Bob Marshall - trip update 1

Greetings from Missoula! 

The second ever Bob Marshall Expedition has started! Leo, Owen, and I have never been more excited for a trip or had a better group of campers! This year's trip should be nothing short of spectacular. Airport day went smoothly. It's always fun watching guys reconnect, watching new friendships begin to form, and seeing the nerves melt away. Once everybody got in, we loaded up the van and headed toward our campsite. Tonight we'll have some dinner, get camp set up, have our introduction talk, and relax. The energy is high, but we can tell these guys are tired after a day of traveling. 

A little bit of history about the region where we will be fishing. This trip is a thru hike of the South Fork of the Flathead River. The South Fork meanders through the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex located directly south of Glacier National Park. It's a pretty special place -- imagine meandering meadows leading to emerald blue pools that you can see 20 ft down. Like a fairytale! In addition, this is the largest wilderness complex in the lower 48 and also one of the most remote places in the lower 48. For several days during this trip, we will be over 30 miles from the closest road. We are planning on hiking in from the south side of the Wilderness near the town of Ovando and exiting at the start of Hungry Horse Reservoir 60+ miles later. 

As one may expect, the fishing in a place as remote as the Bob is some of the best the Rockies have to offer. The westslope cutthroat fishing here is known to be some of the best cutthroat fishing anywhere in the world. It is not uncommon to have upwards of 50 fish days, all caught on dry fly. In addition to the phenomenal cutthroat fishing, the group will also be targeting bull trout. Bull trout are a special case here in the United States. A once mighty apex predator of rivers draining into the Pacific ocean from California to Alaska's, the bull trout is now limited to a fraction of their historical habitat. Throughout the mid 1900s, the bull trout's population declined due to overfishing, mining pollution, and logging degrading the cold clear streams they inhabited. As a result the Montana government made it illegal to target these fish everywhere in Montana except the South Fork of the Flathead River. Bull trout are known for their aggressive behavior, strictly eating other fish such as whitefish and other trout. This behavior makes for some of the most exciting trout fishing anyone can experience. From site fishing to them in shallow riffles to throwing a 6 inch streamer in a 20 foot pool, these bull trout will track down a fly from across the river to eat it. With the phenomenal cutthroat fishing and the chance at a 30 inch bull trout, the South Fork of the Flathead truly presents a unique angling opportunity for anglers all over the world. 

To quickly introduce ourselves: I'm (Will) Yantis, the trip director -- I've been a part of Lillard trips for the past 8 years. I grew up in Kansas City and just graduated from the University of Denver; I love hockey and lacrosse, but love fishing most of all. Leo Sperry is one of our trip leaders. He's from Connecticut and takes some of the best fishing photos I've ever seen -- get excited! Owen Reeve's another east coast guy (Maryland). He's studying neuroscience at Colorado College, loves skiing, but mostly just fishing. 

The group is planning on hiking in on the morning of the 12th with the assistance of horses to lighten our packs to make our first hike of 17 miles easier. We'll bounce around campsites for most of the trip until laying over at Salmon Forks for a couple nights. Until then, we plan on doing a backcountry prep day where we will go over basic backpacking essentials such as: packing, rationing, and bear safety. We'll also spend some time in Missoula getting any last minute gear and a stop at a fly shop. We'll almost certainly mix in some ultimate frisbee, too! 

Again, we're pumped about this trip! Don't tell anybody on other trips, but this is *hands down* the coolest LFFE trip. Wish us happy hiking and loads of fish! 


Tight lines, 


Yantis, Leo, Owen and crew. 

Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions was started in 2010 as a graduate thesis for my Master's Degree in Environmental Conservation Education at NYU. The operating premise was simple - by coupling amazing wilderness fly fishing camps for teens with environmental education and service learning we can help inspire future generations of fly fishing conservationists. We have been growing our unique list of trips and experiences ever since.

When it comes to choosing a summer program for your teen the options are endless. For the teen who loves to fish, be outside, and has a strong sense of adventure we have made the choice easy. We are the leader in teen fly fishing adventures and are dedicated to providing the best backcountry fly fishing experience with opportunities for teens to engage in leadership training, community service, and backcountry camping.


Will Lillard signature

Will Lillard, Founder/Director/Guide

Contact Us

[email protected]

Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions
2540 King Road
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

(828) 577-8204