Winter Thoughts of a West Yellowstone Fly Fishing Guide

by Jake Schilling February 01, 2020

By Jake Schilling, February 2020

Winter Thoughts of a West Yellowstone Fly Fishing Guide

Fly Fishing Guide Jake Schilling - Gallatin River Montana 

As we enter February, the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to get brighter.  As much as I enjoy cross-country skiing and tying flies, my half-hibernating mind keeps drifting back to my boat, the Dirty Oar.  If you run into me I'll show you the picture of what it looked like before it was repainted. The original artwork the previous owner had outfitted the boat with was both interesting and inappropriate.  

Soon it'll be time to pick up Dirty from Idaho Falls and start breaking in the new axle bearings.  As spring and summer approach, here are a few things on my mind, and a few things I'm excited for.  

  • Skijoring championship in West Yellowstone at the end of February.  If you don't know what skijoring is, click here to get an idea.  
  • Hoping to spend more time between Varney Bridge & Ennis Lake in March/April.  Last year the ice jams were so rough enough that by the time you could (safely) launch a boat, the upper section was on fire and I had no reason to float past Storey.
  • Fly Fishing with Hoppers?  Last year was nuts, more, please.
  • Rain on the Upper Madison River?  Got rain almost every afternoon in July last year, more, please. 
  • Fly Fishing Waders in July? God, I hope not.  
  • Anti-Madison River Foundation talks at the ramp?  You bet, come and say hi, I'll get you a sticker too.  
  • Las Palmitas taco bus.  I get more excited to see the bus open than I do for the first salmon fly.
  • Smith River.  My favorite annual vacation whether the fishing is good or not.  
  • Steelheading.  I'll be just another Montana guy in the locals’ way. 
  • Ring-toss.  Time for a beer, ring-toss, and James Brown on the jukebox at Bullwinkles after a long guide trip. 
  • Burgers, Mike knows
  • SiriusXM needs a Black Sabbath channel.  Ozzies Boneyard DOES NOT COUNT.  
  • Trout Spey on the Yellowstone River inside YNP.  Can't wait. Most folks there are dry-or-die or spin fisherman, which tends to open up the water I want to swing.  
  • Gulpers on Hebgen Lake? Sure, but would rather have outrageous hopper fishing in August like last season though.  
  • Ice-off on Hebgen Lake.  So much fun to be had ten minutes from town.  
  • Henry's Fork.  Worth it just for Frostop tots.
  • Does anyone else want the float stretch to start at Pine Butte?  Folks want us to spread out, this would help. Leave the wade stretch from Pine Butte back up to Quake.


Professional Fly Fishing Guide Jake Schilling

About Jake Schilling

At age 21 Jake moved to West Yellowstone from Missoula in May 2012. That first summer he spent two months living in a tent, before moving into a 1971 Lark camper until October.  After three years of part-time guiding, Jake moved into a full-time guide job with MRO.  During the winter he spends his time spey casting, midge fishing, steelhead fishing, and cross-country skiing while off work. Jake’s laid-back attitude and patience are unmatched, he loves taking the day slow; walking the boat and always having one more fly to try before moving on.

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Jake Schilling
Jake Schilling


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