Blog Posts In trout

Wildlife Showcase of a Healthy Southwest Montana

The most spectacular and rewarding aspect of fly-fishing in Montana is knowing each time you step into the river there is a chance to intimately interact with the wildest and most beautiful creatures in the Rocky Mountains.  This summer has been particularly spectacular and we at Big Hole Lodge want to close our season by sharing a few of our favorite moments from our untamed backyard. Southwest Montana is healthy and flourishing!




10561685_10152402255722620_2068055718875606242_n  10348999_982165704929_3341163921119875100_n10629666_985057474799_1806484717480844367_nDCIM100GOPRO



unnamed-1_MG_410210460262_10152404138197620_515361497023343886_n 10368215_10152475696012620_2520147587230546517_n   10653332_10152475693327620_8187220504057801051_n 10675521_980314399959_3255294140442966892_n 10696162_980001716579_5080249296106258490_nThank you to all who joined us this summer! We are deflating the rafts, battening down the hatches for the coming snow, and eagerly awaiting an even more incredible year in 2015. We hope to spend it with you!

Tight lines,

Craig, Wade, Lanette, and the entire Big Hole Lodge staff.


2nd Annual Spey Casting Clinic at Big Hole Lodge


Big Hole Lodge will host its 2nd annual Spey Casting Clinic with Larry Aiuppy on May 3-7. Larry is the only certified spey casting instructor in Montana and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the event. For me, the spey cast is like watching a well-balanced and well-timed golf swing or even a ballet as some would compare. Granted, the cast is meant for large salmon/steelhead rivers but there are also trout applications for the shorter spey or switch rods, fishing streamers or soft hackles in the surface film. This is a 4 night/3 day package for $2,630 per person based on double occupancy. This clinic is guaranteed to jump-start your fly fishing season!


Larry Aiuppy from Livingston, MT will be the Zen master for your brilliant four day instruction. Spey casting with a two handed rod originated in Scotland on the banks of the Spey River in the mid-1800’s.  Rods made of greenheart from British Guyana were originally used up to 22’ in length but modern spey rods are generally 12-15’ long with 13 ½’ being the norm.  Larry is the only FFF certified Spey Casting instructor in Montana and one of only 25 in the country whose teaching method constantly stresses the fundamentals of the spey cast throughout his clinics. 

Orvis will supply the rods and reels for the event ranging from their 11’ Helios switch rods for trout all the way up to their 15’-10 wt. Helios salmon and steelhead rod.

Larry makes it fun to learn and brings out his supply of brooms to teach the unforgettable power stroke. The great advantage to spey casting is being able to make a cast with an obstruction like a trees, bushes or a cliff directly behind you. Another advantage is being able to cast long distances with hardly any effort at all assuming your timing and casting positions are good.


Call us today to reserve your spot for the 2nd Annual Spey Clinic at Big Hole Lodge!


Big Hole River Days 2011

The Big Hole River Foundation

The Big Hole:
Known for its blue-ribbon trout fishery, the Big Hole flows undammed for 150 miles. The river is home to the last native, self-sustaining population of fluvial Arctic grayling in the lower forty-eight states, as well as a dwindling population of native westslope cutthroat.

The Big Hole River Foundation:
"The social and economic mainstay of the Big Hole valley has traditionally been ranching, which relies heavily on the river and tributaries for irrigation.  Resource issues in the watershed include de-watering of the river by irrigation, loss of habitat to residential development, grazing management, noxious weeds, and the decline of the fluvial Arctic grayling.   We are working to develop science-based conservation strategies that will protect this magnificent resource, and enhance critical habitat for native trout, grayling, and a multitude of other species.  We are launching new conservation strategies; helping to identify and implement restoration projects along the river; educating landowners through workshops about ways they can do their part to improve water quality and habitat conditions in key riparian zones; and pursuing conservation easement partnerships."

To conserve, enhance and protect the free-flowing character of the Big Hole River,
its unique culture, fish and wildlife.

The Big Hole River Foundation was founded in 1988 by noted Montana conservationist, angler, and fly tier George F. Grant.   The foundation is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to defending and conserving the natural and cultural resources of the Big Hole watershed. Projects and programs are supported by diverse interests.  The foundation works closely with local, state, and federal agencies, as well as sportsmen organizations and conservationists.  The foundation funds its projects through membership dues, donations, government grants, and private foundations.

Philosophy and Values

The Big Hole River Foundation's actions reflect collaboration, forthrightness, inclusiveness, fairness, accountability and informed decision making.  The foundation recognizes the uninterrupted connection of the elements of the valley's people, creatures, plants and geology. Members of the foundation act with care and humility as they consider the beauty of this closely integrated environment.

River Ambassador Program

The River Ambassador Program was initiated to showcase the outstanding guides and outfitters who work and live in the Big Hole River basin. Guides and outfitters constantly demonstrate an exemplary attitude toward conservation and spend countless hours helping people understand the importance of conserving and protecting our precious resources. This attitude supports the mission of the Big Hole River Foundation. Guides and outfitters are in a unique position to substantially influence public perception of the Big Hole River and the philosophy of conservation and care. When clients new to the area spend a day with a guide on the river, they have a unique opportunity to educate them about angling ethics, conservation principles, and the history and culture of the Big Hole River and southwest Montana. When those clients return to fish each year, guides have the opportunity to reinforce these values and lessons, plus educate clients on changes in the watershed and regulations that govern the use of the Big Hole River. Since guide's actions and words directly impact the actions and attitudes of the public they are often emulated. We believe a core community of guides espousing the Basic Principles can influence anglers to thoughtful behavior that conserves the Big Hole River. Guides are on the river every day and can help the Foundation serve as its eyes and ears. We appreciate the guides alerting us to developing issues, observations and suggestions for the Foundation.


