Guides - Bighorn Trout Shop


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.

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 25 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.

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.

Kip Dean

Birthplace: Black Hills, South Dakota

Kip Dean is another Trout Shop veteran of many years. He’s been rowing the river since the 90s and has a long list of satisfied customers. Kip is known for his all-around, guiding excellence and his highly-developed, albeit unconventional sense of humor. Kip is also a protege of “the Ice Man”, Wim Hof, so if he decides to take an icy dip in the river during lunch, don’t let it unnerve you. Kip knows how to catch fish and keep people laughing. He’ll work hard to show you a great 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

Definitely one of the “stars” of our guide staff, Steve has plenty of experience rowing Trout Shop clients down the river and he’s outstanding in every respect. If he’s not the hardest-working guide on the river, we’re not sure who is. Steve has received rave reviews from beginners and experts alike. He’s such a nice guy that he makes 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.

Enoch Walker

Birthplace: Cottonwood, Arizona

Enoch grew up as a cowboy in the western U.S., primarily here in Montana. As a cowboy he had big shoes to fill, since his dad was the PRCA World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider in 1961. Enoch tried to follow in his father’s footsteps (or stirrups) but things didn’t work out. He became a pilot for Southwest Airlines where the ride was a lot smoother. Enoch now pilots a drift boat on the Bighorn and his clients are thankful for his new career.