By Steve Siciliano
Last May, just a few days after landing her first trout on a fly rod, my wife Barb told me that she would like to go fly fishing in Montana. After giving my face a hard slap to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, I told her that angling for wild browns and rainbows in the famous trout streams of Big Sky Country sounded like a pretty good idea to me too. We did some research and after a week or so of weighing our options we decided to book a weeklong stay at the Broken Arrow Lodge, a ranch and outfitter located in the Snowcrest Mountain Range in the southwest portion of the state. It turned out to be a good decision.
Broken Arrow Lodge sits on a high ridge overlooking the Ruby Valley, supposedly one of the best areas for hunting elk, grizzly bears, mountain lions, antelopes and mule deer in the state. In addition to guided fishing and hunting outings, the lodge offers hiking, horseback riding and overnight pack trips. The family run operation is rustic but comfortable, laid back but chaotic with most of that chaos being generated by owners Irwin and Sherri Clark’s brood of grandchildren and enhanced by a pack of mischievous goats and a couple of chicken-chasing hound dogs. It didn’t take long before we felt right at home.
Barb and I fished hard for five days, expertly guided by the Clarks’ son Chris, and we were able to catch and release an incredible number of trophy sized trout. We would leave the lodge after a hearty early breakfast, have a lunch on the river and on some days we didn’t sit down for an excellent home cooked supper until it was dark. After relaxing with a few Manhattans on Broken Arrow's front porch we were ready for bed.
Chris is an extraordinary guide. His fly fishing knowledge is unsurpassed and he seems to know every run, riffle and hole on the area’s rivers. Each day after landing our first fish he would pump its stomach to see what it was eating (a procedure that is harmless to the fish). One day he placed the contents in a plastic container filled with water and that night back at the lodge he tied a bunch of flies that matched the bugs. The next day we used those flies to tie into some huge rainbows.
At the end of the week our feet hurt, our legs ached and our arms and shoulders were sore. But aches and pains are a small price to pay for a week’s worth of incredible fly-fishing memories.