;  I’m not waiting until July, so I have gone out and learned how to fish these higher waters and learning the techniques to catch fish in the toughest conditions.  If you want to be great, you have to put in the time to develop all the skills and techniques.  Not just the easy skills and techniques.  I have guides that are willing to teach all year round, it is just that the clients don’t want to learn all year round.

We have great snow pack in all the drainage’s in the Bighorn Mountains this year, so along with our cool wet spring weather flooding is going to be an issue this year.  Most all of our water will end up in the Yellowstone, Missouri and Mississippi rivers systems.  I hope and prey for all who are in the way of these rivers.  If you are one of the people in these rivers ways, start preparing for the worst.  I hope I am wrong, I hope flooding will be minimal, but it is not looking good right now.  If you are not directly affected by the flooding, but flooding will be in your area, I recommend booking your vacation right now and getting away from it all.  In 2011 I warned many people of the flooding and few listened.  If you are heading fishing this spring, come check out our area and learn how to fish higher faster free stone waters.  You will become a much better fly fisherman fishing in high spring waters.  Fast spring waters make fishing seem like it is in slow motion the rest of the year.

Call us to book your spring fly fishing days from April through June.  Pack warm quick dry clothing and rain gear.   If you have not tried this type of fly fishing before, you have to come with the mind set of learning how to catch fish in fast off colored water.  If you focus is on fish numbers you will likely be disappointed, very disappointed, because you have little or no fast water skills.  It takes time on the water to be developed the essential skills needed to catch a lot of fish in these conditions.  Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of fish to catch, and the fish are feeding.  So why aren’t there many people catching fish this time of year?  Simply put; few have not figured out the proper skills and techniques of catching fish in these conditions.  You just have to learn the proper skills and techniques to catch fish in these conditions.  I get to teach only a few people each spring how to fish in these fast off colored spring waters because most people do not equate great fishing with having to learn how to catch fish in hard conditions.  I will say all the fisherman I have taught are much better fly fisherman now and they fish more because they catch more.

Unfortunately, most fly fishers don’t challenge themselves enough and their fish catching is limited to the easy summer fishing.  If you want to get away from the crowds, learn to fish in the spring and fall, and learn to fish mountain streams and creeks.  The best way to get away from crowds is to walk.  Walking is both great fun and great for your health.  Both spring and fall time frames for fishing have distinct skills sets that must be developed by the individual fly fisherman in order for the fly fisherman to catch the numbers of fish one would typically catch in the summer.  However;  once you develop these skills, you will likely catch more fish than you will in the summer months.  Yes, More…. and often bigger!

If you want to learn how to fly fish these “off seasons”, call us and book your learning trip today.  307-672-5866.

The weather and fishing are challenging, but anyone can learn how to do it if you take the time.

Enjoy your fishing.  I will be!!!


Get out of the boat and learn to fly fish!

Posted By on March 20, 2014

Get out of the boat and learn to fly fish!

Whoa there son….them there’s fightin’ words….

The following comments are not to enrage those that deeply love nymphing out of a boat or those who have reached a level of greatness at guiding out of a boat.  In fact; I do this same style of fly fishing myself because my clients demand it.  I am one of those guides who regularly take clients on float trips that want this exact type of fly fishing experience.  I am OK with that as a guide.  The float trip experience is extremely valuable in the development of every fly fisherman.

The problem with this style of fly fishing is that it gives a fly fisherman a false sense of skills and abilities.  And for some reason too many fly fisherman get pigeon holed into doing nothing else.  Too many fly fisherman fall to the lure of catching fish after fish after fish and not developing many other skills beyond basic nymphing.  When a fisherman stops learning and developing more skill sets, the fisherman gets sedentary and often becomes a one trick pony.  I have seen many fisherman catching lots of fish with confidence, but with no direction or purpose as to why they are catching so many fish.  When you have only one skill set, the purpose of fly fishing becomes deluded and gets lost and twisted in to a misconstrued equation of numbers of fish equaling skill and fun.  What?  This floating and nymphing aspect of fly fishing is a very small part of what fly fishing is in reality.

Let me explain, most fly fisherman get into fly fishing because they find fly fishing interesting and they “want to learn how to fly fish”.  I have heard many new fly fishermen say those exact words.  Their self-imposed purpose:  to learn how to fly fish.

Most fly fishers start with a simple goal of catching one single fish.  My customers and clients reiterate this every year when I ask them “why are you taking this guided fly fishing trip?”  All beginners at some point tell me “I want to learn to fly fish and catch a fish.”  I think we all have said that at some point.  Sometimes I will tease them for more insight into their intentions by saying “only one fish?”  This concept of fly fishing is so simple and perfect, but it is all summed up in that precise statement “I want to learn”.  So why?  Why do so many aspiring fly fishermen lose sight of their goal of learning to fly fish the first time they catch 20 or more fish while floating down a river with a nymph and a bobber?  There is so much more to fly fishing then just nymphing.

