March through November for lowland fishing and float trips on the Bighorn.
We can provide all fishing gear (including Tenkara rods, waders, and wading shoes), tents, sleeping bags, and pads.
Wind River Mountain extended trips are generally at an elevation between 9,500 and 11,000 feet. Almost every species of trout can be found there in the nearly 3,000 glacially carved lakes and the small streams running between. Predominantly, we fish for cutthroat, brook, and golden trout (and hybrids). We access this true wilderness via backpacking, riding a horse, or walking with horses or llamas carrying the gear.
Lander's small streams are at 5,000 feet in elevation and are relatively easy to wade (we often wade wet). This is mostly brown trout fishing.
Our Bighorn River floats trips near Thermopolis focus on brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout, with chunky, truly trophy-sized fish landed almost every day.
Our region is high and dry. Most often people say, I can't believe how good the weather was, especially in the Wind River Mountains.
March, April, and May: cool and sunny, with the occasional snowstorm thrown in for free.
June, July, August: summer with low humidity, low moisture, and afternoon thunderstorms. Weather in the mountains can present the whole range, from snow to wind, to bright blue. Nighttime temperatures can drop as low as freezing and daytime can feel like 100 (although it is probably only 80). This is "be prepared for anything" country. Lowland streams, including the Bighorn, can expect sunny and warm (occasionally hitting 100).
September, October, November: mountain season ends in September with good possibilities of snow during the month. Lowland streams and the Bighorn often experience a wonderful "Indian summer." Very little precipitation falls during this time, but again we start to experience Western weather, with snow coming in October and November.
An itinerary for a typical Wind River Mountain Trip:
Arrival day: Arrive at Riverton, Wyoming airport by mid-afternoon. Get pickup by Sweetwater Fishing and transport to Lander. Check gear and pack. Stay in local motel.
Day 1: Leave town early and arrive at horsepacker's base by 7am. Have breakfast. Pack into mountain base camp. Set up camp and go fishing.
Day 2-6: After breakfast, hike to the day's fishing, high lakes or streams, or stay right at camp. Family-style dinner.
Day 7: Pack up and return to trailhead. Drive back to Lander. Spend night in a local motel.
Day 8: Return to Riverton Airport, transported by Sweetwater Fishing. Fly home.
Spring: good baetis hatches on the Bighorn. Cicadas on the right years.
Summer in the mountains has the whole range of hatches compressed into a very short time—all the way from golden stones and green drakes to PMDs and midges. Golden trout are a specialty, but they don't succumb easily. It’s heavy on the hoppers in the lowlands.
Fall: We still have lots of hoppers around in the low country until they are diminished by frost. We also have clouds of tricos (especially on the Bighorn), followed by a really long season of baetis. Fall fishing is predominantly with streamers on the Bighorn.
It is very important to bring long-sleeved shirts and pants to keep off the sun and pesky insects. Fleece, wool, and polypro clothing are recommended for wet weather, and lightweight hiking boots are recommended for the mountains.
Q. How are the bugs?
A. Mosquitos in the Wind River Mountains can be heavy from mid-July to the end of the month on wet years (some may say monumental).
Q. When is the best fishing?
A. Right after runoff in our lowland rivers and streams (usually early July). We often have stunning hopper fishing throughout the summer in the small streams around Lander. The best fishing in the high Wind River Mountains is right after ice out in early July.
Overall: 5.0 / 5 based on 34 reviews
34 of 34 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.
By: Taylor243 from Sheridan, WY
We were looking to fish a different part of wyoming and what a great decision to book a float trip with sweet water. We had a great trip with Hank and he did a phenomenal job at sharing his knowledge and putting us on fish. Would definitely do it again.
Great experience -
By: Feltz from Cheyenne, WY, USA
I spent a day with Hank on the Wind River near Thermopolis. Hank had me on fish all day and I learned so much about reading the water and fish. His persistence even tuned up my casting such that I was catching fish that I would have passed over as too difficult until this trip. Thanks, Hank
By: Yount from Sawmills, NC, USA
Absolutely one of my coolest experiences thus far. Backpack trip with Hank was awesome. The jokes were almost as good as the food. I learned a ton about proper casting. Both George and Hank were always good for little snippets of history about the land which was a super nice touch. Overall, These are the guys that you want to go with if you want to hike,fish,float, and not be dissatisfied!! Let's start planning another!!
