Missoula Trout Guides – Juggling the Group Trip

As Missoula trout guides we see all kinds of trips over the course of a season from the six day single angler to the 10 boat half day float trip.  Some of the most fun and most misery comes from those group trips.  Any time you put a group of people together, even like minded fly anglers, you are bound to get some friction.  Folks have different skill levels, different expectations of the trip, of the guide, and it can be a challenge to keep everyone happy.  Fortunately it’s just fly fishing and not Middle East peace talks so it is rare for a trip to turn really sour.  I’ll save those stories for another day, but this past week I had the opportunity to work for a good friend on one of the best group trips in years.

The trip was 10 anglers and 5 guides, all experienced veterans who I enjoy working with.  The anglers were an interesting mix with a wide range in age and interests.  Fly fishing artist, Derek DeYoung, was there, along with a member of the Abel Reels team, a few guys who manufacture golf putters, and couple in the advertising industry.  They rented an unbelievable house on the banks of the Bitterroot and had it well stocked with food and drinks.  The guides were tempted to ditch their after shift responsibilities and just crash at that pad.

fly fishing shwag
Scored some cool Abel and DeYoung gear on the first morning

They guys all seemed great, not a dud in the bunch, and after shooting the breeze for a bit the guide pairings were made and we were off to the river.  I had a couple of the younger guys who were simply thrilled to be in Montana fly fishing.  We fished hard, caught a bunch of trout, and even experienced all four seasons on the Bitterroot with sun, then rain, snow, hail, and wind.  There was no shortage of funny moments today.

double trout on the Bitterroot
Blake just realizing that Mike is holding his (bigger) trout!

Day 1 ended with a recap at the cabin over a beer and a plan to take a few of the guys over to the Missouri the next day since they had never fished that river.  Fellow guide, Erik, and I meet the boys early and made the run over the hill to the mighty Mo.  It’s always nice to see people who appreciate the beauty of Montana and the camera phones were clicking non-stop on the drive over.  I had pumped up the Missouri as a fishery on the way over and was a little disappointed when we only had one fish in the boat at lunch.  My anglers were upbeat though even if they had a little fun at the guide’s expense.

fly caught rainbow
The one that didn’t get away. Matt posing with a smoked (lake caught) rainbow appetizer we had for lunch.

The afternoon fishing kicked in and both boats were filled with bent rods and heavy nets.  They were all blown away by the quality of the fishery and the drive home included plenty of talk about a return trip to the Missoula area.

Big Missouri rainbow
Mike with a healthy Missouri rainbow

The whole group had a great trip and they’re already planning a return next spring.  Group trips always make me a little nervous, but this one was a breeze and I can’t wait to get back on the water with them.  I guess the bottom line is, come in expecting to simply have a good time and you will, no matter what the conditions.