Officially opened in 1993, Backdoor Outfitters was the dream of the Cook family. With little more than that dream, and an idea of what they wanted to provide( a location where people could come, be treated like family, and explore all the things God provided to this wonderful country we call Montana… at a price that was affordable, yet still provided all the amenities anyone might wish!’) the Cook family headed out to look for property that would provide the base they needed.
In 1993, after an exhaustive search, they settled on a 10 acre piece of property in the Bitterroot Valley…which had three bodies of water on it, Mitchell Slough (now considered a branch of the Bitterroot River by court decree), Willoughby Creek or Ditch (better really for shooting ducks than fishing), and a private 5 acre pond (that conveniently held large mouthed bass, and rainbow trout). Additionally, this property offered spectacular views of the Bitterroot Mountains, room to build a few cabins and a variety of wildlife living on the property.
Following two years of what some would consider ‘severe elbow grease’… where old car bodies were removed from the waterways, bridges were built, the main house was renovated into a lodge, and some basic landscaping was completed, they built their first cabin, ‘The Bitterroot’, and opened their doors to fly fisherman and women from around the world.
Over the next fifteen years, Backdoor Outfitters expanded to three cabins and had the pleasure of taking hundreds of folks down the rivers and channels of Western Montana. They have fished, explored, and dropped an anchor on almost every pod of fish that lives within a hundred mile radius of them, not once, but in some cases, hundreds of times. During that time, they had the pleasure of teaching many people the joy of ‘dry fly fishing’, and what they believe to be ethical fishing methods.
Then, in 2012, following a seven year battle with a stage 4 breast cancer, Patricia passed from this earth. Cody, who was eleven when they started Backdoor Outfitters, was 30 and following a career in computer networking, was married to a wonderful wife and the father of two beautiful boys. So, upon the death of his wife, John, had to make a decision; sell Backdoor Outfitters, let someone else run it and retire to a life of memories and senility; or stay where he was and continue with the business that had become a part of his life.
John’s decision was not an easy one. Though it had become more than a business to him, and most of his clients were more friends than clients, staying on at Backdoor Outfitters brought many painful memories. Then, in the fall of 2013, he met Suzanne (a Montana girl by birth who grew up in the Big Hole area, went to Butte high school, graduated from Montana State, and was as comfortable on a horse as she was in front of one of her classes at the University of Nevada LasVegas where she had taught for some thirty years) who made that decision a whole lot easier.
Though it meant giving up a beautiful home in the Helena area, and the life she had been building there since her retirement in 2010, Suzanne decided the two of us should become partners, stay on at Backdoor Outfitters and continue to provide others with what we could do better than almost anyone in the country… provide the best ‘dry fly fishing’ experience available.
So, in 2014, Backdoor Outfitters took on a new look in some respects while keeping the best of what they had learned over the last twenty years. In keeping with previous philosophy, we have remained small (holding our number of guests to a maximum of eight unless otherwise agreed upon) and continue to hold our prices in a range where it is not only the ‘rich and famous’ that have the opportunity to partake in a ‘guided’ fishing adventure. The only real changes around here is the addition of a beautiful person (Suzanne) and a few changes in the property which we hope are to our clients benefit (dog runs for their animals and a barn with stalls for their stock).
Therefore, for those seeking a unique Montana adventure, a destination where you’re treated not just as a client but a friend, where you are treated to first class accommodations at an affordable price, and where you are going out with guides with years of experience in their fields, let us invite you to spend a few days, or weeks, with Backdoor Outfitters.
May your Fly Always Match the Hatch, and, may your house always be too small to hold the friends that wish to stop by!
John Cook & Suzanne Sevalstad, owners
To Book a Trip – Give us a call (406) 381-4444
PO Box 522
Stevensville, Mt. 59870
Montana Outfitter License #6926