The Big Hole Lodge Guide Staff
Every summer our expert guides migrate back to the banks of the Big Hole River, eager and ready to assist our clients with the enjoyment of this beautiful sport of fly fishing. If you ask them why, they'll tell you that the Big Hole offers some of the finest fly fishing in the world and that it remains a constant, dynamic puzzle which continually hones their skill and perfects their craft.
Clients learn something new every day, sometimes with each cast. If you are an accomplished fly fisher, our guides will help you take your skills to the next level. If you are a beginner, you will not only learn the basics, you will advance in the sport quickly.
Our guides are the most important asset to the Big Hole Lodge and the main reason our clients return year after year. Each guide has a reverence for the river that is shared intimately and uniquely with each and every client. A guide can make or break a fly fishing trip and the guiding staff at Big Hole Lodge deserves special mention.
Craig Fellin founded Big Hole Lodge in 1984. Craig's business philosophy is very simple, "give the clients more than they expect and do it with a smile." In addition to guiding for thirty-five years out West, Craig has managed a fly shop in Aspen, guided in Argentina, fished New Zealand and the Salt on numerous occasions. He cherishes his role as host and lead ambassador at the lodge now that he's turned the daily operation over to his son, Wade. In the offseason, Craig chases steelhead throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Wade is a fifth-generation Montanan deeply rooted in the Big Hole Valley. Wade has guided the rivers of Southwest Montana since 2006 and his deep conservation ethic stems from the same sources of clean, readily available water that attracted his ancestors to the Big Hole Valley, and later led him to study environmental and water law at the University of Montana. In addition to guiding and managing the Big Hole Lodge with his father and Wade is the program director of Upper Missouri Waterkeeper and chairman of the Big Hole River Foundation.
Matt Lyng has been a full-time guide on the Big Hole since 1989 and knows many of the secrets of this fabled river that only experience can bestow. With his easy-going western demeanor, he will slide his raft into unsuspecting places on the Big Hole where many trout hide from the casual observer. Upon graduating from Colorado College in ’87, he headed north and has been fishing Southwestern Montana ever since. The Big Hole is the river that captured his heart, but he is very fond of the smaller creeks and streams as well. He may say, “Fishing is where you find it” but it does not hurt to have a good idea of where to look. Whether it is birding, local history, geography, reading water or casting a fly, Matthew enjoys sharing his passions of fly-fishing and southwestern Montana; it is not just about the fish, but rather the experience of fishing. Matthew lives in Helena with his wife Hope and son Will, where he teaches high-school Spanish.
Originally from the flatlands of North Dakota, Travis grew up fishing lakes and small streams of the Red River Valley. Since moving to Montana, fly fishing has become an absolute obsession and he wouldn’t have it any other way. From spending long days learning new stretches of rivers to tying dozens of flies on the vise, the smile on a client’s face is always his favorite. When the rivers are empty and the fly shops are closing down, you will find him on horseback in the mountains tracking down big game.
This fifth-generation Montanan was born to hunt and fish in the Big Hole Valley. Raised on his family's ranch in Wisdom, MT at the headwaters of the Big Hole, Blaine has spent his life outside working, playing, and exploring. Clients can expect to fish hard with Blaine. Whether it's from his purple raft on the Big Hole or his jetboat on the Missouri, Blaine is committed to pinpointing what the fish are keyed into. In the offseason, Blaine lives in Dillon with his wife and two children.
Rudy is a fishing and hunting enthusiast native to Southwest Montana. The Big Hole River is the playground on which he raises his two sons and a daughter. Rudy has fly fished the grand slams of Alaska Salmon, saltwater species of the Carribean, and the trout of Montana. Rudy earned an MBA and served a decade as a leader in healthcare specializing in the adoption of electronic medical records. It is within the serenity of Big Sky Country as an outdoorsman and guide that his heart resides.
John was two months old on his first fishing trip. Growing up in Glenwood Springs, CO John spent almost every weekend sitting on the banks the famous Roaring Fork. He honed his skill on the Green River, North Platte River, Frying Pan River and many other western waters. When John hit 30, he made the decision to turn a hobby, and passion, into a career and headed north to Montana. Since moving to Big Sky Country in 2011, John has been 'living the dream' fishing the Madison, Big Hole, Missouri, & Rock Creek from his home base in Phillipsburg, MT. Guiding has developed in John a passion for teaching and an appreciation of introducing people to the beauty and serenity of Montana.
Upbeat, hardworking, and witty, Chris was born and raised in Butte, Montana and has lived in Southwestern Montana his entire life. He is the son of an outfitter and vice president of the Montana Stream Access Association and he understands how lucky we are to be able to fish all these fantastic waters. When not guiding or hunting birds and big game, Chris works as an elementary teacher in Butte. He has been guiding for nearly three decades.
