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Shelly Ehmer

Shelly Ehmer, in her element. Big Horn River.

Shelly Ehmer, in her element. Big Horn River. Photo by Tyler Collins.

In what capacity are you currently engaged in the sport of fly fishing?

I am a guide and the office manager for the Bighorn Angler in Fort Smith, Montana. This means my day can consist of guiding on the river, fly shop work, rental boats, guide schedules, payroll, accounting work, lodge work- yes sometimes this even means cleaning a room or two. 12 hour days are common, the work is never done.

How were you introduced to the sport?

Shelly on the sport boat.

Shelly on the sport boat.

A long time ago, my “Fun Fishing” was killing tuna on the sport boats out of San Diego. Then I went to work on the sport boats and it was no longer fun. It was work. A Captain friend of mine from one of the long range boats fly fished for fun. We talked and the opportunity came up to do a trip with him to Crowley Lake, in the Sierras near Mammoth. The first time I hooked a fish i had the rod upside down and backwards.

What is it about fly fishing that “keeps you coming back?”

The need to read the river, acknowledge the conditions, be able to adapt to them, find the fish and get them to eat my flies.

Who were your biggest influences or mentors, male or female?

Frank Murata- my instructor for stillwater fly fishing. Captain Bruce A. Smith- for the introduction to this world. Chad Hill- for the mind blowing crazy life threatening trips that toughened me up.
Shelly with a fine Montana brown.

Shelly with a fine Montana brown.

What would you consider your home fishery and what do you  find so alluring and special about it?

My home fishery is now the Bighorn River. It is a great river to work on. After work I can do a evening float for streamers & dries for fun, either alone or with a good friend. I live about 5 minutes from the take out. Easy on and easy off

What environmental challenges are faced by your fishery?

Water quality from irrigation returns & inconsistent flows.. Very touchy subject right now..

When you are not fishing,what are you doing?

Working, kayaking, BBQ-ing for the guides who are in the area.
Picture says a thousand words...

Picture speaks a thousand words…

You have the day off. What are you fishing for and where?

I run up to Yellowtail Lake, approximately 17 minutes from my house,  to chase carp, small mouth bass and big trout on hoppers and streamers

What charitable organizations or causes do you support? Why is this important to you?

1. Project Healing Waters- I think more needs to be done for our hero’s when they come home from the hell that they have been through. 2. The Bighorn River Alliance- I am hoping they get a handle on the issues we have here quickly. We need to protect our fishery.

Where would you go to fish if there were zero restrictions on expense, travel, etc…? Why?

Cuba.. From the stories I have heard I need to experience this kind of fun.

Please provide links to your business, blog, or favorite charities and causes.


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