Frequently Asked Questions

TRAVEL

  • How do I get to Blue Damsel Lodge?

We are located on Rock Creek, in the Lolo National Forest, 38 miles southeast of Missoula International Airport, which is where you want to fly into. Driving; take Exit 126 on I-90 E, go approximately 10 miles up Rock Creek Road.

  • What airlines fly into Missoula?

Missoula is served by United, Delta, American, Alaska, Allegiant and Frontier Airlines.

A complete list is available at FlyMissoula.com

  • What are the rental car options?

Missoula has 7 Rental Car Agencies. A list is available at FlyMissoula.com

  • 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.

FISHING

  • What if I’ve never fly fished?

Not a problem. Our fishing packages include a free fly casting lesson on your arrival day and all of our guides are experts at teaching everyone in the techniques required to be successful on our waters. Beginners are always welcome.

  • 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, meeting place 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 you will drive to meet your fishing guide at the prearranged location. 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 your vehicle 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. But, we cannot cook them in the lodge kitchen or store them in the refrigerators for food safety reasons.

  • 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 here or you can buy one at multiple locations in Missoula, the Clinton Market or Rock Creek Mercantile on your drive from the airport. We can also 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.

LODGING

  • 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 or golfing. Take a day trip to visit and shop in Missoula and Philipsburg. A more complete list is available here.

  • What is your policy on children?

If a 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, anyone who wants to be here is welcome by all.

  • What if I don’t have something that I need?

We always have a supply of toiletries and first aid items on hand. The Clinton Market is nearby and we are just 40 minutes from Missoula. Managers and staff travel to Missoula frequently and we will be happy to pick something up for you on one of our trips to town.

  • 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 waders 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. Some cell phones and plans support internet calls and texts.

  • 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 wilderness and 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, hypothermia and fire hazards. We are in an area with abundant wildlife. Black Bear, Big Horn Sheep, Moose, Elk, Mountain Lions, Wild Turkey and Deer all live near the lodge. Grizzly Bears, although rare, are expanding their range and occasionally pass through our area. Visitors to Montana should be aware that taking a close up photo or approaching any wild animal, though tempting, is not advised. They may appear docile, but are dangerous if provoked or pressured. We have no venomous snakes. Hypothermia can be avoided by having the right, warm gear with you. During drought years, we implement fire restrictions and we may not be able to have an outdoor fire.

PRICING

  • How much does it cost to stay at Blue Damsel Lodge?

A complete price list is available on our Pricing & Packages page.

  • What is included in the price?

All of our Fly Fishing Packages include accommodations, maid service, all meals, drinks, casting lesson on arrival day, guided fly fishing, use of loaner rods and reels, flies, leaders, use of facility and grounds and access to National Forest and Rock Creek.

Our American Plan Packages include accommodations, maid service, all meals, drinks, use of facility and grounds and access to National Forest and Rock Creek.

Additional costs, not included in the package price include:

Fishing License- Youth under the age of 15 do not need a license if accompanied by a licensed adult.

Waders and Wading Shoes- If you do not have waders , or prefer to not travel with them, we can put you in touch with local companies who rent them.

Montana Accommodations Tax- $10.50/guest/night for double occupancy and $21/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 request liquor, beer or wine (we provide a good selection of top shelf liquors, mixers, domestic and craft beer and 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 require a 50% deposit at the time of booking and balance paid 90 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.

Terms, Conditions, Cancellation & Refunds

Our Complete Terms, Conditions, Cancellations & Refund Policies are available here.