Trout Stalkers employs only the best Madison River fly fishing guides, and guides who we feel are among the best in Montana. From the moment you enter our shop or take a seat in our drift boats, to the time you disembark at the take out, our goal is to provide excellence in every facet of your trip. The foundation of our fully outfitted fly fishing trips are our guides, of which we employ the finest that Montana has to offer. With over a century of combined experience, our guides are not only expert fly fishermen and women, but they are masters at the oars and the gold standard of customer service. Professionally licensed and CPR/First Aid certified, you can feel safe with our guides at the helm. Our commitment to you includes so much more than catching fish. Trout Stalkers guides are specialists in demonstrating proper technique and teaching fishing strategies custom tailored to your needs. Finally, as stewards of the rivers they row, our guides have a cultivated knowledgebase of this region’s natural history and are eager to talk about what makes this beautiful area so special. Ultimately, when you step into our drift boats, you’re a client, but when you leave us, you’re a friend. Below are profiles of our guides.
Capt. Joe Dilschneider is Owner, Outfitter and Head Guide at Montana Trout Stalkers, Inc. He began guiding in the central mountains of Colorado after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1991. In the spring of 1995 Joe moved to Ennis, Montana and started Trout Stalkers. In addition to guiding Trout fisherman in Colorado and Montana, he also spent 10 seasons fishing and guiding fly fishermen in the Florida Keys. Today, he brings more than 20 years of professional freshwater and saltwater flyfishing and guiding knowledge and experience to your outfitted expedition.
Nick is a jack of all trades here in his hometown of Ennis, Montana. As Retail Manager of the Trout Stalkers, he plays a pivitol role in our clients' experience when they walk in the door of our fly shop. Nick also manages his storage facility in town and his lodge on Ennis Lake (The North Shore of the Madison). Nick started guiding on the Madison River in 2007, and his lifelong experience on the river definitely shows. Nick's fly fishing philosophy and motivation to guide anglers revolves around the personal gains he has experienced in natural environments. In his own words, he says,
"The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is a very unique and special place on this continent and fishing in this amazing place allows us as anglers to experience a truly remote and wild environment, not very common in the lower 48. Fly Fishing in my opinion has never truly been about the fish, it’s about the natural cycle of the rivers which are the lifeblood of this whole region. The entomology, the biology, and the meteorology all play a special role in why I love it here and have tried so hard to stay in the area in which I was raised. Everyday it’s really only about that one fish, the first fish, and then the rest are just icing on the cake. I’m extremely passionate about the river, fish, and the environment surrounding it. I love to teach and show people really what Southwest Montana is truly about and how beautiful it is and how special a place it is that we call home."
In Nick's free time he enjoys all things outdoors as well as yoga, skiing, photography and upland bird hunting with his Brittany spaniel, Sugar.
Mike Lum has been guiding the Madison River for a long time. Since 1994 to be exact, in his rookie year of professional guiding. The northern prairie of Minot, North Dakota is where Lum calls home. In addition to being a great guide, Mike also excels as a professional photographer and chef. When not on the water or with a camera in hand, Mike enjoys tying flies, cooking, and hunting. Mike considers fly fishing to be "both an escape and release that’s an opportunity to learn deeply. Learn about our personal and individual connection to the natural world and our place in it. Learn about ourselves and how we handle frustration, anxiety, success and failure. It is a chance for us to unwind and reconnect to a place of inner peace and solitude as well as a mirror to reflect back to us our ability or lack thereof for living in the moment."
Over the course of many years of guiding, Mike has come to appreciate what it takes to lead people to what it is they truly desire. He has mastered many different ways of teaching each core concept of fly fishing from casting to presentation and everything in between. In Mike's words, he has "(mostly) let go of the gauge of the success of any outing as being number and size of fish caught." As a reflection of Mike, one of his favorite quotes is from Henry David Thoreau: “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after.”
Jimmy Morrison was born in Helena as a fourth generation Montanan. His rookie year of professional guiding took place on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in 1996. In his spare time and in the off-season, Jimmy enjoys backcountry skiing/snowboarding, spending time adventuring outdoors with his family, gardening, cooking, and traveling with his wife. Jimmy's fishing philosophy is "When I go out on a boat to fish for a day, whether with clients, friends or by myself I tell my wife, I hope we fool one! What is important is the collective experience, not the amount of fish or the size of the fish boated (though we do fool some big fish), but the water, the air, the place, the people." Jimmy is an extremely patient and safety oriented guide with a lot of local knowledge. A little known fact about Jimmy is that he's a budding amateur meteorologist!
Justin was raised in the deep south (Georgia) among muddy, magnolia tree lined bass ponds. Truthfully, the first time he picked up a fly rod when he was 10 years old, he put it right back down. “There was no way that thing could handle a 20 pound catfish and was thus utterly useless to me.” But, the second time he picked up a fly rod, his attitude changed. His first fish on a fly was a blue gill that fought like a small mouth bass and he felt every head shake with the Shakespeare fly rod he found in his grandpa's shed. And since that sweltering day in Georgia nearly 25 years ago, he’s rarely traveled anywhere without a fly rod.