When a fly fisherman first starts learning and developing skills as a fly fisherman he or she will aspire to catch just a few fish every time they go fishing.  I can remember back when I first started fly fishing and I thought if I could only catch just two or three fish today, I would be satisfied.   As one gets better and better after each time they go out to the water they begin to want to catch more fish, a lot more fish.  After even more time on the water practicing their skills, the fly fisherman crosses a plateau of moderate competency with a fly rod and has complied a fair amount of knowledge about fly fishing.  The fly fisherman then determines after studying innumerable aspects of fly fishing that the fly fisherman has developed a need to catch a single huge fish.

The huge fish becomes all-consuming of the fly fishers time on the water and off the water.  After finally catching that elusive first huge fish, he or she with shaky hands and a pounding heart releases that rare creature of nature’s miraculous wonders because that fly fisherman has reached yet another substantial plateau.  He or she then moves forward to another level of learning and growing.  Respect for that rare and uncommon fish.  No one is done there; there are far too many directions one can take from this point.  Some go on to try to catch a lot of big fish.  Others switch gears and start going the way of Hemingway.  Or they go in any million other ways that are along the path of the fly fisher.  This progression of skills and knowledge keeps the fly fisherman growing and learning, which is what, keeps us going back for more.

So then why do so many fly fishermen get so far off track of their goal of learning to fly fish after they float down a river watching a bobber?  It seems like a conundrum, but it’s actually simpler than one would think.  People like to feel like they are good at something and people love even more when they get quick easy positive feedback.  We also love to tell great and exaggerated fish stories to anyone who will listen.  The ease of catching fish in this manner is intoxicating to our human senses and our egos.  Much like drugs and alcohol clouds the mind from continuing on the path of knowledge.  Humans tend to falter and get stuck with the easy quick fix ways of catching fish.  The quick fix almost always clouds our choices on how we catch fish and where we catch fish.  Don’t take the addicts path to fly fishing.

Typically this all boils down to the most common reason why too many fly fishermen derail their ascent to greatness by stopping off at the corner of catching lots of fish and the need to brag about back home.  The bragging again strokes the ego helping them relive the intoxicating event over and over again.  Which in turn embeds the need to go back and catch more fish again and again, forsaking all else that fly fishing has to offer.  If you are starting to think fly fishing sounds a bit too much like drug and alcohol effects on the human body causing cravings and euphoria’s, the effects are definitely very similar. The effects can also be very therapeutic and beneficial as well.

I often ask fly fishermen if they have gotten out and to get their fix.  If you frequent fly shops, you will hear comments like this in most every shop all across the country.  Why do we say this?  It is not because we are whacked out drug and alcohol addicts; it is because fly fishing makes us feel good and therefore makes us happy.  It removes the bad in the day and replaces it with positive feelings and a positive mind set.  It helps us work better and faster because we feel good and we want to get through our work day and get back out there on the water.  Its positive influence leaves an indelible mark on all our personalities, which helps us collectively as fly fisherman.  We help each other without even knowing we are benefiting each other as fly fisherman every day just by sharing silly fishing stories.  We clearly want to go fishing much more than we want to go to work or go do most anything else.

Bottom line…. When a fisherman stops learning and growing with the experiences that makes fly fishing what fly fishing really is, we have to ask ourselves what’s the point of continuing to fly fish on the same water and in the same manner every time you go fishing?  I suggest mixing up the pot (no pun intended) much more often to keep growing as a fly fisherman.  Take this advice, you will thank me later.

Understand what I am trying to get across here… I don’t stop there and you should not stop there either.  Don’t pigeon hole your fishing or your skills either as a guide or a fly fisherman.  Get out of the boat and learn other ways to catch fish while fly fishing. Or at least refresh those old skills that have gone dormant or are getting rusty.  I can’t count the times I get people in the store asking what nymphs they should I buy.  At that moment I am able to discern a lot about the fly fisherman such as where that fly fisherman is mentally along their path for knowledge.  I make it a point to tell them as many correct nymph options as there are hatches going on at that time to help them broaden their understanding of what is going on in the water.  I also add which dry flies and streamers patterns I recommend they explore.

I do this for the fisherman’s benefit, but most people probably think I am just trying to get them to buy more flies.  That could not be further from my intent.  My intent is to break through to the mundane masses and help them learn more about what they can do with fly fishing.  It surprises me how often people tell me they don’t utilize two of the three techniques of fly fishing such as dry flies or streamers.  Typically this means they are not having much if any success with those fly fishing techniques.  All I can do is offer more options, variations and suggestions on how to get more out of fly fishing for them.  I can only assume they are asking the question, because they do not know the answers.  It is my job as the professional to help people to learn fly fishing, no matter how the fly fisherman tries to limit themselves.