Roy grew up delivering fuel to ranchers in the Big Hole valley with his dad. After graduating with a photography degree from Montana State University Roy returned to Butte in 1980 to purchase and grow the family fuel and convenience store business. Upon retirement Roy changed gears and is devoting his time to his passion, fighting for stream access and river conservation. Roy is a recent-past president of our local Trout Unlimited chapter and an active force in the conservation community. He spends his free time fishing in Alaska, Mexico, the Bahama's, Canada and the rivers and lakes of the western U.S. The best river and best place of all them always was and is still the Big Hole River. "Smartest thing I've ever done was be born in Montana," he says.
Mark has been fishing and guiding on the Big Hole River since he was a young boy. After earning a bachelors degree in biology and an MBA, Mark owned and operated a family business in his hometown of Butte, Montana. Mark is currently managing the family distribution facility while guiding blue ribbon trout rivers in the summer, and trophy deer hunts in Eastern Montana in the fall. Born and raised in beautiful southwestern Montana, Mark is blessed with three lovely daughters: Siena, Lexa, and Tia. The girls truly love their time outdoors hunting, fishing and hiking with Dad – spring, summer, fall and winter! Mark is also the president of our local Trout Unlimited chapter and committed to the future of SW Montana's cold water fisheries.
John has a knack for finding big trout. He started fishing with his mom and dad at a very young age. He started fishing the Big Hole a decade ago and began guiding in 2014 in fulfillment of his dream to turn a hobby into a passion project. John was drawn to Montana by tales of abnormally large trout with unbelievable beauty. "The Big Hole River surrounded by mountains reminds you of the land before time. I went in search of Montana’s holy grail of big Beautiful brown trout and in the process he fell in love with one of America’s most precious resources." To his delight, the stories are true, and the fish are spectacular.
I found the big hole 18 years ago, chasing elk in the Pioneer Mountains around Wisdom. The vast area is enthralling to me; from the rocky river bottom of the Big Hole, to the top of Odell Mountain. The river is one of a kind in that it’s access is easily obtainable but it’s as wild as the arctic grayling that dwell here. It is truly home away from home. And I’m excited to show my son, Marshall, this amazing river and teach him the importance of keeping the Big Hole pristine and immaculate as it deserves.
Robbie grew up on the banks of the Big Hole in Melrose, MT. His father, also a fishing guide, introduced him to fly fishing and hunting at a young age and instilled in him sportsman values. Robbie has an immeasurable love for Melrose and the surrounding area. If he's not fishing you can find him working cows at Trapper Creek Ranch, hunting or enjoying the outdoors (rain or shine) with his wife Lindsey and young son Henry. Robbie also works for the city of Helena Fire Department as a Firefighter/EMT.
Chuck & Shawna Page
Chuck & Shawna are proud parents of Casawndra and the equestrian outfitters for Big Hole Lodge - your guides on our Horseback Trip into the high-mountain lakes of the Pioneer Mountains. Chuck is Orvis's 2015 Guide of the Year has been guiding on the Big Hole River and other Southwest Montana waters since 1983. He left Woodland, CA at the age of 18 to guide in the Bob Marshall and Crazy Mountains of Montana. He became an outfitter guiding fly fishing trips and elk hunts and his father joined him in 1984 to form an elk hunting business in the Pioneer Mountains above the Big Hole River. Chuck began guiding fly fishing trips for Big Hole Lodge in 1989 and would often take clients on horseback into the high mountain lakes of the Pioneer mountains. His incredible work ethic, knowledge of the Big Hole River and unmatched desire to "get his clients into fish" are renowned.
Son of veteran guide, Matthew Lyng, Will is the Big Hole Lodge boat boy and guide in training. This young man throws a mean fastball for Helena's middle school league and an even meaner reach cast across the riffles and pockets of the Wise River when the day's work is done.
Bozeman, MT's hot hangout in the early '90s was Spanish Peaks Brewery right across from the soccer fields. Wade's first-grade soccer and t-ball team’s parents loved postgame beers and watching the kids wrestle with the taproom’s mascot labrador, Chugwater Charlie — a champion hunting retriever and regal star of MT’s most famous beer label, Black Dog Ale. Wade's girlfriend's father built the bar and Madeline too fell in love with Chug visiting the job site. Mads grew up with Harley, a pup out of Chug, and then raised Bodee, another descendant of Chug, while preparing for and attending vet school. Hopkin is Bodee’s son and carries the name of our favorite cutthroat lake here in the Pioneer Mountains.
Fishing Tips for Beginners
Ready to go fly fishing for the first time? Read these seven steps to success, written by our very own Craig Fellin.