Columbia Falls, Montana
Hilary Hutcheson started her fly-fishing career as a teenaged guide in West Glacier, Montana. She guided through college, then took her journalism degree to Portland, Oregon where she worked as a television news anchor and reporter. She eventually returned to Montana to co-own and operate Outside Media and Trout TV for nearly a decade. Today, Hilary's still guiding on the Flathead River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and owns and runs a fly shop called Lary’s Fly & Supply in her hometown of Columbia Falls, Montana. She volunteers as a fly fishing instructor for Casting for Recovery, serves as a national board member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, is a climate activist with Protect Our Winters and writes for a number of outdoor industry publications. Hilary loves hanging out with her two teen daughters, especially when they volunteer on the oars.
What goes through your head when you first wake up in the morning when you go fishing?
Before any thought happens, I usually have a random song that pops into my head as soon as I wake up. I never know what it’s going to be, so I love when it’s something fun like “The Way You Make Me Feel" by Michael Jackson or “Good Day” by Nappy Roots.
Where is your favourite place to go fishing?
My favourite office and playground is the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, which is the southern boundary to Glacier National Park.
How do you up your game year after year?
To be a better fishing guide, I’ve always tried to soak up all the good habits I can from other guides around the world. I fish with a lot of guides from totally different zones who do things I wouldn’t have thought of, and when I see that certain techniques work for them, I think about whether it could be part of my program as well. Maybe they don’t want me to copy them; I don’t know. But I totally copy them. Then, I can add my own flavour it it, weed out my own bad habits and hopefully keep improving. I don’t have a ton of original material.
Who are your heroes?
I look up to my siblings, Whitney and Brady, because they’ve always been wildly talented and witty and manage to keep it real and goofy.
If there is any love-hate relationship with any aspect of what you do, can you describe that is?
I love fishing and working in the fishing industry, but I don’t like the feeling of using the resource and not doing enough to give back. I want to have a part in keeping the river healthy for my children’s children, and it can be stressful to be aware that my time on Earth is likely spent doing too much enjoying and not enough protecting.
What sound or noise do you love?
I love the sound of trains at night, especially after I’ve been in the wilderness and haven’t heard it for awhile. Sometimes I don’t like how quiet it is in the woods. Loud, gritty, graffitied trains provide some balance. I think humanity is a different, important kind of wild. I love thinking about trains traveling across the country in the middle of the night, doing work while we sleep.
What would be your day job if you weren’t doing what you are currently doing?
I would be a barista.