By: RAMER from Irvine, CA
I have been fishing with George for over 15 years. His trips are well planned out, you will get exposed to very good fishing opportunities and George is very helpful in teaching and refining your technique. For both the novice and experienced flyfisher person, George is an excellent guide. As an added plus, George is fun to be around.
Hiking and Fishing -
By: CharlieofChicago from Chicago
We just completed our 4th trip with George and his son Hank. We talk 8 family members. George and Hank are real pros. Everything is first class, including their cooking! These trips are particularly good for those who enjoy hiking and scenery. The views are spectacular. My sense is that the fishing is best in June, but was still solid in August.
Great Experience! -
My dad and I wanted to go on a fly fishing trip somewhere new and decided to try the Wind River area. Not knowing anything about the area we looked into having a guide take us into the back country, give us some local knowledge, improve our fishing techniques, and then leave us to explore on our own. Sweetwater was the only company willing to work that kind of custom trip. George and Hank met up with us the day before heading into the back country to make sure that we were all set up with equipment, and even let us borrow a couple pieces of equipment that would make life easier. Trusting us to drop it off on our way out of town. Then they sat us down with a map and gave us their recommended game plan on where to try for different types of fish (specifically goldens) and how best to go about getting there. Their experience and insight was invaluable to a couple of Wind River novices, and payed dividends in the week to come. Hank took us in the next day and spent about a day and a half showing us the ropes and trying to impart as much knowledge in the short time he had with us as possible. My dad and I had a great time hanging with and getting to know Hank . Even after Hank took off, the technique tips and recommendations for fishing locations paid off, and my dad and I had a great time fishing in the Wind River country for the next 5 days. We highly recommend Sweetwater Fishing Expeditions and would do it again in a heart beat.
Beyond Magnificent! -
By: CALgals from El Dorado, CA 95623, USA
Two of us traveled with Hank for a 5-day fly fishing adventure in the Wind River Range back country. We were looking to catch Golden and Cutthroat trout, and Hank didn’t disappoint. He guided us to several great fishing spots where we caught Goldens from 14 to 23 inches, Cutthroats up to 20 inches and many, many brook trout in the small river near our base camp. He is an excellent fly fishing guide and we both improved our skills thanks to his patient and expert coaching. Hank also took great care of us in camp with satisfying camp chow, and his attentiveness to our overall comfort and safety. This was a great fly fishing and back country experience. The scenery was stunning, the fishing was amazing, and the solitude was just what we were looking for. Now we understand why so many of the reviewers on this site are return Sweetwater Fishing Expeditions customers. Like them - we will be back!
High Country Cutthroat -
By: WindsNut from New Hampshire
What better recommendation than to say this was our sixth packtrip into the Wind River Mountains with guide Jim Ferguson. This trip originated in Pinedale, WY. From there we rode up the west side of the Winds to camp for a week at 10,000 feet near lakes and streams that yielded many beautifully colored cutthroat each day, seldom under 15 inches, several over 20 inches, and usually by sight fishing with dry flies. As usual, Jim ran a great camp with good food and best leave-no-trace practices. Our group of 4 ranged from beginner to very experienced fly fishers, and we all learned a lot from Jim's patient instruction. The 7 hour horseback ride was tough but well worth the scenery and overall experience. Highly recommended!
As good as it gets -
By: Rallyfly from Edison, WA 98232, USA
Simply a great adventure! High lake and river fishing in the Wind River Range. Our guides were great in every aspect; environmental stewardship, fishing knowledge and assistance, and master back country cooking.
Big Country & Big Fish -
By: wyflyfish21 from South Dakota, USA
Big country with the potential for nice fish was my expectation. Going with George always yields valuable fly fishing education in casting, mending, fly selection, etc. This fly fishing back pack trip rewarded me with big country, big fish, and huge leaps in my fly fishing skill set. Everything was perfect! AWESOME MEMORIES!