COVID-19/Coronavirus Operations Update

Edited May 20, 2020, High Noon

14 Day Quarantine Ends June 1st

Out of state visitors and anglers can begin to travel to Montana without a mandatory 14 Day Quarantine Monday June 1st. No longer do you have to lock yourself into a Motel 6 for two weeks before you come fish Montana’s Missouri River.

This does not mean that we are tossing aside all of the practices that brought us to this moment in time June 1st. Nope. We are still practicing physical distancing, masks, cleaning/sanitizing protocols daily here in Craig. We are entering Phase 2 on June 1st. Until then we are still under the auspices of Phase 1.

Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock announced the Phase 2 Plans for reopening as anglers can now freely travel to Montana and are not subject to quarantine before engaging in recreational and outfitted activities.  Headhunters Fly Shop and Guide Service will still fully apply the recommended personal hygiene and social distancing standards as we have done during the Phase 1 period.

Phase 1 directives are still in place from today through Sunday May 31st.

Headhunters Fly Shop Craig Montana

Headhunters Fly Shop will continue to provide a clean, sanitized, retail environment for all of our guests. We are still wearing masks to stay the course of Covid-19 along with hand washing, plenty of hand sanitizing stations, and sneeze-guards at the checkout counter.

Our popular TakeAway Window will continue to be open throughout the summer. Why not keep your distance when getting a river shuttle, buying a Montana Fishing License, ordering up a couple mayfly cripples, a bottle of GINK, and an Amadou patch? See us on the west side of the Headhunters Fly Shack for TakeOut Flies anytime during business hours!

Free Fly for those wearing a Mask inside Headhunters Fly Shop

Guide Trips

Guide Trips leaving daily from Headhunters of Craig. Our professional full time career fishing guides are keeping a tight ship! Daily cleansing of the boat along with sanitizing process will assure your safety on all guide trips from Headhunters.

Phase 2 protocols still include distancing suggestions. Will you wear a mask in the boat? Your guide is interested in keeping all parties safe on the water. A discussion before you leave in the morning with your fishing guide will structure the fishing day for safety and success.

Bring your own rods, waders, and water bottle if you wish.

Lunches provided by Headhunters from Mo River Eats. Owner Kelli Wilson is hyper diligent in conducting safe handling practices of all food products.

Airline Travel to Montana

Many of our guests are driving to Montana if at all possible. Of course if you live more than a couple days drive from the epicenter-center of Montana’s Fly Fishing HQ you may have to rely on the airlines. We understand there will be some complications traveling to Craig this summer.

It will behove you to do a bit of travel research before booking your guide trips and lodging this summer in light of the current airline status. We have heard that many have had no problem getting into Montana. The problem is the flight out/home. Some have stated that Salt Lake City is a good departure airport. But is driving 7 hours to catch your flight home worth it? You will have to make that decision.

If juggling is your strong suit, or if you are gonna come regardless of the difficulties of modern travel…we applaud you. We are interested in helping in any way we can to make this work for our fly fishing guests.

Again, it will be much easier if you can find a path here and an exit home before you book your trip with Headhunters. While Julie can juggle several balls at one time, we have found that 13 is too many!!

Airports in Montana along with travel times via car to Craig Montana

  • Great Falls MT: 45 minutes
  • Helena MT: 45 minutes
  • Bozeman MT: 2 hours
  • Missoula MT: 2 hours
  • Billings MT: 4.5 hours
  • Kalispell MT; 3.5 hours
  • Spokane WA: 5.5 hours
  • Salt Lake City UT: 7.5 hours
  • Denver CO: 12 hours
  • Timbuktu: Might be too far?

Give Julie a call 406-868-5473 for your summer guide trips and lodging reservations.

Headhunters Fly Shop

Open daily. We have adjusted our hours for the time being to 8-6 Monday-Wednesday. 7-7 Thursday-Saturday. 7-6 Sunday.

We are excited to see  your smiling faces and bent rods as we move into the next phase of Montanas re-opening. June 1st is the day the quarantine will be lifted.

We will continue to follow the strictest cleanliness and sanitation procedures to keep all safe.

Headhunters is now taking reservations for lodging and guide trips. Julie our crack booking agent is ready for your request. 406-868-5473.

Headhunters OnLine store is open for business. Thanks to all who have ordered and received fly fishing products including tons of flies, leaders, rods, reels, fly lines, and spey gear through our online portal. Our feedback has been positive as the packages leave from the store either the day of, or the next morning with expediency. We will continue to provide excellent customer service through our online store and beyond as we move through this summer. Don’t hesitate to call if you do not find what you are looking for, or have any questions about a product you are interested in.

Shuttle services daily. Dearborn Shuttle service daily. Call it in at 406-235-3447, at the TakeAway Window, or inside the shop.

