Located in southeast Montana, the Bighorn River is a very mellow float with excellent trout fishing opportunities. The majority of traffic is concentrated on the tailwater fishery immediately below Yellowtail Dam and Bighorn Reservoir. In this section, we only cover the Montana side. The Wyoming stretch has some great fishing and recreational opportunities as well.
Flows And Weather
Bighorn River near St. Xavier, MT
- Water Temp: 39.92 ° F
- Flow: 2890 ft³/s
- Water Level: 60.30 ft
Rapids and Float Notes
There really isn’t much for rapids. Being respectful to other boaters and traffic is more of a priority here. Especially right below the dam.
Bighorn River Montana Boat Ramps
Afterbay – Right below the dam, this is the first launch site.
3 Mile – Just like it sounds, only 3 miles down. While this sounds like a quick float, you can easily spend all day on these 3 miles. There are tons of fish and you will lose track of time sitting on pods and trying to fool selective eaters.
Bighorn – 10 miles below 3-mile. Putting in at 3 mile is a good idea but you can make a long day of it from the Afterbay launch. The first few miles still have high fish counts. They start to drop a little as you get farther from the dam but are still higher than most rivers. The crowds diminish quickly as you get farther down as well.
Mallard’s Landing – Another 10 miles down river. Significantly less traffic, still some great fishing.
Two Leggins – 10 miles down from Mallard’s. This section runs through the Crow Reservation. You do not need a tribal license to fish but the reservation does own everything above the high water mark. If you plan on recreating outside the river bed, you will need permits from the tribe.
Arapooish – 12 miles down. This is getting into more warm water habitat here. Still a wonderful place for wildlife viewing and a cool ecosystem.
Cottonwood Camp – 406-666-2391
Bighorn River Fly Fisher – 406-666-2255
Bighorn Fly and Tackle – 406-666-2253
Bighorn Trout Shop – 406-666-2375
Bighorn River Guides – 406-666-2550
River Specific Fishing Regulations
Exceptions to Standard Regulations: Bighorn River
- Open entire year.
- Sauger/Walleye: 5 daily, only 1 may be a sauger. Possession limit is 10, only 2 may be sauger.
- A State of Montana fishing license is required for all anglers to fish within the boundaries of the Crow Reservation. A tribal permit is not required.
Afterbay Dam to cable 600 feet downstream and downstream from Bighorn FAS
- May use live non-game bait fish.
Cable 600 feet below Afterbay Dam to Bighorn FAS.
- Artificial lures only.