Royal Big Horn Club

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The Royal Bighorn Club is located 23± miles south of Hardin, Montana. Originating in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, the river flows north through the Big Horn National Canyon Recreation Area before transforming into Montana’s premier tailwater fishery.
The Bighorn River supports a self-sustaining population of wild brown and rainbow trout. Although the Bighorn has had some tougher years, 2021 provided some of the best dry-fly fishing in many years.  With a population dynamic of roughly 60% Browns and 40% rainbows, the upper stretches of the Bighorn historically supports as many as 6,000 trout per mile. As a tailwater, the Bighorn's relatively stable year round water temperature provides the insects and fish in the river ideal feeding and growing conditions. The Bighorn river trout tend to proliferate year-round which keeps the Bighorn fish growing all year.


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Email Or Call 406-222-0624

The Fishing

Average size of Bighorn trout is in the 14 –16 inch range, with some fish exceeding 20 inches, and the biggest fish of the season measuring 28 inches.  In a harbinger of things to come, 2021 marked the first year in several where good numbers of smaller fish were caught.  The high alkalinity and consistent water temperature support a very diverse and prolific food base for trout, that consists of midges, various mayfly and caddis genus, one stonefly genus, crustaceans such as scuds and sow bugs, aquatic worms, leeches and minnow varieties. Terrestrial insects such as grasshoppers, beetles and ants are also important food items that are aggressively eaten by trout during the summer months.

Insect hatches on the river are dramatic, in both size and duration. The first hatches of the year are midges, followed by Blue-winged Olive and Pale Morning Dun mayflies, black and tan caddis, stoneflies, Tricorythodes mayflies, and ending
with the Pseudocleon mayflies in the fall.

As with our operations, Sweetwater works with some of the finest guides on the Big Horn. They are adept teachers and will help you navigate the complexities of the hatches and the fishery. Your day will typically employ nymph fishing, emerger fishing, and mind-bending dry fly fishing. It is truly a classroom for the trout fisherman.



The Royal Bighorn Lodge is located near the town of St. Xavier downstream from the Afterbay Fishing Access at Ft. Smith. The Mallards Landing and Two Leggins Fishing Accesses are downstream of the property. All told, there is over forty miles of quality trout fishing below the Yellowtail Dam as the Bighorn emerges from the mountains and flows
gently into the Montana prairie.

There are six cabins for guests and a central “lodge” building with a nice living room and bar, where the guests eat meals and socialize about days
chasing trout. Evenings are spent enjoying a drink on the deck over-looking the river while our chef serves up appetizers before capping the day off with an exceptional meal. If you would like to fish a little more, our river in front of the lodge can offer some great evening dry fly-fishing.

As a guest, you will have a private room with a
private bath. Generally, we will be operating the lodge for six guests at a time, but we can accommodate up to 12 guests should you want to have a larger group. It is the perfect homebase to explore one of MT's most special trout



Please contact Dan Vermillion, Pat Vermillion, or Steve Wilson for rates.  The club is designed to operate either as a full-service lodge or as a vacation rental.   Our season begins in the middle of April and ends in late October.  


The Bighorn is a classic MT river.  Growing up, we fished the river with our Fenwick 7 weights.  Today, a 4, 5, or 6 weight is the perfect rod.  Generally speaking, rod choice will be dependent upon the time of year with the lighter rods being appropriate early in the year for the Midge and BWO hatches and the heavier rods being ideally suited for the terrestrials and streamer fishing of late summer and fall. 
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Why Royal Big Horn Club

With thousands of fish per mile and a seemingly endless parade of hatches, the Big Horn has always been a fixture of our Montana experience, and we are pleased to announce the opening of Sweetwater’s Royal Big Horn Club located on
the banks of the Big Horn river.

We hope you will join us as we return to the river that captured our imaginations at a young age and taught us that, even in a river that is teeming with fish, you need the right fly, the right presentation, and the right guide to get that fish to grab your fly and make a good day fishing even better.

Itinerary in brief

Our itineraries are flexible but do we do request a three night minimum.  Packages run from three nights/two days to a full week of exploring the fishing of southeastern Montana.