In June, my family and I went on our annual vacation. Each year we rotate who selects where we will go on the trip. This year was my son’s turn and he selected Yellowstone National Park. As a family, we also decided to go fly fishing in the southwest corner of Montana since it was so close to Yellowstone. This is Montana’s Big Sky Country where legendary fly fishing is to be found. Numerous rivers flow through this breathtaking landscape that surrounds Bozeman, Montana. Rivers named the Madison, the Jefferson, the Gallatin, the Missouri, the Yellowstone, the Big Hole, and the Bitterroot flow through this corner of the state. We wanted to stay in a fly fishing lodge and have the full Montana experience. We began our search for the perfect fishing lodge by calling the local Bozeman fly shop Montana Troutfitters, who were quite helpful, as well as a thorough search on the Internet.
Through extensive research, we finally selected TroutChasers for a whole host of reasons. TroutChasers is located about 15 minutes outside of Bozeman on the Gallatin River. The Gallatin River flows north out of the near by mountains into the verdant green Gallatin River Valley below that is surrounded by six majestic mountain ranges. Jason and Julie Fleury are the owners of this full-service Montana fly fishing lodge and who manage all aspects of this lovely property that sits on 30 pristine acres on the banks of this beautiful wild river.
TroutChasers lodge is a beautifully constructed Montana ranch-style two-story lodge. The lodge features knotty pine paneled walls and pitched ceilings, a large river rock fireplace in the large common dining room, which is adjoined by a game room where you can play a game of pool or darts while enjoying a cocktail from the open bar. The lodge has a large great room that is tastefully decorated in a rustic country motif with cozy leather sofas and chairs with ottomans. This is where you can sit with a warm throw in front of a fire in the brick fireplace while reading a book, watching TV on the big flat screen, or listen to music. Beautiful bull elk trophy mounts are hung on the back wall in the great room, which where shot by Jason from the local area. The lodge has large picture windows that over look the expansive yard, trout-holding pond, and the snow capped Gallatin Mountain Range. The lodge has six well-appointed guest rooms with two beds. Each room has a private bath with a tub, wood burning stove or gas fireplace, and air conditioning. In addition to the main lodge, TroutChasers has available a three-bedroom home that has a fully supplied kitchen and a grill for families and large groups.
Before I get to far into my tale, I have to tell you about Loomis and Jackson. They are the welcoming committee who greet you at your car’s door with barks and wagging tails. They are Julie and Jason’s two Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and are father and son. Loomis and Jackson were our frequent companions during our three days at TroutChasers. We love dogs and found the two of them quite amusing. They would follow us down to the river to keep us company.
One day while we were down at the river, Loomis the yellow retriever, went into the river and began barking and digging at the water. My husband and I could not figure out what he was doing. After 10 or 15 minutes of constant concentration Loomis’ head pops up out of the depths of the river holding a river rock twice the size of a baseball! He proudly brought the rock to me and dropped it at my feet, shook off the excess water, and proceeded to bark at me nonstop. I made the assumption that he wanted me to do something with the rock so I threw it back into the river. Loomis looked at the river as the rock splashed into the water and disappeared. He slowly turned his gaze back to me with a look that said, “Hey lady, I just spent 10 minutes getting that rock for you and you throw it back?! Seriously now…” But Loomis continued to fetch rocks out of the river all afternoon. The dogs in Montana just don’t fetch tennis balls!
The lodge has a good amount of river front property. Guests may experience great dry fly fishing without even leaving the property. The river frontage has a large expanse of grass, which is encircled by aspens and cottonwoods. Guests can bring a picnic lunch and eat at the picnic table while watching the river flow by. Close to the river edge is a warming hut for guests to take a break and sit on the porch in the rockers, or warm themselves by the potbelly stove in the hut and drink hot chocolate. In addition, the property has the Cottonwood Creek flowing through it and has a stocked trout pond where guests can practice casting. It is truly peaceful!
Our first afternoon, my husband and I wondered the property and we stumbled upon a horseshoe pit. I can’t remember when I played horseshoes last. The horseshoes begged to be tossed. Of course my husband, who is awesome at bocce ball, beat me quite easily at horseshoes. We had a few good laughs as I pitched them too high, or too short, or too far outside of the pit. My son found a hammock, which he monopolized for a couple of hours while listening to his music and waiting for dinner. He was very content.
Speaking of food, guests of TroutChasers are fed robustly! Julie plans all the amazing meals for lodge guests, which she and her staff prepare. Breakfast is served buffet style, which includes eggs prepared in a variety of ways, waffles, fruit, juice, yogurt, hot and cold cereals, and a variety of toast and muffins. And of course, lots of coffee and tea!
For those who are going out with a guide for a full day of fly fishing, Julie packs a delicious picnic lunch which includes gourmet sandwiches, delicious and creative fresh salads, fresh fruit, chips, homemade cookies, and drinks.
Happy hour is an honored time at the lodge where guests can gather around the game room and bar and enjoy drinks and appetizers. During our 3 days at the lodge, Julie made quesadillas with chilies, bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and basil, and crab cakes with red pepper aioli.
Julie created wonderful dinner menus while we were at the lodge. On our first night we dined outside under their gazebo that overlooks the aspens and the creek. That evening Julie served us pork tenderloin stuffed with goat cheese and cherry chutney (recipe below), fresh string beans, mashed potatoes, and salad. And for dessert, we had homemade strawberry ice cream. Delicious!
