Beginning in September, Big Sky, Montana will be among a few places in the country to offer a Women’s Fly Fishing School, guided by women, to meet the growing demand for women’s outdoor experiences like fly fishing. The fall season is the best time of year not only to fish the blue ribbon waters in and around Big Sky but also to hike, horseback ride and view wildlife against the backdrop of the changing colors.
Gallatin River Guides’ Women’s Fly Fishing School, based in Big Sky, launched the school after seeing an increase in the number of women anglers in the store and based on the success of their “Gallatin River Gals” program.
“A growing number of women want to learn how to fly fish in a fun and supportive, non-competitive environment which is why we started the school,” said Pat Straub, guide and owner of Gallatin River Guides. “There is nothing else like our five-day fishing school in the fly fishing world especially because you have such a stunning background with pristine blue ribbon waters in which to fish. Our school is very relaxed and beginning anglers will get a real education in fly fishing, while experienced anglers will be challenged.”
The inaugural Women’s Fly Fishing School takes place Sept. 14–18. The “classroom” will be the rivers, creeks and lakes in Big Sky and Bozeman, Mont. including the Gallatin (where the movie, “A River Runs Through It” was filmed), Madison and Yellowstone Rivers. Students will be able to take the mystery out of fly fishing through five days of instruction beginning each morning followed by unstructured time in the evenings to enjoy the views, dine at local restaurants, explore the area, and stay in Big Sky’s best hotels.
Fly fishing in Big Sky is arguably at its best in fall because the rivers have already dropped and are clear, temperatures are milder, and brown trout spawn in October. The blue wing olive insects hatch in September and October and attract both brown and rainbow trout. Rivers and streams in and around Big Sky – such as the Gallatin, Madison, and Yellowstone Rivers – are blue ribbon, a designation issued only to exceptionally high-quality waters
With several guided fly fishing outfitters, first time fishermen and veteran anglers alike could have the opportunity to catch a Yellowstone cutthroat (found only in the Yellowstone ecosystem) and maybe even the rare grayling trout. Most fishing outfitters offer guided float trips, wade/walk trips, and casting instruction.
Fly fishing outfitters include: Big Sky Trout, Cache Creek Outfitters, East Slope Outdoors, Lone Peak Outfitters, Wild Trout Outfitters, Lone Mountain Ranch, Grizzly Outfitters, and Gallatin River Guides.
While exploring Big Sky’s waters, the best ways to appreciate its land is by foot or horseback, which is especially intriguing in September. With a view of the changing aspens, the peacefulness of a horseback ride may be occasionally interrupted with the high-pitched sound of bugling bull elk trying to attract a cow while “rutting,” or mating. And it’s not uncommon to see bighorn sheep, bears and other wildlife along the way.
Lone Mountain Ranch, Jake’s Horses, Inc. and Cache Creek Outfitters have permits to ride in Yellowstone National Park. While Jake’s Horses, Inc. offers horseback riding year round, Lone Mountain Ranch, Cache Creek Outfitters, 320 Guest Ranch, and Canyon Adventures vary on end dates which range between early September and mid-October. Go to visitbigskymt.com/recreation for complete information.
After a full day of activities, hot springs are often an enticing evening activity to soothe and relax sore muscles. There are four hot springs located within 150 miles of Big Sky: Norris Hot Springs (Norris, Mont.), Bozeman Hot Springs (Bozeman. Mont.), the Boiling River (Yellowstone National Park), and Chico Hot Springs (Pray, Mont.).
For the full itinerary or to register for the Women’s Fly Fishing School, visit montanawomensflyfishingschool.com/ or call Gallatin River Guides at 406-995-2290.
A complete list of Big Sky outfitters along with information on blue ribbon fishing, wildlife viewing, horseback riding and other fall activities in Big Sky can be found at visitbigskymt.com.