Kings Motel & Flatline Outfitters

Kings Motel & Flatline Outfitters

A 'Mom & Pop' fly-fishing business in Montana

  • By: Jerry Kustich
For late August, the conditions were shaping up just right. A cool morning promised to give way to a partly cloudy afternoon predicted to barely reach the 80's. This was pleasant relief after a hot, dry summer. When I got into the pickup Matt asked what river I would prefer to fish. Although late-season, low-water conditions eliminated both the Jefferson and Big Hole rivers from the option list, there were still the Madison and the Beaverhead. Therein lies the beauty of fishing southwestern Montana.After a few minutes of deliberation, we headed toward the Madison. I rarely have the opportunity to be guided in my own backyard, so I was really looking forward to my float with Matt. Matt Greemore has been guiding for 16 years. For the past 10 he has operated Flatline Outfitters under his own license based in the rural Montana town of Twin Bridges. He works in partnership with Kings Motel, which is owned and operated by his parents Don and Marsha Greemore. Perhaps one of the truly unique "Mom and Pop" fly-fishing businesses under the Big Sky, Marsha manages the lodging while Matt and his dad cater to the varied wishes of anglers looking to experience this part of Montana in the low-key, down-home manner that once characterized the region decades ago. When we got to the river Matt checked my equipment. After a good-natured scolding for the poor condition of my well-worn line, he got my leader whipped into shape. Knowing my preference for the dry fly, Matt had to encourage me to nymph a few runs on our way to prime surface water. The morning was still chilly, so a sub-surface approach to start the day made a lot of sense anyway. As Matt slipped the raft into the water, he explained that he likes using the rubber vessel because it allows him to fish nooks and crannies that are difficult to reach for hard-bottom drift boats. And since he encourages his clients to stop and fish along the way, the raft is easier to beach when the situation seems right. This was the case when we approached a definitive inside bend that Matt suggested we nymph until the morning warmed a bit. After easing the raft onto shore, he then pointed to a lengthy edge of current where some nice fish usually hang out. In the next hour I proceeded to hook a couple of dandy browns, including the biggest I have landed in a few years. After that I put the nymphs away. Needless to say, the rest of the day was a bonus. Although Matt and I have only fished a few times together, we shared many duties for several years at our local Trout Unlimited chapter. He has a keen sense of conservation along with an obvious knowledge of local waters, and his pleasurable personality reflects a confident willingness to teach and share his angling expertise. As we casually floated along casting dry flies here and there in the beautiful lower reaches of the Madison, Matt detailed the philosophy that sets his guiding operation apart from others. Working in collaboration with his parents for the past decade, his plan has been to offer a home-style approach to the Montana fishing experience that combines the quaintness of a bed and breakfast with the privacy and flexibility of a motel. Seven years ago each unit of Kings Motel was remodeled to a tasteful outdoor cabin design and a general meeting/dining room was added in the courtyard to accommodate fishing clients looking for a convenient place to have breakfast and dinner. As it turns out, this is a good arrangement as Matt and his dad have no set guiding hours. If a client wants to stay out for the evening caddis hatch, they will float until dark. If an angler wants to start at daylight, they will do that too. But whatever time they start or finish, Marsha will customize a full meal that is sure to include homemade baked goods like muffins, bread and cookies. As we pulled up for a delicious shore lunch, Matt emphasized that the best aspect of the Kings Motel fishing package is total flexibility. After setting up a table next to the pleasing purr of a Madison River riffle accented by the peep of a spotted sandpiper working the water's edge, Matt added that a customer can schedule a couple days of guided fishing in between any number of do-it-yourself options that abound in this region of Montana. From small streams to mountain lakes and reservoirs to blue-ribbon rivers, there is an impressive list of choices in any direction from the Kings Motel. We spent the leisurely balance of the afternoon casting a variety of hopper patterns to several willing rainbows and browns, although none rivaled the brown from earlier in the day. After I decided that six o'clock would be a good time to call it quits, Matt planned the rest of our float so that we'd be in Ennis close to that time. Then, after the raft was loaded and the equipment packed, Matt called his mom with an ETA for dinner. When we arrived back at the motel, a T-bone with all the fixings awaited, along with beer and wine--a great way to end a wonderful day on the water. For further information about Kings Motel&Flatline Outfitters, call 800-222-5510, or visit www.kingsflatline.com.