Big Wind River - Segment No. 1


Upper Wind



The primary purposes of the filing were to maintain adequate winter habitat for adult and juvenile trout and provide enough water in the summer to maintain existing level of productivity for adult and juvenile trout. Most of the trout spawning occurs in upstream tributaries so flows to protect spawning habitat were not developed. Detailed studies done by the Department in 1988 documented the need for 110 cfs from July 1 through September 30 to maintain existing rates of trout production in the summer. Those studies also showed a need for 102 cfs to maintain trout survival in the winter.
Though the river yields more rainbow than brown trout to anglers, this is definitely a brown trout stream. There are a few cutthroat trout here too but their numbers are very limited. Recent fish surveys show the river supports about 2,000 trout per mile – over 75% of which are browns. The average size of trout here is about 11 inches but browns commonly reach nearly 20 inches and rainbows grow to over 17 inches. The river contains very few fry or young trout, mostly due to the fact that there is relatively little spawning gravel in the main channel. Small tributaries like the Jakeys Fork generate most of the recruitment. The department stocks a small number of catchable size rainbow trout in the upper end of the segment. In early summer, high water velocity and muddy water can make fishing difficult – and catching even harder. As flows drop in July, woolly buggers and hopper patterns work well for browns. As fishing conditions improve, some locals use a variation of the prince nymph called the Dumas. Tracking this fly down can be hard but rumor has it that at least one pattern is being offered via the Internet. A variety of dry flies work well in late summer and fall, but the pattern of choice often varies daily. Statewide regulations apply that allow anglers to keep 6 fish a day, only one of which may be over 20 inches long. Not too surprisingly, surveys show that over 90% of all fish caught here are voluntarily released.
Within a public fishing area east of Dubois
From Dubois, go about 5 miles east on Highway 26/287. The road parallels the river and there are numerous signs along the highway directing you to public parking areas. You can almost always find at least one parking lot with no one there, so when you’ve found the place you want to fish just turn in, slip on your waders, rig up your rod, and get ready for some fast action!
For centuries, Shoshone, Crow and Blackfeet traveled and hunted along the upper Wind River, though their interactions were not always amicable. Later, the area was a major route for trappers headed to Jackson Hole. Astorians on their way to Oregon followed the river too before branching off over Union Pass. The first permanent Euro-American settlers reached the area around 1866 and by the early 1900’s the river was a key contributor to the local economy. Between 1914 and 1946, Swedish and Scandinavian loggers, or tie hacks, floated over 10 million hand-hewn railroad ties some 100 miles down the Wind River to Riverton in massive weeks-long drives. Evidence of this era remains today. Large sections of the wooden flume that was built to carry the ties from the mountains to the river are still visible today. The river itself still shows scars of the tie drives that scoured and straightened the channel.