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Business Spotlight

The Platte River Fly Shop

Mark, Ryan, Liz and her son Kaaden (click for larger version)
04/01/2008 - Now that spring is gently nudging at our backs, does it make you want to kick back and do a little fly fishing on the river? And maybe you're thinking it sure would be nice if you had someone along who knows the river well enough to take you right to where the big ones are biting. Someone who knows exactly what they're biting on. Someone who has tied flies to look exactly like those alluring bugs.

Ah-h-h... Fisher's utopia, right? Nope. It's real. And it's right here on our very own river. The place is called The Platte River Fly Shop and it's located on the Alcova Highway a mile west of Robertson Road. On the south.

Owned and operated by Mark Boname and Ryan Anderson, The Platte River Fly Shop also sports an outstanding manager, Elizabeth Ozinga. Elizabeth's five-year-old son Kaaden also seems to be vital to the operation as he sits behind the counter and fields customers like a pro.

(click for larger version)
The fly shop building consists of two red, one-room school houses joined into an L-shape. One of those school houses was the first building in Natrona County to be designated an historic site.

In 1994 Mark and partner Ron Dutton bought the fly shop and made it into a growing concern. In 1999 Mark became the sole operator. He remained so until January of this year when he brought professional fly-fishing guide and long-time employee Ryan Anderson on board as an equal partner. Now Mark focuses on the brick-and-mortar/internet side of the business while Ryan focuses on the side known as Wyoming Fly-Fishing Guide Service.

Born in Maine, Mark was raised "all over the place" because his dad was an airline pilot. An avid lover of fishing since he was a boy, he decided to get his degree in fisheries biology. He researched various schools and found that the University of Wyoming offered him everything he wanted. After graduation, his knowledge convinced him that Casper's Platte River was a fisher's "gold mine."

Both Mark and Ryan grow animated as they tell me about the Wyoming Game and Fish's efforts to improve the health of the river. A yearly "flush and flow" procedure flushes out the muddy river bottom and exposes the gravel so that "the fish can do what fish do." This method is so successful that the river no longer needs to be stocked with fish by the Game and Fish because wild-born fish are prospering.

Mark's scientific degree provides a number of benefits for clients. For instance, Mark and Ryan make expeditions out onto the waters to find the kinds of bugs that the fish are eating. They capture the bugs and bring them back to the "laboratory" where they carefully examine them and tie flies that look exactly like the real thing. This careful preparation makes for some mighty happy fishers.

Ryan educates his clients as they fish. He makes sure they don't fish in an area where fish are spawning because, if they happen to catch a spawning fish "...it can hurt them and cause them to release their eggs in deep water" where they won't survive. Ryan has guided in Alaska, Idaho, Jackson Hole, and Montana. But the "home waters were calling" so he returned to the Platte, the place where he originally got his feet wet (okay, pun intended) as a kid with his dad and grandpa.

Inside the shop, the atmosphere is warm and cozy. One corner houses a pellet stove. Nearby is a couch and coffee table. Mark and Ryan tell me that their fly shop is like an old-fashioned general store of long ago where men sit around and chew the fat for hours. Here, however, women join in too. Including Elizabeth, who the men affectionately call Liz, who Mark identifies as "the real boss," and who happens to love fishing as much as the men. Raised in Montana, Liz met Ryan four years ago while they were working in Bozeman. They plan to be married this summer.

On display in the shop is a wide variety of fishing and outdoor gear for customers. The shop carries more Patagonia attire for men and women than any other fly shop in the area.

Folks can call The Platte River Fly Shop at 307-237-5997 and they can visit on line at www.wyomingflyfishing.com. On line you'll find daily updated fishing reports, details about the fly-fishing tours, merchandise that's purchased by and sent to customers all over the world, and... Well, when you go there, you'll see what I mean.

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