As a guide, I will always try to persuade my clients to try new techniques, new flies and develop new skills every time I guide them.  I feel this is an obligation for every guide, no exceptions.  I will always switch through nymphs of all kinds teaching them how to properly present the different flies.  I try to convince the fisherman that they want to try dry flies just as much as they want to nymph.  This way I can help the fisherman adapt to any new circumstances that arise while they are trying something new.  I will also change them to streamers at least for a few casts to develop their skills even more before I bring them back around the skills loop to reaffirm what they have learned.  I always search for the right fly at the right time.  I do this as often as I have to keep the day interesting and informative for the client.  I demand this from all my guides and I will fire them if they get lazy.

Finally, many guides and outfitters have lost sight of what guiding is all about.  Many have become more concerned about getting the customer to return, rather than teaching the customer to fly fish.  Most people hire a fishing guide to learn how to fly fish.  Most of the guiding being done nationwide is being done with the mentality of catching fish as the primary reason for being guided.  This needs to change.  Too many fly fishing guides are not teaching their clients to fly fish.  They are just helping them catch a lot of fish mainly to get them to book again next year.  If you are a fisherman that is stuck in this cycle, I recommend you start searching for a guide that will teach you more about fly fishing and stop selling you on just catching fish.

If you are a guide stuck doing this cycle, keep in mind just as many clients will return if they are learning new skills and catching fish.  Sure we guides are always teaching clients something on every trip down the river, but why are guides not pushing their clients to get better than they currently are?  A guide should take pride in teaching clients to become better and better every time the client goes fishing, so the client can be more self-sustaining.  When I first started guiding, one of the best thing I was taught by my guiding mentor was “You should try to teach yourself out of a job; I know it sounds strange but you will get more repeat clients this way”  As the years have gone by, it turns out, his statement is proving true.  The bonus is that my return clients are better and better each year, and my clients are making my job easier and easier.

To sum all this up.

There is a limited amount of skill and knowledge involved in floating down a river with an indicator nymphing.  The statistics show that on average a trout will feed sub-surface as much as 98% of the time.  Most long term guides worth hiring for a guide trip would agree that floating and nymphing is relatively simple and can be boring.  I grant this style of fishing is extremely effective and millions of fish per season are caught and released using this technique.  The big shops on big rivers account for tens of thousands of fish caught this way every year.  A low estimate for the Bighorn River alone (if you take into account all the clients and guides on the water per year) the number of fish caught and released is easily over 300,000 trout each season.  Floating and nymphing is great for the sport of fly fishing because it makes beginners and average fly fishermen feel very good about the time they spend on the water.  It gives them great stories to tell when they get home and they are very satisfied as customers with their guide because they caught lots of fish.  So how does one break this chain of floating and nymphing addiction?

It starts with the guides.  Make your clients change their fly fishing techniques several times per day.  Make your client get out of the boat and fish from a shelf or the bank every time you can so they can get a different perspective on fly fishing.  At a minimum keep your eyes open for that dry fly teaching opportunity with every client, no matter how novice they are.  And finally at afternoon thirty when you have to row out those last few miles convince your client to throw a streamer or a bugger to complete the trout tri-fecta.  The trout tri-fecta is at least one fish on each of the three main techniques of fly fishing, dry flies, nymphs and streamers/buggers.  And finally recommend to your clients that they go fish some small stream, creek, pond or lake both with a guide and on their own to develop specific skills you can help them with the next time they are on the river with you.

If you are a fly fisherman that is stuck in this float trip merry-go-round, get out of the boat and get back to learning how to fly fish.  Yes, it will be harder and you likely won’t catch as many fish and the fish may be smaller on average but you will become a better fly fisherman.  You can start by going on more walk and wade fishing trips each season.  Stop thinking you have to catch a certain number of fish of a certain size to have a great trip.  Think about what skills you are lacking and find a guide that will help you develop those skills.  You should stop throwing just a bobber and nymph and start focusing on the intense skills of dry fly fishing.  And finally, at a minimum you should break out of your mold by chucking streamers or buggers.  Your casting and presentation skills will grow fast if you mix up your skills though out your days on the waters.

I hope this information helps people become better fly fishermen and or fly fishing guides.  I took the time to write this article in hopes of changing people’s thoughts about fly fishing.  If any of this article upset your sensibilities, you are closer to being this guy than you might like, and you may want to re-evaluate your thinking as a fly fisherman and not just a fisherman focused on catching.  If you don’t know what a fly fisherman is, Google search it and read all about it to form your own opinion.

By the way one of my favorite people to read is John Juracek.  John is one of the greats that have ever written, photographed, spoke or demonstrated aspects of fly fishing. Check out some of John’s writings and photographs at

Thanks for taking time to read this exceptionally long article.  I tried to not get too far off track but I thought sharing a different perspective might help change fishermen into fly fisherman.

Tight lines and great fly fishing.


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