Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Thirteen miles of fishing heaven - the Bighorn

Canon 1D MK111, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 320, f8, 1/100, polarising filter

Yesterday Nick Hart and I were lucky enough to fish and photograph on one of the world's most famous trout rivers, the Bighorn. There is no way to do this river proper justice in one single day, but we gave it a real go. There are 9000 trout per mile on the upper stretches of the Bighorn (!!), and since the waters are crystal clear, you can see hundreds of trout moving around all the time, plus whitefish and the odd big carp. This is driftboat fishing heaven, and as you can see above, there are plenty of places to get out and wade fish. This is surely some of the finest trout fishing on this earth.

We drifted thirteen miles of trout fishing heaven yesterday - our guide Clarke Smyth must have thought we were barking mad (you can't help but get excited over this kind of stuff), but he was as good as it gets, and put Nick over a load of fish. Just being able to see so many good fish moving around in that water gets the pulse racing big time. We had to drive a bit to get there, but that is the beauty of where we are staying - there is just so much fishable water in this past of America, so whatever the conditions you are going to be able to find world class fly fishing somewhere fairly nearby. And when the Yellowstone is firing, there is insane trout fishing right beneath Yellowstone Valley Ranch. You could literally fall out of bed here and catch big trout, or do a day somewhere nearby, and fish some more after supper. This is pure trout fishing heaven.

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f4L IS lens (at 200mm), ISO 400, f8, 1/320, polarising filter

The brown trout on the Bighorn have such powerful looking jaws and are simply a thrill to be around. I was looking for a different kind of fish shot in this lovely wooden net, and this nice brown was the one that played ball. I really love photographing good looking trout fishing, and out here in Montana it is about as good as it is ever going to get. Neither Nick or I can believe how few UK fly fishermen come out here to fish - it's so easy to get here, and the set up at Yellowstone Valley Ranch is perfect. We are looking to try and come back perhaps in late October to fish and photograph the Yellowstone river when it is firing properly.

Canon 1D MK111, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 320, f8, 1/125, polarising filter

Above you can see Nick hooked into a really nice trout that he hooked up when we were wade fishing on a section of the Bighorn. I can't really believe that we have been lucky enough to see what we have seen out here, and that is also bearing in mind that the average water conditions at the moment are not good. The story is that from mid-July the fishing is really going to go off big time. This is a freak year though, for usually mid-June is prime time. I am over the moon with the material I have got out here, but I also know that we have seen a mere tiny percentage of what this place can offer. Too much to do, too little time to do it in. That's life.

Canon 1D MK111, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 24mm), ISO 250, f9, 1/100, polarising filter

Here you can see Nick cradling a perfect brown trout, in about the best condition possible. These fish were caught by drifting weighted nymphs along the bottom of the river, either dead drifting with the speed of the boat, or casting and swinging them when wading. When there is a decent hatch, apparently there are scary numbers of trout coming up to dry flies. We wore chest waders to do this fishing yesterday, but our guide Clarke was wet wading - and believe me, that Bighorn water was running cold !! I am not that brave.... (but even Clarke admitted that at one point his toes were totally numb). I was glad of the heavy duty nature of the Hardy EWS waders I was wearing, and they have done me proud this trip.

Canon 1D MK111, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 31mm), ISO 250, f9, 1/200, polarising filter

I couldn't not work on making something of the jaws of these browns - some people would say (rather sadly) that this is just "making the fish look bigger than it is", indeed I have heard this kind of rubbish before. But it is not - this kind of photo is me having a bit of creative fun with a fish, working on getting away from the standard "grip and grin". Why not make the fish look good and different ? Our main priority though is the safety of the fish, so they are never kept out of the water for more than a few seconds at a time, and this one went off really strongly after it's quick modelling shoot.

Nick and I fly back to the UK today, after a seriously incredible trip. I have been blown away by my first visit to Montana, and I will be back as much as possible. This is some of the world's finest yet accessible fly fishing, and I really hope that more Brits will make the easy journey out here to experience it. There is just so much space out here, and so few people. You could have such fun family holidays in this part of Montana, indeed I will be bringing my girls out here when they are a bit older. Speak to Aardvark McLeod as soon as you can about coming to smash a few of these magnificent trout among the most outrageous scenery you could ever hope to see. What a special week it has been. I also hear that the weather back home has been rubbish !! Back to bass fishing....

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