Creator: Lilly, Bud


Provenance Note: Personal and business papers created by Bud Lilly were donated to Montana State University Library by Tim Crawford of Belgrade, Montana, on April 3, 2012.


Historical Note: Walen F. "Bud" Lilly was born on August 13, 1925 in Manhattan, Montana. His mother, Violet Collins Lilly, was a descendant of Mary Wells "Granny" Yates, a pioneer Montana settler who first arrived in the territory in 1863. Bud attended public schools in Manhattan and early developed a lifelong interest in fishing. In 1943 he enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve and attended officer training schools in Butte, Montana and Fort Schuyler, New York. Bud was assigned to the USS General R. M. Blatchford during the latter part of World War II and during his service visited Hiroshima, Japan after its bombing by American forces. After the war Lilly attended Montana State University in Bozeman, earning a bachelor's degree in science and beginning a career as a public school teacher in Roundup, Deer Lodge, and Bozeman, Montana and at Scottsdale, Arizona. He married Patricia Bennett on March 15, 1947 and the couple had three children: Gregory, Michael and Annette. In 1961 he purchased a trout fishing tackle store in West Yellowstone, Montana that had been started by Don Martinez and operated by Charles Borberg. Known simply as "The Trout Shop," Lilly's business became a great success, coordinating information regarding local fishing conditions, providing a space for fishing enthusiasts to gather, and offering a wide variety of custom made flies and related tackle. His entire family worked at the shop at one time or another and all three of his children provided guiding services. Publications associated with the Trout Shop included various editions of a merchandise catalog and a fishing map, both of which were created by collaboration with David Bascomb, a California advertising executive and fly fishing enthusiast. As Lilly's fame as a guide and store owner grew, he also became an advocate for catch and release fly fishing along with streambed and habitat conservation. Among the people he personally guided on fishing trips were British ambassador Sir Peter Ramsbotham and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Among the organizations Lilly has been active in are Trout Unlimited, the Federation of Fly Fishers, and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. In collaboration with Paull Schullery, Lilly has written three books on fly fishing: Bud Lilly's Guide to Western Fly Fishing (1987), A Trout's Best Friend : the Angling Autobiography of Bud Lilly (1988), and Bud Lilly's Guide to Fly Fishing the New West (2000). Although Lilly sold the Trout Shop in 1982, his business interests continued with the formation of the Western Rivers Club, an organization he founded to keep his former customers in touch, and the Angler's Rest, a guest hotel for fishing visitors in Three Forks, Montana. In addition to his work with the Montana Ambassadors, a state sponsored program to entice visitation and investment in Montana, Lilly has also worked as the river keeper for Baker Springs, a land development company near Manhattan, Montana. After the death of his wife Patricia in 1984, Lilly remarried in 1985 to Esther Simon, then the executive director of the Federation of Fly Fishers, and the couple has two children, Christopher and Alisa.


Content Description Note: The Bud Lilly papers consist of biographical letters, business records, printed materials, and photographs all created or collected by Lilly in the course of his life and business career. Among the letters is one he wrote while still serving in the Navy in 1946 describing the cruise of the USS General R. M. Blatchford. The business records consist of a financial ledger that predates Lilly's purchase of the Trout Shop. The printed materials include pamphlets, reports, and other ephemera from a wide variety of sportsman's and environmental groups. Photographs include 35 mm slides, digital images on CD and DVDs, a photograph album, and 100 individual prints which have been arranged under broad subject headings and are sequentially numbered.

Related collection: The main collection of Bud Lilly papers has been separately accessioned as Collection 2528


Box 1
1. Biographical material
2. Letters, 1946-2003
3. Letters pertaining to numbered photographs
4. Account ledger, 1952
5. Printed material-American Museum of Fly Fishing
6. Printed material-Miscellaneous
7. Printed material-Montana Land Reliance
8. Printed material-Trout Unlmited
9. Photographs #1-5, Bud Lilly individual portraits
10. Photographs #6-31, Lilly family
11. Photographs #32-48, Bud Lilly with others
12. Photographs #49-61, Trout shop
13. Photographs #62-75, Individual fishing scenes
14. Photographs #76-84, Scenery and wildlife
15. Photographs #85-87, Trout flies
16. Photographs #88-100, Catalog artwork and miscellaneous images
17. 35mm slides
18. CDs and DVDs
19. Photograph album


Oversize folder: Posters, catalog artwork, maps

Updated: 6/18/13