Posts Tagged ‘guide’

Rob and Aidan’s Fishing Trip to West Yellowstone, America

Posted in Guests on September 6th, 2010 by blakelyjam – Be the first to comment

A perfect fit.
A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting Rob and Aidan Bell, a father/son duo from the United Kingdom on their vacation to the fly fishing waters of southern Montana. Each day started and ended in the dining room, where my fellow servers and I awaited the day’s stories from the two of them. It was clear from the day Rob and Aidan arrived that this was a special trip; a birthday gift, we later found out, from Aidan to his father. They had heard of Firehole Ranch off and on throughout the years from fellow fishermen and different publications in the UK. That, combined with Rob’s reading of Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through It,” planted the seed that finally brought them to the Ranch to fish the waters of Montana. We couldn’t have been more pleased to host them, and it seems the feeling was mutual as Rob and Aidan returned each night bursting with stories from the day with their guide, Josh Duchateau. It was quite clear that Rob’s first trip to the United States would not soon be forgotten.

The one that got away…
One of Rob’s fishing stories from the week seems an unlikely story to tell, but illustrates what a true fisherman Rob is, and what fishing is often about. Josh, Aidan and Rob started the day by hiking up the Bighorn trail between West Yellowstone and Big Sky to the headwaters of the Gallatin River in Yellowstone National Park. After about three miles, they arrived at the fishing spot. It was beautiful. Kneeling on the bank, Rob was instructed to cast upstream to a ledge. It was a spot Josh was certain would hold a cutbow, their desired catch of the day. Rob made what each of the men present said was an absolutely perfect cast; exactly in the spot intended. Sure enough, a cutbow rose out of the water and took the fly. It was then that Rob should have set the hook, the fish should have put up his fight and eventually been landed and then released back to his watery home. Yet Rob missed the take. He watched the cutbow rise, mouth the fly and then return to his bubbly perch on the ledge. He was only moments too late in setting the hook. Rob was surely disappointed and said he wanted so badly to return his fly to the same spot and catch that fish…he knew he could do it. But, he left the fish behind and went on to catch other cutbows that day, perhaps realizing that the experience in itself was perfectly imperfect; the hike, the ledge, the cast, the fish, the take…and the miss.

“…where everybody knows your name…”
When asked how they would describe the staff at Ranch to their friends and family back home, Rob and Aidan sang the praises of Josh, as well as the rest of the Firehole staff.  “Within 20 minutes, everyone knew us by name and it felt real and genuine; like we were being invited into a big family.”  They described Josh as very trustworthy and appreciated his expertise and thoughtful, real conversation on the banks of the waters.

A gift foRob & Aidan Bell at Firehole Ranchr all.
Hosting Aidan’s gift vacation to his father was an honor for all of us here at the Firehole Ranch. We of course asked what we could do to convince them to return.  Their answer was, “Nothing.  We’d come back anytime.”

Thank you, Rob and Aidan, for reminding us how lucky we are not only to live in this spectacular place that we call home for a few months of the year, but also to share it with such a warm group of guests and staff.

“The Last Best Place in The Last Best Place”

Posted in Guests on July 22nd, 2010 by blakelyjam – Be the first to comment

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.