We are ready to move forward into June with safety in mind, fun on the brain, and summer in our blood!



edited 4/24/20


Montana now has 262 (April 3) COVID-19 cases, with a hotspot in Bozeman/Gallatin County. We have not had any cases reported in the Wolf Creek/Craig area, but there have been a few cases reported in Great Falls and Helena. Step by step, we have implemented changes to our operation intended to protect both customers and our staff from COVID-19.

Our staff and guides are currently following social distancing rules, staying at home, and doing a little bit of solo fishing here and there. John is at the shop on a daily basis answering phone calls and filling inline orders (which we appreciate very much!).


The shop is now closed until at least April 24. We cannot provide shuttles, licenses, lodging, rentals or sales of any kind.

You can buy your fishing license on-line.

You can place on-line and phone orders at the shop.


Many of our customers have rescheduled their guided fishing trips for later in the year. We have made our deposit policy as flexible as possible to accommodate any changes – no matter how last minute – that you need to make. Any questions or changes should be directed to Julie. She can be reached at 406-868-5473 or


We are closing our lodging operations until April 24. If you have lodging booked with us in the near future, Julie will be giving you a call about rescheduling or other options.


We have already communicated to our guests who have trips booked prior to June 1 that we will be altering our cancellation policy for guided trips and lodging. From now until the end of May, you can alter your reservation inside of 30 days (without forfeiting your deposit), as long as you use the deposit to book another trip in 2020/21. You can do this right up to the last day before your trip. This will allow you to keep your reservations in place, and if illness or COVID-19 travel restrictions prevent you from coming at the last minute, you won’t be out of pocket. Most of the customers we’ve talked to are concerned about travel restrictions, not illness, but we feel this addresses both issues.

For trips after June 1, we will address that when the time comes. If COVID-19 is still prevalent and interfering with peoples health and travel, we will continue the “bump it forward” policy. Whatever happens in the future, we will try to be as flexible and sympathetic as possible.




We will try and keep up with this as quickly as possible, but as you are all aware, things are changing quickly.

Thanks for your patience.

John Arnold & Mark Raisler

Headhunters LLC



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  • Only actions produce results. Clearly, Headhunters is acting on our behalf as guests and their behalf as staff/guides. Excellent post. Thanks for being a proactive leader and keeping our community informed.

  • Just a suggestion. You should put your checkout counter in front of the entrance. Customers can walk up, “order” what they need, pay, and then go enjoy the river. You can practically see the whole store from the entrance. Smart to be proactive about this.

    • Thanks for the suggestion Aaron, it’s a good one. That has occurred to me, in fact if I wrote down every discussion and idea we’ve talked about in the last week, you’d still be reading the post! And remember that window behind our register? Almost close enough for drive through. And we will be encouraging people to order ahead and we run flies, tippet, etc. out to your car. As usual we try to be as flexible as possible, and I expect to make further changes. Thanks for the input and concerns. – JA

  • dan from ohio
    March 17, 2020 9:08 am

    John, Mark- I love you guys and all that you do, I admire your talents, and share your enthusiasm for our beautiful avocation. I’m reading this last blog entry, however, and- I’m sorry, but I’m just not there. Let me just go ahead and be “that guy”: Tearing up the side deck at your shop and putting in a drive through? Seriously? I”ll tell you this: I’ve been in the shop a bunch, and I live at the campground there for 6 weeks every summer; If I’m now considered too “dangerous” to encounter in normal human terms, or if you are going to wear a mask and gloves and toss stuff out a window to me, then great- I’ll spare everybody the risk and just won’t come around anymore…What’s next- Don’t go to Joe’s anymore? I’d wonder how Joe feels about that? Don’t go crowding into Isaacs anymore? I’d wonder if he could stay viable by switching to a “toss it out a window” model…Wondering if housekeeping sterilized this refrigerator handle, wiping down any horizontal surface on the boats with clorox every night, standing 6 feet away from the guy at the ramp who wants to chat? Guys- it’s a flu virus. Fifty thousand people die from a flu every single year; NIH says that three hundred thousand (go ahead- look it up) people die from obesity every single year. Yes we are told corona is easy to transmit, but it also seems to have limited impact on most healthy people. Yes it can kill people with compromised health, but so will a hundred other things.
    Here in Ohio they’ve put off an election, limited our right to assemble, shut down churches, shut the schools down, the restaurants are shut down, there’s a run on groceries by frightened people, and when you go into a hardware store now everybody looks at each other suspiciously. For the flu. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t like it guys, and something about this whole thing stinks. Just one man’s opinion.

    • We’re not “switching models”, but trying to make people feel comfortable coming in the shop (or not if they’re not comfortable coming in). We’re definitely not tearing up the deck, but may make it available for walk up, if that makes you more comfortable. We may implement other small changes to protect our customers and staff, but nothing that will be that noticeable.

