Blog Posts In streamer fishing


Join us in April for Ice-Out on the Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Missouri Rivers!
Our guides are on the water chasing huge fish, join them for an unforgettable experience!

Big Hole Lodge will be open from April 1st until spring run-off in May so call and book today!


- Day Trip for Two: $450

Include flies, gourmet lunch, hot coffee and cold beer!

- 10% Off All Packages: 

6 Nights/5 Days Fishing
5 Nights/4 Days Fishing
4 Nights/3 Days Fishing
3 Nights/2 Day Fishing 

For prices and availability visit our website

Includes lodging, gourmet meals, and flies



Come rain, snow, or gorgeous sunshine one thing is sure - these trout are hungry!




On cold days guides will have hand warmers, extra clothing and can build a bankside fire.


Space is limited during this pre-runoff window. 

Don't miss your chance for the fishing adventure of a lifetime!

(406) 832-3252

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!


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


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



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





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


"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.


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.


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.
"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.


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



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!

Fishing for a cause! BHRF auction trip a success

Where did this summer go?  When I left the Big Hole for school three weeks ago, the trees were green, the water was warm, and the spruce moths were out in full force.  On Friday, I jumped at the opportunity to get out of the library and back in my boat, but I should have packed waders and boots rather than shorts and sandals!  The temps here in Missoula have been unpleasantly high, especially during the nights, and I wrongfully assumed the Big Hole Valley had been experiencing the same.  Instead, I drove down the river Friday in the spectacular orange and purple glow of a Montana Fall evening.

Friday night's temps were in the low 30's, slowly climbing to 60 on Saturday, though the stiff breeze and intermittent cloud cover made it feel much cooler.  My clients were Bozeman boys and colleagues at Rightnow Technologies.  Michael attended the Big Hole River Day activities and auction in Melrose, put on by the Big Hole River Foundation, where he bought a guided trip for two donated by the Big Hole Lodge.

Michael and I have been in contact since BH Day, scheming and planning our attack.  I knew i'd be back in law school in late August and wanted to get he and his pal on the river before the snow flies.  We decided on this weekend, hoping to catch the last of the tricos, the start of the streamer fishing as the browns gear up for spawning, and the possibility of mahogany duns, blue-winged olives, and October caddis.

The frigid nighttime temps set the river back a few hours and 9:00am proved to be too early for us to be on the water (especially for me in shorts!)  We waded for about two hours before floating and around 11:00 the sun came out and so did the tricos. Fishing was great for the next two hours until the wind picked up and blew the hatch away.

It never warmed up enough for hoppers, in fact i'm not so sure the freezes this week haven't killed the hoppers all together.  Nonetheless, we floated with hoppers, attractors and streamers, picking up a few fish on top, and turning a few larger fish on the streamer.  Joel, Michael's fishing companion, caught sight of a big brown chasing Mike's streamer and cut off his size 14 dry fly, exchanging it for a size 4 sex-panther.  We moved several fish on the streamer set ups, but no solid hookups.  I have to imagine the christmas tree ornament-looking streamers we were whipping through the pools interested a handful of big fish and terrified numerous small and medium sized fish!

Around 3:00pm the barometer dropped and the fish stopped feeding all together.  We pulled over, pulled out the beer and antelope jerky and waited things out.  After almost an hour of watching the water, the fish started feeding again.  It was too windy to tell what was in the air, but the weather was right for blue-winged olives.  I tied on attractors with a BWO trailer and sure enough the fish were looking for the little mayfly until we took out around 7:00pm.

It was a good, albeit cold, day and I look forward to getting these boys back on the Big Hole next summer for any one of the numerous hatches we have throughout the season.  It was encouraging to have anglers so passionate about the sport in the boat.  On behalf of the Big Hole River Foundation I thank Michael for his generous donation and a fun day on the river!

Aggies on the loose!

Last Fall, a few brave souls ventured to Central America in search of wily Permit and feisty bones on the pristine flats of the Turneffe Atoll, at Turneffe Flats Lodge.  It was there my father and I met Lonnie Allen and her entourage of gung-ho fly-fishers. Among them was a striking young couple out of coastal Texas, named Monte & Allison, or "Mollison" as they were known at A&M, and to those following their MyFace account. In Belize, Monte was one of just two anglers, amidst the bullpen of experienced fly-casters, able to hook and land a permit in the post Hurricane-Richard  conditions.

This Spring, (I realize it is late June, but for all intensive purposes it is still very much Spring in Montana) I had the pleasure of guiding Monte & Allison while they visited their Stevensville, MT home.  The river had been rising for the better part of last week and the weatherman was preaching gloom and doom, but these adventurous anglers showed no fear.  In the face of high water, stormy skies, and probable defeat, Allison-"Duck while I hit this fish"- & Monte-"Spank the Bank"- Richardson, arrived rigged with heavy streamers and ugly nymphs, ready to hunt.
The Big Hole was running 8,000 cfs and water temps were plummeting to the mid 40's when we dropped the boat in on Saturday.  In an attempt to recreate my luck from late May, we let the beer flow like wine in hopes that the fish would instinctively flock like the women of capistrano.  