The following nights we had equally delicious meals, which were herb encrusted barbequed beef tenderloin, and cedar plank grilled salmon. Dinners where served with fresh vegetables, salad, and rice, potatoes, or couscous. Julie and her staff really enjoy creating memorable desserts too. We enjoyed Tres Leche Cake and Berry Cake on the following two nights.
Each evening the staff lights the outdoor fire pit where guests can sit around the fire, finish their wine and visit, swap fishing stories, and enjoy the evening stars. Conveniently situated, fixins’ for som’mores can be found. Take a look at the contents of this basket! One can get pretty creative with their campfire marshmallow treat!
The lodge also has an outdoor hot tub that is always heated to the perfect temperature for spontaneous guests. My son and I took a soak on our first night. It was a great way for us to chat about our day’s events and anticipate tomorrow’s big fishing adventure.
Jason takes care of the guests’ fishing needs. He is a veteran fly fishing guide and knows the waters of his native state like they are old friends. Jason arranges for additional fly fishing guides to assist with all of his guests. His guides are some of the most seasoned fly fishing guides in the area. His guides can work with first time fly fishermen to the expert, and can help you improve your angling and casting skills, as well as teach you about stream entomology. For those fishermen who want an exclusive fly fishing environment, Jason can even arrange fishing on world-class water on private property.
TroutChasers has an onsite fly shop that is completely stocked with anything a fisherman would need. The three of us needed complete outfitting. Jason outfitted us with rods and reels, waders and boots, and our two-day fishing licenses. And, Jason arranged for us to be with Dane, our fishing guide for the next two days. Fishing guides provide the transportation to and from the river and use their own fishing boat. Guides also provide all the dry and wet flies, which Dane had tied the night before. It is quite a day of labor for a fishing guide…let me elaborate. After picking up their fishing guests that morning, they drive to the river towing the boat, launch the boat, row the whole day (both down and up the river at times), rig all the rods, continue to tie the flies on the end of the fly line all day, change the flies when they aren’t catching fish, instruct, detangle fly lines, net fish, serve lunch, make conversation with their guests, and then he drives home… and tie more flies for the following day! Normally, one fishing guide takes two people fishing…only two can fish at a time. Therefore, the boats are designed to only seat three people. But since we are a family of three we asked if we could fish together. Gratefully, Dane was willing to take the three of us. That meant an additional 125+ pounds in the boat that he had to row for the day. Dane was awesome! He worked so hard to get us on the fish!
On our first day with Dane he brought us to Paradise Valley where the wild Yellowstone River flows through. Paradise Valley is located just north of Yellowstone National Park. Paradise Valley is truly spectacular! It is surrounded by several mountain ranges that still had some snow on them during our June trip. The mountains are vivid green and the valley below is covered with green wheat fields, horse ranches, and with a wide and expansive river snaking through the landscape. It is truly unblemished beauty!
We had great success fishing that day. Collectively we caught over 30 fish out of the Yellowstone. We caught cutthroat, rainbow, browns, cutbow (a cross between cutthroat and rainbow), and white trout. We all caught large fish too, which measured from 18” to 22.” When fly fishing with a guide in Montana, all the fish caught are “catch and release.” This protects the native cutthroat trout as well as maintaining the health of the fish population and ensuring a future for this beautiful sport.
On our second day of fishing with Dane, he brought us to the Madison River, which is east of Bozeman and the Gallatin River. The sky was threatening to storm…it was just a matter of time. We wore waders and boots in preparation to get wet and cold. We caught a good amount of fish in this river as well. At one point, Dane anchored the boat over a gravel bar in the center of the river and jumped out of the boat to manually maneuver the boat to the perfect spot where my husband and I could fish the best holes. His hard work paid off; both of us landed a nice fish! Thanks Dane for two awesome days of great fishing and all your hard work!
TroutChasers is open year round for fishing but there are many other activities that guests can also participate in. During the summer guests can also enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, wild life viewing, and river rafting. In the fall, hunting is a big sport in Montana with world-class trophy elk, antelope, and deer in the nearby mountain ranges as well as a variety of upland and waterfowl birds. In the winter, the Bozeman area has three downhill ski resorts as well as cross-country trails. Snowmobiling is also very popular with miles and miles of trails.
TroutChasers did not disappoint. It was everything we had hoped to find in a Montana fly fishing lodge and so much more. It was comfortable, relaxing, unpretentious, beautiful; it simply had everything my family needed. Julie and Jason were the perfect hosts making us feel so welcome into their home and attending to all of our needs. It was truly, “Home Away from Home.” My sixteen-year-old son paid them the best compliment. He said on our last night at the lodge, “I wish we could just stay here longer. I really like it here!” All three of us agreed. But it was time to continue our trip to Yellowstone National Park where more adventures awaited. But we will definitely be going back to TroutChasers. Hopefully we can entice family and friends to join us. Thank you Julie and Jason for a fantastic vacation!
77017 Gallatin Rd.
Bozeman, Montana 59718
Office: (406) 763-9049
Jason’s cell: (406) 672-6656
PORK LOIN STUFFED WITH GOAT CHEESE AND CHERRY CHUTNEY
Cut a long slit lengthwise into the loin from end to end. Rub outside and inside of loin with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stuff goat cheese in the opening of the meat as well the cherry chutney. Place in a baking dish. NOTE: Any other sweet fruit chutney or jam can be substituted for cherry chutney
Bake pork loin in a 350 oven for 30 minutes and then continue checking until desired doneness. Let meat rest for 10 minutes and slice the meat into 1” slices. Transfer meat to serving platter and then spoon the pan dripping and extra chutney over the sliced meat then serve.