Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I get to Blue Damsel Lodge?
We are located on Rock Creek, in the Lolo National Forest, 43 minutes from Missoula International Airport, which is where you want to fly into. Airport shuttles and daily transfers to fishing destinations are provided in our fly fishing packages, so you won’t need a car.
- What airlines fly into Missoula?
Missoula is served by United (through Chicago, Denver and San Francisco), Delta (through Atlanta, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City), and Horizon/Alaska Airlines through Seattle.
- How will the trip from the airport to the lodge be made?
You will be met at baggage claim by a professional member of our staff and transported to the lodge in one of our comfortable, modern vehicles.
- What is the drive like from the airport to the lodge?
We are about 20 minutes east of Missoula on I-90, then 10 miles up Rock Creek Road, which is paved all the way to just beyond the lodge. The trip up I-90 will take you along the Clark Fork River, past the confluence with The Big Blackfoot, and to the confluence of Rock Creek. The drive up the creek takes 20 minutes (30 MPH), but that gives you a chance to take in some of the spectacular scenery and view the wildlife. You will commonly see deer, big horn sheep, moose, bald eagles, and osprey. Our drivers are very familiar with the area and history. Questions are encouraged!
- What waters do you fish?
We have 4 prime trout rivers, with about 400 river miles within our range. These are the Bitterroot, The Big Blackfoot, the Clark Fork (of the Columbia), and of course, Rock Creek.
- What can I do to maximize my fishing experience?
Communication with your guide and lodge personnel prior to heading off to the river is unquestionably the most important component of a successful trip. Everyone has differing opinions and expectations of what constitutes a good day on the water. For many it really comes down to numbers of fish in the boat, in which case you need to go wherever and fish with whatever the guide suggests – remembering that always, unquestionably – no one in the boat wants to see more fish than the guide. Other guests may want to fish only to rising fish, still others might rather catch 5 fish over 18″ than 25 under 13”, for others, it may be some aspect of instruction, etc. Letting us know what you would really like to experience will help your guide put you on the water that has the best chance of producing that result.
- How do you typically fish?
We typically float the big rivers (Blackfoot, Bitterroot and Clark Fork) in MacKenzie style drift boats or comfortable, 3 person framed rafts. Floating these rivers is recommended by guides because it’s just a very productive way to fish our waters, can be done by anglers of all skill and physical levels, and provides some fantastic scenery. Rock Creek is reserved for wade fishing after June 30, so that, and spring creeks in the area are where we do most of our guided wade fishing. For wade fishing enthusiasts, another option is to push thru some sections on float trips, and stop and wade fish others. Your guide will always have opinions and recommendations, and will be eager to hear your input. With so much water, we can often customize the experience.
- How much dry fly fishing?
Most of our fishing is with dry flies. Our part of Montana is well known for prolific hatches of aquatic insects. With so much water on 4 different rivers, there are obviously more opportunities to find a hatch, and most guests prefer to dry fly fish. We do expect there to be hatches, therefore at least fair dry fly fishing, just about every day of our season. At certain times on any given day, there will likely be runs that nymphing is just more productive., or running a dry fly with a nymph dropper. And certain stretches, at certain times, just have to be worked with a streamer to maximize your chance of catching a big trout. Your guide will explain options and recommendations as they change, and it’s always your choice.
- What species can I expect to catch, how many, and what size?
The fish-Our rivers contain healthy populations of rainbows, browns, native west slope cutthroats, and, in smaller streams, some brook trout. All these fish are wild-no stocking has been done in Montana for over 30 years. Although we don’t target the protected bull trout, this voracious char is sometimes impossible to keep from attacking a streamer or struggling trout-bonus fish!
Quantity-although we really don’t think numbers have much to do with a good day fishing, we feel that an average of 20 strikes per angler per day is a realistic goal. How many of those you get to the net is between you and the fish. And, of course, some days are just off the chart and some are just slow. Usually it’s more a matter of where you happened to fish that day, and it’s always changing. Particularly when things change, its not uncommon for that 20 fish average to remain, but individual counts to vary significantly around that average.
