Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bighorn Canyon and some fly fishing on the Bighorn River


After our busy week at Yellowstone, we were looking for a few days of relaxation.  We knew that Howard & Linda had enjoyed their stay at the Bighorn Recreation Area in Montana, and since it would take us on a route around the north side of the Bighorn Mountains, we decided to stop in Fort Smith for a few days.

There were only a couple campers besides the host in the Afterbay Campground when we arrived, and we had no trouble getting backed into our site.

Our Bighorn Canyon Home

The National Recreation Area campground has water available to fill your fresh water tank, and a dump station, but no electric or sewer hookups, and this particular campground is FREE . . . not bad for the budget!

Bearproof Food Storage


There were bear warnings around, and food lockers at every site, and we heard from multiple campers that they had seen a black bear and 3 cubs in the campground . . . despite all that, we never saw them!

Not even with all the choke cherries around!


We had some decent shade, but the afternoons still got pretty hot when the temperatures soared into the 90s . . . we had to come up with a power management plan for our 4 days here!  We did pretty well with running the generator for an hour in the morning to run the coffee pot and charge the laptops, while the coach batteries charged up.  We didn’t use much power during the day, and we would turn the generator back on around 8pm, after the sun dropped below the canyon wall, to run the A/C and get the RV cooled down for the night.  That also gave the kids enough power to watch a DVD before quiet hours started at 10pm.

We only had one issue with the generator . . . one night we had both A/Cs running to cool down the RV, and then we also lit the electric water heater to heat up some water for showers.  We went for a walk, and when we got back, we noticed that the coach batteries were no longer charging and the water heater was off!  After some debugging, Tom & Nick determined that one of the circuit breakers on the generator had popped, and we had to reset it . . . now we know that we have to use propane for the water heater if both A/Cs are running!!

We didn’t do too much while we were there, but we did attend a Ranger Program,


and spent some time down on the river.  Casey didn’t like the fishing pier,  DSC_0056

but she didn’t mind swimming in the cold water!


One day we took a drive up to the Visitor Center at the Yellowtail Dam.

Yellowtail Dam

the dam was built to provide power for the surrounding area, and it also created the 40-mile long Bighorn Lake.







From the overlook, we could see the Afterbay (the area between the Yellowtail Dam and the Afterbay Dam, where we were camped) and the Bighorn River,

Afterbay and Bighorn River

and the community of Fort Smith and the surrounding farms.

Fort Smith

From another overlook, we could look back at the Yellowtail Dam.

Yellowtail Dam

From the Visitor Center we drove 10 miles to the OK-A-Beh Marina, the only marina on the gigantic lake!

OK-A-Beh Marina

We had thought we might be able to rent a pontoon and get out on the lake,

Bighorn Lake

but they only have 6 rentals, and they were all booked for the weekend!

We kept seeing fishermen on the river, and hearing that this is one of “the best” fly fishing river in the world, so we stopped in a couple of fly shops in Fort Smith to see what they offered in guided trips.

We ended up booking a 1/2 day trip for the 3 guys on Sunday.  Having all 4 of us go would have required 2 boats, and wasn’t worth the money, since I had no interest in fishing.  Tom and Nick bought their 2-day fishing licenses (Bryce doesn’t need one yet) for Saturday/Sunday, and they figured they could do a little fishing in the campground on Saturday.


They did try a little fishing down by the Afterbay Dam, but didn’t have any luck.


On Sunday, I dropped them off at the fly shop bright and early at 8am,

Ready for their Fly-Fishing Trip!

and they got set up with equipment and met their guide for the day.


With their guide, Eric

I gave them my old camera to take in the boat, so the rest of the pictures are ones that they took on their trip.

Launching the boat with all the other fishermen.

Fly Fishing on the Bighorn River

Bryce lands the first catch of the day!

Bryce got the first catch!

Eric must have been a pretty good guide, because they all had a pretty good day – between them they caught 13 brown and rainbow trout!

Learning the technique

Ready to cook

Brown Trout


Tom and Nick got in on the action, too!

Nick's Rainbow Trout

Tom's Rainbow Trout!

The boys said Tom got so excited when he caught a fish, it was embarrassing! 

Eric continued to coach and advise,

Eric, the Guide

and at the end of the day, rewarded them with flys for their hats!

Bryce is officially a fly fisherman!

They ended up floating 10 miles on the river, along with lots of other fishermen,

Fly fishermen

Do cows like fish??










and got back to the RV a lot later than I expected them!  They had a really good time, though, and learned a new sport!

They also brought home some dinner!

Getting ready for dinner

Eric had gutted them on the boat, and Nicolas tried his hand at filleting them for frying.

Nicolas filets his dinner

It was a little harder than Tim made it look back in Florida!

Tom cooked his wholeTom opted to leave his whole and just grill it in a foil packet.  I guess it turned out pretty good!

He didn't eat the bones!

Nicolas preferred his deep fried, so after he got it cut up, I breaded it and fried it up for him.  His turned out good, too!

Nick prefers deep fried

Bryce and I had steak . . . and that was delicious, too!

Bryce and I had steak!



We had a wonderful time, and for our first attempt at boondocking, we did pretty well!  Now we know we can do it!

1 comment:

  1. Way to go with the boondocking!! We have to give it a try one of these days. Nice fishing trip also:o))


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