Natural Retreats, The Outfitters, South Fork Lodge is proud to employ the best guide staff on the South Fork of the Snake River.
Several of our guides have been guiding in this area for more than 25 years. All of our guides are excellent and passionate teachers as well as superb boatmen and boat women. You can rest assured knowing that you are in able hands whether you are a rank beginner or an angling expert with years of experience of your own. The guides at Natural Retreats, The Outfitters, South Fork Lodge will do everything possible to ensure an on and off water experience that will make you want to return year after year. We ask that if you have any questions about your trip, our waters or any other angling related inquires that you are comfortable calling us here at The Outfitters : 1 800.483.2110.nture.
Zach Peyton is one of our senior guides here at Natural Retreats and has been on staff since 2002. Growing up in Pocatello allowed Zach to learn the local waters at an early age, and his knowledge of the lower Snake is unparalleled.
In the off season, Zach is an adjunct professor at ISU where he teaches a variety of fly fishing and rod-building courses. This makes Zach an excellent choice for anglers who wish to become better fisherman during their stay. His intensity and passion for his work are immediately evident and they constantly drive him to improve. His accomplishments in the sport continue to grow, and we are exceptionally proud to have him as a leader on our staff. In both 2010 and 2012, Zach won top Idaho guide in the prestigious Jackson Hole One Fly tournament. In 2011, Zach achieved his long time goal of becoming a saltwater captain, and will be guiding for Natural Retreats in the lower Florida Keys during the months of March, April, and May. While specializing in fly fishing for tarpon, bonefish, and permit, Zach is also happy to accommodate anglers interested in spin fishing for those species. Those interested in a flats fishing experience can book Zach through our concierge service.
Ed first fished the South Fork of the Snake River during Labor Day weekend in 1988. With the smoke still clearing from the Yellowstone fires, he discovered the awesome scenic value of the South Fork. Eagles, moose, and rutting elk formed a backdrop while fish rose readily to his Dave's Hopper. Snake River cutthroats, rainbows and large browns were abundant and eager to eat a dry fly. Ed was literally hooked!
Ed takes those first few days on the South Fork as the gold standard for his client's experience—great fishing to three species of trout, all framed by the splendor of abundant wildlife. What else could be better? Since Ed joined the South Fork guide staff in 1991 he has become one of our most valued and most requested guides. He is eager to share what he has learned and continues to please our guests, season after season. After 22 years on the South Fork, his knowledge of the river is immense, and he has used that knowledge to become a dominant presence in the Jackson Hole One Fly contest, claiming top guide honors in 2001, 2002, and again in 2011. He was also named the One Fly guide of the year in 2002. With all these accolades, it is easy to see why Ed stays so busy during the season. So, if you want to enjoy all the South Fork has to offer, book a day or two with Ed, but book early because he is in high demand!
Eric comes from a fly fishing family and has been chasing trout his whole life. He is one of Natural Retreats' senior guides and has an established history in the area. His father was co-owner of the first fly shop in Boise, Idaho, and though he sold the business in the 1980's, he continued to organize destination fly fishing trips around the world until his death in 1999.
Eric's love of eastern Idaho began in 1985 with his first trip to the South Fork and was fueled by yearly trips to the region. In 2000 Eric started guiding for South Fork Outfitters and has been one of our most popular guides ever since. He is an extremely skilled and well-traveled angler, having explored new opportunities in a number of exotic locations including peacock bass in Brazil, steelhead in Alaska, and flats fishing in The Florida Keys, Belize, and Panama. A day on the river with Eric is guaranteed to be good one. His easy-going personality and patient style of teaching always make him a guest favorite. In the off-season Eric can be found on the slopes, either skiing for fun or working as a Powder Cat Ski guide at Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming. He began his guiding career at Grand Targhee in 2000, and he has been lead guide since 2004. Eric and his wife, Sarah, also an avid skier and fly fisher, reside in Teton Valley, Idaho.
Jonathan is a New Jersey resident whose addiction to fly fishing began when he was eight years old. As the son of an avid angler, he was fortunate to begin his education at an early age. He first learned to fly fish while chasing largemouth bass on the many ponds around his home. As he got older, he graduated to smallmouth fishing on the Delaware River and then finally to trout fishing on the limestone creeks of southeastern Pennsylvania.
