Source: George Ochenski for The Missoulian

The news came early last Thursday that Montana’s world-famous flyfishing guide and trout conservationist, Bud Lilly, had made his last cast and gone on to the Happy Fishing Grounds in the great beyond. For those who knew Bud personally, the memory of his sharp wit, great sense of humor and incredible knowledge of Montana’s rivers and fish will remain long after his passing. But even those who didn’t have the pleasure of Bud’s personal friendship will continue to reap the benefits of the conservation ethic for which he was a true champion straight through to his final days.

Like so many young anglers way back then, I vividly recall the long hours spent staring at the beautiful flies, rods, reels and fly lines in the catalogs from Bud’s famous West Yellowstone fly shop. And then there were the rivers – the Madison, Yellowstone, Gallatin, Jefferson, Firehole, Beaverhead and Big Hole – names that still inflame dreams and imaginations across the globe and are, in so many ways, the foundation of Montana’s fame as a wild trout heaven.

When I finally got to meet Bud in person, the “legend” turned out to be just a really nice guy who, despite being a famed fishing guide for the rich and famous from around the globe, gave the impression that answering the many questions of a young angler were the most important thing he could do that spring morning. It was the beginning of a friendship that was to last almost half a century and like so many other anglers before and after me, the knowledge Bud imparted inevitably turned out to be exactly the right thing to do if catching trout was your goal...

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