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One of the most pleasant fishing trips I have ever taken in the Rocky Mountain West did not include any fishing, but it was certainly one to recommend. This trip took place in central Montana early this spring, when runoff was too high to get in any fishing on the small creek that runs next to Hawks Hideaway (*), a four-room guesthouse on a 25,000-acre private cattle ranch near the town of Big Timber.

The ranch is located where the plains meet the mountains. with the Crazy Mountains dominating the landscape to the west. The guesthouse sits barely within sight of the main ranch buildings, and is secluded enough to provide privacy. Sweetgrass Creek is a couple of minutes’ walk from the front door of the guesthouse. It is a small but sufficiently sized creek that winds through green meadows. The leaves of alders occasionally whisper to you in the breeze, and tall cottonwood trees are close enough to cast early morning and late evening shadows across the gentle ripples of the water beneath your feet. Rainbow and brown trout are the target; they’re not big, ranging up to 12 inches, but are fun to catch, particularly on light tackle. Catch-and-release is recommended.

The guesthouse is a simple country house with a fully equipped kitchen, private bath with shower and small sitting room. There is a queen-size bed, plus a futon couch that provides extra sleeping space. The place is clean, very adequate and charming if you appreciate the old farmhouse atmosphere. Ranch owners Ellie and Paul Hawks are gracious hosts. They go about their business, and let you go about yours. If you need something, or have a question, just stroll up to the main house and they will do what they can to accommodate your needs. They charge $85 per night or $525 per week. Rates are based on a group of one to four people, and include use of linens and kitchen utensils, but not meals or maid service.

This is the perfect place to get away from it all. As I said, the creek was too high to fish, but after being there for less than an hour, I didn’t care. And believe me, I live to fish. For the record, my wife, not a fisherperson, also enjoyed it. – William M. Cenis.

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