Billings chapter of Trout Unlimited

Magic City Fly Fishers

Call:  +1 316-06-42

Who are We?

The Magic City Fly Fishers chapter of Trout Unlimited was officially organized on January 9, 1990 in Billings, Montana. It is one of thirteen Trout Unlimited chapters in Montana, serving south central and southeastern Montana, and currently has over 600 members. MCFF is a non-profit organization, governed by the Chapter By Laws that were approved when it was first organized. A Board of Directors establishes the policies of the Chapter and oversees the conduct of business and activities on behalf of the members. MCFF holds monthly membership meetings, September though June, with each meeting featuring a guest program. MCFF also publishes a monthly newsletter, The Hackle Bender.

Who are we?

March 7, 2019

March 2019 Newsletter

Jason Rhoten, Region V FWP Fisheries Biologist, and Brian Ertel, Yellowstone National Park Fisheries Restoration Biologist have prepared a presentation that lays out the background of conservation issues and an update of the Lamar River drainage. Of course, wrapped around the Lamar (also a tributary to the Yellowstone, is the preservation and restoration of wild, native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Plus if you have ever fished Yellowstone, you must have stopped by the Lamar, or its tributaries Slough Creek and the Buffalo Fork of Slough Creek. In fact, click here for good background, history and fishing the Lamar

Tomorrow night, Brian and Jason will include in the discussion of the Lamar and its importance to Yellowstone cutthroat, the role of Slough Creek and Buffalo Fork, which runs into Slough Creek close to Slough Creek campground. These two streams head up in Montana, just north of Yellowstone National Park. Consequently, both are important in terms of helping assure the survival of wild Yellowstone cutthroat. Brian and Jason include joint projects that, along with the National Forest Service, the organizations are working on to enhance these fisheries.

In addition to Brian and Jason's presentation, Bob Short and Patrick McNelley will open the meeting at 7:00 with a review of last year's Missouri River trip, and an overview of this year's trip. The trip is scheduled for June 12 - 15. Beau McFadyean has agreed to supply guides at a slight discount. The group is staying at the 7R Guest Ranch with rooms available for $50 a night or an RV site for $25. Hey, you can bring your own boat, or wade (assuming less water than last year) or just show up for some of the fun activities that Patrick and Bob are planning. If you can not make the meeting, send an email to and we will get you in touch with Bob to help you plan the trip. Montana Trout Unlimited is doing a great job tracking the 2019 Montana legislative session in Helena. Now at the halfway point, there is still a lot to accomplish. MTU hired a new Government Affairs Coordinator this year, Clayton Elliot. Click here to learn more about Clayton: Background Summary of Clayton Elliott, new MTU Government Affairs Coordinator  Clayton has extensive experience lobbying and the legislative process. You can track, or learn more about the key issues Montana Trout Unlimited is following here: MTU Montana Legislation Tracker

Progress is moving ahead on the new Blue Creek fishing access. I joined up with the folks from Yellowstone River Parks Association, Our Montana, FWP, and several other groups to help clear the way for construction by burning old Russian olive trees. Great fun. Billings Gazette story on Blue Creek Fishing Access Site.  The goal is to have the access site ready to go by spring. We'll see how the cold weather affects the timing. YRPA and Our Montana helped secure the funding for the project and FWP will maintain the site. One goal of the project is to establish enough access sites between Duck Creek and the new Dover Memorial Park to allow for a series of two-hour floats. Here is a photo of Mike Ruggles and myself at the site. No, really we were tugging on Russian olive branches before and after the Gazette reporter snapped this photo.


Look forward to these events:

  • Kevin Croff joins MCFF TU on Tuesday, April 2 at the Billings Rod and Gun Club with a discussion on how to fish new waters. For some of us, we need this instruction for waters we fish all the time. In any case, Kevin is always fun and informative.
  • The annual fundraising banquet is set for Tuesday, May 7 at the Billings Depot. This is a fun event so order your tickets early. The ticket information will be released in the next couple of weeks. One of the popular portions of this event is the gift basket competition. You can enter this coming year by preparing and donating your best creation of a gift basket. Last year the Casting for Recovery ladies and Patrick McNelly won the competition, each receiving a $75 gift certificate to Levity Wine Shop and Bistro (Levity now has music on the weekends as well).
  • The Fly Fishers International (formerly the Federation of Fly Fishers) annual fly fishing expo (once known as the conclave) comes back to Montana this year - Bozeman, July 23 - 27. Click here: Fly Fishers International Fly Fishing Expo  The expo is a great time and includes more workshop and seminars than almost anywhere else in the country. Plus, spend some time on FFI new website. Lot's of great information.     


Congratulations to Curt Jensen for getting the Project Healing Waters set up through a new Fly Fishers International chapter in Roundup . The initial meeting was February 12th at East Rosebud Fly Shop.

Plus, do not forget, we can always use more volunteers to help kids learn to tie flies. And Kevin will even teach you how to tie the flies we teach the kids. In March we are working with students from Central Heights and Burlington.