      I have worked in the service industry my entire life as a fly fishing guide and in the ski industry (Sun Valley). In those environments, you are waking up every morning and spending the day greeting new people who have traveled from all over the world. It is nearly impossible to stay healthy. When the H1N1 virus rolled through here in 2009, every single employee and guide got it except me, my wife and daughter (for some reason, and I’m hoping that happens this year). Our guides and shop staff know that if they get sick they will miss 2-4 weeks of work. If we all get sick, you won’t need to worry about how we operate the shop. We won’t be able to.

      I apologize for trying to take measures that will make our customers more comfortable, and protect our staff so we can operate as normal as possible.

      • dan from ohio
        March 17, 2020 11:43 am

        Please Brother no apology necessary, and I do understand your concerns as a business owner, I do. In fact- I should apologize to you- my rant (it was a rant…) was not meant to be as specific or personal, but more a general outcry about being told how to conduct our lives now- not just recommendations, mandates…Maybe I’m wrong, I hope I am wrong, but I just have a bad feeling about this, a feeling that we (as a nation) are setting a precedent for the future and for the next time something like this rolls through, and you know in time something else Will roll through… I have no smart solutions or suggestions to offer, other than what Mom taught us- cover your cough, wash your hands, be mindful of those around you. It is just very unsettling to me to see what this mandated “social distancing” stuff is doing to us, and the ripple effect- intended and unintended, it is having now and most certainly will have in the future. I’m just not there man…just my opinion. All the best to you, dan

        • Johnny Reachcast
          March 23, 2020 2:50 pm

          Honestly… If you’re that skeptical and unwilling to change your habits in regards to transmitting this virus; please stay away from Craig. Those of us that live and work here absolutely cannot risk being casual about this. Our lives and livelihoods are on the line.

  • “When we don’t fish, the terrorists win”.

  • Thanks guys!

  • Dan in Ohio, thank you for speaking out. Today I was riding bikes with my children and I noticed that there were placards posted all over the local city parks, playgrounds, basketball courts and tennis courts, these reading to the effect that all would be closed until further notice. Of all the things we as a society could benefit from right now, outdoor activity is high on the list. No long term benefits will be derived from total isolation and increased “screen time”. The entire pandemic and the Subsequent social responses is likely completely disproportionate with the severity of this illness. With the caveat that as time progresses, possibly some statistics will prove that this over reaching social distancing and the entire host of economical ramifications it has caused will be to some benefit. But I seriously doubt it. The statistics that are being used for Covid-19 mortality have an inherent bias, in that only those who are presenting to a hospital acutely ill and with respiratory distress are being tested. This therefore eliminates the presumably tens if not hundred of thousands that potentially have already been going about our daily lives while thinking that we have a mild cold. I do certainly empathize with those who are immunocompromised and are at higher risk, but let us be clear, there are dozens of other highly contagious illnesses that can be contracted , not the least of which is influenza which kills tens of thousands annually in the U.S alone. Our governments response and that of community leaders and business leaders has set a precedent that will be difficult to avoid when the next viral illness comes around. I feel an alternative solution would have been for the elderly and immunocompromised ( at their discretion ) to seek their own social isolation and the rest of the world can go about business. We all should have been practicing better hygiene and limiting contact when sick and perhaps the silver lining in this will be a greater social consciousness as to how we can limit passing contagions to each other on a daily basis.

    • Johnny Reachcast
      March 23, 2020 3:53 pm

      Over 6000 people of all ages are already dead in Italy. Tell them and their families our reaction is “disproportionate”. In my opinion it’s not nearly drastic enough.

      If you are still “going about your daily lives as if you have a mild cold”,” please stay the heck away from Craig. Bringing this virus into a small rural community like ours could devastate our local population and economy.

  • With the above in mind, John and Mark and the rest of Headhunters staff, I can certainly empathize with you and can only imagine the pressure you must feel as business owners and employees to operate in tandem with the new norm and change your business practices. I thank you for your diligence in striving to keep yourselves and your customers healthy. I wish you the best during this social and economic crisis and I hope and strongly believe that Headhunters will continue to serve as the premier fly shop for the “Mo for years to come.

  • Take a chill Dan from Ohio. You don’t run that shop bro. HH will do as they feel needed. Meanwhile, the action here in Michigan is getting good – blessed with some great water.

  • I just want to wish all the HH crew well and to stay safe during a pretty stressful situation that is ever changing, unpredictable and most likely getting more sketchy as the days pass, not less. These are challenging times for all of us and from what i can see the HH crew are being proactive in keeping both their staff and their customers as safe as they can.

    For me that can only be a good thing, but if others have a different opinion then there’s always the Madison. Or the irrigation dyke just outside Dillon.

    Stay safe folks.

    Simon (crazy English dude who does not – and cannot – cast from a boat)

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