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May fishing on the Bighorn River in Montana

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Guide Spotlight: Dell Despain

A native of Utah, Dell started fly fishing as a kid on trips to the mountains with his Dad. Those early experiences lit a fire for the sport that still burns bright 5 decades later. In 1998 Dell sold his successful bakery business in Utah and found his way to Montana and began guiding on the Bighorn that same year, giving Dell 20 years and thousands of days on this blue ribbon trout fishery.

During Dell’s guiding career he has worked nearly every major river in the state, from the freestone streams on the western edge of Montana, to the spring creeks of Paradise Valley. In 2006 alone he guided on 12 different rivers around Montana! These days he has narrowed his focus to the Bighorn. Having fished and guided a wide range of places, Dell feels that without a doubt, the Bighorn is one of the best. He is also known as an innovative fly tier and is a Signature Fly Designer for Yellowstone Fly Goods, a Billings, Montana based wholesale fly production company.

Known among fellow guides for his passion and love for both fly fishing and fine cigars; he’s also somewhat famous in the Valley as a good natured practical joker. Among clients he’s known for his seasoned professionalism, focused work ethic and willingness to tailor the day to meet his anglers needs and expectations. Whether you are a novice, an expert dry fly technician, or somewhere in between, Dell draws from a deep well of experience and can show you the best of what the Bighorn has to offer.

Dell lives in Billings with his wife and three children Scout, Emma, and Magnus; and his loyal Jack Russel, Bob.

Q & A Rapid Fire:

If you only had ONE fly to fish the Bighorn: Pink Soft Hackle Sowbug

Favorite Month to Fish the Bighorn: June

Favorite Cigar: CAO Brazilia

What are you doing if you’re not fishing: Mountain Biking

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Welcome To The Boat Lean


Around most fly fishing lodges and shops it’s not uncommon to find guides hanging around at the end of a long hot day rehashing events; flies that worked, runs that fished well, jokes, whatever, are the usual conversation. These informal debriefs usually take place around a drift boat, which serves to prop up said guides, and makes a convenient drink holder for the customary cold beers that are enjoyed. Go to any trout river in the West, and at days end you’re likely to spot one. And if you really want to know the low down, this is the place to get the goods. It’s known among trout guides as “The Boat Lean”.

We’ve actually had a blog on our website for quite a few years now. This season we are planning to add more content to keep you better connected to what’s happening here on the Bighorn and at Eagle Nest. We will be inviting some of the guides to help out in order to bring new content and for their perspective on what’s happening- including more timely and up to date fishing reports.

In addition to fishing and hunting reports we would like to add some gear reviews, fishing and hunting photos and even some short articles for your reading enjoyment. So give us a bookmark on the link above, grab a favorite warm or cold beverage, and welcome to The Boat Lean.

Thank you and we hope you enjoy!

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Winter fishing on the Bighorn River

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