Size-there are a lot of healthy 14”-17” trout in our waters and that makes up a fair number of the daily catches, and comprise our honest average. A good number of fish in the 18”-20’ range are caught and you should catch some of them also. Anything above 20” is a big trout and not caught by everyone, but a number of them are brought to net and you have an excellent chance of getting into a 20 incher on any given day of our season.
- What are the drive times for fishing?
Drive times average a little over an hour each way. In order to have our pristine surroundings, we are a 20 minute ride, up the creek, from the highway. Then, depending which river you are fishing that day, an average of a little over 40 minutes to the put-in. On either end of the extreme, you can travel a little over 2 hours to reach the farthest removed stretches that we fish, or you can spend the day wade fishing Rock Creek from out back-zero travel time. Like every other trade-off, if travel time is an issue, we expect to always be able to provide a closer alternative. It just may not be the first recommendation that day.
- Please give me a step-by-step. How does a typical fishing day lay out?
The night before each fishing day, usually at cocktail hour, we will announce breakfast time, your departure time, and plan for the day. These times don’t vary widely from day to day, but they do progress throughout the season. We will then wake you at your requested time, serve breakfast and drive you to meet your fishing guide. Your guide will transport you and your fishing companion to the put-in, get you rigged up-and you’re off. Your guide will have plenty of bottled water and sodas and will stop, set a table, and prepare a tasty, filling shore lunch. Your day on the river will average 8-9 hours. Your guide will have arranged a shuttle to have his vehicle waiting at your take out, and he will bring you back to the lodge or a prearranged meeting place in time for cocktail hour. We are usually able to keep to a pretty close schedule, but sometimes things change on the river and some guests come back early or choose to fish late. No worries-first, we plan the meal schedule around the fishing schedule and second, no one has gone hungry yet, regardless of when they show up.
- Are alcoholic beverages provided on guided trips?
Neither the lodge nor your guide can provide alcoholic beverages for your consumption while fishing. If you’d like a beer or something with your shore lunch, we will be happy to stop for you on the way to the put-in, but please remember, your safety is our first concern
- Can I keep any fish?
We very much encourage catch and release fishing and, on guided days, that is the rule. There is a legal limit of a few small brown trout that can be taken by self-guided wade fishers on Rock Creek, so you have the right to do that.
- What’s the best time of year to come?
Although we truly expect good fishing throughout our season, weather plays an important part. Fishing is very good in spring and fall and very few anglers are on the rivers. Our pre-runoff spring fishing usually produces the biggest fish of the year (mid March through third week of April.) The last week in April through the last week in May, we are typically not booking fishing packages, due to the rainbow/cuttthroat spawn and then runoff. Late May and early June are usually booked by those chasing that epic salmon fly hatch. It’s hard to hit and may flirt with runoff, but if you hit it, you never forget it. Early summer (mid June thru mid July) is the most popular time and books up fast, because it’s summer vacation and the weather is just about always great. The fishing in late July and early August is dependent on how long the snow pack lasts. If mother nature doesn’t cooperate, it means very warm weather and increasing water temps. This translates into early fishing. We do not anticipate full river closures, but if closures from 2:00 PM until midnight are implemented, it occurs in late July or early August. By mid August, shortened days translate into lowered water temps and the fishing gets better and better, maybe still earlier in the day. Very late August and early September is the time of year we expect good dry fly fishing all day-little bugs in the morning and big bugs all afternoon (hoppers). Fall fishing (Sept-mid October) is our second most popular time.
So, the short version is, we expect good fishing throughout our season. Spring and fall can provide some cold weather if its overcast or rainy. Late summer can mean very early fishing, but probably in shorts and sandals.
- What should I expect regarding the weather?
The 4 rivers area of western Montana has a lot of clear days with corresponding great weather, but, especially if it is rainy or overcast, the air temperature can be cold any day of the season. This possibility has to be anticipated, especially in spring and fall, when the right gear may prove to be essential to comfort. It rarely rains during the summer, but you must be prepared for the possibility of quite cool mornings or a rare afternoon thunderstorm. Typically, we will be fishing much earlier in the late summer, and shorts and sandals are most comfortable.
- How do I get a fishing license?
You can get one in advance, on line at: https://app.mt.gov/Als/Index
Or, we plan time to stop to get them when we pick you up at the airport, or we can get it on line for you at the lodge
- What are the qualifications of your guides?