Though Justin has two degrees in wildlife biology and has worked as a carnivore biologist all over the country including Yellowstone National Park, his draw to the western trout stream was too strong to ignore. Student loans be dammed, "you only live once" he says. And so his rookie year of guiding was in 2008 deep in the black canyon walls of the Gunnison River and he hasn't looked back.
Extremely personable with all sorts of wild stories studying carnivores (he was once bitten in the rear by a black bear that disagreed with having a tracking collar), Justin loves to share the experience of drift boat fishing and his knowledge of the surrounding ecosystem with clients. "I never thought I'd love anything more than fly fishing, and then I bought a drift boat. Rowing a drift boat and constantly striving to place anglers in the best possible position to catch fish is such a rewarding challenge and complete team effort, no matter the size of the fish.”
When not on the water, he can frequently be found chasing his two small children around the streets of Ennis and working on his photography business (www.justinedgephoto.com).
Stewart was born in Birmingham, Alabama. His rookie year of guiding was 2015 on the Madison River. Stewart may be one of the younger guides on our list, but don't let that fool you--Stewart drifts these waters as much as anyone and knows his stuff. When he's not at the oars or dragging streamers through filthy water, he enjoys skiing, hunting, tying flies, flying (that's right, he's a pilot too), and enjoying the spirits of our local watering holes.
His fishing philosophy is, "While I do love to chase and fool trout as much as the next guide, I also genuinely enjoy being on the river with good friends, a fly rod and taking it all in. From the sounds and tranquility of the river to beautiful views and trout we enjoy daily. Ever since I stepped foot in the Madison 12 years ago I knew in my heart that this place had to be a part of my life. There was nothing that I wanted more." As personable as they come, Stewart believes that being a good guide requires much more than just catching a few trout to have a great day on the water. "It's about the experience."
Garrett Blackburn was born on the plains in Stillwater, Oklahoma. His rookie year of guiding was in the famed Bristol Bay of Alaska, in 2004. Garrett's path to guiding began for him as a young boy fishing with his grandfather, and he hasn't stopped since. Becoming a guide was the only way for him to be on the river as often as he wanted to. What makes Garrett a pros pro here at Trout Stalkers is that at the end of the day, his clients are happy and excited to fish another day. He understands that a good time on the river is a little different for each person and so tailors his guiding style to make sure everyone has an awesome experience. Garrett also owns and operates Hooked Outfitting.
Known around these parts as "Dirty Mike" or just "Dirt," Mike Elliot is originally from Minnesota. He started guiding in 2008, in the Beartooth Wilderness and Yellowstone National Park, Montana. Mike's fishing philosophy boils down to one simple rule: keep it in the water. "You can't catch a fish if your fly isn't in the water!" Mike's tenacity and stubborness combine to create one dedicated fish head who won't quit during slow fishing periods. Having been obsessed with fishing since he could walk and hold a fishing rod, Mike was destined to row a boat and guide fishing trips. His knowledge of the surrounding countryside is unique, and he loves to talk about it. He spends his off season here in the Madison Valley, doing ranch work and calving throughout the winter nights. Aside from fishing, Mike's hobbies include shed hunting, tying flies, hockey, archery, riding horses, and hunting of all kinds.
His guiding strengths are defined by his abilities to be flexible and tailor each trip to his clients' expectations. His attention to detail and his knowledge of the wildlife that is often encountered on a Madison River fly fishing trip are exceptional. Warren's fly fishing philosophy is to enjoy all of the locations that fly fishing takes him, and of course the fish he catches along the way. For him, pursuing trout requires complete focus on the natural environment and fishing techniques and demands that you be in the moment. He believes that fly fishing while floating down a wild Montana river is one of the best experiences a person can have.
Warren also owns Rally Point Fly Rods, which specializes in custom military and veteran-themed rods that feature personal ribbons, unit logos and weapon design features.
Brian was born in Englewood, CA. His rookie guide year was on the Madison River in 2001. He also owns Montana Fish Man Outfitting.
Brian thanks his friend and mentor, John Seaman, for being the first person to put a fly rod in his hand in 1992. Brian's fly fishing philosophy is pretty logical. He says, "The worst day fishing is better than the best day working, so as a guide, everyday rocks!" When on the water, he likes to work hard for his clients, and always has a "no quit" attitude. He is a dedicated fly fishing guide that values his work ethic and love for teaching fly fishing to others. His passion truly shows when he is teaching adult beginners or children who are vulnerable to becoming frustrated. He uses his patience and effective teaching methods to pass on his knowledge and always maintains a fun learning environment. In Brian's free time, he is usually bird hunting, training his dogs, gardening, cooking or designing custom fly patterns for his clients.
