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. Each guide offers casting lessons prior to going out for your day on the water. They are experts at teaching everyone in the techniques required to be successful on our waters. Beginners are always welcome, but communication is key to making your experience enjoyable.

  • What waters do you fish in your area?

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 outfitter and the guide that is chosen for you 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 your outfitter 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?

Typically, you will 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 most of the guided wade fishing takes place. 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, they 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 I-90. 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.

  • Can I keep any fish?

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

LODGING

  • How many does the lodge accommodate?

Our maximum capacity is 12.

  • 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?

Children are welcome, but you must be aware that no childcare is available.

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

The Clinton Market is nearby and we are just 40 minutes from Missoula.

  • What are the check-in/check-out times?

In order to prepare the lodge for the next arrival, checkout is by 11:00 AM on your departure day.  Check in is any time after 4:00PM. 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.

  • 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/family room, and 3 bedrooms. The upper level has 3 bedrooms and a sitting room. 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?

There is no cell service is available up Rock Creek. You will be able to get cell service once you get closer to I-90.  Some cell phones and plans support internet calls and texts.

  • Do you have internet access? TV?

Yes, we have a TV with streaming service – just bring your password from your personal Netflix, or other plan and sign in.  We do have 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 at Rock Creek. 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.

  • What is included in the price?

Use of the facility and grounds and access to National Forest and Rock Creek.

Additional costs, include:

Tips (see below)

  • Who should I tip and how much?

You should plan on tipping your fishing guide and the housekeeping staff. Tips are purely discretionary, but as a guideline, $100/ day for the guide (2 guests per guide) and $100/ total for the housekeeping staff is our recommendation.

  • What is needed to book a trip and hold the reservation?

We require a 50% deposit at the time of booking and balance paid 30 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

All cancellations must be received in writing. 20% of the total cost is non-refundable. Balance is refundable up to 60 days prior to arrival.  In addition, it is required that a reservation of longer than 14 days must be cancelled at least six months prior to the arrival date. After that, the balance is refundable ONLY if we are able to re-book your space. It is strongly recommended that guests take out travel insurance, available for purchase at Travel Insurance.com