About Us

DarrellandDee burntEdIn April of 2007, Dee and Darrell Rolph along with their son Cody bought the Bighorn River Lodge from the previous owners and founders, Phil and Patty Gonzalez. With a lifelong shared passion for fly fishing, they had a vision to renovate the existing lodge and create a location where they, as well as others, could enjoy the world class fishing of the Bighorn River.

LodgeWith a lot of hard wor from Cody and a dedicated staff, the Bighorn River Lodge has become THE premier lodge on the Bighorn River.  


RickandCheryl burntEdThe lodge welcomed Rick and Cheryl Gehweiler to the team as general managers in the summer of 2012. Their backgrounds in property management, hospitality, and nature guiding brought a fresh outlook to the lodge dynamics. Avid fly fishermen, they have spent much of their free time fishing in the Northwest, parts of the Bahamas and Yucatan. Prior to their employment at Bighorn River Lodge, Rick and Cheryl have been fishing Bighorn River each summer for almost 20 years. Their friendly attitudes, attention to detail, and fishing expertise ensure that every guest has the experience of a lifetime.

Guide Staff

The Bighorn River Lodge has an exceptional guide staff and while we are probably a bit prejudiced, we feel we have the best guides on the river. Intimate knowledge of the river and the ecosystem, the ability to teach, strong people skills, and maintaining a high degree of professionalism are the attributes that each and every one of our guides possess. Meet some of our top guides:

MattClausen burntEdMatt Clawson, the Fishing Outfitter for the Bighorn River Lodge, started fly fishing the Bighorn over 25 years ago. After receiving a degree in business management from the University of Montana, Matt embraced his passions and entered the world as a professional fly fishing guide. The Clawson family has been farming, hunting and fishing the Bighorn Valley for three generations. His intimate knowledge of the river, its history, and its ecosystem is just one of the reasons Matt is so highly regarded amongst the guides and local stewards of the river. His extreme devotion to the art of fly fishing along with his diligent work ethic ensures that every client will have the best possible fishing experience.

DelDespain burntEdDel Despain, also a native Montanan, has been a professional guide for over 19 years. A graduate of the University of Utah, Del grew up fishing and his love of guiding has taken him to virtually every river in Montana as well as a few in Brazil and New Zealand. Del has traveled extensively over the years both guiding and fishing on his own and as a result brings a world class perspective to fishing as well of a wealth of great stories to go along with a great day of fishing.

RonFord burntEdRon Ford, another Montana native, has been guiding the Yellowstone, Stillwater and Bighorn for over 9 years. Ron started fly fishing at 8 and has been devoted to the sport ever since. Ron possess a captain’s license which is required to guide in a jet boat on either the Bighorn Lake or the river. This versatility is a great asset for the lodge clients who may wish to broaden their options during their stay with us. In the winter, Ron is the Ski Patrol director in Red Lodge Montana. There is a term we all use when someone is just especially good at finding and catching fish. Ron is one of those uncanny “fishy” guys. There are a lot of skills that are required to being a good guide, but Ron just has a sixth sense for the little nuances that make all the difference.  

Lodge Staff

I guess technically we are all staff but in reality, we are a family and a great team that works so very well together.

ShawnSmith burntEdChef Shawn Smith grew up in Easton, Connecticut where he started cooking at a young age. While attending the University of Utah, he realized that cooking was his passion. He then enrolled at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, California. Upon graduation, he returned to Utah as chef de cuisine at Wild Grape Bistro and was later recruited to assist in the opening of the Michelin Starred Spruce restaurant in Park City, Utah. Following a stint in Bend, Oregon, Shawn’s love of the outdoors and fly-fishing led him to the Bighorn River Lodge in Fort Smith, where he has been for four seasons. Shawn has brought a whole new dimension to the Bighorn River Lodge Experience with his creative and innovative approach to both the menu selections and his incredible fusion of flavors. As one client aptly put it “this is a five-star restaurant disguised as a fishing lodge”.

DaveSmith burntEdDave Smith our Sous Chef is Shawn’s brother who he brought out from Connecticut to help build our superb kitchen staff. Dave had been cooking in a variety of restaurants for 5 years before joining the staff here three years ago. Dave is a terrific addition to the staff and as his culinary skills and techniques have grown under his brother’s guidance. In a short time, Dave has developed into an excellent Sous Chef.

Beth, Julia and Margarita,

No staff is complete without those who labor tirelessly behind the scenes. 

BethFord burntEdBeth Ford is the wife of our guide Ron Ford and has been a great addition to the staff this year. She assists our staff with serving breakfasts, preparing river lunches, and helping with housekeeping chores when necessary. Her hard-working and friendly attitude make her a perfect fit with the rest of the staff.

JuliaRamiriez burntEdJulia Rameriez has been working at the lodge for more than 8 years, primarily in the kitchen for breakfast and dinner shifts as well as helping her mother Margarita with housekeeping chores when necessary. Her positivity and detail-oriented mindset are a welcoming greeting each morning as she provides a delicious breakfast to a full house with deceptive ease. 

Margareta RameriezMargareta Rameriez is our head of housekeeping and there is no one on the planet better than Margarita. She has run the show here for 10 years and her tireless work ethic and meticulous attention to detail is absolutely responsible for all the wonderful comments we receive from our guests as to the quality and comfort of the lodge.

Bighorn River Weather

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