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 - Head Guide, emeritus. Craig founded Big Hole Lodge in 1984 with a very simple business philpsophy, "give the clients more than they expect and do it with a smile." In addition to guiding for forty years out West, Craig has managed a fly shop in Aspen, guided in Argentina, fished New Zealand and the salt on numerous occasions. Now he leads casting lessons on arrival day and greets clients at cocktail hour to recieve fish stories with a big smile. Craig 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 birds with his GSP puppy.
Wade is a fifth-generation Montanan deeply rooted in the Big Hole Valley and has worked alongside his father since he could reach the dish sink and pull the lawn mower cord. 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, Wade is the program director at Upper Missouri Waterkeeper and past-chair of the Big Hole River Foundation and holds a BSBA from Bucknell University and a JD from the University of Montana School of Law.
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.
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.
Brian brings a fiery passion for conservation, water quality science, and two decades of fly fishing expertise to our guide staff. With a degree in Anthropology and a full workload as executive director of the Big Hole River Foundation and president of the Beaverhead/Ruby Trout Unlimited chapter, a day in the boat with Brian is as intellectually stimulating as it is enjoyable. Brian's deep appreciation for freestone rivers and his commitment to the future of the Big Hole River as a fundamental necessity make it clear how important continued interaction with the natural world is for us all. Brian and his wife, Ande, live in Dillon with their four dogs. When Brian isn't rowing or shipping water quality samples, you can find him following his dogs across the prairie with a double-barrel shotgun in hand.
Britten Jay was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming and moved to Spokane, Washington just before fourth grade. He has been in the water casting a rod since he was 7 years old. After attending Washington State University Britten taught 7th & 8th grade science in Spokane and now Deerlodge, MT. Over the years Britten has mastered the art of reading water, tying flies and currently spends his “free” time guiding, hunting with his Chessie, “Caddis”, whitewater rafting, fishing one of many rivers and lakes in the beautiful Mountain West.
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.
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.
Tim's dad got him started fly fishing in 1962. By '68 he was building rods and tying flies for Walton Powell, of Powell Rod fame. Tim came to Dillon, MT in 1977, and began working for Al Troth guiding on the Beaverhead and Big Hole. He opened Frontier Anglers in 1980 and operated as owner, manager, head-guide and cheif fly tyer until he sold the business in 2019. Tim has dedicated his life to fly fishing and is as enthusastic standing next to a client as he is with the rod in his own hands. From Alaska, Belize, New Zealand, Chile, Bahamas, Argentina, and Canada, to most all of the western states, Tim strives for mastery of each fishery he encounters, and his true passion shines through in the roll of teacher. Bring a notepad and prepare to learn with Tim on the oars.
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 wife'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.