Fly Fishing In Southwest Montana

When you are tired of the Smith River in Montana you are tired of life.
This is bastardizing Samuel Johnson’s thoughts on London but it is apropos when referring to the Smith River.  2019 will be our 26th year of outfitting on the Smith River making us the oldest and largest outfitter (we own 26 of 73 commercial Smith River permits.) I hope this translates to the reader that we are the most experienced and qualified fly fishing outfitters on the Smith River.
Smith River solitude
We offer a five day float trip with four nights of camping, covering 60 river miles, making it one of the most unique and wonderful float trips in Montana.
This past May, was the first year we canceled our annual float down the river with the disabled Veterans from Project Healing Waters, because of high water.  Instead, we took the Project Healing Waters guests to our lodge, coincidentally named, Healing Waters Lodge, making lemonade out of lemons.  From Healing Waters Lodge, we were able to take the Vets to our local waters such as the Beaverhead, Big Hole, Jefferson and some small spring creeks and streams.
Lewis & Clark Expeditions Camp
May can be high water and more of an eco-challenge than a fishing trip.  BUT, May can also defy skeptics, naysayers and false prophets. You can catch the Smith with just the right amount of water in the river, just the right weather, and fishing is like going to heaven without dying.  After a lifetime of fishing and guiding it is all in the hands of the gods.
June is the peak month for fly fishing the Smith River and we have half of the June launch dates.  Big might not better but it beats whatever is second place.
July can be the cruelest month on the Smith because at some point in time we run out of floatable waters.  In the 80’s and 90’s we would plan on floating the Smith well into the third week of July. I still believe the first week of July is a viable fishing week on the Smith River but after July 5 it is crapshoot whether we can get down the river.
Smith River Canyon Birdseye
Limestone walls of the Smith
September is the best time of year to be on the Smith River.  There are no people, fishing varies from good to incredible and the canyon explodes in fall foliage.  Floating the Smith in September is so dicey and can be a day-to-day decision whether there is enough water to float, we would like to use Healing Waters Lodge as a back-up plan.  This way we have a viable Plan B if the conditions are not right. If not the Smith then why not the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Jefferson and Madison?
Remember God loves a long-shot player; he backed David vs. Goliath, the Jets in the 69 Super Bowl vs. Baltimore Colts, and Eddie Redmayne against the field of Best Actor nominations in the 2015 Oscars.  Don’t be afraid to roll the dice anytime when it concerns getting on the Smith River. The thorn is a humble excuse for the rose.
If you seek an objective opinion on the Smith River ask anyone in Montana about what one river they would like to float.  Or any fly shop or fly fisherman what one river they would like to float before they auger in and the Smith River is close to the top.
Healing Waters Lodge in 2018: Before the leaves depart this fall, we want to sincerely thank everyone that made this year memorable. For us at Healing Waters Lodge, everything begins and ends with our staff that make everything possible.
Our Chefs Linda Foy and Beat Meier take considerable pride and labor in preparing an imaginative menu each season combining creativity, health and palate pleasing cuisine.
Linda Foy, Chef
Chef Beat Meier’s Hawaiian Ahi Poke
Our staff all have multiple duties from providing the best possible service to our guests, serving food and drinks, housekeeping to running a chain saw. At times, they are behind that scenes making sure the rooms are spotless, the grass is cut and dishes are done.  They are an integral part of everything we do for our guests. We appreciate and marvel at their efforts to make Healing Waters Lodge the best that we can be, everyday.
(L-R): Lindsey, Rachel, Mimi

Not pictured are: Bailey, Beth, Ethan, Kristen, Mara, Megan, Melissa, Mikayla, Roman, and Shaylee
Thank each one of you for a great season!
2019 Fly Fishing Schools:
This year we are going to have two formats for our schools.  We believe we can do a better job by focusing the schools on the skill level of our anglers. We welcome and embrace novices, intermediates as well as advanced anglers. Our goal is simple: to make better anglers and have fun doing it. Remember the words of Cain in Kung Fu, “to not fish is to live in darkness and only fear lives in darkness.”  We provide all the fishing equipment you need: rods, reels, waders, flies along with patience and piscatorial wisdom.
Our first school runs April 25 through April 30.  This school is considered Graduate school for anglers with more experience with the emphasis of honing your skills. Think of it as immersion therapy for six nights and five days of fly fishing. $3250 per person all meals, guides and lodging included.
Our next school runs May 2 through May 7, concentrating our efforts on advancing the skill levels of novices to intermediates.  We will transform you into casting machines along with teaching you the tools in becoming more self-reliant on the water. By the end week fish will tremble at your approach. $3250 per person all meals, guides and lodging included.
2019 Healing Waters Lodge Upgrades:
We are in a partnership with our guests at Healing Waters Lodge.  If we are doing our job right your room will be either improved or still maintain its quality until you get back.  Last year we added air conditioning to the rooms that needed it, along with installing fans in all the top floor rooms.  We added hardwood floors to the pond side rooms along with either granite or marble countertops to the vanities.  If you don’t have granite or marble on your countertops on the Home and Garden Network you are immediately dissed as trailer trash.  God forbid.
Healing Waters Lodge at dusk
Restoration Hardware is an upscale furniture store, where you lose your mind and open your wallet. In 2019, guests will be see a lot of Restoration Hardware around Healing Waters Lodge. We also are updating two of the upstairs rooms in the four-plex. The rooms will have sound-proofed walls and floors,  hardwood floors installed, and a reconfigured bathroom with tiled walk in showers. They say money talks, the only thing it ever said to me was, “Goodbye.”
The Healing Waters Lodge and Lewis & Clark Expeditions road show:
Due to a very sizable mortgage we remain motivated by fear, desperation and paranoia which leads to a lot of miles on the road encouraging, enticing and tempting anglers to join us.  A business is like a shark; it has to keep moving forward or it dies. We don’t want a dead shark on our hands.
Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters
October 27 from 2:00
They are my favorite independent fly shop owners in the country.
1279 N. Clybourne Ave, Chicago
Phone: 312 944 3474
Orvis Carmel Indiana
October 30 from 5:30 to 7:30
14250 Clay Terrace Blvd.
Carmel, IN 46032
Phone: 317 249 6000
November 1 from 6:00 to 7:30
29500 Woodward Avenue
Royal Oak MI 48073
Phone: 248-542-5700
Orvis Nashville 
November 8 from 6:00 TO 7:30
2122 Hillsboro Drive
Nashville, TN 37215
Laura and I extend our sincere thanks to all of our guests.  You have all given us a better life and made us better people. Our lives have been enhanced by your presence and we count you as our friends.  If the quality of life is judged by the people you keep we are wealthy beyond our dreams.
Sincerely, Mike Geary