See you Tuesday night.

February 4, 2019

Febuary 2019 Newsleter

Great program tomorrow - Tuesday - night. TU members Sharon Scharosch and Terri Hogan relate their adventures on a five-day fly fishing trip to Fernie, British Columbia.  Along with three other women, Terri and Sharon fished for westslope cutthroat, bull trout, and whitefish on several rivers including the Elk, Michel, Bull, and St Mary's. The ladies share not only fun stories and wonderful photographs but talk about how women can plan and participate in adventurous fly fishing trips like Fernie, or just get together on the Stillwater or Bighorn.

In addition to learning about Fernie, BC, Jeremy Gilbertson, Bighorn River fishing guide, kicks of the evening with a demonstration of how to tie some great flies for the season ahead.

This meeting is at Scheels second-floor conference room - north side of the building. Next month we are back at the Rod and Gun Club.

Adding to the fun are some cool door prizes. Everyone attending receives a free dry fly and an entry for these prizes: the grand prize is a guided trip with Alice Owsley of Riverside Anglers in West Yellowstone on either the Madison or in Yellowstone National Park. In addition, you could win a new fly rod or one of Ken Beck's Black Sheep lanyards. These are really neat lanyards. You'll love one if you win.

You can also reserve space or find out more information on the third annual Missouri River fly fishing trip - scheduled for June 12 - 14. Patrick McNelly and Bob Short are organizing the trip again. Lodging ($50/night or RV space ($20/night) is available at the 7R guest ranch. A continental breakfast is included in the price.  You can reserve a guide and boat for $225/day per person from Beau McFadyean. Patrick and Bob will be at the meeting, showing some slides of last year's trip, taking reservations or just visiting about the trip.


Take a look at the coming events in the Hacklebender. Next month, March 5, at the Rod and Gun Club, we'll have an FWP report plus a presentation by Region V biologist Jason Rhoten on their project in the Buffalo Fork region, just north of the Slough Creek region of Yellowstone National Park. Then on April 2, we welcome back Kenin Croff for an in-depth look at fishing new waters. The annual fundraising banquet is scheduled for May 7 at the downtown Billings Depot. Tickets available soon.

One last note. A couple of weeks ago I was able to join the Yellowstone River Parks Association and Our Montana folks in cutting and burning Russian olive trees at the new Blue Creek fishing access. Construction begins soon with a goal of opening the access late spring. One of the goals of YRPA and Our Montana is to help create enough Yellowstone River access points that you can float from the Duck Creek access to the new Dover Memorial Park in two hour segments. Plus, fishing is a lot better than a lot of folks think. In fact, that will be a topic in next years line up of programs, urban fishing in Billings including the Yellowstone River.

 Stay warm and join us for a fun evening at Scheels. Doors open at 6:00. Patrick and Bob will be there to talk about the Missouri River trip. We'll put up some of the photos. Jerremy ties around 7:00 and Sharon and Terri should get going around 7:45. The store closes at 9:00 so we'll be out by 8:45.

January 6, 2019

January 2019 Newsletter

And, January is already off to a cold, stormy start with lots of snow to shovel. Magic City Fly Fishers is shifting its Tuesday, January 8th meeting to a nice, warm, fun and friendly location, a Pint Night at the Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill. Join us for a casual, fun evening. Ed Knight will offer you a chance to check out your cast with yarn rods and hoops - harder than you think. Yellowstone River Parks Association (YRPA) will have some updates on the new fishing access off Blue Creek, the eastern branch of the Montana Wilderness is stopping by to promote the Public Lands rally coming up on Friday, and maybe even a demo tyer. The main thing is to have fun and meet up with old friends and make new ones. Plus, Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill is donating $1 for each draft of Red Lodge Ales beer or Cider Mill cider. Note: this not your typical sweet ole apple cider. It's great.

February's meeting is one you will not want to miss. TU members Sharon Scharosch and Terri Hogan had a marvelous trip to the Fernie BC and Elk River region of British Columbia last summer. This is a cool area to visit and fish. Now you can learn all about how to plan a trip to southeast BC and what the fishing is like. Tuesday, February 5. One time location change - we are at Scheels Conference room - north end, second floor.

TU Magic City Fly Fishers members have always supported the strong public lands ethic in Montana - one reason Montanans enjoy some of the best local access to fishing. Now you can support public lands by attending the Public Lands rally Friday, January 11, Helena, the state capital, noon. Can't attend? Let your legislators know you support public lands. Attending? The Montana wilderness association is taking RSVP and coordinating transportation if you need it. RSVP here for Public Lands Rally 

Here is Sharon and just one of those BC trout she caught!

See you on Tuesday.



Lyle Courtnage, PresidentMagic City Fly Fishers Trout Unlimited 582

Where we meet

Billings Rod and Gun Club
2931 Rod and Gun Club Rd.
Billings, MT 59106