From the Sandhills to the Salmon

A few weeks ago, Laura Zuckerman wrote a nice little piece in the Idaho Falls Post Register entitled, A River Runs Through Him. The article gave a synopsis of Bill Bernt, owner of Aggipah River Trips.

Ilona McCarty, a local photographer, captured some great images of Bill. She also wrote a little about her afternoon with Bill.

Zuckerman’s subtitle reads, “Veteran outfitter Bill Bernt is a man of many waters.” She got it right. Bill’s life story is colorful and unique. He grew up in rural Nebraska, son of a second-generation cattle rancher. Bill’s dreams were bigger than the fields. He devoured magazines like Outdoor Life and built makeshift boats out of old car hoods which he floated in the Cedar River that ran through his childhood home.

A young Bill Bernt relaxes on the Colorado River
A young Bill Bernt relaxes on the Colorado River

When Bill was in college, he joined the Outing Club. The professor who sponsored the group put Bill in touch with a Utah-based outfitter who gave him his first jobs on rivers such as the Yampa, the Green, and Colorado through Grand Canyon. During Bill’s second summer employed as a guide, the boss sent him to Idaho to do a shuttle for the company’s Middle Fork crew. Bill never looked back. Idaho’s wild rivers, mountains and rich history had captured his imagination, and he knew he had found the place his heart had been searching for. He’s been here in Idaho ever since.

Bill earned an MS in wildlife biology and started his own business, Aggipah River Trips in 1977. He has witnessed decades of change and evolution on the Salmon, and is always ready with a story about how a place along the river used to be, and how it got to be the way it is now. Bill has been described as “a walking dictionary” and “a living history book.”

Bill Bernt teaches a guest how to design and tie a fly on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
Bill Bernt teaches a guest how to design and tie a fly on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Bill continues to live in Salmon, Idaho with his wife and dog, Zip. His son, daughter, son-in-law and grandson live nearby in the Salmon Valley and are always eager for another river trip.

Call for more information:  877-705-7370

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