Mike Hillygus (aka Hilly, Gus or anything with four letters) is a Taft California native, from 8 years old until 22 (1968-1982). He spent his summers on Wyoming’s Miracle Mile (2 weeks), Idaho’s Henry’s Fork, the Box Canyon (2wks), and finished up on the Madison for a month. So when Mike and wife Pam moved to Missoula, Montana in 1987 it was no surprise he put his culinary & teaching talents to work as an outfitter in the summer of 1994, and the rest is history.
High Plains Drifter has had permits on six different rivers, including a 17 year run on the fabled Smith River. Mike opened the Stillwater River Outpost in 2006 and followed up with the Clark Fork Outpost in 2013, he may be the only outfitter in the state with 2 lodges. (You might want to fact check this…fake news and all)
- Boat: I live in a 1996 14′ North West Drifter made by Clackacraft, it’s the best boat on the river and of course they don’t make it anymore!
- Favorite Fly to Guide With: The one and only MFC Bullethead Skwalla.
- Favorite Fly to Fish: Any Streamer/ bigger=better
- Favorite Water: The Stillwater, because it is anything but still and provides so many opportunities.
- Favorite Type of Fishing: Saltwater…East Cape of Baja
- Favorite Fish: The man, Roosterfish
- Biggest Fish Lost: Tarpon 90+ looked big enough to saddle and ride.
- Dream Destination: Any place that is sunny, salty and warm.
- When Not Fishing: Hunting birds with my English Labs in Nevada, Idaho, and Arizona.
- And one time a client asked me: “Will the river take us back to the car?”