Wildlife Showcase of a Healthy Southwest Montana

The most spectacular and rewarding aspect of fly-fishing in Montana is knowing each time you step into the river there is a chance to intimately interact with the wildest and most beautiful creatures in the Rocky Mountains.  This summer has been particularly spectacular and we at Big Hole Lodge want to close our season by sharing a few of our favorite moments from our untamed backyard. Southwest Montana is healthy and flourishing!

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unnamed-1_MG_410210460262_10152404138197620_515361497023343886_n 10368215_10152475696012620_2520147587230546517_n   10653332_10152475693327620_8187220504057801051_n 10675521_980314399959_3255294140442966892_n 10696162_980001716579_5080249296106258490_nThank you to all who joined us this summer! We are deflating the rafts, battening down the hatches for the coming snow, and eagerly awaiting an even more incredible year in 2015. We hope to spend it with you!

Tight lines,

Craig, Wade, Lanette, and the entire Big Hole Lodge staff.

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Fall Fishing Report: Streamers in the Shallows

Tom Murphy strayed from his beloved Missouri to investigate the state of the browns on the Big Hole.  Using an articulated Christmas ornament, he has determined they are hungry, mean, and preparing to spawn!

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This skinny old brown ate in still water in front of the boat ramp before we had the anchor up!

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Soon after, the below pictured fish hit “harder than a northern pike!”

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We knew it would be nothing short of greedy to continue fishing after landing a hog like that, but after a summer on the oars…..it was just too much fun to stop!

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The sky was dark, the wind was up, and the temps were chilly, but the fishing was HOT!

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“When am I gonna catch a fish like that?!”

Tales of a Fly Fishing Lodge Chef suffering from Trout Addiction

Our Chef appeared agitated after serving the final breakfast of Big Hole Lodge’s 2nd Annual Spey Casting Clinic.   She opened the door to the Trout House and her ten-year-old jack russell, Kali, rocketed through the log cabin and up the stairs to wake up Wade.  Lanette Evener plopped into her recliner, flipped on the San Francisco Giants game, and grabbed her computer to check the area fishing reports.  The employee digs weren’t always so plush.  In fact, Lanette weathered her first 15 summers out here in a one-room cabin without running water or electricity and had to share it with more mice than she could set traps for.  She will spend her 19th summer half a mile downstream from the Lodge in The Trout House.

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Wade stopped wrestling with Kali upstairs when he heard a sharp, “Oh, come on! When am I gonna catch a fish like that?”
“What’s the river look like?”
“Flattened out last night and dropping this morning. Supposed to be off and on rain today.”

This time of year, a high mountain rain can wash out a mudbank and blow out the Big Hole overnight, but it has been cold at night in the valley and a falling river is perfect.

“You got your waders on yet?”
“No. Why, are we going?”
“Yep. I’m up. I’ll go get the boat, you get ready.”

Wade could tell by her tone she was legitimately envious of the fish on someone’s blog and didn’t even need to see the pictures. Employee float trips are few and far between once the summer gets rolling and will be even more rare this summer while Wade is away studying for the bar exam. Lanette didn’t have to be in the kitchen until 5pm to cook steak dinner, and with these spring flows they could cover a lot of ground in a few hours.

When Wade returned with the boat, Lanette had the cooler packed, her flies picked out, and her waders on. Every guide knows it’s bad luck for a guide to leave a boat seat open on a free day, so Wade invited his friend, Katie, to hold down the fort and play clean-up from the backseat, DJ, and row a bit. As a fisherman, it’s always a good idea to allow everyone ample rowing practice time.

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Nine miles up the Big Hole, Wade realized he’d forgot his net.  Nets take a beating in a raft over the course of the summer, but his would have been better than nothing after a bit of tippet patchwork.  It was too late to go back, so they opted to go without.  Wade pulled into a fly shop for a shuttle. Lanette quietly went to the back wall and picked out a beautiful rubber telescopic boat net, complete with a floating foam handle.  To Wade’s protest, she said, “Shut up, Jr., this is a graduation present. Now go find me a fish to put in it.”

On her fifth cast, throwing a three-inch yellow and orange sex dungeon, Lanette smacked the fly into the bottom of a small riffle right on the bank.  The fly sat on the rocks, just under the surface and only a few inches off the bank.  The fly line caught current, pulling the fly right over the drop off along the seam.
“FISH!”
“He’s not hooked, that was a subtle take, hit him again to the side!”
“He’s hooked!  And coming right at the boat! Row Jr., row!! Oh my God, he’s a monster!”

Ten minutes later, Wade extended that new net under the biggest fish Lanette has ever seen on the Big Hole River.  She has suffered through story after story of “wall-fish” as clients come beaming into the dinning room for 19 years, each time high five-ing the angler and celebrating with them, but in the back of her mind, time and time again she’s asked, when am I gonna catch my break? When do I get a wall-fish?  And it has not been for lack of paying her dues.  Wade, Lanette and their good friend Laurie have fished rain or shine, through big water and low water, and have fished hard for the last 15 years.

She could hardly breathe, her voice was high pitched, and she nearly fell headlong into the river as she clamored onto the bank to admire the beauty.

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“Oh my God, this fish just made my season. Hell, it made my career! Look at this thing!”

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After reviving the old boy, Lanette turned him on his side for one last optical feast before sliding him back into the beautiful river that raised him.  The three looked up and out into the Pintler Mountains and smiled and sighed. Then they erupted into high-fives and hugs.

Congratulations, Lanette! You definitely deserved it!