Trips: how we go

HGS offers single-day trips, lunch included. We'll discuss the best general fishing options and locales before you come, and once you're here, we'll settle our final plans based on current conditions. And, you determine when we start and how long we stay out. I've worked for hardcore trout-addicts who love to cast in utter darkness at both ends of the day, and I've guided folks who've gotta be on dry land with some old scotch over new ice at 5:00 p.m. It's up to you; you're doing the hard work - I'm just working hard to help you enjoy it.

The Big Hole, Bighorn, and Missouri: These favorites are too far away to fish and return in a single day to Gallatin Gateway without cheating either your sleep or your fishing. So, we need a minimum of two days to fish them. If you choose to fly, I can pick you up and return you to the nearest airports: Butte, Billings, and Helena, respectively. If we plan to fish somewhere else after a couple days, we usually just carry on in my rig. At each of these rivers, there are several lodging choices and a selection of eateries where you can wallow in luxury (Montana-style, mind you) or mingle with the haybalers, rodeoers, and fellow anglers.

HGS uses a variety of boats to get you safely to the best fishing in a variety of water conditions:

Fall drifting

Overhead shot of driftboat passing bankside yellow-leafed Cottonwoods

Driftboat – the best way to cover long stretches of great water and perfect for casting to those bank-hugging hogs on the Yellowstone, Missouri, Bighorn, or Jefferson. I use one of the new "lowside" skiffs that cuts through the wind and allows us to sneak up on shallow-water fish as silently as the raft.

Canoe - ideal for sinuous braided streams, it's an "aquatic motorcycle" that quickly and quietly gets you to backwaters where you can get out and be all alone with the fish. HGS is one of the few guide services that offer this choice - take advantage of it- you'll love it.

Canoe on the Gallatin

Rik sits on a rock beside the canoe in the Gallatin

One of my favorite trips is to canoe the Gallatin in stretches where few anglers go. I'll only take relatively physically-fit and youthful-minded clientele because we don't fish from the boat, there's some paddling involved, and we often have to portage over or around trees to get to the special spots. There's a taste of the old voyageurs with this trip, some quality canoe maneuvering, and a lot of fun . . . plus fish few others cast to.

All boats can be used as transportation, too, letting you take some shots at promising banks or pods of sippers as we make our way between great walk-wade spots, so long as regulations allow fishing from a boat. This is the popular way to negotiate the Missouri and the Bighorn - or any river, for that matter - when the hatches are on in certain scattered spots.

Walk-wading the Gallatin

Angler wading on the Gallatin

If you like one-on-one match-ups with clever trout, crouch down, tread softly and carry that rod low so they don't see you. We can get to a lot of places along our favorite rivers that hold fish the boats often miss. On backcountry or small stream adventures, a little walking leaves the most of the crowd behind. Some of my best days are with folks who fish in and along a stream, lose track of the time and unwind like nowhere else. I call it "trout tunnel vision" and encourage the technique for stress relief. Likely locations for such therapy are the upper Gallatin and the spring creeks. I usually tote lunch along so we don't have to leave the fishing. On the spring creeks, we dine bankside in relaxed splendor. All in all, this is a good way to go - we can read the water, catch some bugs to match a fly to, really get into the action. If you're one to work over a fish until you catch it, this is your world.

HGS has experience with wheelchair-bound and other disabled anglers. We make sure you're stable, safe, and secure, then help get you oriented on the bank or maneuver the watercraft so you get your best opportunities without hassle. A while back, I had an avid, energetic guy strap his chair in the front of the driftboat and proceed to outfish his 20-something son. On one of my first trips, I steadied and supported a semi-paralyzed elderly stroke victim all day; we had a great time. (Re politically-correct terms like "challenged": Not sure what's acceptable these days, but I tend to think of everyone as able, no matter what's happened or happening to them.)

Montana has the variety of fishable blue-ribbon streams most trout anglers yearn for. HGS has experience on 'most all of them and counts amount it's stash some small but beautiful creeks that hold sizeable fish. Whether you want one or more of the legendary big waters, a series of the more intimate streams, or a quiet day on a spring creek, our trips have you covered. Day, multi-day, float, walkwade: we'll do whatever it takes to get you out enjoying Montana and the diverse land- and waterscapes we treasure.

We conduct our trips with professional pride: We make sure you and anyone in your party are comfortable and safe while fishing to your best ability. I've been outfitting and guiding around a long time in Montana, and I'll bring whatever it takes to make your trip memorable, be it a special series of flies we've agreed on, a couple extra rods so you don't have to fuss with re-rigging for whatever's next, or a lunch that fits your diet needs to a 'T'. That 'extra mile' everyone talks about is our territory, and HGS will start early and stay late so you can enjoy it all.

Sky, Mountains, meandering braids of the upper Madison river in Montana

Braids of the upper Madison river in Montana

Trout rising for a mayfly