News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 3, 2012

REDNECK QUAKER: Montana trip gets man hooked on fly fishing

Kenny Bayless
The Tribune-Star

---- — For those of you who enjoy fly fishing or would like to learn a very rewarding technique to catch trophy brown and rainbow trout, read on.

Vaughn Rightly had never picked up a fly-fishing rod before until he took his wife Kristy and daughter Olivia to Harden, Mont., to vacation at the Eagle Nest Lodge. One evening while sitting around a camp fire, they taught Vaughn how to throw a fly and he was hooked.

The lodge is on the Big Horn River on a Crow Indian Reservation. The area they fish is catch-and-release with barbless hooks, so that is why you can catch fish 15 to 20 inches long with as many as 20 fish a day in this category.

The most popular method of boating is the McKenzie Style, which you float in a medium-sized, flat-bottom boat that the guide can row while you walk around the boat to position yourself to throw your fly and work your line.

Each section of the river has a name like “The Aquarium” or “The Three Mile.”

While the guides were launching the drift (boat), Vaughn saw large fish from the bank and forgot about his fishing pole and wanted to jump in to do some Hillbilly Hand Fishing. Vaughn’s first was a white fish and the only one of the day.

They had two newbies in the boat, so can you see all the line flying everywhere?

For the first brown trout Vaughn landed, the guide pulled out a turkey baster with a small hose attached and he slid the hose down the fish’s mouth into its stomach to suck out the contents to see what the fish had been feeding on. They changed the fly to a white larvae type and Vaughn said, “Boy, the fishing was on.” He had the time of his life.

Remember, when you are fishing with barbless hooks, you cannot let your line go slack or the fish will spit the hook out and go on its way.

The Big Horn River holds a greater number of large trout in the 15-to-20 inch range than any river in the United States, with around 8,000 trout per mile. The Big Horn host phenomenal hatches almost year round. It provides excellent fishing from April through November. From the Blue Winged Olives of spring to the midsummer PMDS and Yellow Salies to the Black Caddis and Trico’s of late summer, there is dry fly fishing to be had nearly every day of the season. As a tail-water fishery, heavy runoff is never a problem, making it one of the few fisheries in the West where fly fishing is as good in April and May as it is during summer and fall.

Vaughn, you are envied by many outdoorsmen for you have experienced a fishing trip of a lifetime!

Brian Smith announced that Indiana Outdoor News (ION) and have teamed up to launch Indiana’s No. 1 online resource for statewide outdoor news. The redesigned website went live at 11:59 p.m. Feb. 16. Leveraging the resource of Indiana Outdoors News magazine with the content of, the new website promises to keep Hoosier outdoors enthusiasts informed about what is happening in the woods, fields and waters of the state.

Kenny Bayless can be reached by e-mail at