406-646-7801

HCR

by | Mar 25, 2011 | 0 comments

Looking West to Montana

“There are four lines which twist and turn their way through this part of the country mirroring each other along the way.   From this little spot in the world, one can see all four at the same time.”  
 
–  E. Tips on Howard Creek Ranch
  
 An old friend of mine pointed this out to me around the campfire, late one evening at this very place in October of 1999.  After my Missouri River years, college and a short stint guiding in Utah; I found myself back in Montana working for a flyshop again.   It was getting on into Fall and I had lived out of the shell of my pick-up all summer long, only paying for a storage unit and gasoline.   Pretty damn cheap way to live and since my rig was my home, I wandered around SW Montana and Eastern Idaho spending the night at boat ramps, flyshop parking lots, the A Bar, the Burnt Hole, $3 and various other locales.  The cold weather had already arrived and the truck bed was getting a little nippy at 6600 feet.  Joel B and I had been fishing the park all day and since he was living at HCR and we worked together, I was offered the couch by the wood stove for night…..which ended up being a week.  This place was hard to leave, as I was made to feel at home right away.
  
 
 

Centennial Field

 

The Ranch had to close down for the winter before it froze up, so I headed into West Yellowstone to spend the next few weeks couch surfing in a buddy’s trailer and swinging flies on the Madison in YNP.   Trailer life is a requirement which all fishing guides fulfill at some point in their career, especailly in this neck of the woods.   It took 6 seasons  in West Yellowstone to get trailer life out of my system.   The big brown doublewide above is where I laid my head  at Howard Creek.   Wiffle ball is still a past time at the ranch.  Yep, hit it over that brown wall and ya got a dinger.  That old wooden spool was the strike zone and the hole was filled with two empty beer cans, which if rattled while at bat, meant you were out….for good….back to shaggin’ balls or sitting on the fence drinking beers.
 

The old Cruiser and Lavro. Great rigs.

  
  
Over the years, Howard Creek Ranch became more of a Home for Wayward Fishing Guides.   If you know someone who lived at the ranch at anypoint in the last 20 years, then the door is always open.  The ranch is 15 miles from the Madison, 15 from the Henry’s Fork, 15 to Hebgen, 13 from West Yellowtone, 16 from Last Chance and 2 miles from Henry’s.  The perfect distance from everything.   Every flyshop in the area has at least two employees who did their time here…..some more than others.   There isn’t one night during the summer months that a beer isn’t cracked open, horse shoes aren’t thrown, flies aren’t tied and stories aren’t told.   The daily fishing reports coming out of the horse shoe pit are something to be in the presence of, especially of you are trying to make a living from the rower’s seat of a driftboat.  I planned many a guide trip on the advice spewed out while throwing shoes, comparing notes and drinking beers. 
 

 

Summer colors on the ranch.

 
 There was always something going on, some kind of project, something to learn while at the ranch.   We have redone the White House, raised chickens, fashioned a potato launcher, buried bird dogs and helped keep the place looking clean and loved.  The only thing that might top all the projects would be a wedding on the ranch.  Big ideas of flyshops and lodges have been dreamed up, but never fully hatched.  Most of my business was created while living here and those plans have worked out thus far.   The lessons learned around this place run deep and most likely molded all who spent time here, whether they knew it or not.   After my departure from living on the ranch, there isn’t day I drive by that place without stopping in for a beer or staying on for dinnner and horseshoes.  Life has changed very little around Howard Creek.  Maybe that is why is still feel like home…..to us all.

Ready for the day. Madison River.

Categories

Archives

  • by bigskyanglers 2 hours ago
    If you show up at the shore of a lake to fish and this is going on, you had better
  • by bigskyanglers 2 weeks ago
    New Fishing Report Our weekly report is now live on the Blog. Link in Bio. If you'd like the report
  • by bigskyanglers 2 weeks ago
    Mandatory Sphinx Mountain photo headed up the Madison Valley today. Things are greening up.  #bigskyanglers   #montanaflyfishing   #sphinxmountain   #getoutside 
  • by bigskyanglers 1 week ago
    It's always fun and rewarding to show a young person a fun day on the water.  #bigskyanglers   #takeakidfishing   #guidedfishing   #teach 
  • by bigskyanglers 2 days ago
    Long time customer and good friend Luca  @luca .cousins2 with a beauty brown on the dry while fishing with BSA guide
  • by bigskyanglers 2 weeks ago
    Kyle from SC with a dandy while fishing with BSA guide Chris Daniel  @mt406shooter  ... The weather has been absolutely
  • by bigskyanglers 5 days ago
     @jonheames  with a solid bend in his fly rod. Most anglers would be surprised at how guides fight a fish
  • by bigskyanglers 3 days ago
    Picture perfect. Enjoy the weekend, everyone.  #bigskyanglers   #tgif   #getoutside   #flyfishing   #thetotalexperience 
  • by bigskyanglers 3 weeks ago
    Adding custom engraving to a reel like the Tibor Riptide that will last a fishing lifetime (or 2, or 3)
  • by bigskyanglers 2 weeks ago
    Opening day in the Park was a mix of flawless sunshine, sparse PMDs, friendly people, and some willing trout. Summer
  • by bigskyanglers 1 week ago
    Magic moments.  #dryfly   @bigskyanglers   #bigskyanglers  :  @jonheames  trout ninja:  @m .jonesflyfishing
  • by bigskyanglers 4 days ago
    New Fishing Report It's feeling more like July than June at the moment and runoff seems to have peaked. The
  • by bigskyanglers 2 weeks ago
    Sawyer and his new Shorthair pup stoped by for a visit a few days ago. Does it get any better
  • by bigskyanglers 2 weeks ago
    Our recent hosted trip to Cuba aboard the JA III is still fresh in our memory bank. We are heading
  • by bigskyanglers 3 weeks ago
    ⚡ Fishing Report ⚡ Just in time for the YNP and Henry's Lake openers, and the appearance of the major
  • by bigskyanglers 1 week ago
    Ron and Bruce from Massachusetts proved they can switch fishing gears without a problem. They got back from our recent
  • by bigskyanglers 2 weeks ago
    First time fly anglers Nicole and Brian learned a ton, made some memories, and got hooked on a recent guided
  • by bigskyanglers 6 days ago
    For 2021 we up the fly game here at BSA. We’ve brought in new jigs, streamers and our favorites -
  • by bigskyanglers 24 hours ago
    It takes a special type of person to get fired up about a critter like this. Do you know this
  • by bigskyanglers 2 weeks ago
    A few of the guides got together last night and practiced their asado skills in the name of good times.