Guides

Now that you’ve chosen a trophy class river, you need an outstanding guide service.

The Bighorn Trout Shop’s guides are friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. Our years of experience are at your service. We are here to teach you how to catch our wild trout, and whether you are a beginner or an expert, our stream-savvy guides can get the job done.

The Bighorn River flows through the Crow Indian Reservation and wade-fishing is legal only up to the high-water mark. As a result, drift boats provide the most convenient access to the greatest variety of productive water. Experienced guides are invaluable in putting you within casting distance of trophy trout.

Merritt Harris

Birthplace: Denver
Favorite Fishing: Trout, Redfish, Carp. Merritt has his name on the prestigious “Fort Smith ‘Big Lips Carp’ Tournament” trophy multiple times.

Merritt has been with the Bighorn Trout Shop almost from its inception, and has a reputation as one of the top guides in the Bighorn Valley. Merritt spent his formative years on the southern end of the Crow Indian Reservation. People still talk of his basketball exploits as a Wyola Wildcat, and rumor has it that he left school early to declare for the NBA draft. While that didn’t work out, as a fishing guide, Merritt knows most of the Bighorn River trout by name and is highly requested. Merritt’s boat, the “Mother Ship,” painted like a giant brown trout, is a common sight on the river. Maybe you’ve seen him in the “Simms Fishing Products” advertisements. He is also a Sage pro.

Steve Anderson

Birthplace: Sheridan, Wyoming
Favorite Fishing: Trophy trout in some of his secret spots, some on the Bighorn, others… he’s not telling, but he has pictures to prove it.

Steve Anderson has been rowing people down the river for 20 years now, and people appreciate his knowledge, easy-going demeanor, and big laugh. It’s impossible not to have fun with Steve. He will put you on fish. Steve is a former Little League baseball legend in the Sheridan, Wyoming area. When he’s not rowing a boat, you might find him pursuing a trophy mule deer in Custer National Forest.

Pierce Oja

Birthplace: Yes

Pierce Oja is a sixth-generation Montanan who developed a love for fly fishing at a tender age upon hooking a whitefish on a dry fly. Thankfully, he switched over to trout shortly after this. Pierce is a fishing fanatic with tons of technical expertise and fish savvy. His clients appreciate his knowledge and work ethic. He’s also a college swimmer and holds Montana high school swimming records. So if you fall out of the boat in fast water…

Shawn Paul Williams

Birthplace: Somewhere back east
Education: Over-educated. Fisheries Biology and other stuff. He’s constantly using a bunch of scientific lingo that’s over our head.
Favorite Fishing: Stripers, Steelhead, etc.

Shawn Paul Williams is yet another veteran guide for the Trout Shop, and judging by his requests, he gets the job done year after year. Shawn Paul will not only catch you lots of fish, he’ll explain to you, scientifically, why you caught the fish, and why you’re about to catch another.

Mark Gervase

Education: Humboldt State
Favorite Fishing: Steelhead, King Salmon, Bonefish, Permit, Redfish, Largemouth Bass.

Although extremely intelligent, we marvel that Mark actually got a college degree because most of his “study time” at Humboldt State involved fly fishing the streams of northern California. He definitely has a Masters in trout fishing and a doctorate in Bighorn River trout. He’s an outstanding teacher and one of the fishiest guys I’ve ever met. Mark’s wife, Donna, keeps everything in order here at the shop.

Kevin Kniss

Birthplace: Oregon
Favorite Fishing: Trout, Redfish, Steelhead.

Kevin had been fishing the Bighorn since the mid 80s, and even though he was on the fast track in the corporate world, he decided that his office was a bit confining compared to the one he currently keeps on river. A former Colorado resident, Kevin has been guiding on the Horn for several years and is one of the funniest guys you’ll meet. His jokes are even better when you’re catching fish, which is almost all of the time.

Tim Church

Birthplace: California
Favorite Fishing: Everything.

Another “fishy” Californian. People love Tim’s laid-back demeanor and trout fishing knowledge. He winters in Santa Barbara, which should say something about his general intelligence. A trout fanatic, Tim started fishing the river over 15 years ago, staying at a friend’s house here in Fort Smith. He liked the river so much that he bought the house from his friend and started guiding for us. He’s versatile, likeable, and fun to fish with. He’s the kind of guy you’d like to introduce to your sister … but Tim is married.

Steve Lynn

Birthplace: Rapid City, South Dakota

A rising star on the guide staff, Steve has been rowing Trout Shop clients down the river for several years and he’s outstanding in every respect. If he’s not the hardest-working guide on the river, he’s right up there. Steve has received rave reviews from beginners and experts alike. He’s such a nice guy that he makes us the rest of us feel like jerks.

Dave Palumbo

A native of upstate New York, Dave has a degree in History & Environmental Studies from Ithaca College. Dave has lived in Montana since 1991, and has been guiding and outfitting on the Bighorn since 1993. For some reason, Dave roots for Syracuse University in college basketball, so please don’t tease him about the Orangemen’s NCAA problems. Dave is a cagey veteran, and we’re proud to have him on our staff.

Dante Bonanini

Birthplace: Boulder, Colorado

Dante grew up in Colorado and Montana and studied Civil Engineering at Montana State University in Bozeman. Dante is another up-and-comer who will go out of his way to catch you fish. In the winter, you can sometimes find Dante catching some “sick air” on his snowboard. Let’s hope he doesn’t hurt himself. He has a family.

Gordon Rose

Birthplace: Colorado

Gordon and his wife, June, are the former owners of Bighorn Fly & Tackle here in Fort Smith. The shop used to be called Quill Gordon Flyfishers. Theodore Gordon was the father of American dry fly fishing, but we actually think Gordon is. He is an outstanding guide, a great dry fly fisherman, and he knows the river like few others. He’s also one of the best fly tiers we know, and ties a number of Trout Shop patterns. We’re honored to have him on our staff.

Tyler Collins

Birthplace: Billings, Montana
Favorite Fishing: trout, steelhead

Tyler is the son of legendary Bighorn guide, Curt Collins. Curt worked for our shop throughout the 80s and 90s and was one of the best guides on the river. So Tyler has the genetics. We think he can be better than his Dad. He grew up hunting and fishing and he’ll be glad to show you what he knows.

Enoch Walker

Enoch grew up in Billings, Montana and has fished the Bighorn River since 1981. A graduate of Eastern Montana College, and a former US Airways pilot, Enoch now pilots a low-profile Clackacraft. His takeoffs and landings have been flawless for the past six years. A former rodeo cowboy, Enoch never quite attained to the lofty heights of his father. Enoch Walker Sr. was the RCA World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider back in 1960.

Shaun McClure

Birthplace: Billings, Montana

Billings, Montana native, Shaun McClure is intense—in a good way. He has a passion for all technical aspects of fly fishing, whether it’s dry flies or sink tips. He also has a degree in gunsmithing. So don’t argue with him. Just do what he says and you’ll catch fish. If he’s not on the river, you’ll find him behind the tying vice or upland bird hunting—well, at least during bird season.