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Old 01-21-2013, 03:25 PM
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Wink Less crowds on the Bighorn????

Hi Guys,

Planning another trip to Montana for September of this year with a buddy and another forum member. We are planning an arrival on the 13th and spend a week at a camp(rather not name it but feel free to PM me if curious). I was just wondering what kind of river congestion we may experience. The 3rd week of September is out but would we be better off waiting until October? Just interested in your thoughts.

Take care,
Dan

PS>>>>>>>Eric B. (aka.....smooth criminal). your thoughts?
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Old 01-21-2013, 04:08 PM
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Default Re: Less crowds on the Bighorn????

By October, the hunting season will be in full swing and the crowds will be greatly reduced. When I lived in Billings, my favorite months to fish the Bighorn we're October through March just to avoid the crowds. You won't get much, if any, surface action during that time, but the fishing is awesome. September may be a crapshoot crowd-wise, depending on if the summer weather stretches into the month.

I'd say if less crowds is a deciding factor, especially since you're traveling cross-country, I would go in October. I'll be fishing it for a few days in late March and I can run this by my buddy who chose to work in Billings specifically for its proximity to the Bighorn.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:15 PM
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Default Re: Less crowds on the Bighorn????

You know, Cletus, I appreciate the reply even though I didn't write the post. I've fished the Bighorn a few times and loved the river but didn't love the crowds. What bothered me the most is (and this has happened more than once) when someone plants their butt right in the middle of the only place you have to run the boat through and then gets mad at you for putting the fish down (their fish in their river) when you drift by. That kind of occurrence ruins the experience for me, thus my decision to avoid crowded rivers.
I talked to a guide in AK who guides part time on the Bighorn and he gives the same advice you do. I'll have to give the Bighorn another chance during one of the months you suggest.
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:43 PM
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Default Re: Less crowds on the Bighorn????

I'm no expert in anyway on this river so don't take what I say to seriously but if it performs like the Missouri its a month I would preffer to avoid. I find September to be that awkward month between dry fly fishing and streamer fishing. September on the mo can be a good nymph month if you like nymphing.

I dunno. I don't like semptember on the Missouri. It just feels awkward since nothing is really happening. I would wait until October and streamer fish the brown trout.

Again don't take what I say seriously. Ive never fished it and maybe its phenomenal fishing in September. I hope to get down there this summer when I move to bozeman. Learn something about it.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:41 PM
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Default Re: Less crowds on the Bighorn????

Both the Missouri and the Bighorn can be extremely weedy in mid-September, making anything subsurface very difficult and frustrating. They can stay this way well into October. And has already been mentioned September can be the worst month of the post runoff season to fish. If it's a great hopper year September can fish very well on top through the whole month into October. It wasn't like that last year. The year before was stellar.

If I had to chose one tailwater over another at that time of year it would be the Missouri. It's not as pretty (arguably, there is that interstate running right next to it for a good ways) but the fish are bigger on average and it's actually less crowded overall.
The Bighorn seems to be filled with 12-14" fish these days and you really seem to have to sift through quite a few smaller fish to find the sort of tailwater fish I think most people imagine catching.
The Missouri is in prime shape right now and you are really averaging in the 16-17" range with lots of bows over 20" and they are really heavy. Also the browns you catch out of the Missouri are going to be bigger on average than the Bighorn but you'll catch less of them.

If you actually have the opportunity to fish Montana for a week in October and will rent a car then I would suggest any of the following rivers which WILL be fishing well;

The Bighole will be on fire in October. The browns spawn earlier there and will be all fired up. It's excellent wading at that time of year, drop dead gorgeous and has excellent camping up and down the river. You could easily spend a week just exploring up and down the Bighole, spring for a float trip, whatever.

The Beaverhead is only an hours drive from the Bighole and is full of huge rainbows and browns. This year I saw more pig rainbows out of the Beav than I ever have in the 25 years I've been fishing it. In October the flows out of the dam are usually low and you can wade anywhere. October is one of the best times to fish it.

