Big Horn fly fishing


I was spoiled by the fishing reports from The Fly Shop when I lived in California. It may have been a matter of population density, or accessibility but whatever it was, I knew a lot about the rivers I wanted to fish. Wyoming has been a different animal, and that makes sense. Local fly shops report flows and good flies in the shop itself on the now-standard dry erase board. But it’s tough to find quality information. So with that in mind, I will provide some, but try not to ruin a good thing incase there is a conscious effort to keep the fishing good.
Anyway, hiked into Lake Helen on June 20. It took just over two hours to get to the outlet of the lake. We went to the east of the lack and camped at the back which added about a mile and another 30 minutes.
In the morning we hiked up to a no-name lake that was rumored to have Golden Trout. After talking to a guy from the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish, I discovered that the lake is name East Marion and has Yellowstone Cutthroat trout, but not Goldens.

So here’s the report.
My girlfriend and I found Lake Trout and Brook Trout eager to take an egg sucking leach stripped slowly at the two creek entires on the north end of the lake.
I know this will sound like typical angling fabrication, so I am going to subtract two inches from what I thought the fish was, to combat inferred inflation. This trout was 16, solid inches which is not surprising for a lake of the size, but I’ve fished plenty of good lakes that seemed to have no fish larger than 14 inches. This thing looked like a small salmon.  I saw it cruising within a few feet of the shore and I tossed a foam caddis with a chironomid dropper and the thing took the dropper. I set the hook and felt the weight of the fish. It thrashed a few times at the surface, you know that crazy whole-body convulsion that big fish do. It popped off.

The unnamed lake to the north east (between Helen and Gunboat) had trout that slowly took foam caddis at the surface and the chironomid droppers, but they were Yellowstone cutthroat, not Golden Trout.

We hiked out on Sunday and drove to the Prune Creek Campground on the South Tongue River. There are plenty of brown trout here that take pretty much any small black nymph you have, but some fun caddis action too. The real story is the North Tongue River where there are Snake River cutthroats of much bigger size than anything we caught on the South. It seemed like a perfect hopper river, but there weren’t any around. I got a couple looks at my RS2, chironomid, and zebra midge dropped under an Adams, caddis and tried a hopper as an indicator but no takes. The fish seemed to be a little shy in the clear water, so we tried to use stealth but it wasn’t until I dropped a brown birds nests that I had any luck. I would have liked to report that there was some nice dry fly action, but that wasn’t the case for us. That certainly doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but we had limited resources in the box. Had we stopped in town we may have been able to get a couple flies that were the ticket, but we only stopped in Sheridan on the way out.

The North Tongue River is devastatingly beautiful and the trout are the same. I love the meandering high-country meadow streams that we don’t have in southeast Alaska. We fished it last year and it became a must-fish on this summer’s visit to Wyoming.

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