Join Orvis for a fly-fishing school at Big Hole Lodge in Wise River, Montana. In 1984, Craig Fellin drove up the Blue Ribbon Big Hole River, turned onto a washboard-rutted dirt road called the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway, and founded Big Hole Lodge on ten acres of riverfront surrounded by National Forest. During the early years, the capacity was just two guests, and clients ate and slept in the main house with Craig and his family. Eventually, Craig stripped logs and built the dining lodge and three guest cabins with views of the scenic Wise River Valley and the snow-capped Pioneer Mountains above.
Today, Big Hole Lodge is an Orvis-Endorsed award-winning lodge offering a personal, relaxing, and intimate fly-fishing vacation experience. With a maximum of just 12 guests, Big Hole Lodge offers an exceptionally high level of customer service and caters to a wide range of fly-fishing interests and skill levels. From the legendary Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Bitterroot Rivers to spring creeks and small mountain streams or crystalline alpine lakes, breathtaking views will surround you as you enjoy some of the finest fly fishing in the country.
And whether you're a complete novice or accomplished fly angler, the goal of the staff at the Big Hole Lodge is to offer you an uncompromising fly-fishing vacation of a lifetime. Craig's son, Wade, climbed the ranks from cake-batter tester to lawn care and dishes, to guide, to co-owner and manager. Perennial chefs Lanette and Casawndra, for 25 years and 9 years respectively, engineer a culinary experience second to none. Craig, Wade, and the entire Big Hole Lodge family aim to make your trip the best fly-fishing excursion you've ever experienced.
Their veteran guides graciously impart intimate expertise in technique, entomology, and stream savvy, to give you the best possible opportunities to land gorgeous Montana trout. Their profound respect for the river, its unique culture and wildlife, and the surrounding beauty of southwestern Montana guide the entire staff at Big Hole Lodge to deliver quality that lives up to everything you've ever imagined a Montana fly-fishing vacation could be. Additionally, an Orvis instructor will be on-site to teach you tips and tricks throughout the week.
September 12-18, 2021: 6 nights/5 days
$4,995 per angler - shared room/shared guide
$5,995 per person - private room/private guide
$1,095 per person - non-angler/sharing a room with an angler.
Day one of your fishing week will likely begin with a full day float on the legendary Big Hole River, known for its beauty and world-class wild trout fishing. The next day might find you wading a private ranch on the Beaverhead River, one of the finest tail-water fisheries in the country. On day three, you might wade a private spring creek that the lodge leases with trout averaging 16” and some landed in the 20+” range every season. On the fourth day, you might float the stunning West Fork of the Bitterroot, catching eager native cutthroat on dry flies. The fifth and final day will find you floating a different stretch of the Big Hole with plenty of time to get out and wade, that is unless you'd like to explore Rock Creek, the Clark Fork, Jefferson, Missouri, or Georgetown Lake. The opportunities far exceed the time allotted!
Driving times to the different rivers and streams vary from a few minutes to over an hour. Also available (by advance reservation and additional fee) is a horse trip to the high lakes to fish for cutthroats and rainbows in a wilderness environment at 9,000 ft. Also, Big Hole Lodge offers an overnight on the Bitterroot River or the Missouri River (by advance reservation and additional fee) at a bed and breakfast, or a primitive overnight camping trip on the Big Hole River (by advance reservation and additional fee). This will enable you to float these rivers on two consecutive days, thereby taking advantage of morning and evening hatches. The choice is yours and the choices are many.
You will be visiting a beautiful part of the U.S. that boasts some of the finest trout fishing in the world. Fly fishing, however, is not an easy sport, and you will be casting to wild trout. Be assured that your guides and camp staff will do their best to make your stay a relaxing and productive angling experience and whether you're novice or avid our guides will teach you something to add to your bag of tricks.
Big Hole Lodge is nestled in a magnificent mountain wilderness setting with a beautiful trout stream at your doorstep. With a maximum capacity of 12 guests, the emphasis is on personalized service and warm hospitality, for which the lodge has become renowned. The main lodge itself, built of local river rock and lodge-pole pine, is the perfect place to relax over a cocktail and enjoy a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains.
Guests stay in rustic, spacious cabins with modern conveniences, all opening to a panoramic view of the scenic Wise River Valley and the Pioneer Mountains. The "home pool" on the Wise is only a few steps away and fishes great after dinner. Discriminating anglers will find the well-appointed accommodations clean and comfortable. Moose, elk, deer and mountain goats abound in the immediate area and it's not uncommon to see one or more during the week as they browse the meadows in the evening.
Except for larger intact groups, each guest will enjoy the privacy of their own bedroom at no extra cost. Three cabins accommodate four guests each, one of which is a duplex cabin with two beds and a bathroom/shower on each side of the cabin.
The Pattengail Cabin is a log structure overlooking the Wise River and has two bedrooms with two twin beds in each bedroom and two separate bathrooms with shower. There is a living room area with log furniture and a kitchen with a refrigerator for drinks/ice and a table to play cards. There is also a covered front porch to sit out in the evening and enjoy the sounds of the river.
