A few of you have sent me emails, and one a comment, asking for more information about the Bighorn. So I've taken the questions from the comments on my post of July 13, which covers the gist of what others have asked, and pasted them here along with my answers. Please keep in mind that my answers are based on my own experiences fishing the river in July, and mostly from the perspective of the dry fly angler. I have fished the river using subsurface flies, but only when absolutely nothing is hatching or rising.
Sure would like to hear about your Bighorn River trip! Did you wade, or float? Float, it flows through the Crow reservation and access is very limited without a drift boat. We started everyday below the afterbay, and stopped/anchored in the places we saw rising fish or that we wanted to explore, or that we knew from past trips hold fish.
Which section(s) did you fish, and which areas did you like most? This year we floated from the afterbay to 13 mile once, and the other three days from the afterbay to 3 mile. Below three mile the river had a lot of algae and plant matter in the water, and the one day we drifted to 13 mile we saw very few rising fish below 13 mile, and the water was "dirty". That said, it may be different next year, so don't assume anything because everytime we go it is different. Two years ago we fished to 13 mile everyday because we found hatches and fish the whole way, and the water was clean.
What times of day did you find most productive? We caught fish all day long. They do turn off for short periods, but I haven't found one time is better than another. In the evening, lots of fish rise, but they can be very snooty and you'll have to work for them - lengthen your leader and tippet, and take your time so you make good casts and get drag-free drifts the first time over the fish.
Was the dry fly fishing good throughout the day, or did you nymph until evening? Most people fish nymphs and do well - like 80% of all the angler fish subsurface. But if you want to fish dries all day, and are willing to work and be patient, you can catch fish all day using dries and catch fish. I only fished dries all day long all four days, and caught a lot of fish,
Did you stay in Fort Smith? We rented a cabin in Cottonwood Campground. We have also rented cabins in the past through other means and stayed in Ft. Smith, and they seem to all be good. None of the guys I go with need amenities - the cabin is for sleeping, eating and tying flies and getting a good shower in the am.
What were the good and bad things about the trip? It's a vacation in Montana, what can be bad about it?
The bottom line is that it's like anything else in life; it is what you make of it. We go every year (25+ years) and have a blast no matter what the weather is like, how good the fishing is (its always good, even when it is bad), and even when we invite a new guy and he turns out to be an asshole to travel and stay with (he doesn't get invited back again). That didn't happen this year; my son was the new guy and he's in for life. : )
Life is short and fishing in Montana or anywhere is awesome.