Using flies Lee Wulf never heard of, like a streamer aptly dubbed, "The Blue-eyed Mattress Shaker" or the "Yellow Bellied Dung Warbler", we slammed the banks with wet-flies and stripped streamers through the tannic waters of the upper Big Hole.
However, when these methods left us short of our big fish goals, we pulled over and waited for warmer weather.
 Aha! Finally, Monte spotted a rise and the start of a blue-winged olive hatch!  We cut our 2x tippet and built a leader to 5x, to which we attached a sized #18 blue-winged olive.  Monte worked a pod of arctic grayling while Allison and I feasted on a pulled pork sandwich...or was it chicken?  In either case, it was delicious.  Soon after, Allison landed herself a grayling...decidedly more spectacular than that of her husband.
As the river rolled down the valley, it picked up in speed and volume and darkened in color.  We picked up a handful of grayling and brookies, but most of the afternoon was filled with stories of past fishing trips and laughter.  We arrived at dinner with smiles on our faces and high hopes for the following day.

The next morning, Father's Day, the water had dropped and warmed and the probability of the start of the Salmon Fly hatch had greatly increased.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and the fishing was terrible through the morning.  Allison was not about to let her husband miss out on a father's day celebration...after all, without her he'd never have been crowned a father.  As I rowed through a bend in the river, she lowered her eyebrows and fired two stone fly nymphs under a massive willow, partly submerged on the bank.  I hung my head and moaned as the line went taught, I had just tied that rig on.  But wait!  The line came straight at the boat, cutting through the heavy current. I laid on the oars and spun off of the furious brown trout who'd just been fooled by an excellent presentation.
Fifteen minutes later, Allison was wielding a 21" brown and Monte's father's day was made.
 Unfortunately, that was the only fish we touched on the Big Hole that day.  After the beautiful brown right out of the gate, the rest of the morning was extremely unproductive.  We pushed down the river, pulled the boat out, and headed to the Beaverhead for an afternoon/evening float, well behind the massive holiday crowd.
Allison immediately tagged a nice rainbow, followed soon after by Monte's acrobatic rainbow.
The sun came out, a caddis hatch came off, and our spirits quickly rose.  The Beaverhead is clear and in great shape above Grasshopper Creek, and as Allison proved to us, the brown trout population is in excellent health.

We were sad to see the trip come to an end, (I started in with the sappy sentiment a good half a mile too early, when I failed to identify a bend in the river correctly, and for the first time in my guiding career I was appropriately dubbed a 'tool'!) but we have a plan in the works to get into the guaranteed spectacular dry-fly fishing later this summer.

Allison & Monte have decided to take their talents to West-Central Montana, where they will be fishing the Mighty Mo with the Grizzly Hackle crew for the next week. We hope to read about their future exploits on their blog. Best of luck, thanks for the laughs, and I look forward to fishing with you again soon!

T.G.I.F. Big Hole River is clearing up

Friday Fishing Outlook: Big Hole River

  • Water Flow: 3,630 cfs
  • Water Temp: 49 degrees
  • Visibility: 18 inches
  • Weather: high 50's and chance of showers through the weekend
  • Fishing: Good
  • Flies:  streamers, march browns, caddis, stone fly nymphs

The Big Hole has been dropping steadily for the past three days and clearing as it falls.  The clouds and cool temps throughout the weekend will keep the river clear and fishing should be great.

Hit this window before the run-off!

Big Hole River Fishing Report:

  • Water Flow: 1,120 cfs
  • Temperature:  47 degrees
  • Visibility:  2-3 feet
  • Bugs:  fish are looking for skwalas, streamers, and small dries when the sun is out.
  • Weather Forecast:  Thurs- 42 degrees and snow showers.   Fri- 36 degrees, windy and snow showers.  Sat- 45 degrees and partly sunny.  Sun- 50 degrees and mostly sunny

Bucknell grads, Dan and Chris, eager to get after it

The snow in the upper Big Hole Valley hasn't even come out of the meadows yet.  The meadow snow, or low snow as it is referred to around here, is typically gone by the end of April and we have a nice window for fishing until the warm spring temps bring down the high snow.

This year we are experiencing a late winter and a cool spring is likely.  One or two warm days will bring that remaining low snow out and the river will be off-color but most likely fishable.  When the temps reach 60 and 70, usually in early May, this winter's huge snowpack will begin to release and the river will be high and muddy for a week or two.  I expect high water to last well into June but as long as the water clears this is ok for fishing.   In the world of fly fishing there is always something to complain about but we would much rather have the problem of too much water than too little.  This year will be great for the health of the watershed.

Get out there with big ugly bugs in the inclement weather this week and tie on a  little dry fly when the temps hit the upper 40's and 50's this weekend.  Enjoy it while you can!