During his teenage years, he spent his summers in the West, sleeping in the back of a van and fishing through Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. Jonathan has always gone where the fish are, and after graduating from The College of New Jersey in 1999, he moved to Idaho and began guiding full time on The South Fork. He began working for Spence Warner who had just sold his outfitting business to Mark Rockefeller. Little did Jonathan know of the changes that were in store for the business, nor how important those changes would be to his future.
Over the next five years, Jonathan continued to guide full time for South Fork Outfitters, eagerly awaiting each season as he lived out what had once been little more than a childhood dream. Jonathan soon became a resident of Idaho, and in 2002, met his future wife, LaDawn, an Idaho native every bit as intoxicating as the river he loved. In 2003, expecting their first child, Jonathan and LaDawn moved to New Jersey, leaving the West and opening a new chapter in their lives. Following the birth of their daughter Brianna, Jonathan returned to graduate school and earned his Master's Degree in Education. For several years, he took a hiatus from the river, but after becoming established as a high school English teacher, The South Fork once again called Jonathan West. In 2008, Jonathan rejoined South Fork Outfitters as a guide, moving his wife and three daughters to Idaho Falls for two months in the summer. This has allowed him to combine his love of teaching with his passion for fishing, and he has been invaluable member of the team ever since his return.
As one of most senior members of staff, Jonathan has seen many changes over the past fourteen years, and 2011 brought one more. The arrival of Natural Retreats introduced new management and new possibilities for the future. Never afraid of changing course and always open to promising opportunities, Jonathan agreed to work with Natural Retreats as a consultant in the planning of their new outfitting operation in Virginia, Hot Springs. This turned out to be a rewarding partnership, and after much discussion Jonathan decided to leave his seven-year teaching career to pursue full-time employment with Natural Retreats. It is with great enthusiasm that we would like to announce Jonathan's new position as US Sales and Product Manager for Natural Retreats, The Outfitters. In September, he will begin working in Charlottesville, Virginia at Natural Retreats' US headquarters. He is excited about his new position and would like to thank all the loyal guests who have helped to make him the guide he is today. While you may not often see him behind the oars, he will be launching a destination fishing business and hopes to see many of you on the water again. We are confident that his expertise and involvement will lead to much success in the years to come. Congratulations Jonathan!
Brad moved to Idaho from Breckenridge, Colorado in the Spring of 1991 in search of better fishing and fewer crowds. He spent 10 years teaching skiing and building houses in Mccall, Idaho before becoming a fly fishing guide for Three Rivers Ranch and Reel Women.
For the next three years, Brad gained a vast amount of experience as he guided a variety of different rivers including The South Fork, Henry's Fork, The Upper Snake, The Teton, and The Green. Throughout that time, The South Fork was always his favorite, and in 2005, Brad came to work for Natural Retreats. Since that time he has become a senior member of our staff, and lives in Irwin from May 1st through October 15th. When the season comes to a close, Brad heads to The Salmon and chases steelhead before returning to Tamarack Resort where he still works as a ski instructor. He has always been a fish bum, and he enjoys chasing tarpon whenever the opportunity presents itself. He has spent time fishing the flats in The Florida Keys, Belize, The Bahamas, and Mexico. Brad takes pride in his top-five finish as an Idaho guide in the 2011 Jackson Hole One Fly Contest.
Every few years someone new comes along that seems born to guide. This year one of those people walked through our door. At 24 years old, Cody is not only one of the newest members of the Natural Retreats guide staff but also the youngest. Despite his age, this young man already has several years of experience behind the oars.
A native of Durango, Colorado, Cody moved to North Fork, Idaho in 2008 when his family bought The Village at North Fork, a lodge and restaurant that caters to rafters and steelhead fishermen. A year after moving to Idaho, Cody started guiding both whitewater and fishing trips through North Fork Guides. After two seasons of guiding on the Salmon River, Cody met Dan Hurzeler, a senior member of our guide staff. As a result of Dan's encouragement, Cody moved to Swan Valley in the Spring of 2012 and started working in the fly shop. It didn't take long for people to notice Cody and he was quickly licensed on The South Fork. We have high hopes for Cody and look forward to having him as a Natural Retreats guide for years to come.
