Spotted Bear Ranch | Montana

Chris McCreedy’s ties to the Bob Marshall Wilderness go back to his childhood when he used to hunt and fish with his father in the area. Now a licensed state outfitter, Chris manages Spotted Bear Ranch with his wife Tara, an outfit dedicated to giving visitors unique fishing, hunting and pack trip experiences in the very place where he grew up. This deep personal connection to the wilderness area is evident in the way Chris and Tara manage their business, demonstrating great respect for the land and all its inhabitants.

The bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout fisheries draw visitors from all over the country to the rugged and remote South Fork of the Flathead River, anxious to try their luck at catching one of the rare native breeds. 

Spotted Bear Ranch holds one of three fishing permits on the wilderness section of the South Fork and is the only outfit in Montana to offer legally guided bull trout fishing. Tara and Chris take this responsibility very seriously. Tara explains:

Having those three permits in place, the three permit holders have to be stewards of that water and have to do everything they can to take care of it and make sure that people coming through are not abusing the area in any way.

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Location

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Latitude: 47.924921 Longitude: -113.529676 Elevation: 3734 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Rachel Baxter

Types of Experiences and Trips Provided

  • Float & Walk/Wade Lodge Fishing Trips: Inclusive of all meals, beer and wine, lodging (six guest cabins), daily maid service, and all guided activities!
  • Guided Wilderness Fishing Trips: Luxury riverside camping, camp cook prepared Dutch oven meals, wade and float fishing opportunities

In addition to unique fishing experiences, the Ranch’s pack trips offer visitors a glimpse into Montana’s rich packing heritage. Skilled wranglers in large cowboy hats conjure up a sense of nostalgia as they pack up the horses for these trips. 

Local Knowledge & Certifications/Training

Chris McCreedy’s ties to the Bob Marshall Wilderness go back to his childhood when he used to hunt and fish with his father in the area. For Chris to grow up and be somebody who works in this area and really has a big hand in taking care of the Bob, he takes preservation of such a magical place seriously.

Sustainable Practices

For their part, Chris and Tara make an effort not to crowd or overfish the river by limiting the number of bookings at the Spotted Bear Ranch Fly-Fishing Lodge to 12-14 people at a time, even though the Lodge’s capacity is 20-21 individuals. They also try to avoid certain sections of the river on weekends when they know that members of the public will likely be out fishing on those stretches. Clearly, reducing undue stress on the river whenever possible is a priority for them.  

Community Involvement

Giving back to their community is also a priority for Chris and Tara. Whenever possible, Spotted Bear Ranch will donate wilderness trips to organizations hosting events for wilderness preservation or related causes. However, perhaps even more importantly, they give back to the community by protecting the fisheries, being stewards of the river, and being helpful to everybody in the community who wants to come up here.

Favorite Trip Story

Together, Chris and Tara take great joy in seeing visitors catch their first bull trout, gather for a friend or family reunion, or head into the backcountry on horses for the first time. However, for them, the most important part of their work is protecting and preserving the place that is so special to them. “I think one of my husband’s favorite points about the Bob Marshall is the fact that his dad was such a steward of the area,” says Tara, “and now Chris actually feels lucky to be in the position he’s in to be able to take care of the area because he really cares about it. I mean, he tears up when he talks about it.” While the bull trout and striking beauty of the Flathead River are undeniably special, it is this commitment to place that makes Spotted Bear Ranch’s guided experiences truly unique.

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