To maximize client safety and guide proficiency, all guides must be licensed by the state of Montana and must be sponsored by an outfitter.. Outfitters are responsible for the qualifications of the guide and their reputation is on the line every day to make the right choice. The testing and ongoing requirements to be an outfitter are substantial. All of our guided fishing is done by licensed Montana guides through licensed Montana Outfitters. Most of our trips are run though John Herzer’s Blackfoot River Outfitters. The reputation of this long standing business speaks for itself. This outfitter and these trips are endorsed by Orvis when run for our lodge. Occasionally, because of availability or special permitting for a specific trip, we use other licensed outfitters, but the same rigorous standards and testing apply. We know the individual strengths and interests of our guides and consideration of that and client interests and proficiency goes into planning each guided trip.
- How many does the lodge accommodate?
Optimal accommodations are 10 guests, However, by request for a group, our maximum capacity is 14.
- When are meal times?
Meal times vary according to the planned fishing schedule. Typically, we plan breakfast for 45 minutes before scheduled fishing departure. Appetizers and an open bar will greet you upon your return from fishing, while dinner is being prepared. Gourmet dinners are served at the table by our courteous staff from a revolving menu. Your guide will have a few spots planned for your shore lunch-depending on when you are ready for lunch. If we are fishing very early (often in late summer), our guests prefer our “breakfasts-to-go”. We wake you with juice and coffee and a nice breakfast sandwich, fruit, granola bars, etc are ready for you to take with you.
- What if I have a special diet or health restrictions?
You are provided with a “personal questionnaire” before your travel date, for this purpose. Please use this, or just call or e-mail with any and all health concerns or dietary restrictions we should be aware of. As long as we know in advance, our chef can accommodate any special diets, and we will inform your guide as well.
- What clothes are recommended for the lodge?
Casual and comfortable is recommended. Most guests shower and change before dinner, but some fish Rock Creek until they hear the dinner bell and shed their waders at the door. It often cools down quite a bit in the evenings, even in late summer. Weather permitting, we often build a campfire in the outdoor fire pit, so something warm to put on after dinner is recommended, The occasional after dinner “campfire concerts” and story telling is something that most guests enjoy greatly.
- What other activities are available?
Hiking and wildlife viewing are available right from the lodge (We are located in the Lolo National Forest and the Welcome Creek Wilderness Area is right across Rock Creek.) If someone wants to take a planned day off from guided fishing, with advance notice, we can help you arrange horseback riding, white water rafting, golf, or a rental car for shopping trips, or day trips, to Missoula and Philipsburg (Missoula is the home of the Smoke Jumpers Visitor Center and the world headquarters of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Philipsburg is a popular tourist destination with lots of nice shops. You will want to stop in at Flint Creek Outdoors and the jewelry store that helps you pan for sapphires.)
- What is your policy on children?
There is no age limit per-se. If the child has an interest in being at a fly fishing lodge in the wilderness, and is comfortable at the dinner table with adult anglers, they are most welcome. We want to assure the experience will be great for everyone, including the child and our other guests. It’s good to see kids share some “big people” time and topics, and it’s great to see the “big people” enjoy this as well. We don’t get a lot of children, but are a popular couple’s destination, so expect a relaxed, courteous, down-home atmosphere where, again, anyone who wants to be here is welcome by all.
- What if I don’t have something that I need?
We have an Orvis endorsed pro shop with all the basics-anything you forgot, or have been meaning to get but haven’t, is available. (Remember, on guided days, your flies are provided and your guide is tying them on and dressing them) Loaner and demo rods and reels are available at no charge, and we always have a supply of toiletries and first aid items. We are just 40 minutes from Missoula and plan on getting to town just about every day. It is a fly fishing mecca and shopping destination, so, just about anything you need is available-a credit card is all you really need!
- What are the check-in/check-out times?
In order to prepare the rooms for the next arrival, we ask that you vacate your room by 11:00 AM on your departure day, and, we will have it ready for you by 2:00PM at check in. You are welcome to arrive and depart Missoula Airport on a schedule convenient to you, and are encouraged to get here with some daylight remaining to see the surroundings and do a little self guided fishing on Rock Creek out back. We just may not be able to get you in your room before 2:00 PM, but there are places to store your gear and change-snacks are available and the bar is always open.
