Who We Are
Fly Fishing Always is Rick Thomas, Outfitter-Guide, Booking & Reservations. John Foust (now retired) Professional Guide, Elna Foust Booking & Reservations. We also use some of the valley’s best independent guides. At Fly Fishing Always we believe in guides working on their home waters. We live, work and play in and on the Bitterroot. Our guides are independent contractors and work with various outfitters and may not always be available to us. Please book early if you have a specific guide you would like to fish with, and we will do our best to accommodate your wishes.
Our goal is to create the best possible fishing experience for our clients. We cater to the seasoned, as well as the first time angler. We try to match clients with guides for the best possible experience. We are using a wide variety of guides with their own unique personalities, all of whom are skilled boatmen, anglers, and teachers.
The Bitterroot River is a freestone river with its headwaters in the upper end of the Bitterroot Valley, just west of the Continental Divide. The Bitterroot River flows north through the valley and into the Clark Fork of the Columbia River, west of Missoula. Our river is about 98 miles long including the east & west forks. We have many varieties of trout including Rainbow, Brown & West Slope Cutthroat. Our aquatic insects? BUGS BUGS LOTS OF GOOD BUGS
Catch & Release
At Fly Fishing Always we promote and practice Catch & Release and the use of barbless or pinched barb hooks. I believe pinching your barb is more important than ever. With the increase in popularity of fly fishing and the use of larger attractor patterns we are seeing an increasing number of damaged fish. The larger patterns almost always get lodged in the corner of a trout’s mouth. This makes it almost impossible to release a trout on a barbed hook without doing some damage to the trout. Some argue that it is more damaging to the trout to use a barbless hook than a barbed. If you don’t pinch already please try it for a season and judge for yourself. This is a natural fishery and we want to keep it that way.
There haven’t been any fish stocked or introduced in this river since the late 40’s. Our fish are all stream bred. There are several sections of the river that are designated Catch & Release, and it is mandatory Catch & Release for Bull Trout & Cutthroat Trout. With these special regulations, education, and voluntary Catch & Release, our fishery is holding its own, and improving in some areas.
Always wet hands before handling a fish & try to keep the fish in the water. Do not squeeze the fish as you can easily cause internal injury. If a fish wiggles you can’t hold it without injuring it, LET IT GO. We all like pictures, however when taking them try to compose your shot before you lift the fish. Cradle the fish in the palm of your hands, lift the fish, take your picture and get the fish back in the water. Always hold the fish over the water so if it squirms loose it falls back into the water. When releasing and reviving a fish, keep it in the water, keep one hand back near the tail and the other cradling the belly. Make sure to keep your hands back from the gill plates so the fish can breath. Always point the fish upstream into the current, work the fish back and forth in the current until it catches its breath and then let it swim away. Always try to release the fish in a slower current. A fish that has been handled properly has a greater chance of survival. PLEASE DON’T SQUEEZE THE FISH!
The Bitterroot Valley is just west of the Continental Divide and about halfway between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. The beautiful Bitterroot Valley is 96 miles long and 25 miles wide. We have the rugged peaks of the Bitterroot Rockies on the west side and the rolling Sapphire Mountains on the east. Hamilton is the largest town in the Bitterroot Valley with a population of around 5,000. Missoula has the closest commercial airport about 46 miles north and Hamilton has its own smaller airport with a 3,638 ft. elevation and a 4,200-foot paved runway. Lodging is not a problem in the valley; we have motels, many great Bed & Breakfasts, wonderful lodges, and even an Orvis-endorsed Lodge that is a member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux, Triple Creek Ranch.