Since 2011, Darring has been a vital member of the Natural Retreats team. Prior to coming aboard, he spent six years guiding full time for Teton Valley Lodge. During his time here, he has not only guided but also worked in the fly shop, run our overnight camp, and worked on maintenance and landscaping.
Darring comes to us with an extremely impressive resume in outfitting that began in New England. When he was 21 years old he began working for Orvis in Manchester, Vermont as a fly fishing and shooting instructor. Within a year he became the assistant director of the program, and continued in that position for five years. After leaving Vermont, Darring moved to Ontario, Canada and took a job guiding bear hunts through Near North Outfitters. For the next eight years he called Ontario his home, splitting his time between guiding and managing the archery pro shop. 2001 called for a change of scenery, and Darring moved once again—this time to Meeker, Colorado. For five years, Darring guided both fly fishing and elk hunting trips. He began his time there at Elk Creek Lodge but spent most of those years working at Seven Lakes Lodge, a high end resort owned by Greg Norman. You can consider yourself lucky if you have a chance to spend a day on the water with Darring. You will never meet another man with such an impressive work ethic or more passion for his outdoor lifestyle.
Dave has been a South Fork regular since 1995 when he started guiding for Heise and J&J Outfitters. Since then, he has worked for almost every outfitter on the river, spending much of that time with The Lodge At Palisades Creek.
In 2000 Dave came to work full time for The South Fork Lodge, splitting his time between guiding and working as head of maintenance. In addition to his time on the South Fork, Dave has had extensive guiding experience at a wide range of destination both in the States and abroad. In 2010 he was fortunate enough to work through Roxton Worldwide on the Kola Penninsula, based primarily on Varzuga River. During his time there, he both guided and worked as an engineer maintaining the camp's fleet of jet boats. Dave's experience also extends to the salt. Whether chasing bonefish in the Bahamas, redfish in Texas, or tarpon and snook in Belize and Mexico, Dave is a consummate angler. While many people would consider themselves lucky to have fished in one of these locations, Dave continues to add to his impressive list of global destinations. In fact, this spring Natural Retreats chose to send him to explore future opportunities in Patagonia and the Goya region of Argentina. During his time there he was able to land five species of fish including the famed golden dorado. It goes without saying that we are extremely proud to call Dave Deardorff one of our own.
We are thrilled to have Ken back on the Natural Retreats team this year. A resident of Boise, Idaho, Ken spent 35 years playing oboe in the Boise Philharmonic, all the time working as a South Fork guide in the summer.
Over the past three decades, the name Ken Burkholder has become synonymous with dry fly fishing on The South Fork. During that time he has guided for almost every outfitter in the valley. A huge proponent of fishing a single dry fly, Ken has been responsible for the development of some of the region's most popular and effective patterns. His innovation and creative use of materials has revolutionized the way The South Fork is fished, and his love of rising trout has driven him to search out intimate water where anglers can pursue what many consider the purest form of the sport. Whether it comes to a large golden stone on the bank or a tiny PMD in a riffle, the elegance of a rise is undeniable, and Ken gains no greater pleasure than sharing this truth with a new angler. Those looking for an education in both entomology and fly design will enjoy fishing with Ken, one of this river's leading authorities on "matching the hatch"
Kenly Bitton is a true Swan Valley local. He was born and raised on the banks of The South Fork and learned to fish its waters prior to the construction of Palisades dam. His family was such a presence in the valley that one of the river's most popular channels was named in their honor.
He started guiding on the river in 1978 prior to moving to Idaho Falls and taking a job at the INEL. In 2005 Kenly retired and returned to the waters of his youth. Since that time, he has been a vital member of the Natural Retreats team. If he's not on the river guiding out of his hand-made wooden drift boat, he can be found in the fly shop offering advice to our customers. In September, Kenly relocates to Orifino, Idaho where he casts a spey rod and guides for steelhead on The Clearwater River. He can be booked through the Clearwater River Company.
Where does one start and what can one say about Lyle "Ooley" Piram? Simply stated, he is the last of the brutally handsome river guides. Ever since his early days catching monster cutthroat on Palisades Creek, Ooley has been a constant fixture on The South Fork.
