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When people think of fly fishing Wyoming, they often imagine the beautiful Grand Teton Mountains and the great town of Jackson Hole. If you head a couple hours east, you’ll run right into the town of Sheridan, a Mecca of high quality fly angling and seclusion.
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I spent a summer living near Sheridan, Wyoming, and had the opportunity to explore all that the nearby Bighorn Mountains had to offer. In broad valleys between towering mountains, I landed trout after trout in winding streams, and on many days there were no other anglers in sight.
I’ve visited few other places in the world that have better fishing than Sheridan. Every chance I get I try to visit again to see what else I can find. Sometimes it seems to me that there’s no limit to the trout waters in the area.
Fly Fishing Sheridan: Why Go?
If you’re interested in unique fish and seclusion, you’ll find both of these in Sheridan. The waters spread throughout the Bighorn Mountains are beautiful, and you can easily spend the entire day without seeing another person fishing.
It takes some effort to find these fish, but once you do, you’ll be in for an amazing day on the water.
Species for Sheridan Fly Fishing
The waters around Sheridan, Wyoming, are filled with a variety of species. Almost any type of freshwater fish is available to be caught. Spend a few days and see what you can find! You won’t be disappointed.
Yellowstone cutthroat are one of the main reasons people visit Sheridan. These fish are becoming less and less common, but the population around Sheridan continues to flourish. You can find them in the Bighorn River as well as the North Tongue River.
When targeting this fish, make sure you have caddisflies, terrestrial patterns and sow bugs. All of these will give you ample opportunities to land the coveted Yellowstone cutthroat.
Rainbow trout are another trout you can find in the waters around Sheridan. Several of the rivers hold wild populations of these fish. Make sure to look for them in the Bighorn Canyon as well as the North and South Tongue. These three rivers are wonderful habitats for these fish.
Bring Woolly Buggers, gnat patterns and Prince Nymphs if you want to land these fish. Fish them in a variety of ways! The rainbow trout are temperamental and require some finesse to land.
Brown trout are some of the most common trout that inhabit the waters around Sheridan. They’re all over the South Tongue River in the Bighorn Mountains. They sit under the cut banks and pools. Bring along BWOs, Zebra Midges and a few stonefly patterns.
These fish are beautiful and can grow upwards of 20 inches. They’re some of the largest trout in the waters surrounding Sheridan.
Bass are all over the ponds and rivers near Sheridan. If you visit Lake DeSmet and Sibley you’ll find these fish hanging around structure and spawning in the shallow water. Bring along popper flies and Clouser Minnows. They can grow upwards of 6 pounds, so make sure you have your 7 or 8-weight.
Best Spots for Fly Fishing Sheridan
There are numerous hot spots around Sheridan that fly anglers should visit. It’s best to have four or five days to spend in the area to fish. This amount of time will give you a great chance to explore!
North Tongue River
The North Tongue near Burgess Junction, Wyoming, is an amazing place to visit for fly fishing. The majority of the river is located in national forest land, so you won’t have to worry about access issues. You can park your car at one of the numerous pull-offs and spend the entire day exploring.
Beware of moose! The river is surrounded by willow bushes, and moose often feed on them. The population of moose in the Bighorns is quite impressive, so bring along your camera or phone to snap some pictures. The North Tongue is also known for its dry fly fishing.
Terrestrials start showing themselves late in July. Earlier in the summer be sure to bring Elk Hair Caddis and gnat patterns. There are dozens of eddies and deep bends in the river.
You’ll likely be able to sight fish, so do your best to stay as hidden as you possibly can. It’ll require quite a bit of skill to land these fish, but once you do you’ll feel rewarded.
The Bighorn Canyon is packed full of fish. It’s best fished from a drift boat, so it’s a good idea to hire a guide or have one of your own. The towering canyon walls and beautiful large fish make the canyon a must visit!
You’ll catch trout and a variety of other freshwater fish in the Bighorn River. The deeper you go into the canyon, the better chance you’ll have at landing trout. Enjoy the beauty and take advantage of the opportunity to land some of these impressive fish.
The South Tongue is one of the least pressured waters near Sheridan. You can access it near Burgess Junction and work your way up or down the river. The stonefly hatches are amazing on the South Tongue. Bring them along! You’ll see hundreds of fish jumping out of the water.
Best Flies for Sheridan
There are dozens of hatches that occur near Sheridan, so make sure you’re properly equipped before you make your visit. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve trekked out to some faraway place in the Bighorn Mountains only to realize that I’d left some crucial piece of gear behind.
Elk Hair Caddis
Elk Hair Caddis flies ranging from size 14-20 work great near Sheridan. Wait for the mornings and evenings and begin fishing. Also, make sure you have tippet tied on your leader. It’ll keep you hidden.
San Juan Worm
The San Juan Worm is a classic pattern that works all over the world. It’s no surprise that it works especially well near Sheridan. Cast it through the seams and pools and you’ll land some nice fish.
The Chubby Chernobyl works great late in July. The warmer the temperatures, the more active these bugs become.
Brown and rainbow trout love these flies! Look for the cut banks and cast as far underneath as you can.
Pheasant Tail Nymph
Pheasant Tail Nymph flies are great imitations of BWOs. I like to fish them hard early in the spring and later in the fall when these flies are hatching. You’ll find yourself with quite a bit of action and some sizable fish.
Woolly Buggers work great in Bighorn Canyon. Fish them low and slow throughout the pools in the Bighorn and North Tongue River. You don’t have to cause much commotion with these patterns! Let their action do the talking.
Sheridan Fishing Season
In my experience, the best time to fish the waters surrounding Sheridan are in the late spring and the late summer into the early fall. The fish are active throughout these few months.
The Sheridan fishing season is one that you shouldn’t miss. I’ve been to fishing spots all over North America, and it’s still one of my favorites.
Sheridan Fishing Report
The North Tongue and South Tongue rivers were extremely hot when I last visited in late June. The runoff had just subsided and fish were willing to eat just about anything. I had quite a bit of success with Elk Hair Caddis patterns and Woolly Buggers.
Fly fishing Sheridan is something that every fly angler should experience. The summer I spent there is ingrained in my memory as a time of big adventure, sweeping landscapes, and lots of fish. That’s the reason I make a point of returning whenever I’m in or near Wyoming, despite the long distances every visit implies.
The waters are beautiful, wildlife is plentiful and there’s always the chance to land a trophy fish. These are the true definitions of Western rivers!
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