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The Pink Boat is coming to Big Sky



By Emily Stifler

When a well-known local fishing guide
rolls up to the boat ramp with a pink
boat, many of the anglers there do a
double take, says Ian Davis, owner of
Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures
in Bozeman and a founding member of
Rowing for the Cure.

“They can’t figure out why this famous
guide is rowing a pink boat. As the
guide gets closer, they see ‘Rowing for
the Cure’ on the side of the boat. It’s got
shock value that metamorphoses into
the warm fuzzy feeling. Unfortunately
too many people nowadays have had a
direct connection to breast cancer.”

Created in 2010 by a group of friends
in the Montana fly fishing community,
Rowing for the Cure is a campaign to
raise awareness and funding for breast
cancer research. Prominent fishing
guides throughout the West row the
pink boat for a few days at a time, accepting
donations from clients, fellow
anglers and onlookers, and then pass it
on to the next outfitter, lodge or guide.

RO drift boats in Bozeman built the
custom watercraft, which has a secure,
self-contained donation drop box in
the front seat compartment. “Judy” is
imprinted on the back of the boat in
honor of Davis’s mother Judy who died
of breast cancer.

The pink boat was in Big Sky at Gallatin
River Guides over the July 4 weekend,
and will return for a sold-out women’s
fishing trip Aug. 2. Betsey French,
owner of Gallatin River Guides, said
that while the pink boat was parked out
front that weekend, they had donations
and curious passersby.

“Many people had questions about the
pink boat,” French said. “I don’t think
anybody’s not been touched by [breast

For the women’s trip on Aug. 2, Gallatin
River Guides will take 10 ladies to
float the Yellowstone River (conditions
dependent). They have four other boats
going along, and will take turns floating
in the pink boat.

The pink boat will be “our mother ship,
so to speak,” French said. “We’re hoping
to raise money from other fishermen
and onlookers and also have a great
time fishing.”

French hopes to make this float a
popular annual event, and says they
can book custom trips in the pink boat
during that time, as well.

“Many of the gals signed up have
had friends or relatives [with breast
cancer], or have had a bout of cancer

French lost her first husband to colon
cancer, and said Rowing for the Cure
is “something that makes me more
aware, and makes me proud to have
that boat up there and part of Gallatin
River Guides.”

The sole beneficiary of Rowing for the
Cure’s donations is the Montana affiliate
of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

French says while there are walks and
other fundraising events for the Susan
G. Komen foundation, this is particularly
special because Ms. Komen’s husband
is part of the fly fishing industry.

Fishing guides have been responsive
to this fundraising organization, so the
boat’s schedule fills up quickly. “We’ve
gotten the most prestigious guides
across the West to row the boat, which
gives validation to Rowing for the Cure
fundraising,” Davis said.

Last summer the pink boat floated the
Madison, Yellowstone, Big Hole, Beaverhead,
Jefferson, Missouri, Henry’s
Fork, South Fork, and the main stem
of the Snake River and raised just over
$10,000. Forty percent of this came
from anonymous donations.

Even Henry Winkler (The Fonz) spent
a day in Judy and donated, Davis said.
Toby Swank from Fins and Feathers fly
shop at Four Corners raised the most,
and donated his guide fees during three
days in the boat.

If you see the pink “Rowing for the
Cure” boat while fishing, at the boat
ramp, parked at your favorite post fishing
watering hole, or at your local
fly shop, you can donate to the cause.
You can also follow the adventures of
the pink boat online at

If you are interested in guiding out
of the boat or having the boat at your
event, contact Ian Davis at Yellow
Dog Fly Fishing Adventures:
All donations will be sent to Komen Montana after each guide’s stint
in the pink boat. The guide who raises the most receives a prize at the
end of the season. Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures, Patagonia River
Guides and RO Drift Boats, as well as several individuals, are also integral
to the project.

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