The Owner and head guide, Dave Hanson, grew up on Bar Z where he spent his time wrangling cattle and wade fishing the banks of the Upper Smith River. The ranch has been in Dave’s family for generations and has always been a cattle operation, but it wasn’t until the 1990’s when Dave decided to share his passion by opening a fishing lodge as well. Just by spending a little time with him, you will quickly realize how special this place is and how much it means to him. Without Dave’s hard work and dedication, this incredible fishing lodge wouldn’t exist. From the lodging and food to the endless amount of untouched trout water, the Bar Z Ranch is truly one of a kind.
One great aspect of the Bar Z is the ease of getting there. Most trout fisheries as special and untouched as this one are usually remote and logistically hard to get to. The closest comparison I can think of would be something similar to a Patagonian Estancia. One with endless rivers to fish and large uneducated trout, but dropped in the middle of Montana.
We flew into Bozeman International airport, which receives daily direct flights from hubs around the country, including DFW. The flight was just under three hours, so perfect for a movie or to get a little work done. The Bozeman airport was just another cool part of our journey – small and easy to get through but reminded me of a ski lodge, with large timber beams, grizzly statues and elk mounts on the walls. From there we rented a car and within two hours we arrived at the Bar Z Ranch, just outside of White Sulphur Springs, MT.
After arriving at the lodge which sits up on a butte with incredible views, we were greeted by Dave with cocktails and delicious appetizers crafted by chef Tim. The open feel at the lodge from the porch to the bar, living room and dining room made me feel right at home and I knew right away this was where all the after hours fun went down. Shortly after, the rest of our group arrived and we were shown to our rooms.
The two cabins where most of our group stayed have the same incredible view as the lodge and a total of three bedrooms, all within a 100 feet of the main lodge. Matt Jones, Schuyler Marshall, and myself stayed downstairs inside the main lodge where there’s an additional two bedrooms that share another living room with a pool table and a comfortable sitting area.
After settling into our rooms and starting to gear up for the next morning, we sat for dinner and enjoyed stories from Dave and Tim’s incredible food, and that was the routine every night. Get back from fishing, appetizers and cocktails, and then wrap up with dinner. We ate like kings the whole trip!