Longtime local outfitter and wife are new owners of Gallatin River Guides

By Taylor Anderson Big Sky Weekly Assistant Editor

Mark another community-oriented business, Big Sky.

After 28 years, Betsey French has stepped away from operating Gallatin River Guides in Gallatin Canyon, and Pat Straub and his wife, Brandy, have filled the gap.

Straub, an outfitter based out of Bozeman for the last 17 years, said he’s hoping to maintain the friendly, local feel that was put in place before him. What better way to honor his friend Betsey?

The shop will still focus on what’s offered in its backyard, the Gallatin and Yellowstone rivers, as well as the Madison River.

It’s been a busy year for Pat and Brandy, who alternate taking care of their 10-month-old Adela and working.

“I’ve got a new business and new baby in the same year, nothin’ like diving in head first,” Straub said, smiling. “It’s exciting, I’m very excited.”

As for building on the success put in place by the Frenches, Straub hopes to rely on the local base, while also offering gear, services and advice to the visitors who help this town tick.

The work and reputation built by the family “was essential to putting fly fishing in Big Sky on the map.”

Pat said he’s trying to integrate the local artists throughout the shop, and create community buzz by hosting planned and sporadic events throughout the year.

“If you’re driving by in the canyon and you see cars here and a barbeque, we want you to feel welcome to stop in and join.”

The author-angler-husband-father won’t have to miss out on fishing once the hectic trials of starting a business are through. He plans to keep 10-year GRG employee Jimmy Armijo on board as manager, and will use guides used by the former owners as well.

As an outfitter Straub said he felt the impact of the recession, a dip he says didn’t miss the fishing industry. But feels confident we’ve turned a corner, and GRG has already seen a busy March with six or seven guided fishing trips each week.

He spent a busy week in March alternating between spending time with Adela and settling into the shop, one month into ownership. Now, he says, he’s ready to start introducing himself to Big Sky.

“I enjoy creating relationships with people with fishing as the connector,” he said. “Friends that come in as clients (often) end up as friends.”