The Madison in the Park is usually fishing well by October and gets it's lake run browns at that time. The Madison outside the park fishes as well but I personally think it's overrated compared to other nearby waters, however the scenery can't be beat and there is excellent camping available and excellent access.

The Yellowstone usually fishes well in October but it's harder to get around on without a boat. It's my favorite river by far but you really need a boat to realize its potential.

Those are all I'm going to name but keep in mind they all have other nearby creeks, tribs and rivers that fish awesome in October.

The Missoula area fishes just as well in October as the rivers I've mentioned and barring a major rain or snowstorm all the freestone rivers should be low and wadeable and fishing WELL.

Probably not the "Yeah, Bighorn in September" that you wanted to hear and I suppose this might annoy the Bighorn people but honestly, if you have a week to spend in Montana I would chose almost anywhere else than the Bighorn. And if the option is Sept or Oct. then October.
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Old 01-22-2013, 01:37 AM
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Default Re: Less crowds on the Bighorn????

If crowds are what your coming to Montana to avoid then I agree with the other's. It's arguably one the top tail waters but their will be people and a good chance a good number of them because of that. I would recommend floats on the lower longer sections to avoid crowds. If you can stand fishing around people the "horn" can yield lots of fish. Also if it's about about size and type of fishing you want to do. I agree with the others again, that time of the year can be hit it miss with top water. Nymphs and streamers will be the primary fishing most days. So if you want more top water I'd say look to some of our other water's. Don't get me wrong midges can almost always turn up a few good pods. Or like stated above if we have a hopper hatch, but then most any where in MT is good.

Also mentioned having to row over people's holes, cause it happens in a few sections. Thing is the first 17 miles of river or so has some great wading from the islands or bank. So your bound to do it where the river narrows. If they mean mug it's their choice to be there.

The big fish are there.. already pointed out your average fish will be 14"range. You will see some monsters...float right over them schooling up stream sometimes and never catch one. Fish per mile though can't be beat, maybe the blue?

Bighole is stunning that time of year. I also like the Stillwater and hear Yellowstone can be great that time of year too. I know you have been out west MT before so these would be some new places to explore.

Edit: I love to stay with Cottonwood campgrounds when I go to Fort Smith. Good people good prices and its right by the 3 mile take out.

Last edited by shortyb; 01-22-2013 at 01:52 AM.
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:39 AM
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Default Re: Less crowds on the Bighorn????

Wow,

Not the news I wanted to hear but sometimes the truth hurts. Maybe I have to rethink the September idea or even look at other spots. As always, great info and insight guys.

Thanks,
Dan
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:36 AM
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Default Re: Less crowds on the Bighorn????

Thanks for the insight, guys, but let's try to stick to the fishing on the Big Horn from mid-Sept to mid-Oct. I've never fished over there and know it's not a place to go for solitary fishing ... it's a place to go to fish for the best opportunity to stick a trophy, or at least some very nice fish. I've also read about the weed problem but that it's based on how long the water is held back and when they let it go from Yellowtail ... and that it's a crapshoot this time of the year, all depending on the water year to come.

Aren't there baetis and BWO in mid-September? I just don't know the hatch chart for over there. Of course October is everyone's favorite and I love the BH ... but if this thread goes that way then it's just everyone's favorite Montana river in the fall and that could (as has been started) all the way from Big Horn to Missouri and everything in between ... which is lifetime of fishing!
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:44 PM
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Default Re: Less crowds on the Bighorn????

I can't say anything about the Bighorn in the fall (only have fished it in the summer with the CROWDS) but its a good bet that when its hunting season, the river is yours. Don't let people discourage you about the weeds because, as it turns out, the fish are still there. You may have to change up the style you wanted or prefer to fish but that's the game. Good luck!
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:21 PM
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Default Re: Less crowds on the Bighorn????

Quote:
Originally Posted by long bow View Post
I can't say anything about the Bighorn in the fall (only have fished it in the summer with the CROWDS) but its a good bet that when its hunting season, the river is yours. Don't let people discourage you about the weeds because, as it turns out, the fish are still there. You may have to change up the style you wanted or prefer to fish but that's the game. Good luck!
5000 fish per mile can't hide from the weeds!!
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