Waiting At Missoula River Boat Ramp

“Don’t Do That Shit Any More!”

Fly Fishing Guide Stories

Oh, how I remember that comment. Looking back at the many people I’ve been lucky to fish with over the years, I’m not sure I would’ve pegged Peter as one that I always look forward to. His initial review of lunch on the first of nine days did not instill confidence in our future together. However, Peter continued by explaining the particulars of making a pastrami sandwich. In detail. It was immediately obvious my lengthy, grilled, multi-course, lunch was not going to cut it for the next eight days. Only a Pastrami Sandwich. Made to order. Exactly.

Missoula River Guide Lunch

Riverside Lunch

That first lunch only scratched the surface of this ol’ retired tank commander. Peter slowly let me get to know him over the course of the next week, as he flopped his line out in the perfect drift each day. Actually, it is a beautiful flop. Right over the zone where the fish are, big sloppy mend upstream, and a crazy drag-free drift right through the run. Man, can he catch fish. It’s not pretty, but it is very effective. Rarely does he let me take a picture of fish he caught, and I only have one with him in it. That’s not what it’s about.

Fishing The Clark Fork River

Fly Fishing Life

Peter was in several conflicts and wars, but he always carried something to fish with in his tank. I’ve heard the stories, multiple times. The beats in Germany. The sturgeon. Decades of trips fishing through Yellowstone National Park with his late wife. Steelhead. Salmon. Bass. More trout than you can shake a stick at.

His favorite float is on the Blackfoot River. When he was young, walking up the unimproved take out at the end of the day was a mild challenge for him. It became a difficult hill to help him up over the last few years. But he loved it, and we did it. Until last year, he said he couldn’t get it done and didn’t think we should do the float. “No problem, Peter. We’ve got many other options.” Well, that lasted about two more days. The third day when he got in the truck he said “Screw it, I want to do that float. Just leave me at the take out if I can’t make it up that damn hill!” I had an idea, and we got him out with a nice raft ride up the hill.

Blackfoot River Takeout

Gratitude For Years Of Fishing Together

I write about Peter because he couldn’t make it out this year. At 92 years old he thought his legs couldn’t handle driving himself from California anymore. I’ll miss the stories of all the travels and life experiences accompanied with the crumpled photos in his wallet.

Steelhead Fishing                      Sturgeon Fishing

Peter, thanks for putting up with me over the years, the many memories on the water, and for teaching this young buck how to make a Pastrami Sandwich.

Missoula Fly Fishing Boat Ramp

Smallmouth Fly Fishing Missoula
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Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing

Try Something New Around Missoula

Everyone knows about the trout in Montana. People fly across the globe to fish for Rainbow, Brown, and Cutthroat trout in the Big Sky State. The trout are the reason that we are all here. We love them. That being said, there are fish in Montana that are overlooked and under appreciated.

Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing

The bass. Specifically the Smallmouth. These fish inhabit waters throughout the state with some high concentrations in western MT. Pound for pound, smallies are the strongest fish we have in the state. They are aggressive eaters and love to go air born when they’re hooked.

Lower Clark Fork River Smallmouth Bass

The beauty of the smallmouth fishing in western Montana is the timing. When the trout fishing in not the best, the bass fishing shines. Run off is a great time to explore new water for smallies. Late summer is also a great time, when the water is too low and too warm for excellent trout fishing, the smallmouth are hungry and eager to showcase their athleticism.

Montana Smallmouth Bass Fishing

I’ve had more than a few clients turn their noses up at the idea of spending a day in Montana fishing for bass. I understand that. You’re here for the trout fishing. however, if you can give up one day of your trout trip for the Smallies, you’ll get an experience that not many other folks have had. After a day I hear most people say “I had no idea fishing for these fish would be so much fun” or “I can’t believe I’ve been here this many times and never done this”. I’d be willing to bet you’ll be eager spend another day on the the bass water.

Fly Fishing For Smallmouth Bass In Montana

If you find yourself in Western Montana with water too blown out with snowmelt runoff, or low and warm water, get out of your comfort zone and give the smallies try.

Blackfoot River Montana
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Fishing Report: March 2018

The snow is melting and the warm temps are coming around. The fish are waking up hungry.

Montana Bird Hunting
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Offseason Fun

What Do You Do In The Winter?

The roller coaster of the calendar year for Missoula Fly Fishing Guides takes both a physical and mental toll on full time professional guides. The spring season is a nice ice breaker. We work a few days then have a day off to fish, then work a few more. It’s an exciting and fun time of year for us. After runoff we’re full steam ahead working seven days a week for months on end. It’s physically demanding work, that is equally hard on your mental health. While we’re lucky to do what we do for a living, delivering a quality experience everyday is exhausting.

The plus side of our year is the ample time we get to recharge after the season wraps up in November. We answer the question everyday, “What do you do in the winter when you aren’t guiding?” This varies from guide to guide, but we all do the same thing, relax and have fun.

Winter Recreation

Guides stay busy traveling, hunting, fishing, skiing, and playing beer league hockey. We love to be outside and winter is time to play for us.

Hunting is a great way to explore the mountains and plains above the rivers we spend our working days on. Elk, Deer, upland birds and waterfowl fill our freezers and feed our families high quality protein all year long.

Montana Mule Deer Hunting
Skiing is another favorite. All that water in the rivers has to come from somewhere. The skiing in Western Montana is often over looked, compared to the well known mountains in the Bozeman area. We have some superb skiing options around Missoula. (Ski and Fish Montana Snowbowl in the same day during March/April skwalas is awesome!)

Saltwater Fly Fishing

Fishing might seem like the last thing we would want to do. But chasing warmer weather and fish we don’t have in Montana takes guides to the steelhead rivers, marshes, or sandy flats. Winter is long in Missoula and a tropical fishing destination is a common goal for guides.

Fly Fishing For Redfish

Saltwater Fly Fishing

Winter Repair Work

And then there is the offseason work. Our boats and trailers take a beating throughout the season and winter is a great time to fix what broke last year. Replacing bearings, swivels on raft seats, refinishing oars, all of those take time and if we don’t do it now, it will come back to bite us. And then there is the issue of flies. We use a lot of them, and they have to come from somewhere. So we tie as many as we can stand, and then we tie a few more.

Winter might seem like a long time in Missoula, but after hunting season ends and the repair season begins we are always surprised by guide days showing up on the calendar. It’s a whirlwind all year long and we love it. All that being said, you should use this time of year to book your favorite dates for your fishing trips. Folks are booking earlier and earlier, so don’t miss out and make sure you are ready when we are.

Bitterroot River Montana
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Fishing Report: October 2017

The snow is melting and the warm temps are coming around. The fish are waking up hungry.