Glacier Park Collection

Pursuit’s team is comprised of gifted people from all over the world. And Glacier Anglers & Outfitters is privileged to have one particular team member who is simultaneously as local and as global as it gets. Meet Hilary Hutcheson, a world-renowned fly fishing guide and a leader in environmental stewardship.

Growing up with Glacier Raft Co. 

Hutcheson was raised in northwest Montana and has been part of the Glacier Raft Co. family for over 30 years. In that time, she’s lost track of the number of miles she’s paddled and the number of times she’s shouted, “Fish on!” But she can recount the many hats she’s worn through the years.

“My first job with Glacier Raft Co. was as a nanny for the owners’ families when I was just a kid myself,” Hutcheson remembers. “By the time I was in junior high, I moved on to doing grunt work in the boat barn, then I started rowing gear boats, and when I was 18, I finally picked up the sticks and started guiding.”

Hutcheson briefly relocated to Oregon to pursue a career in journalism, but as she hooked fish after fish in waters near and far, the Flathead River kept its hooks in her. She returned home to start a public relations firm in Columbia Falls, and during all the schooling, career advancements and entrepreneurial pursuits, she stayed on the roster at both Glacier Raft Co. and Glacier Anglers & Outfitters. And as her reputation grew through hosting Trout TV and guiding trips around the globe, Hutcheson became a household name in the specialty niche of whitewater fly fishing.

A portrait of a woman wearing a cap.

Reflecting on the decades

With this much experience on the same stretch of water, Hutcheson is an authority on what has changed and what remains the same. “The people who are drawn to this area have always had something in common. They seek a meaningful experience in these headwaters — one of the last remaining relatively intact ecosystems in the world,” she says. “We have some of the coldest, cleanest and most connected waterways. It’s a special place and it’s important that we preserve it.”

With a highly knowledgeable clientele that is drawn to the Flathead River from all over the world, guides showcase their skillsets and engage with clients in the most impactful ways possible. “If we can foster their curiosity about the interconnectedness of our ecosystems and build their confidence with responsible interactions, then they leave here asking what they can do to be part of the solution. That’s a very positive trajectory for us all,” she says.

Hutcheson has a lot to say about our planet’s connected waterways, but in the context of guiding she remarks, “Even though people come from many different places with specific environmental challenges, we’re all fighting the same fight. We’re in the same boat, and we’ve got to row it together.”

A woman holds a big fish in the water.

Guiding and serving

In addition to being a whitewater and fly fishing guide, Hutcheson is an active member of several nonprofit advisory and directorial boards. Through her involvement with Protect Our Winters, American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA), AFFTA Fisheries Fund, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM), American Rivers’ Northern Rockies River Council and the Flathead Rivers Alliance, as well as past and future work with Casting for Recovery and Redside Foundation, she is involved with important work connecting sustainability practices, conservation policy making and activism at every level.

“Specific practices to foster sustainable fishing are especially effective when they’re written as law. ‘Don’t Forget: Keep Them Wet!’ is a message from Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), and it guides our fish handling practices. ‘Leave No Trace’ is a foundational tenant of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and it is how we set an example for our guests. These policies allow us to turn the outdoors into a classroom where guides and guests are listening and learning together,” Hutcheson says.

Hutcheson’s stewardship is evident when she talks about the impact of her various board service appointments. Being involved with these nonprofits keeps her in touch with the legislative process, the development of conservation campaigns and the cultural movements of climate change initiatives and the emerging eco grief support network. All the while, Hutcheson is a brand ambassador for multiple leading brands such as Yeti, Patagonia, Orvis, Costa and Scientific Anglers. “I’m happy to serve on boards, and I’m honored to represent these brands too. Being a brand ambassador is a way to showcase genuine enthusiasm and progress in the ongoing efforts of conservation.” she says. “We are actively using and developing products and being examples of how to recreate responsibly and foster healthy relationships between the land, the water and all the species who are here.”

A rafting guide navigates rapids in a rocky river.

Hutcheson has recently assumed a leadership role at Glacier Raft Co. and Glacier Anglers & Outfitters as the outfitter of record pursuant to directives from the USFS. This role is performed by an individual who supports the mission of the USFS by providing a quality recreation experience through guiding access to public lands, providing technical expertise and being responsible for recreation education and compliance with all forest rules and regulations. Hutcheson’s involvement in sustainability initiatives and work with nonprofits aligns with Pursuit’s Promise to Place which guides the company’s actions towards responsible stewardship, fostering respect for people, and championing communities.

Connecting every story

Showing no signs of stopping, Hutcheson keeps a busy schedule every day. She balances so many tasks it could make a trout’s head spin. Currently, she owns and operates Lary’s Fly & Supply, travels to remote destinations for contracted guide trips, serves on a multitude of boards, contributes to numerous publications as an award-winning filmmaker, writer and editor, and somehow, she still finds time to throw a line in. But Hutcheson doesn’t see all these activities as separate endeavors. She knows that everything is connected, from her public relations background to guiding first-timers down a churning stretch of whitewater. “Everything is a story,” she says. “And when people really listen to the river together, the river becomes a part of their own stories.”

Hutcheson continues to travel down this familiar stretch of the Flathead River listening to the raging whitewater, the swirling turquoise eddies and the native westslope cutthroat trout, because they all have something to say. For those seeking a fishing trip that is an experience grounded in authenticity and guided by a true steward, Hutcheson is the Flathead River's premier guide.

We are building a team of passionate people determined to make a difference in the places we love. Every effort counts. Meet more of them here and discover how Promise to Place is the real deal.
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