Like the salmon of Capistrano, Parker flocked to Ennis, MT in 2015 with his wife, Manu. He became obsessed with fishing at an early age thanks to his father, grandfather and his favorite angler of all time, Bill Dance. Growing up in California isn't easy for an aspiring fly fisherman, but Parker made due. Ask him about any body of water from San Francisco to Tijuana and he'll say, "Oh yeah, I've fished that.". To this day he believes that he is the last person to ever catch not one, but two steelhead on the fly in his home creek that runs under the 5 freeway. Since he was very young, Parker has spent nearly every summer in Park City, Utah where he eventually learned his trade through his late grandfather's teachings on the Weber, Provo and other trout fisheries in the area.
College was spent studying freshwater ecology, surfing, and chasing steelhead and striped bass up and down California’s central coast and throughout New Zealand. With a degree in environmental science with a focus in freshwater ecology and restoration, Parker offers his clients an in-depth look into the natural world of our trout streams here in SW Montana. Parker loves catching fish, but strongly feels that there is more to fly fishing. Just being in the boat and realizing the beauty of his surroundings reminds him that fly fishing is a great way to relax and step back from the daily grind. We asked Parker why he became a fishing guide. His response: “I don’t know, it's the only job I can see myself holding down for an extended period of time without getting fired or going insane?” It doesn’t matter if he’s stalking the local spring creek for big trout or chucking hot dogs into the middle of a golf course pond on a Friday night, Parker loves any and all things fishing.
Matt is orginially from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You'll know this from the moment he picks you up with his drift boat draped in Steelers colors. Matt moved west in his 20s with the intention to become a fly fishing guide. He cut his teeth on all of southwest Montana's rivers and eventually found his home in Ennis. Matt began guiding the Madison River in 2004. He's a regular in the Trout Stalkers guide rotation and also operates his own outfit, Trouts "N" At Outfitters.
Matt has always enjoyed all kinds of fishing and says, "My dad got me my first fly rod for my 16th birthday. He passed away between my freshmen and sophomore years of college. For a while the only time I was happy and at peace was on the water with a fly rod in hand. I never looked back!"
He is a great people person and excels in understanding the different clients that fish out of his boat. Some people want to throw dries all day, and Matt is perfectly fine with that. He also has his nymph and streamer game dialed. His perspective is, "Not everyone needs to catch a million fish. Some people want to have a nice day on the water and just learn a few things. It is my job to figure out what it is that each client wants on a particular day and deliver!"
Born in Appleton Wisconsin, David learned to fish on the dock of his parents lake front cabin in Rhinelander, WI. His passion fishing grew some where around ten years old. He started walking to the local ponds around Appleton and the Fox River, catching everything from Panfish to Northern Pike.
At twelve he and his family moved west to Boise, Idaho where he learned what the excitement of trout fishing. That experience would eventually lead him to 2012, when his passion and knowledge gave him the opportunity to make a living showing others the excitement and enjoyment of fly fishing. His strengths include his patience and passion for teaching, and his goal for every trip is to provide a fun time for his clients.
Nowadays you can find him fishing anywhere from the Missouri, Yellowstone, Madison, Gallatin and many creeks in between. If he's not guiding, he is spending time with his wife and playing with their two kids. In his freetime, he also enjoys doing a bit of duck hunting.
Tim Gaar was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His rookie guide year was in 1991 on the Frying Pan River.
"I knew I wanted to be a fishing guide soon after starting to fly fish at age 14, and chose paths likely to get me here. I think what makes me a good guide is my love of rivers and fly fishing, 20+ years of experience, my easy going and patient nature (I do not get frustrated or tense with people when things aren't going smoothly), and willingness to work hard to find fish."
When asked about his guiding philosophy, Tim says, "To have a good time and enjoy being out there has got to be priority # 1. That being said, I'm not one to ever give up on the fishing, I keep trying and do whatever I can to get into fish, because you never know. Many of the best fish I've seen in the boat and most memorable days came on days that the overall catch rate or weather was poor."
Tim operates his own guide service, Gaar Outfitting. When he isn't guiding, Tim is a ski patroller and a carpenter. He also enjoys running whitewater, backcountry skiiing and kiteboarding.
Braden Powell hails from Blacksburg, VA. His rookie year of guiding was deep in the Alaskan bush at Riversong Lodge in 2003. Founder of FishWater Outfitters, Captain Braden Powell has built his life around the sport of flyfishing. From his early beginnings on the New River in his hometown of Blacksburg, Braden found his passion early in life. Drawn by the splendor of Montana’s legendary outdoor lifestyle and bountiful rivers of world class flyfishing destinations, Braden ventured west from the Blue Ridge Mountains to pursue his B.A. in Natured-based Tourism and Recreation Management from the University of Montana in Missoula.