Lander Wyoming

In times past, this town was known as the end of the Cowboy Line, since the Chicago and Northwestern Railway, originally built to go on to Eureka, California or to Coos Bay Oregon, stopped at Lander and never went a bit further. Located on the middle fork of the Popo Agie River, Lander can boast being the first town to hold a “paid” rodeo, a tradition you can still enjoy every 4th of July.  Set in the shadow of the majestic Wind River Range, it is surrounded by great fishing lakes, rivers and mountain fed streams. If you follow the Wind River up the canyon it becomes known as the Bighorn River, a favorite for those who are inclined to float.


Rated one of True West Magazine’s top 10 Western towns, many consider Lander to the undiscovered gem of the Rockies. Lodging in Landers is plentiful and diverse with motels, bed-and-breakfasts, inns, guesthouses, campgrounds and cabins in a range of price points. Should you tire of fishing, there are art galleries and art festivals, good shopping and any number of bars, restaurants and coffee houses.  For those inclined to stick strictly to fishing, it’s nice to know that the world-record, golden trout, is said to have come from the Wind River.
 
Fishing Waters
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Where does this river begin? This question remained unanswered well into the 19th century. In fact, the Wind River and the Bighorn River are one body of water artificially divided ... moreby two names. Because the river’s course is largely set by the surrounding mountain ranges, The Wind River Range that extends southeast to northwest along the continental divide and the Bighorn Range that rises east of Shoshoni and curves north to Montana, the river changes direction and appearance more than once during its long journey. Overhearing Native Americans describe this basin, mountain men, adventurers and mapmakers just assumed they were talking about different rivers. 

Today the Bighorn River arbitrarily starts at the end of Wind River Canyon at a spot known as the Wedding of the Waters near the town of Thermopolis. From Thermopolis to about 20 miles below the Wind River Canyon, the river runs cold enough to support ample trout, with the best fishing actually beginning on the Wind River below the Boysen Reservoir, 15 miles upstream. Roadside access to this year round, world-class destination is unlimited as long as you obtain a Wind River Indian Reservation fishing permit.

One of the vagaries of Wyoming law is that landowners can own and control access to shorelines and riverbeds, making it illegal for anglers to wade or anchor in private water. Thankfully, most of the Bighorn River around Thermopolis is owned by the town, which provides many points of public access. You’ll be fine with the law if you wade upstream or down, as long as you stay below the high-water mark. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has designated several fishing access points and easements over private lands to provide public use of the river.
Game Fish Opportunities:
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