The Middle Fork Powder River is a real treasure of Wyoming fly fishing.
With lots of healthy browns and rainbows and no competition, the Powder River is a fly fishers dream. The trout are healthy and strong and with no pressure, they aren’t very picky about the flies they take.
The Middle Fork Powder River begins in the Southern Bighorn Mountains Southwest of Kaycee. From there the river winds through a scenic canyon and then into the rolling hills near Kaycee.
a Tributary of the Yellowstone River
The Powder, a tributary of the Yellowstone River, is approximately 375 miles long and flows through southeastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming. The river runs through the Powder River Country on the high plains east of the Bighorn Mountains.
The stream flows north, east of the Bighorns, and into Montana. Where it’s joined by the Little Powder near Broadus, Montana. The Powder then flows into the Yellowstone about fifty miles down river from Miles City, Montana. The Powder River got it’s name from the sand along a portion of its banks that resembled gunpowder.
Access is limited
The Middle Fork Powder River flows through private lands and access is limited. Only a ten mile portion of the Powder that flows through the canyon is accessible. And there are only four access sites in the open area.
A four wheel drive is a necessity to get to the access sites because the roads are dirt and sand. These roads can turn into soup with a little rain. To reach the upper access sites you could find your self doing some pretty steep climbs in 4 wheel low. It’s a good idea to start off with a full tank of gas. It’s a 25 mile drive from Kaycee to the first trail head. You’ll want to bring plenty of water, some food and emergency supplies because you probably won’t see anyone else on the trip.
Once you reach the canyon, be ready for a hike on lose rock and steep inclines down to the river. Allow an hour or more to get to the bottom and then another hour or two to get back out. If your in fairly good shape this shouldn’t be a problem but not recommended for the very young or old.
Is it worth it?
You’re probably asking why would anyone go to this much trouble to fish the Powder River? The Powder is an incredible trout stream that is estimated to hold between 3000 and 5000 fish per mile, through the canyon. And since access is limited, only the more adventurous anglers ever cast a line there.
The Powder holds lots of rainbows and browns averaging 14 to 16 inches with some fish going 18 to 20 inches. Due to the lack of pressure, the Powder’s trout are aggressive and will take attractors. Make sure you have a good variety in your fly box. If things get tough, tie on a hares ear or pheasant tail nymph and you’ll see action.
The Middle Fork Powder River is a hidden treasure. With lots of healthy fish and no pressure, a couple of days on the Powder can spoil an angler. With lots of strong browns and rainbows, and no competition, the Powder river is a Wyoming fly fishing blue ribbon stream.