Blog Posts In montana fly fishing

Smashin' skwalas before the runoff

Flow: 867 cfs at Maiden Rock
Visibility: Clear, but on the rise and may color up as the week begins if temps warm.
Temp: Water: 51 Air: 70 Windy
Fishing: Good! Skwalas, streamers, and small stone nymphs.

Big Hole Lodge Crew

It was wiiiiindy yesterday, but we chucked streamers through the gusts and plopped dries on the banks when the breeze let up.  Bigger fish were eagerly chasing the streamers, but were hesitant to eat it fully. We had a lot of "short strikes."   The 12-16" class was slapping the skwala dry on the banks fairly consistently from 3:00 on, and if you could get it into the pockets through the wind, the 'next size' was looking for up.

Lanette with brownie on a skwala

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Our trusty fish hunter is sprawled out on the floor after tirelessly scanning the riffles for big browns all day!

Kali, master fish hunter

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Welcome Cliff Zielke

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We are pleased to welcome Cliff Zielke to our seasoned guides staff.

Cliff has been guiding fly fisherman and hunters in the Rocky Mountain West and Alaska for over 25 years, with a few interruptions when he held "traditional jobs" in the animal health indurstry and timber sales.  Cliff was literally raised fishing, with his first fly fishing experiences coming at the age of 5 in the Midwest, where his father bass fished and Cliff would cast from the back of the boat for bluegills and sunfish with a fized length of line on an old Wright McGill cane rod. Since 1989, he has lived just over the hill in Salmon, ID and has fished the Big Hole, Bitterroot, and other local waters regularly when not guiding elswhere.  In addition to getting you into fish, Cliff strives to add to your game, no matter your angling skill level.  Cliff also guides for steelhead, big game, has an upland bird business, builds wooden driftboats, and trains Labrador Retrievers.

Check out our entire seasoned guide staff on our Website!

Learn to Spey Cast with a World Champion!

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News

Learn to Spey Cast with a World Champion
Added: Nov 19 2012Want to learn to Spey cast? Make plans to join Craig Fellin and Women's World-Champion Spey Caster Whitney Gould and her fiance Mike McCune who is an icon in the sport of spey casting in his own right and an experienced instructor, on a hosted five-night / four-day casting event at Big Hole Lodge in southwestern, Montana May 4-9, 2013. Space is limited so don't delay. Call Denise Schreiber or Barbara Alden for more details at 1-800-245-1950 or visit Frontiers Travel online.

And read about Craig Fellin's Spey casting breakthrough.

By Craig Fellin, Big Hole Lodge

After finishing a successful fishing season with our guests at Big Hole Lodge in southwestern Montana, there I was, standing knee deep in the Grande Ronde River on the border of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon. I was enrolled in a three-day / two-night Spey casting clinic with casting guru Dec Hogan and outfitter Troy Dettman.

I had struggled for a year, trying in earnest to master the Spey cast by reading a book and viewing a DVD by renowned English Spey caster Simon Gawesworth. In addition, Whitney Gould, three-time and current woman's world Spey casting champion, and Mike McCune, Spey casting Jedi and fly line designer, had given me a short casting lesson on this very same river the previous fall. I took this knowledge to the Salmon River a few weeks later and promptly forgot everything they had taught me.

The Spey cast, I painfully discovered, was not an intuitive motion that can be picked up in a short time on the water. With nearly 40 years of single-handed fly fishing experience, I thought this would come naturally to me. Wrong!

My self-teaching experience over the past year had been similar to teaching myself how to play golf without the aid of an instructor. Humbling was not the right term. There were days when I was ready to launch my very expensive, two-handed, 13-foot-6-inch Orvis Helios Spey rod as far into the bushes as I could manage. I fished the famous rivers of the Olympic Peninsula for two months last winter in hopes that things would fall in place for me, but all I did was practice my mistakes, and if anything, my self-esteem was what was falling.

I finally hit the wall and decided that if I wanted to be a Spey caster, I needed personal instruction. I had enjoyed reading Dec Hogan's Passion for Steelhead, which is destined to be a classic in steelhead fishing literature, and saw that he was offering a casting clinic with Troy Dettman. When I stepped into the boat to begin the three-day clinic, I felt a sigh of relief that someone was not only going to show me the Spey cast, but would actually see my mistakes and correct them.

The second day, I worked with Dec Hogan. I felt more confident about my double Spey cast from the previous day's instruction. After a short boat ride early in the morning, Dec put me in a classic steelhead run before the sun hit the water. On my fourth cast, a good one thanks to Dec, the fly swung into the sweet spot of the drift. I felt the tug, so I gave the fish the loop of line hanging from my reel. He immediately turned, and I struck to the bank side of the river. I could feel the power of the wild steelhead straining against my line.

After a fifteen-minute battle, Dec grabbed the fish by the tail. It was over. As I held my first proper Spey catch in my hands and watched his gills working back and forth, I thanked Dec for putting me on to the beautiful steelhead. With my new proficiency at Spey casting, I knew my life had changed for the better and now my Orvis Helios Spey rod is one of my best friends.

Craig Fellin

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An August Cold Snap?

Not quite, but things sure have cooled off over the past two days.  Temps were in the nineties on Saturday and Sunday and then out of nowhere, a front moved through dropping Sunday night's temp by 60 degrees!  I slept with my windows open and woke up thinking I was camping.

Big Hole River Report:

Cooler nighttime temps and a cloudy day yesterday really brought the water temp down from an alarming 73 degrees to a refreshing 59.  Great news for a heat-stressed fish population.

The river is holding tough at 300 cfs, and hopefully 5 day forecast for afternoon showers does in fact bring moisture.

Temps should stay below the 90 degree mark this week and nights should drop into the 40's.  Add in a little rain and we are in fine shape!

As for the fishing?  It has been really good the past two days on tricos, hoppers, and caddis.