Parks' Fly Shop is a small shop with a small staff. Our full-time staff includes only five people. All of us guide and all of us work in the shop, to one degree or another, so you can be sure when visiting the shop that the clerk who is selling you flies has been on the water recently and knows exactly where and what the fish are eating.
In addition to the full-timers, we use a handful of southwest Montana's best contract guides, all of whom have been guiding and living in the area for years. Even with our contract staff, we wind up fully booked most days in July, August, and September, and many days in June and October. Thus it's a good idea to book early.
Full-timers Walter Wiese and Ben Jewell tie a substantial percentage of our flies. Many of the remainder are tied by former Parks' Fly Shop guide Doug Korn. Richard Parks still ties a few flies for stock, but mostly does custom orders these days, since being chained to the tying bench at age ten by one's father tends to make one balk at tying commercially in middle age.
Click the tabs below for bios of our current staff members. Please note: all initial guided trip inquiries are handled by Walter or Richard. Please e-mail one of them or call the shop to book a trip, rather than contacting other staff members directly. You may make specific guide requests when you book.
Richard was born in northern Minnesota, and his first exposure to fly fishing was on the streams that flow into the north shore of Lake Superior. Family vacations to Yellowstone in 1947 and 1950 were followed by the move to Gardiner when his father opened the Parks' Fly Shop in 1953. While his father had built him a fly rod when he was six, it took a few years for Richard to grow into the rod. By age twelve Richard was fishing dry flies as well as tying for the shop and working part-time as a clerk. During his teens this gradually shifted into a full-time summer job. During this time, Richard continued to develop his skills both by himself and with his father.
Richard began guiding in 1961 and continued to guide and work in the shop through his college years. After graduating with a History degree, Richard served a three year hitch in the US Army, including a tour in Vietnam. He was planning on graduate school when his father died in the spring of 1970, at which point he took over active management of the shop with the help of his mother.
Following the lead of his father (who had been a founding member of Trout Unlimited in Montana), Richard expanded his involvement as a conservation activist throughout the 1970s and 80s. During the early 1990s he served as Chairman of the Northern Plains Resource Council, one of Montana's leading conservation organizations, and served twice as Chairman of the Western Organization of Resource Councils. He was also a founding member of the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana and has served several terms as President of that organization.
In 2003 Richard met Nancy Rourke. In 2004 he bought a house in Gardiner which he and Nancy, soon to be his wife, converted to a bed & breakfast, the Gardiner Guesthouse, which opened in 2005.
Walter Wiese is Head Guide at Parks' Fly Shop, and yes, a US Coast Guard-certified Captain. He handles initial guided trip inquiries, so E-mail him with any questions about setting up a trip.
Walter grew up fishing spring creeks and tailwaters in the Ozarks, but since moving west has largely moved to the opposite side of the spectrum and now prefers big freestone rivers like the Yellowstone and pocketwater streams like the Gardner and the myriad small streams in the region. These waters give him the solitude and wilderness experiences that were usually lacking on the trout rivers in the Ozarks, and these experiences as much as the fishing have kept him in Montana long after his "college job" morphed into something else.
A majority of Walter's trips are full-day floats. He runs both drift boat trips on the Yellowstone River and area private lakes and power boat trips, especially on the upper Missouri River near Helena, the "Land of Giants" stretch. His favorite walk trips to run are hikes into various canyon sections of the Yellowstone, hunting runner browns on the Gardner in the fall, and swinging soft hackles on the Firehole. He's also a sucker for any client who loves exploring those "little blue lines" that will never be famous but are often great fun. He is also responsible for much of our custom fly selection and most of the "New Fly R&D" that takes place at PFS, so if you have fly tying questions, he's your best source of information.
Walter works year-round for PFS and is also a freelance writer, web designer, and a contract fly designer for the Montana Fly Company. His writing has appeared in national magazines including Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, Fly Rod and Reel, and American Angler. He has graduate degrees in creative writing and library and information science. Walter enjoys snowboarding, attempting to play guitar, and owns far too many good books and good pieces of music to have a good retirement account. Walter built this site and keeps up most of its content, which makes him wonder why he just wrote this profile from the 3rd person point of view.
Click here to view Walter's signature patterns available from wholesaler Montana Fly Company. If you like one, lobby your local shop to carry it.
Walter running Big Rock Rapid in Yankee Jim Canyon.
Ben Jewell grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of New Hampshire, which introduced him early on to some great brook trout fishing. Newfound River is a fly fishing only stream that provides terrific fishing almost year-round. It flows just four miles from Ben's boyhood home, and it's where he spent many days fishing big Green Drakes in the spring, Sulphurs in the summer, tiny Tricos in the fall, and midges in the winter. He also had many mountain lakes at his disposal, primarily Little Bog Pond, where his family has a cabin.
Ben began working for PFS in 2007. He specializes in taking people into the backcountry, for solitude, gorgeous scenery, and trout fishing bliss. He also loves drifting the Yellowstone. Ben began tying flies for the shop in 2008. If you fish the Lamar drainage, you'll need to pick up some of his Bicolor Ants and Slough Creek Spinners.
Gardiner, MT, the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, is the greatest location for trout fishing in the Lower 48, and it's where Ben has been fortunate enough to live for five years, having previously spent several years roaming southwest Montana and fishing 150 days a year just to find such a place. Springtime brings good dry fly fishing near the thermal areas on the Firehole and Gibbon rivers, allowing visitors to fly fish amid exotic scenery unique to the area. Another Ben likes in the spring is to hike with clients into either Grebe or Cascade lake to catch a beautiful Artic Grayling. Summertime is dry fly fishing at its best. Fishing big Drakes on Slough Creek and chucking Salmonfly dries up against the banks on the Yellowstone both get Ben's adrenaline going. Fall brings big browns up the Yellowstone, Gardner, and Madison Rivers. This is when it's possible to get a lot of quality fish on streamers and by high stick nymphing.
