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Fair Weather or Bust

Sean Visintainer - 10/05/17

Jennifer Nepean with a solid Wind River rainbow.

Footballs in Wyoming

Fair weather or bust. Well not really. Headed out on the annual trout road trip a couple weeks ago in search of some new water, new scenery, and some shots at big fish. Quickly changing weather had us looking at adjusting plans accordingly as the week progressed. We knew starting off with two days of Yellowstone National Park would be a jumping off point and the rest of week somewhere in Wyoming.

Wyoming is the state that lives in the shadow of fly fishing mecca Montana. A bit further drive, but a lot less anglers, and a lot more fishing. I've not spent much time in Wyoming compared to it's more famous neighbor so it's that much more intriguing. Aside from Yellowstone NP, a trip last year to the Green River and one many moons ago to the North Platte. With shifting weather we headed to Cody to find out that the local rivers like the Shoshone and Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone had just blown out. Chilly, wet weather had us looking further into the state for some sunshine and clear water.

We ended up making the trek over to Thermopolis where the upper Bighorn makes it's way through before heading across state lines. Thermopolis is a sleepy little town as one would expect in the middle of nowhere with two cool facts. They have the Bighorn River running right through town with big ass trout in it, and they have one of the largest dinosaur museums in the world which was totally worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Thermopolis.

The Bighorn in Wyoming is similar to what most people know of the Bighorn in Montana. Flowing from the Boysen Reservoir as the Wind River, a dam controlled tailwater river, it quickly enters a canyon on the Wind River Reservation. Unless you are with a native guide, anglers can only fish the canyon stretch on foot and are required to have a reservation fishing licenses which can be obtained in Thermopolis at the fly shop. As the Wind River exits the canyon and reservation it changes names at the "Wedding of the Waters" and is then called the Bighorn River for the rest of it's journey. A couple days in the canyon chasing football shaped trout and a day of floating below the Wedding of the Waters was enough to satisfy any trout angler looking to catch high quality rainbows and browns.

Wyoming is certainly a long haul from Spokane, but for anyone looking to fish different water and explore terrain vastly different than our nearby streams it's highly worth a weeks visit. I know Jen and I will be going back as often as we can looking for those "football" shaped rainbows we found in central Wyoming.


Fly fishing on Soda Butte Creek in Yellowstone National Park.

A football shaped rainbow from the Wind River, Wyoming.

Black and White rainbow from the Wind River, Wyoming.

A large rainbow trout tail from the Wind River, Wyoming.

Red rock wall on the Bighorn River near Thermopolis, Wyoming.

Soaking in the sun on the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park.

A chunky rainbow from the Wind River, Wyoming.

A cloudy afternoon float on the Bighorn River, Wyoming.

Floating into Thermopolis, Wyoming on the upper Bighorn River.

The canyon of the Wind River on the Wyoming Wind River Reservation.

Fly fishing pocket water in Yellowstone National Park's Gardiner River.

A long rainbow on the Bighorn River, Wyoming.

A badluck banana fly fishing on the Stillwater River, Montana.