We are respectfully seeking support of our operations budget and projects.  Securing operating funds allows our staff to move forward with two important initiatives that help accomplish our mission and would make for a stronger partnership in the conservation and restoration of the Big Hole River valley.
Conservation and Research Initiative
Easement Program: identifies landowners willing to permanently protect the most critical aquatic and associated habitats of the Big Hole River valley.
-Restoration Program:
identifies landowners willing to restore and enhance the aquatic and associated habitats on their property in the Big Hole valley (our initial goal is three landowners).
-Stewardship Fencing Project: construct and maintain lay-down fencing along critical sections of the river to reduce intense grazing pressure along sensitive river banks promoting bank stabilization and maintain healthy channel geometry.
-Pennington Bank Stabilization Project
: This project includes survey and design, re-contouring of the degraded bank, and vegetation plantings.
Research Program
-a benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) study is assessing if aquatic insect communities are correlated with observed seasonal grayling distributions.
-fish tagging study, implemented during fall 2009, which will help assess effects of competition and predation by trout on fluvial Arctic grayling populations.

Education and Outreach Initiative:
-Watershed Education Program will instill a clear understanding of basic environmental science fundamentals in students and teachers by using a place-based, hands-on field and classroom curriculum.  Our initial goal is to teach at least 70 students and obtain active participation from at least one teacher from each of the seven rural public schools in the Big Hole basin.
-Outreach Program includes the River Ambassador Program and the production and distribution of our Technical Guidance Series and Watershed Sourcebook.

Our current operations budget averages $4,000 per month.  As such, we need to raise nearly $50,000 per year, which will allow us to annually deliver the above described activities in the Big Hole watershed.
                                         or donate from our site at

Thank You on behalf of our Board of Directors & Staff:

Chuck Bulen - Melrose Alyse Curry - Dillon
Wade Fellin - Wise River Hans Humbert - Wise River (Vice President)
Shaun Jeszenka - Sheridan Steve Parker - Butte (President)
Ray Weaver - Wisdom Sheila Youngblood - Butte
Corky Logan
(Administrative Assistant) - Anaconda
Mike Bias
(Executive Director) - Twin Bridges

Time to buy a Kayak, the Wise River is rockin' and rollin'

Big Hole Fishing Report 5/16/11

  • Water Flow: 4,540 cfs
  • Water Temp: 47 degrees
  • Visibility: muddy
  • Fishing: Streamer fishing has been cumbersome, but successful until today.  The water came up a lot last night and the Big Hole is very turbid today.
The spring weather that we have been missing out on will start this week and hopefully the weather will warm up enough to bring the mid-level snow out, essentially blowing out, and cleaning out, the watershed.  The weather predictions for the next two months indicate cooler days and cold nights which will bring the high snow out slowly and steadily throughout July and into August.    The Big Hole is going to be substantially bigger going into summer this year, but when the water clears fishing will be very good and fish will have more river to work with.

Big Hole Runoff, by the numbers

Big Hole River Fishing Report

  • Water Flow: 2,580 cfs
  • Water Temp: 53 degrees mid-day
  • visibility: 6 inches
  •  fishing: big shiny streamers

When I woke up this morning, NOAA was preaching doom and gloom and predicting an 8ft flood stage at Melrose by Saturday.  This would be a disaster for our Kid's Day on the Big Hole, but luckily the weather patterns have changed and so has the flood prediction.
Big Hole River Flood Prediction

Big Hole River weather report through the weekend

The weather will warm up, but not quite enough to bring the snow down with any consequence.  It looks like we are going to have high water for quite some time this year.  As I have been saying though, as long as it peaks and clears by mid June, fishing is going to be great regardless of the water level.

Big Hole River flow chart, cfs

Winter Weather Advisory: 1-2 feet of snow in the mountains

Better get the skis back out. Alex Ralston, former BHL guide, on Lost Trail Pass

Big Hole River Fishing Report 4/10/11

  • Water Flow: 2,830 cfs and rising
  • Water Temp: 42 degrees
  • Visibility: 6-8 inches
  • Fishing: Catch up on housework for a few days

Big Hole River Fishing Report 4/9/11

  • Water Flow: 2,330 cfs and rising
  • Water Temp: 45 degrees
  • Visibility: 6-8 inches
  • Fishing: Catch up on housework for a few days
  • Weather:

And So It Begins: Runoff 2011

Big Hole River Fishing Report:

  • Water Flow: 2,160 cfs (up 1,000 since last week)
  • Water Temp: 50 degrees mid-day
  • Visibility: very poor
  • Fishing:  not going to be great until things clear up a bit.  Smaller creeks will clear faster.

There must have been a small landslide into the Wise River last night because we have never seen the Wise so chocolate colored.  As a result, the Big Hole River below the confluence with the Wise River is very muddy.  Rainy weather is predicted for the next few days, warming into the high 60's by Thursday.

Unfortunately, the famed Mothers Day Caddis Hatch will most likely occur in water too dirty for the fish to see them this year.

We have entered the spring runoff and it's going to be pretty big water for a while.  The newspapers around the state are warning about rising water levels and probable flooding in several drainage systems.    The E. Gallatin near Bozeman is out of it's banks today and the snow in the Bridgers has not yet melted on the western slope.  According to the National Weather Service, "the Big Hole River near Melrose could crest between 9.6 and 10.3 feet, well above its flood stage of 6 feet.

I will keep you updated as the week goes on, but I recommend dusting off the golf clubs and leaving the rod in the garage for the next few days.