Yesterday, I had the opportunity to explore some of the ranch lands on the west side of the Bighorn Mountains. I got up early, drove through snowy Powder River Pass and was having coffee at 8:30 AM at a local diner in Tensleep, Wyoming when R.C. Carter pulled up in his muddy flatbed truck. R.C. and I had planned to spend the day together looking at as many local streams as possible. We had been conversing with a number of local ranchers with the hopes of gaining permission to bring our clients to fish some of these streams. We had fished many of these streams before and knew how good they were, but this winter we had been working to gain permission to guide on a few of these ranches. On this day, R.C. and I drove over 150 miles, fished four streams, caught a "bucket" of fish up to 20-21 inches and saw some absolutely beautiful country. We saw elk, antelope, deer, fox, wild turkeys, pheasant and a coyote. We spent much of the day either speeding down some dusty dirt road or sprinting across some alfalfa field so we could maximize our fishing time on some little ranch gem that we had allotted only one hour or so to fish. This was a weird game we played on this day: drive up, grab our pre-rigged rods, run to the stream, catch a few fish, take photos, talk about how we gotta come back and spend more time, run to the pickup, drive speedily to a new section of river or a new ranch, fish again. I got home to Sheridan at 10:00 PM. I had caught dozens upon dozens of fish and reaffirmed why I LOVE to live in Wyoming!
So what follows is not so much of a trip report as an announcement of a new program. We also thought you might enjoy seeing some photos from yesterday's explorations. Suffice it to say it was a simply incredible day. Beautiful water, big fish... perfect day.
If you are an avid trout fisherman and love to catch big trout on small streams, Angling Destinations has finished securing the leases on a number of private ranches in Wyoming's Bighorn Basin Area. This is the west side of the Big Horn Mountains. It is an area of big ranches, small towns and very few people. There is no doubt that this is one of the most remote areas in Wyoming. These private ranches see little, if any, fishing pressure in any given year. These ranches are not managed as trout fisheries and as such they are not fished every day, they are managed as cattle or sheep ranches period. After many conversations the owners of these working ranches are now willing to pick up an extra $50-100 a day as a trespass fee in exchange for letting some crazy fly fishermen catch a few of their fish... and then let them go. We are only too happy to oblige. The streams on our private ranches are beautiful. Some wind through dramatic canyons, others meander through alfalfa fields. Some rivers have a million 10-16 inch fish, while other streams hold 16-24 inch browns and rainbows that sip dries and hammer streamers.
If you visit this area and fish with us, you will be visiting the true west. This is not a program at some fancy-pants lodge that employs guides with that 'tude we all have learned to be a bit wary of. This is the real deal. If you visit "the basin", you'll be accommodated in a local motel or guesthouse and have the option of spending a night or two at one of the ranches as their guest. Most of the time, meals will be taken at a local tavern where you can play a game of pool after dinner and get to know the locals. We know this is not for everyone, but this is absolutely untouched angling in some of the most beautiful country in the west.
R. C. Carter will be heading up this private ranch program. R.C. is our outfitter for our Destination X Bighorn Mountains Highcountry Tent Camp. For those of you that have been lucky enough to have horsepacked into the Bighorns with R.C., you know how competent and fun to be with he is. R.C. knows these ranchlands like the back of his hand having grown up and ranched with his family here all his life. If you are doing the horsepack trip this summer with R.C., this will be a great add-on option. But, there is plenty of water here for any angler to visit this area and not see it all in 6 fishing days. If you want to extend your stay, we can also combine these private ranch days with a few days on the legendary Bighorn River.
So take a look at the photos, see if it might be right for you and if so, give us a call today for all the details!
Written by Scott Heywood