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 48 reviews
48 of 48 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.
Best Fishing Guide in WY -
By: LeonWY from Wilson WY
Fly-fishing with George Hunker is the best fishing experience in WY. George knows the best parts of the river, right fly for the occasion, even recognizes the fish! I fished the Big Horn with George, and looking forward to fishing in the Wind Rivers next year. Excellent casting skills coach, great food, nature observer, and delicious lunch. My go-to Guide!
Excellent overall experience -
By: chiefdweeb from Wyoming, USA
I fished with Hank Hunker for a week in September 2015 at several different places that he knew about. We caught fish everywhere, and some very nice fish indeed! Being able to tap into the knowledge and experience of someone who knows the area as well as Hank (and his dad George) does allowed me to see very different kinds of water and succeed in all of them. I caught fish, I laughed, I swore a couple of times ;-), and I saw a lot of different Wyomings. I also left a better fisherman. I highly recommend Sweetwater Fishing! http://www.sweetwaterfishing.com/
Really fun -
By: SarahandTom from Boston MA
George's fly fishing knowledge and ability is superlative. Our group of three had varying skill levels, and he was most patient with me and my husband, both newbies. George was flexible, prepared, dedicated and funny. Good sandwiches and snacks too. The country is beautiful. George, we hope to be back for a pack trip into the high peaks someday, so you are not done with us yet!
High Country Fishing -
By: JBrereton from Oreland, PA, USA
I have fished with Sweetwater a number of times in the past eight years, including a few day trips and three horse packing/backpacking trips. My most recent trip was into a beautiful and remote part of the Winds with Hank. We backpacked on and off trail for nine days, climbing some pretty tough mountain passes to fish in several different drainages. While the fishing was consistently good, on one day in particular we caught huge, huge cutthroats—the largest I’ve ever seen. All of my experiences with Jim, George, and Hank have been incredible. They have impeccable wilderness skills, and more fishing knowledge than any other guides with whom I have fished. They are skilled instructors, who will tailor their trips to meet your individual needs—whether it’s catching lots of fish on a dry or stalking large goldens for hours at a time. At the beginning of each trip they’ll discuss your specific goals, and they do everything they can to ensure their clients have the best possible experience. Although I don’t fish nearly as much as I’d like, their instruction over the years has made me a much better fly fisherman, and I am grateful for their patience and good humor. My two most recent trips have been solo trips with Hank. He has become a good friend, and I’ll look forward to fishing with him for many years to come. No matter what kind of trip you’re looking for—a relaxing basecamp trip with horse support or a challenging backpacking trip covering miles of remote Wyoming wilderness—you will not find a better outfitter than Sweetwater.
Wife's BD present -
By: caslickhassett1245 from Lincoln City, OR, USA
Our day on the river with Hank exceeded expectations! He was very patient with my novice wife but also took the time to make sure I too caught fish. We will be back. ps great snacks and lunch!
All That I Hoped For -
By: RachelWhoLovesToFish from Trout Lake, WA
George helped us to realize a lifetime dream of fishing in the gorgeous Wind River country. Two of us were newbies at fly-fishing, and one of us had too many years of fishing with little instruction in technique. George admirably took on the task of simultaneously teaching all three of us to catch the lovely browns and rainbows of the Po Po Agie and Big Horn rivers, wading the Po Po Agie on Day 1 and both floating and wading the Big Horn on Day 2. We three had a memorably wonderful time, and learned so much from George’s extensively knowledgeable, and good-humored, tutelage. George is passionate about what he does, cares about his clients, and he gave us great information about local places to hike and fish on our own. Thank you, George, we will practice what you taught us, savor our memories, and we will be back!
Learning with the Fish whisperer -
By: Stover from Minneapolis, MN, USA
George, without question, is an outstanding guide and Incredible teacher. I learned Five years of fly fishing in three days. And thoroughly enjoyed it!!
Incredible Fishing, Hiking & Camping -
By: DaveAndFamily from Lander, WY
Catching Golden trout WAS on our family's bucket list. George flexed to guide us the only 5 days we could vacation this year. Packed into the Wind River Range wilderness area--absolutely beautiful. We caught Brookies, Cutts, Rainbows, Goldens and hybrids. Using a Tenkara rod provided by George, my 12 year old son caught over 350 trout on dry flies on a couple of miles of pristine mountain streams. George and Hank offered fishing advice tailored to each of our levels of experience. As well, George taught us how to prepare and pack for wilderness camping. Besides the fishing, wilderness camping, secret Hunker family camp recipes, and becoming a more "self-reliant fly fisher" we have two new friends--George and Hank. Look forward to doing it again. By far, the most unique and rewarding family vacation we've ever had. With 39 years of experience fishing and guiding in the Winds, and the humility of a Tibetan monk, George is truly deserving of the Orvis Lifetime Achievement Award he received earlier this year--which we learned about from his wife.
great day on the big horn -
By: robhamwyatt from charlotte, nc
Incredible day of fishing with a very knowledgeable and great guy, Hank Hunker. One of several guided trips I have taken in Wyoming, this one ranking among the most successful and by the far the greatest experience. The guides allowed us to combine float fishing along with wade fishing upon our request. Great day, would highly recommend to everyone looking to fish in southern WY. Can't wait to revisit and do it again.
Quality trip -
By: GaryKramer from Willows, CA
I spent 5 days in the Wind Rivers on a horse pack trip for golden and cutthroat trout. The trip planning was impeccable, the horse ride long and the fishing exceptional. We caught plenty of goldens to 18" and cutts to 20 ". The camp George and Hank put together was great, camp food good and their knowledge of the area and how to fish it top notch!