- How is the lodge laid out?
The main floor includes the kitchen, dining room, sitting area with fireplace, a restroom, and egress to outside decks. The lower level has the TV/computer lounge, Pro Shop, and 3 bedrooms. The upper level has 3 bedrooms. The Lewis and Clark Cabin sits adjacent to the main lodge and is the 7th bedroom. It is larger and has more privacy than the main lodge, but the bath room is not as big (shower instead of shower in Jacuzzi tub). A mud room and pegs on the lower deck are provided for wet warders and so you can leave your rod strung up if you want.
- Does my cell phone work at the lodge?
No cell service is available up Rock Creek. You will be able to get cell service on the road as you leave and return to the lodge daily, and feel free to provide the lodge main number to your contacts (406-825-3077). For routine calls in the continental USA, feel free to use either of the 2 lodge lines. For international calls or extended business long distance, we ask that you use a credit card or purchase one of our long distance cards at cost.
- Do you have internet access? TV?
Yes, we have satellite TV and high speed wireless internet access, so bring your lap top (if you must, remember, it is your vacation!)
- Is there anything I should be aware of from a safety perspective?
Although the lodge is modern, comfortable and safe we are located in a vast wildernessand, with a competent, licensed guide, you will be fishing wild rivers. We will provide you with safety reminders at a brief orientation upon arrival. The primary safety awareness regards wildlife, cold flowing water, and sometimes fire hazard. We have no rattlesnakes or grizzly bear in our drainage (so far), but visitors to Montana should be aware that a close up photo of a moose, though tempting, is not advised-they are dangerous if provoked or pressured. At certain times of the year, hyperthermia is a danger that can be avoided by having the right, warm gear. During drought years, we implement fire restrictions-we may not be able to have an outdoor fire.
- How much does it cost to stay and fish at the lodge?
6 night/ 5 day fly fishing package——- $3900
5 night./4 day fly fishing package——–$3375
4 night./3 day fly fishing package——–$2700
3 night./3 day fly fishing package——–$2025
(subject to change unless secured by deposit)
These prices are per person, based on double occupancy and fishing 2:1 with a guide. Single occupancy is available by request, for a $100/night supplemental rate. If you want to fish one on one with a guide (or have to because of an odd number in your group), the supplemental price is $250.00/person/guided day. If that’s the case, we won’t charge for single occupancy. Also, any days you want to take off from guided fishing (or for a non-fishing companion) reduce the price by the same $250.00/ (non) guided day.
- What is included in the price?
All of our fly fishing packages include ground transportation to and from Missoula Airport, accommodations, maid service, all meals, guided fly fishing, transportation to/from fishing destinations, use of loaner rods and reels, use of facility and grounds and access to National Forest and Rock Creek.
Additional costs, not included in the package price include:
fishing license– currently $25 for 2 consecutive days, $53.50 for 10 consecutive days, or $70 for the season. This includes the $10 conservation license. Youth under the age of 15 do not need a license if accompanied by a licensed adult
Montana Accommodations Tax– $8.05/guest/night for double occupancy and $13.09/guest/night with the single occupancy upgrade.
Tips (see below)
Other exclusions: international or excessive business long distance (but calls home to check on things or brag on how much fun you are having are encouraged!), special liquor or wine (we provide a good selection of wines that you would expect to pay $40-$60 per bottle for in a restaurant), or any items you may select from our gift and pro shops.
- Who should I tip and how much?
You should plan on tipping your fishing guide and the lodge staff. Tips are purely discretionary, but as a guideline, $100/ day for the guide (2 guests per guide) and $100/ guest total for the lodge staff is our recommendation. A range may be more appropriate and that would be $80-$100/day for the guide( split by two anglers) and $20-$25/guest per day for lodge staff. We pool lodge staff tips, so that, along with any pro shop purchases, can easily be paid at check out, by check or major credit card. It’s best to plan on tipping guides in cash at the end of your fishing day, but if it’s more convenient (or necessary as in the cast of corporate clients) to tip guides at checkout, we can accommodate that as well. If Guide tips or purchases at other stores are added to your checkout statement, we prefer you pay by check. We can charge your credit card, and reimburse the guide or vendor, but we will need to add a 5% surcharge to handle processing and payment.