His wooden skiff "Precious" is, perhaps, the most famous boat ever to float the river. After 35 years of guiding, there is little that this man hasn't seen, done, or lied about, and his stories alone are well worth the price of admission. Ooley was given his first guiding job in 1977 when he went to work for John Hill. After a year of guiding for John, he bought his own outfitting permit and ran his own guiding business for fifteen years. After selling his permit, he went to work for a variety of outfitters, eventually finding a permanent home at Spence Warner's South Fork Lodge. You will never find another guide with more local knowledge, nor will you find someone with a greater legacy on The South Fork. He is truly one of a kind and Natural Retreats' personal ambassador of the South Fork.
Stacey literally grew up on the banks of the South Fork. He started fly fishing at the age of ten and has been hard at it ever since.
Stacey started guiding for South Fork Outfitters in June of 2002. He works part time for us and is available Friday through Sunday almost every week. Upon special request, he can usually meet other dates for a day of work on the river. Stacey works full-time for the Idaho National Laboratory. Stacey is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys any activity that includes the great outdoors. Stacey and his wife Shantell are the proud parents of five children/stepchildren.
Tim Woodard was born and raised in the Midwest. He began fishing as a young boy for catfish, bluegill, crappie, and bass. At the age of fifteen, he received a fly rod package from his Grandma and started learning how to use it.
In 2001 Tim moved to Southeast Idaho to pursue a college degree in Marketing and enjoy the outdoor life Idaho has to offer. Since that time, Tim's involvement in the industry has continued to grow. Not only has he guided for Natural Retreats for the last several years, but he is also an avid fly tier. He is currently a fly designer for Solitude Fly Co. and has many effective patterns to his name. We feel fortunate to have such an innovative tier on our staff. Tim also has extensive experience in retail sales, and his product knowledge for "all things fly fishing" is unparalleled. He definitely brings a wide range of skills to the table. Tim resides in Idaho Falls, ID with his wife Jennie, their daughter Paisley and his faithful bird dog Moose. Other hobbies that Tim enjoys are photography, snowboarding and pheasant hunting.
Dallin Ralls is an experienced guide who came to Natural Retreats from Teton Valley Lodge in 2009. He has a great reputation, not only as a first-class guide, but also as an innovative fly tier.
Over the past ten years, Dallin has been involved in the creation and development of some of the river's most productive patterns. He has become an integral part of the guiding team at the South Fork Lodge and is committed to training the next generation of guides. Dallin has an extremely positive personality and makes sure that every day on the water is an enjoyable one. He is an adaptable guide who always pushes himself and those around him to improve. In the off-season, Dallin builds custom pontoon boats and enjoys chasing steelhead. We are thrilled with his increased involvement and look forward to him taking a leadership role in the upcoming years.
Lee was born in Idaho Falls and spent his whole life living and fishing on the river. With instruction at an early age from his father, another South Fork local. Lee developed the skills needed to be a great fisherman at an early age. Working at the lodge as a teenager Lee was involved with guiding and fly shop operations under Spence Warner. Soon he was running the river and sharpening his rowing ability. Lee has been guiding the South Fork off and on since.
In 1998 Lee signed with the Air Force and as a jet engine mechanic spent 9 years in North Dakota and over seas in several remote locations. An avid fly tier, he is very knowledgeable in fly types and river entomology as well as the timing of hatches on the South Fork and other local rivers. He enjoys coming up with new creations on the vise to fool trout. If you get a chance to fish with Lee you might find yourself fishing with a few of his "creations". In the off season he enjoys bird hunting, big game hunting, chasing other fish like small mouth bass and catching steelhead salmon the on fly. Lee is very patient and a good communicator, these skills along with a lifetime of fishing experience makes him a great guide for the seasoned veteran or the new angler looking to learn the skills needed to fish the South Fork of the Snake.
Jim has fished the South Fork for over 30 years. He worked at the Idaho National
Laboratory (INL) for 26 years as a project manager; taking early retirement 7 years ago. He has guided for the Outfitters since Summer 2010 and has done a fantastic job for us out on the river. Previously he worked for another outfitter for several years.
He is now a substitute teacher in Jefferson County during the school year.
Born in Boise he is a native Idahoan. Hobbies are fly fishing in the summer and steelhead fishing in the fall and spring. You will also find James lifting weights or riding his mountain bike.
Jim loves to show off the South Fork and what it has to offer.