The Big Hole Cabin is the largest cabin and has four separate bedrooms and two bathrooms with showers. Two of the bedrooms have one queen bed each and the other two have twin beds. There is a spacious living room with a beautiful view and satellite TV. There is also a kitchen with a refrigerator for cold drinks/ice and a table to play cards and an enclosed front porch.
The Beaverhead Cabin is a duplex cabin accommodating one guest on either side. Each side of the duplex has two beds, 1 twin and 1 queen, and a bathroom/shower and a small refrigerator for cold drinks/ice. This cabin has a shared enclosed front porch and an outside deck with a beautiful view.
The main lodge is a log building accented with river rock where guests come to relax over a glass of wine or beer and enjoy fine dining. There is one large handmade table of white pine and oak that seats twelve guests plus the lodge owner and manager with comfortable hickory and leather chairs. There is an elevated outdoor deck attached to the dining room where guests can enjoy the beautiful panoramic view of the Pioneer Mountains while waiting for dinner to be served.
Big Hole Lodge is first and foremost a fly fishing lodge, and everything they do is focused around your fishing experience. Schedules are made to be flexible so they can accommodate your fishing desires and needs. During your week, the lodge is yours and the staff are there to provide a very memorable fly fishing trip.
Summer in Montana offers many exciting things to do and see other than fishing. A drive up the scenic upper Big Hole Valley to the town of Wisdom through historic Montana ranch country is always a pleasurable day. For spouses or companions interested in exploring the culture and history of Montana while your significant other is fishing, we offer a guided tour of local museums, a ghost town, historic battlefield, summer theatre matinees, festivals, and art galleries.
In Wisdom, you will discover a beautiful Western Art Gallery. Just north of Wisdom, you can view a short documentary of the historic “Battle of the Big Hole” at the Chief Joseph battleground.
This is managed by the National Park Service and is very interesting. We also recommend a visit to nearby Bannack ghost town, the former territorial capital of Montana. It’s the best preserved ghost town in the state. Driving through old Montana is like turning the pages of history books back 100 years. Your guide is Shawna Page. Reservations are appreciated and the additional rate is $315 per day, per person plus venue charge, if applicable.
Other options are golf at the nearby course Old Works, a Jack Nicklaus signature course, horseback riding with a guide, soaking in local natural hot springs, biking and hiking the extensive trail systems just outside the lodge gate, inner tubing the Wise or Big Hole, shopping and digging for quartz crystals. The opportunities are endless!
Novice to expert, everyone can get better at Big Hole Lodge.
Big Hole Lodge can accommodate most all levels of mobility but we do suggest being able to wade-fish during September in Montana. This doesn't mean long hikes but being able to walk on uneven ground and over rocks is a must.
Begin your fishing day with a hearty stack of oatmeal pancakes covered in apple saute, whipped cream and accompanied by apple-wood smoked bacon and fresh berries. After hours of stalking and catching wild trout, your guide lays out a riverbank lunch of marinated and grilled tri-tip with smoky vegetables, potato salad with fresh herbs and lemon bars.
Evening libations are accompanied by lightly grilled, succulent morsels of huckleberry-glazed quail wrapped in endive, followed by a savory entrée of grilled herb and garlic rack of lamb with sweet potato gratin, crisp green beans and red rhubarb confit. If you have saved any room, a cheesecake mousse with rum poached plums and a cup of decaf will tuck you in for the night. And that's just day one.
Meet the Executive Chef, Lanette
Lanette and Craig worked together in the late-eighties in the ski industry in Lake Tahoe when she fell in love with Montana summers. An expert fly fisher, Lanette was battlefield promoted from sous to head chef over two decades ago and continues to be the glue of the lodge staff. Her recipe for success is two parts work ethic, three parts humor, and a full cup of passion. Creative and hearty meals are crafted with an artisan approach. Menus are carefully planned to satisfy the guests after their adventurous days on the river. BBQ and smoked meats are marinated to perfection and the fish, pork and chicken dishes are accompanied by excellent sides prepared with a western attitude. Many meals at Big Hole Lodge are long-standing favorites with guests frequently requesting the recipes. Desserts are lovingly prepared and are designed to delight the palate.
Meet the Executive Sous-chef, Casawndra
Casawndra is a hometown girl, born and raised in the fabled Big Hole Valley. Daughter of former head-guide Chuck Page, we've witnessed Casawndra blossom from dishwasher and horseback trip hand to a confident and highly talented chef over the past decade. Casawndra graduated with a culinary arts degree from the University of Montana and has cooked in San Francisco, Argentina, and New Zealand in the offseason. When she's not creating culinary masterpieces you can find Casawndra rowing a raft on the Big Hole River, fishing local creeks, or on horseback high in the Pioneer Mountains.
Meal hours are scheduled according to fishing conditions. Generally, breakfast is served between 7:30 and 8:30 AM. Fishing times are earlier when temperatures rise and later as we move into September. Lunch is served streamside. After a full day of fishing, you’ll return to the lodge in time to relax before dinner, which is usually served around 7:30 PM. If you wish to extend your fishing day into the evening hatch, our chef is more than willing to hold a dinner for you as long as you are seated by 9:00 PM. It is important to let us know on your questionnaire of any dietary restrictions, etc., so that we will be prepared to accommodate you.
