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Fly Fishing in Montana is for you

August 23, 2019
By

BY Chris Erwin

When I heard about Andy Ray’s trip to The Big Horn River, I knew it was something I wanted to know more about.
Ray is the manager of the Foodfair store in Greenup KY, he and his dad Pat Ray have been fishing the Big Horn River for a long time now, and they pretty much have worked out all the kinks in making this a great trip, so I wanted to share with you what I have learned.

These are all of the men in Andy’d crew that made the trip to Montana they are: Andy Ray, Justin Finley, Mark Pope, Jeff Goodson, Pat Ray, and Pete Anderson. ( Photo submitted)


For anyone that may not have heard of the Big Horn River let me tell you just a little about it. The part of the Big Horn River that Ray visits is near Fort Smith Montana. This stretch of water starts at Fort Smith and runs till it meets the Yellowstone River in Cluster Montana.

Andy and his crew Fly in and then rent a car to take them to the Camp. Ray told me that if anyone decided to make this trip, they need to pick up supplies, groceries, drinks, and anything you need on your way to the camp. He said, “ the Camp store is not always open, and it’s a long drive if you need anything once you get there.”
The place where the Rays and their friends stay is called the Cottonwood Camp. This camp is located along the Big Horn River it has about 13 cabins, 11 of which has full baths(including showers). It also has coin-operated laundry. Also included is 16 RV sites if you decided to make the drive with a camper.

– Andy and his father, Pat Ray display one of the Rainbow trout taken from the Big Horn River. (Photo Submitted)


This is crystal clear water and has developed a reputation as one of the best Rainbow and Brown Trout destination in the country.
Andy and his crew fish the river starting in an area known as Afterbay it stretches for 13 miles to a place called Big Horn Access. This water is known to have the most and biggest fish per mile than any river or stream in Montana. They rent their boat, no engine is aloud on this area of the river, it is strictly a float trip. Cottonwood camp moves their vehicles to the Big Horn Access, so their cars are waiting on them once they make the journey downstream.

While they are some white water in the riffle area, it’s known that it is very manageable in almost any craft. The river has islands along the way these are great places for the crew to get out of the boat and do a little wading. This is also the places where they can start a fire and have a river-side lunch. No fires are allowed on the outer banks: however, you can build a fire on the islands to cook your lunch.

Andy Ray manager of the Foodfair Grocery store in Greenup KY holding one of the scrappy Rainbow Trout caught on his fishing trip to the Big Horn River in Montana. (Photo submitted)


Ray told me he thinks this is an excellent alternative to a beach vacation he said, “the west is a view you can’t get anywhere else in the world you won’t be sorry you make this trip.”
Andy’s largest fish is a 24 inch, Brown Trout. I ask Andy, what is the best lures to use, he told me that it varies a lot. He always has both wet and dry flies, along with streamers, “you just have to be prepared, water level, and current can change everything.”

If you are interested in making this trip, you should contact Cottonwood Camp they can be reached by calling 1- (406) 666-2391, their address is 270 Cottonwood Camp Rd. Fort Smith, MT 59035. I want to take just a minute to thank Andy and Pat Ray for taking the time to tell me their story and how you can make a fly fishing trip that is truly world-class. Until next time keep your line wet and be safe.

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