- What is needed to book a trip and hold the reservation?
We ask for a 50% deposit at the time of booking and balance paid 45 days before your scheduled arrival. This deposit can be paid by check, or with your verbal authorization, by credit card. Upon receipt, we will forward a deposit receipt and confirmation letter. We will remind you when balance is due.
- What is your refund policy?
Due to limited space and a short season, the full deposit is not refundable. Therefore trip protection insurance is strongly advised. The complete policy is stated below, on your confirmation letter, and on the info/rates tab on our website.
Terms, Conditions & Cancellation Policy:
A deposit of 50% of the package price per person secures a reservation; balance is due 45 days prior to scheduled arrival. We will notify you prior to due date & timely payment assures selected dates will be held. Deposit is refundable, less a cancellation fee of 25 % of the package price, if written cancellation is received by Orion Adventures 60 days prior to scheduled arrival. Thereafter, deposit and balances are non-refundable. Trip may be assigned to a new, approved client, or, with 45 days advance notice & subject to availability, rescheduled during same season Additional costs for the trip selected above, include, but are not limited to, airfare to Missoula, MT, fishing license, gratuities, pro shop purchases, unusual long distance, special drinks, and “ bed tax”. Per person package prices provide for 1 guide per 2 clients, unless otherwise specified as 1×1 guided. Guided fishing packages are for float or wade trips on the Blackfoot, Clark Fork, and/or Bitterroot and/or wade trips on Rock Creek. Due to special permits, float trips on Rock Creek must be arranged in advance, are limited in number, must be taken by June 30, and involve a per day supplemental charge. All guided fishing done through licensed Montana outfitters. Room check in is 2:00 PM, and check out is 11:00 AM on the day of departure
- What does it take to be an Orvis endorsed fly fishing lodge?
Blue Damsel Lodge is currently one of only 46 elite fly fishing lodges in the entire world to carry the official endorsement of Orvis.
So what does it take to earn this coveted endorsement? We’ll let Orvis answer this one:
“Since 1989, Orvis has had stringent criteria each lodge must live up to in order to be endorsed. These three key criteria are resources, hospitality and the lodge itself. To make certain these standards are met, each lodge is visited by an Orvis associate. This allows for a first hand evaluation, so we know personally what you can expect on your visit.”
Resources include the natural habitat you’ll fish, and the quality of the guide staff. Orvis looks for quality habitat that provides plenty of varied water and aquatic insects, and a professional guide staff to match.
Personality also goes a long way with Orvis’ second criteria: hospitality. Orvis looks for owners, guides, staff and hosts who are committed to pleasing you and meeting your needs promptly and graciously throughout your stay. They must be friendly, as well as professional and knowledgeable in their given field, whether they are guides or wait staff. Their attention to detail and personable attitude will make your stay memorable and enjoyable. Good service is the priority. We want to make you feel that you are the most important guest our endorsed lodge has ever had stay with them.
The third criteria to be met by an Orvis-endorsed lodge is the lodge itself, and its facilities. An Orvis-endorsed lodge must be a place to which you look forward to returning following a long day of fishing. The lodge must offer a welcoming blend of exceptional comfort and elegance, and an impressive sportsman’s setting with all the modern amenities. Expansive decks with world-class views are common to our endorsed lodges. And outstanding private rooms or cabins, replete with modern amenities, comfortable furnishings, and exquisite, appropriate decorations are the rule. The kitchens are also of the highest order. Each must be operated by seasoned chefs who create gourmet meals served in a dining room of exceptional ambience, and by affable professionals.
With Orvis-endorsed fly fishing lodges, you’ll enjoy fishing prime waters with fine, amiable guides. You’ll be greeted and served by experienced and personable staff and hosts. And you’ll relax in lodges of superior accommodations and ambience in some of the most spectacular landscapes you’ll ever visit. The meeting of these criteria makes Orvis-endorsed lodges an experience you’ll miss as soon as you leave.