by | Jan 4, 2022 | 0 comments

Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone and with it came the biggest snowstorm we have witnessed in almost twelve months. Tonight, the skies have cleared and the thermometer is reading -15 below; come morning it will be darn cold outside. Winter has arrived in Yellowstone Country, no doubt about it, and our snowpack(snow water equivalent) in Hebgen Basin has leveled out as of Jan 5th, at 109%. A welcomed sight this is and yet we still offer snow dances to usher in more of the white stuff needed to keep the rivers full of cold, clean water. Fortunately, we have plenty of time for that as the biggest snow months are yet to come.

As we enter our sixth year of operating here in West Yellowstone, we’d like to thank each and every one of you for your continued support of our businesses. From the get-go, we have sought to build relationships with both our customers and staff, it’s the most important thing we can do and in times like this; connecting with each other over the Great Outdoors really does matter. Thank you, for allowing us to become your friends and trusting us to make sure you’re well taken care of. We would not be here without you!

As they say, “time flies when you’re having fun”. BSA initially began in 2004 in my garage. Jonathan and Justin were running their own fishing businesses, both here in Yellowstone Country and in Patagonia. Then came the big expansion in 2016 when J3 joined forces to create the business which resides at 39 Madison Ave. Next came the Golden Stone Inn – a place for anglers to congregate, fish, relax, enjoy a bottle of wine, and settle into our way of life. Along the way, most of you have met and or fished with Steve Hoovler. Hoovie, as we call him, has been an integral part of BSA from the get-go, working on marketing behind the scenes, on the floor at the fly shop, hosting anglers on international trips, or on the oars guiding anglers. Near the end of 2021 we asked Hoovie to become a partner at Big Sky Anglers and he accepted without hesitation. For the past five years, J3 has been running the show, from here on out, it’s J4! Steve’s real name is John Steven Hoovler, so it’s fitting that J3 has evolved into J4. Things will pretty much stay the same around here – customer service is our number one goal and that will not change. Expect to see a little less of Steve in the middle seat of the drift boat and a little more of him in the fly shop. Jonathan, Justin, and I could not be more excited to welcome Hoovie to the team.

We started off the 2021 season with a less-than-ideal snowpack and a Hebgen Lake that never quite got to full pond. Nonetheless, by the middle of May, our fishing season got rolling along and we never had time to look back. Before we knew it, our guide staff was running the Madison, Henry’s Fork, YNP, Hebgen Lake, and the Missouri River and the shop was as busy as we have ever seen it. We are so fortunate to have an amazing, talented staff like that hustling for us. Without them, Big Sky Anglers would not be what it is. From the fly shop to the guide staff, and over at the Golden Stone Inn these guys and gals put their nose to the grindstone and got after it. They pulled long hours for weeks on end with hardly a complaint. Summer rolled on with enough Salmonflies, Green Drakes, PMDs, caddis, hoppers, ants and Callibaetis to keep everyone on their toes. Smoke filled the skies early on this season and we didn’t see a drop of rain from the third week of May until sometime in late July. Hoot Owl closures hit in early July, but everyone just rolled with the punches, getting up early and making the most of what Mother Nature provided us. We live at nearly 7000’ and operate with a diversity of watersheds to fish on like no other place. The Henry’s Fork of the Snake really shined this past season and we can’t thank the good folks at The Henry’s Fork Foundation, for their dedication over the past thirty-eight years, without the HFF the Fork truly would not be what it is today.

At the Golden Stone Inn we welcomed a new General Manager, Makenzy Graham. We’re lucky to have Makenzy and her talented staff at the GSI who create a warm, welcoming home away from home environment, conveniently located in our quiet corner of West Yellowstone. Our angling packages continue to be a popular option for visiting anglers, and we love seeing so many groups return year after year.

At Big Sky Anglers we are truly passionate about teaching and sharing what we have learned on our own angling journeys. We were fortunate to be able to bring in a couple of fabulous instructors/anglers this past year to help everyone up their own game on the water. George Daniel’s Euro Nymphing class and Simon Gawesworth’s multi-day Spey Casting School were both enlightening and inspiring to all those who were able to attend.

Our Trout Spey Days event in September brought together an energetic group of passionate folks with incredible instructors like Simon Gawesworth, Ed Ward, Eric Neufeld, and our own Matt Klara, and industry reps with all the coolest Spey gear to try out, for we can only describe as “a dang good time”.

We are excited to continue offering these teaching/learning events in 2022 with another Euro Nymphing class led by George Daniel and an all-new, multi-day Trout Spey casting and guided fishing retreat/school featuring Simon Gawesworth of Flywater Travel and a host of instructors and guides from Big Sky Anglers. We’ve even got a few new ideas up our sleeves that will continue the fun traditions that have been established at our past Trout Spey Days events.

As 2021 was ending the angling community had quite a scare when the dam at Hebgen Lake suffered an equipment failure resulting in a sudden and drastic reduction of flows. We are eternally grateful for all of the volunteers that immediately rallied to rescue fish stranded by the low flows. Countless trout, white fish, sculpins, and stoneflies were saved, and we feel extremely fortunate that the weather wasn’t colder, and the flows were restored quickly. The situation could certainly have been far worse, and we are hopeful that the long-term effects will be minimal and limited to a small portion of the fishery.

Looking ahead to 2022 we can’t wait to welcome everyone back to Big Sky Country, and create more great memories in the shop, on the water, and at the Golden Stone Inn.

We are beyond thankful that Patagonia has reopened, and all of our partner operations in the south are enjoying a great start to their summer season. We have trips running south throughout the winter, and we will be busy outfitting traveling anglers with all of the right gear for their trips. Stay tuned for reports from Argentina and Chile as the season progresses.

Warm salty air and the thrill of migratory tarpon are calling from Cuba, and we cannot wait to return to the Jardines de la Reina on another Mothership trip this April. We are hosting a group of intrepid anglers, for what has become an annual trip for us, to this pristine saltwater ecosystem for the tarpon migration.

Our whole guide team is on board for 2022, in addition to the smiling faces of Donovan, Jared, Nichole, Nicholas, Earl, Mike, Miles, Marshall, Chris, Tano, Mickey, Travis, Greg, Mike, Ray and John you will see a couple of new additions to our team: Colton Schofield and Tyler Treece, both great fishing guides that come with a wealth of experience guiding anglers in this neck of the woods.

We are excited to keep in touch with all of the Big Sky Anglers out there and share the countless things that we love about fly fishing. Keep an eye on your inbox and in your social media feed for weekly content from the BSA team throughout 2022 from Big Sky Country, Patagonia, and beyond.

On behalf of myself, Jonathan, Justin, Steve, and the rest of the BSA family, we want to wish everyone a healthy and prosperous 2022. We look forward to seeing you soon!