“The Last Best Place in The Last Best Place”
An interview with Ron & Carol
I recently sat down with Ron and Carol Kurtz and a cocktail before dinner to ask them a few questions about their 25-year history as guests of the Firehole Ranch. Ron laughed aloud when asked about his most memorable fishing story, which was only a few years into the couple’s 25-year legacy. Ron had been using a poorly-secured Coca-Cola crate as a seat in the guide’s boat that day. On one particularly choppy bend in the river, the seat broke free from its screws and Ron collided with the side of the boat. He didn’t think much of it; in those days fishing was perhaps more of a “contact sport” and he took it in stride. After he righted himself (and presumably gave his guide a few choice words for upsetting his cast), Ron landed the biggest fish he has ever caught. A magnificent 23” brown trout was his prize fish that day, and he returned to the Ranch a happy man. Later that night, after the euphoria had worn off a bit, he realized he’d broken a few ribs in the boat resulting from the toppling Coca-Cola crate. According to Ron, the broken bones were well worth that beautiful brown. (To be clear, Coca-Cola brand seating is no longer used in any of our guides’ crafts.)
Carol started the first years of her Firehole experience not fishing, but reading. She came to the Ranch for the peace and quiet that allowed her to enjoy innumerable books while her husband fished. In 1996, she attended the Orvis Fly Fishing School, and from then on she’s been out on the river with her husband, feeding a comparable addiction to the sport. Her most memorable time at the Ranch was in 1991, when the entire Kurtz family came, including their one year-old granddaughter. She describes the Firehole Ranch as “adult summer camp”, citing all the wonderful people they’ve met over the years and the friendships that grow through reuniting with the other guests at the end of the day in the Firehole dining room.
Ah, the dining room. When asked about their favorite meals, there was no hesitation from Ron. His all-time favorite is Roasted Long Island Duck, with fresh cherry and thyme Madeira. Bruno served the meal only a few days before, and as a server in the dining room, I can attest to Ron’s preference. Not a speck of duck was left on his plate. Carol’s favorite meal was slightly more difficult to pinpoint. “All of them!” she said at first. After a little thinking, she listed her current favorites. Baked Fresh Atlantic Monkfish was among them, as was Bruno’s cedar plank salmon, which he serves weekly at the Ranch BBQ. In the end, she added the Roasted New Zealand Rack of Lamb with Flageolet Beans and Roasted Garlic Jus.
So, what keeps them coming back? For them, it’s the sum of many wonderful parts. Ron affectionately quoted Montana’s nickname as he said, “The Firehole Ranch is the last best place in The Last Best Place.” They cited their primary reason for coming back each year is the fishing. Ron & Carol have always been pleased that the Firehole can cater to more than just “entry-level fishermen”, and the two continue to find new & challenging waters in the area, as well as return to their time-tested favorites. Carol was quick to add that the friendliness and integration between guests creates a unique sense of warmth that is the heart and soul of the Ranch.
I would like to thank Ron and Carol for sharing with me some of their favorite memories from their many years as Firehole guests. It is truly a pleasure to see their faces each year and try to make their current vacation the best one yet.