Big Horn fishing industry recovering from pandemic slowdown

Nacoma Jefferson
Thursday, July 23, 2020
The Big Horn fishing industry is recovering from pandemic slowdown
Photo courtesy of Chase Fisher
Chase Fisher poses with a trout. Fisher, a local fishing guide, said the global novel coronavirus pandemic sank his business this spring, but things seem to be recovering as more anglers schedule fishing trips later in the season.

Fishing on the Big Horn River is big business, anglers from around the world travel to the Fort Smith area to access the blue ribbon trout that make the river their home, but the global novel coronavirus pandemic has cut business in half.

Local fishing guide Chase Fisher said 30 clients who booked fishing trips with him canceled in the spring, at the start of the pandemic.

He said other guides on the river have had their trips cut down 40% to 50% for this spring as well.

“A lot of the full-time fishing guides need all the days they get because most of them don’t work during the winter,” Fisher said.

Thankfully, Fisher said business has picked up in the past month and is looking better for following months to come.

“I’ll have steady work until the first of September or maybe longer so I got lucky,” he said.

Many of the early cancellations, Fisher said, have been rebooked for October, which is usually not a busy time for fishing guides. He said most guides are booked for 15 to 20 days, when usually “we’re they’re lucky to get five or maybe 10 days in that month.”

Even though masks are not required on the river Fisher said it’s easy to practice social distancing.

And the pandemic has actually brought a lot of new fishermen to Montana, because they have canceled their usual trips to Argentina and Alaska this time of the year Fisher added.

“For the most part everyone is just trying to salvage what they can from this year,” he said.