The lodge package includes beer and wine which will be served in the dining room before, during, and after dinner. The lodge does not sell or serve hard liquor on the premises.
The Big Hole River is the last river in the lower 48 where a Grand Slam is possible: Grayling, cutthroat, brook trout, rainbow, and brown.
The Beaverhead and its tributaries are inhabited predominantly by brown trout and the Bitterroot by cutthroats.
September has cool nights and mornings and balmy afternoons.
Big Hole Lodge is an Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Lodge and has a well-stocked fly shop on the premises to meet your needs. The latest Orvis rods and reels are available, along with a variety of other Orvis gear. Leaders, tippet material, flies and other accessories can also be purchased there. We suggest that you arrive with a small selection of trout flies, with your personal favorites included, but flies are included in the package and the guides always have a good supply of flies you will need for the particular week that you are there, with some very unique patterns designed for the local rivers and streams.
A 9’ rod for a 6-weight line will cover most conditions you will experience in Montana and we recommend it for the Big Hole River. A 5-weight or even a 4-weight rod in lighter line works fine on the numerous mountain streams in the area.
Presentation is the key word on the Big Hole and Beaverhead; consequently, a double taper floating line is recommended. Floating lines are recommended for all fishing except streamer fishing in the early part of the season when a sink-tip is helpful.
A proper leader is the most abused piece of equipment in the sport of fly fishing. A 9-12’ tapered leader with a stiff butt section is required in Montana to handle the conditions. A good all-around leader is a 9' 4X. If you are fishing “far n’ fine”, a 12' leader with a 5-6X tippet is recommended. For windy days and large hairwing and hopper patterns, a 7.5' 3X leader works well. There is always a good stock of leaders in the fly shop.
Lightweight chest waders are the favorite of most guests. Neoprene waders are fine on cold days but are generally too warm for most summer fishing. Felt soles are a must in Montana and a wading staff is recommended. Please don’t wear metal studded wading boots in the rafts since they damage the bottom. Also, metal studded wading boots are not allowed in the cabins since they will damage the floors. Thank you! Wet wading in the warmer weeks of the season with wading boots and neoprene socks has become very popular. It is still a good idea to bring chest waders though and be prepared if the weather does turn.
You never know when a storm will roll through in Montana.
Dress at the lodge is casual and comfortable. The weather can change abruptly in Montana so you should be prepared. The nights and mornings are cool, sometimes in the 40’s, and the daytime temperatures can climb into the 80’s. It’s best to dress in layers such as a flannel shirt, fleece, vest or jacket.
Summer in Montana offers many exciting things to do and see other than fishing. A drive up the scenic upper Big Hole Valley to the town of Wisdom through historic Montana ranch country is always a pleasurable day. For spouses or companions interested in exploring the culture and history of Montana while your significant other is fishing, Big Hole Lodge offers a guided tour of local museums, a ghost town, historic battlefield, summer theatre matinees, festivals, and art galleries.
In Wisdom, you will discover a beautiful Western art gallery. Just north of Wisdom, you can view a short documentary of the historic “Battle of the Big Hole” at the Chief Joseph battleground. This is managed by the National Park Service and is very interesting. Also recommended is a visit to nearby Bannack ghost town, the former territorial capital of Montana, and the best preserved ghost town in the state. Driving through old Montana is like turning the pages of history books back 100 years. Reservations are appreciated and the additional rate is $315 per day (per person) plus venue charge, if applicable.
Other options include golf at the nearby course Old Works, a Jack Nicklaus signature course, horseback riding with a guide, soaking in local natural hot springs, biking and hiking the extensive trail systems just outside the lodge gate, inner-tubing the Wise or Big Hole Rivers, shopping, and digging for quartz crystals. The opportunities are endless!
We recommend flying into Butte, MT. A driver from the lodge will meet incoming parties and drive them to the lodge (approximately 45-minute drive). We recommend that all guests plan to arrive mid-afternoon Sunday the 12th so that the shuttles to the lodge are coordinated and dinner can be served at a reasonable hour for everyone. On the morning of departure, Saturday the 22nd, there is currently one flight leaving Butte at approximately 6:30 AM.
For those who are unable to make connections flying into Butte, we recommend flying into Bozeman and renting a car. Round trip shuttle service from Bozeman is available for $500. Prices vary slightly based on the number of travelers.
If you are driving to the lodge it is important to note you will lose cell phone service approximately 40 miles from the lodge. So, you should print out, screen shot, or download the map for directions before you leave service. If you plan to arrive before 4:00 PM on arrival day, please call Wade Fellin at 406-832-3252 to coordinate a plan in the event no one is yet at the lodge when you arrive.
Trip Deposit: 50% deposit is required to secure a fishing reservation. Due to the nature of small, rural fly fishing lodges, this is a nonrefundable deposit inside of 120 days of your trip, Receipt of deposit is an acknowledgment that the registrant has read and accepts the cancellation/refund policy clause.