George F. Grant

George F. Grant

George F. Grant (born 18 September 1906) ["Free Flows," Big Hole River Foundation, Fall 2006 [] re 100th birthday] was an angler, author and conservationist from Butte, Montana. He was active for many years on the Big Hole River.


George F. Grant began an innovative style of fly tying in the early 1930s, and patented a unique method in 1939 (U.S. Patent No. 2,178.031). Grant's method for weaving hackles is similar to but distinct from that of Francis Potts. Grant was one of the first anglers to realize that large trout fed primarily beneath the surface on nymphs, and that one needed to imitate and learn to fish this insect-stage if one wanted to consistently catch large trout. Grant's nymphs imitated primarily large stoneflies such as the giant salmonfly ("Pteronarcys californicus"), which grows up to two inches in length. In recognition for this work he received the Fly Fishing Federation's coveted ( [] ) Buszek Award in 1973.

In 1967 Grant retired, lived summers on the Big Hole River, fished nearly every day, and began writing. Grant also edited the newsletter "River Rat" for Montana Trout Unlimited, writing many of the articles himself. He also wrote many essays published in local newspapers.

In addition to Grant's conservation work on the Big Hole, he campaigned in the mid-1970s for the cleanup of the Clark Fork River which was heavily polluted by the Anaconda Copper Mining Corporation's mining and smelting activities in the Butte-Anaconda region.

This was long before the creation of the Superfund Law and during a time when the Clark Fork River was largely devoid of aquatic life for 120 miles from its headwaters near Butte to its confluence with the Blackfoot River, near Missoula.

Grant fished primarily the Big Hole River of southwest Montana, near his hometown of Butte. His dedication to this river led him to become an active conservationist. Grant led an effort to defeat the Bureau of Reclamation's proposed "Reichle Dam" from 1965 to 1967. Grant's leadership involved the national organization Trout Unlimited in its first major conservation battle. Today, the 150-mile long Big Hole River is one of America's last free-flowing rivers.

River Rat Chapter of Trout Unlimited (1972)

Grant established the River Rat Chapter of Trout Unlimited in 1972. His political leadership through this group and Montana Trout Unlimited led to passage of the Montana Streambed Protection Act in 1975. Grant also helped promote early efforts to insure anglers public access to streams and rivers, which in 1985 culminated in Montana's Stream Access Law. This local ( [] ) Montana Trout Unlimited group is now called the George Grant Chapter.

In 1988 Grant established the Big Hole Foundation to focus conservation efforts on the river he had saved through his earlier conservation activities. Grant funded the organization's start-up through the sale of his split cane rod collection, his angling book collection, and through donations solicited from a nationwide cohort of supporters.

Grant's contributions were recognized in a public television film documentary made by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks titled "Three Men, Three Rivers" in 1988. This video is a source for instructors in the Boy Scouts of America ( [] ) Fly Fishing Merit Badge.


Grant authored two books:
* "Master Fly Weaver" (1971); special edition reprinted in 1981.
* "Montana Trout Flies" (1972); special edition reprinted in 1981.Later, a collection of Grant's newspaper essays was published as "Grant's Riffle" (1997).


*Pat Munday, "George Grant and the Conservation of the Big Hole River Watershed"
* [] "Montana The Magazine of Western History" (Summer 2002; pp. 20-37).
*Scott Sanchez, "Living a legacy of conservation and hair-hackle flies"( [] )
* "Lefty's World" ( [] )
* Bill Rooney review of "Three Men, Three Rivers" in "American Forests" (September/October 1994).
* George F. Grant, "An Old Angler Talks About The Clark Fork" in Tracy Stone-Manning and Emily Miller (eds.), ( [] ) "The River We Carry With Us" (Livingston, Montana: Clark City Press, 2002).
* George F. Grant, ed., "The Upper Clark Fork River," a special edition of "the River Rat" (July/August 1976).

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