Monster Big Hole Bows

Field and Stream, September 1916

About a week ago we came across this old photo of two Butte fisherman who won the US and Canada Rainbow trout contest in the fly category. There was no date on the photo and I thought it was around the 1940’s. After extensive research we were surprised to find it was September, 1916 Field and Stream issue.

Jack Derville who is on the right won the contest on July 14th. He landed a 12 pound 8 ounce rainbow in the Big Hole River near Divide. The length was 32 inches and girth of 18 inches. It was caught with a hand-made “Ted Ross” fly rod.

Ted Ross, winnerof the second place, was a well known dealer in angling supplies and was a expert on piscatorial matters. So says the article. His catch was 10 pounds and was caught on a #10 hook also on the Big Hole near Divide.

We also found out Jack Derville was drafted in 1917 during WW1, That was all we could find out about him and we could not find anything about Ted Ross.

If there is anyone who could find any more info, I would love to hear it. There must be some record in the Butte area of the “Ted Ross” fly rods.

So why are there no more 10 and 12 pound bows in the Big Hole River?

By the way the article also said it required an hour  and 25 minutes to land the first fish. I think they told fish stories back then also.

Big Hole River 509 cfs–Maidenrock


  1. Al
    Reminds me of when I was a kid in the 50’s when my dad and his brothers would trot out the kodak snapshots of them in the 20’s and 30’s, holding a stringer of 50 trout, some quite big, and wonder why the fishing in Oregon wasn’t as good now.

  2. Around that time Butte was one of the most corrupt places in the country, perhaps they cheated in that contest too? I can very clearly tell from the pictures that those are Clark Fork Reservoir rainbows, and not Big Hole rainbows (well the reservoir hadn’t been made yet, so there goes that theory).

  3. Maybe the rainbows are being out-competed by browns. When were browns introduced to the Big Hole, anyway?

  4. I’ve seen 6 lb bonefish turn into 10lbs with just retelling a story or two, so maybe some of that went on back then 🙂

  5. Not sure when the browns were introduced. Will try to find out. Does anybody know?

  6. The first brown, rainbow and brook trout were introduced to the Big Hole in the late 1880’s from hatcheries in Butte and Bozeman. The last hatchery fish to go into the Big Hole was in 1990.
    Have a great day!

  7. It is from wikipedia’s page on the Big Hole River, so take it with a grain of salt.

    “…and Brown trout which were first introduced into the Big Hole in late 1880s as hatchery operations began in Butte and Bozeman, MT.”

  8. Makes me wonder what the Grayling population was in 1875….

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