Ben wouldn't want to be anywhere else. The diverse Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is unique on the planet, and Ben hopes to see you out there experiencing all it has to offer.
Ben on one of our many fine area lakes.
Dr. Bart A. West is a retired foot surgeon from Alabama and has been an avid outdoorsman his entire life. His first fishing experiences were with cane poles and bait casters on his papa's farm ponds . As a boy his family went on many camping adventures throughout the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway where he had his first exposure to trout.
In 1976, the fishing bug really took hold when his family relocated to Pensacola, Florida. He and his brothers spent much of their time fishing for every species the Gulf Coast had to offer both inshore and offshore. But it was not until 1993 when he received a fly rod for a gift that his approach to fishing would change forever.
Since then he has converted all his tackle to fly rods and has fished from Alaska to the Everglades, Venezuela, Panama, and extensively in the southeast. And though he will on occasion pick up a conventional rod when offshore, his fly rod is always there ready to go. He has done part-time guiding and outfitting for various groups since 2004 including his own not for profit that focused on introducing under-privileged children to outdoor recreational activities.
When Bart is not working at Parks' Fly Shop from June to September, he is occupied with a small Christmas tree farm in North Georgia. There his love of the mountains, cold water fisheries, and back country expeditions are in full force. With his primary home in Alabama, his fishing consists of chasing warm water species especially the beloved Red-eye Bass. On the occasions when he is not fishing, he juggles time for cycling, hiking, camping, backpacking, and anything else that gives him time outdoors with his family, the "grands," and his dogs.
We primarily turn to these outfitters and guides when our full-time staff listed above is fully-booked or when a trip comes along for which they're particularly suited. They are listed by tenure with PFS, most to least.
Please note that we are always looking for new IC guides and outfitters. While we only use full-time guides from southwest Montana and/or Gardiner locals who spend a lot of time on the water nearby, it is possible your guides will not be listed below.
Rob Olson grew up in the Midwest with the majority of his early fishing time spent in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan chasing bass, pike and panfish. Once exposed to the wilds of the Greater Yellowstone region and steep slopes in the surrounding mountain ranges, Rob arduously focused on an education, cramming a four year degree into six years of classes with daily trips to the rivers and peaks. Rob began guiding anglers with a couple seasons based out of West Yellowstone, followed by several years working as an independent guide and outfitter in the Madison and Yellowstone drainages.
Now based in Livingston Montana, Rob primarily focuses on the Yellowstone watershed. For PFS, Rob mostly does river floats, with an occasional beginner trip, Lamar system walk/wade, or lake float thrown in. He began guiding for us in 2006. In addition to his work in the Yellowstone area, Rob is working to expand his guiding to the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan during the Montana offseason, where he pursues Great Lakes steelhead and legendary 'coaster' brook trout along with pike, muskie, bass and salmon.
In the winter, Rob is involved in professional rescue and avalanche mitigation work with the Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol and the associated Gallatin County high-angle search & rescue team. Contact Rob.
Don first began guiding for us in 2008, and after a couple seasons focused on guiding on the Bighorn and for an upscale private lodge in the Crazy Mountains, he's back for 2013. Full bio after he writes it.
The great outdoors and fishing have always been driving forces in Doug's life. As a child he went panfishing and bullhead fishing at night with his dad and grandfather. In later years he spent all spring, summer, and fall on Lake Ontario, trolling for trout and salmon, and then ice fished all winter. One day he stumbled into fly fishing by going to a fly tying demonstration and being totally captivated by it. He became a fly tier that day and it wasn’t long before he was casting and presenting his own flies to the local brown trout.
Today Doug enjoys fly fishing the inland trout streams and tributaries in his home state of New York and in Yellowstone country. Doug worked full time for Parks' Fly Shop in 2008 and 2009, then filled in a bit during July 2010. Since then he has graduated to just tying flies for the shop, which gives him more fishing time. Doug ties and designs flies year round, but in the summer you will find him field testing these flies all over Yellowstone Country. Doug strives to design flies that catch fish and are easy to tie as-well-as being beautifully effective, “guide flies” really. Doug is inspired by the great fly tiers of the Catskills and the Rocky Mountains, both past and present. He enjoys both the artistic skills of fly tying and the technical challenges in bringing the fish to hand.
Walter's note: if Doug sounds like somebody you'd like to fish with, e-mail him to demand he return to work full-time for PFS. There's hope for 2013...
Doug is a featured tier for Jvice, a South African fly tying vise manufacturer whose products Walter also uses.
Doug and a fat "East of Town" lower Yellowstone brown.
Design and (most) content by Walter Wiese
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: All content copyright Parks' Fly Shop, Walter Wiese, or the content creator. Downloading, reposting, sharing, or otherwise copying text, photos, videos, or any other content is permitted for noncommercial use. If content is reposted elsewhere online (i.e. blogs), please attribute content to its creator, if known, or to Parks' Fly Shop, and provide a link to this site. If content is used in an offline environment (i.e. club meetings), please provide attribution and note our URL. All other rights reserved. Entities making commercial use of or otherwise attempting to profit by the contents of this site without our permission will be prosecuted.