Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fly Fishing: Steelhead Time Is Now But...

Salmon River A-run Steelhead
...as long as the yo-yo like weather continues it still might be awhile before things really heat up. Typically late February and March are prime times but right now the fishing prospects are more a crap shoot than the real deal. The best fishing last week was on the S.F. Clearwater where surveyed anglers reported about 5 hours to catch a steel head and about double that for kept fish. While the catch rate is lower elsewhere on the upper Salmon no Survey is being taken; apparently ice and continued cold still has the fishing on hold.

Terry, who has steelhead fishing pretty well pegged,  fished the S.F. last week and said, "while we caught a few fish it wasn't good."

The sub-zero stuff is supposed to begin moderating after this morning. Next week's highs are supposed to be in the high 30s to mid 40s in some of Montana's warmer spots so assuming Salmon, ID follows suit I'm keeping fingers and toes crossed the fishing gods will once again be happy, the ice will disappear, the steelheads will start moving and...

Stay tuned I'll let you know...over and out...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Severe Winter Is Taking A Toll

Bobwhite Quail

Upland birds and tough winters do not mix well. Especially deadly are deep, crusted snow combined with lengthy periods of severe cold--the sort of conditions eastern Montana has been experiencing nearly non-stop since mid-November. The bad news is things can and often do get worse in late winter and early spring. Typically late winter and early spring produce some of the season's heaviest snow falls; toss in ice storms, sleet and hail and what you have is a deadly brew only the hardiest birds lucky enough to live in the very best habitat can survive.

Crusted snow restricts birds’ ability to forage. Prolonged cold increases daily nutritional requirements and over time consumes fat reserves necessary to weather such harsh conditions. Birds able to concentrate around hay stacks, tree rows and farm yards usually fare best. In some popular pheasant hunting spots, such as Plentywood and Froid, locals carry on extensive winter feeding programs—screenings gleaned from grain elevators and such. So long as the feed doesn’t run out and predator sinks don’t develop such feeding probably helps but lacking habitat can be like putting a band-aid on a bleeding artery.

Other wildlife, such as, antelope, mule and whitetail deer, suffer as well.

The National Weather Service in Glasgow, MT. reported thru January: Wibaux had accumulated 39.9 inches of snow, Glendive 26.2, Bloomfield 38.0 and Sidney 42 inches. Snow accumulation throughout eastern Montana is above normal and snow is predicted to continue with no-end in sight.

Biologists expect severe impacts to upland game bird populations in some locations. On the heels of the tough winter last year all this doesn’t bode well for upcoming season’s overall hunting prospects. Especially in light of last season, one many of us ranked among the worst in years.

As for the photo: No Mr. Bobwhite does not own a Montana Zip Code. Just thought a nice pix might help keep the dreaded shack nasties somewhat at bay anyways...over and out...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Schweitzer to Feds: Shove IT...over and out...

Yellowstone NP Wolf Kill early on in the wolf recovery prior to the current political/judicial driven wolf management debacle...
In a bold move somewhat unbecoming your average self-serving politician our Guv has essentially told the USFWS to...well, shove IT!!!! For a more informative look check out the Helena Independent Record report by clicking the link below.


Lest anyone get the wrong idea here, my stance on the wolf debate remains the same: Allowing state management is not only the best way tis the only way to bring anything close to sanity on what really has become a pathetic charade: list, delist, list, delist on and on ad nauseum, enough already, get on with it.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wolf Debate: ElK Foundation and Wildlife Federation Exchange Jabs


Click the above link to read the latest in the ongoing wolf debacle which in the opinion of many threatens to forever change the wildlife landscape throughout the region.

Pathetic but true HB 309 seems almost assured of passing both houses and, based on responses from TU, FWP lawyers, despite what Jeff Wellborn says WILL impact angler access to many miles of  MT streams (one estimate puts it at an alarming 6000 miles!!!). On an even sadder/scarier note HB 309 is just one of a staggering 161 bills currently aimed at gutting MTFWP programs, management practices, authority, etc. etc. One bill aims to base Block Management payouts to enrolled landowners on the current Consumer Price Index instead of the annual negotiations between enrollees and FWP. This, according to FWP will reduce the number of properties currently enrolled in the Block Management Program by at least 300 properties. Sweet, eh? Trust me, do the homework, check out what has happened to the hunting/fishing ops in other states where politics instead of biology rule and you CAN look forward to FAR LESS in the future. The way I see it our only hope is to bombard/threaten to oust the **sholes pushing these nonsensical, underhanded, self-serving ideas and lets HOPE Gov. Schweitzer exercises his veto power.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Travel: Mojave Desert National Preserve

MDNP boasts the densest Joshua tree forest in the world.
Joshua Tree (yucca brevifoilia)
Found at high elevation, 1300-6000 feet, Joshua trees are a Mojave Desert indicator species. Among the fastest growing desert plants, seedlings grow as much as 3 inches per year, Joshua's are also long-lived, some hundreds, even thousands  of years old.
The Preserve, unlike most National Park Service administered places, allows camping just about anywhere (our camp shown here is on a two-track off one of the few hard roads within the preserve) and also unlike most allows hunting, dogs off leash as well as motorized travel on just about any trail (no off road, thank goodness). Encompassing over a 1.5 million acres there are just two relatively small developed campgrounds, one of which discourages trailers and RVs. Hunters can expect to find mule deer, desert bighorn, chukar and Gambel's quail. All hunting is subject to California seasons and regulations.
Mid-19th century Mormon settlers found the tree's unique shape reminiscent of the Biblical story in which  Joshua reaches to the heavens in prayer. Later miners and ranchers utilized the trunks and branches to fuel ore-processing steam engines and for fencing.

The trunk of a Joshua tree is made of thousands of small fibers and lacks annual growth rings, making it difficult to determine age. Sporting a top-heavy branch system as well as a deep and extensive root system, often spreading 30 or more feet. The tallest reach 40 feet or so. Seedlings grow from seed but some sprout from rhizomes. It flowers but only in wet years.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Travel Arizona: Hummingbird Lover's Delight...

...Though First Check Out Wayne Mumford's Take on HB 309; tis excellent... http://www.willfishforwork.com

On a much funner note here are some hummingbird shots captured on our recent Arizona quail hunt adventure...I am reasonably sure about the "female broad-bill" but the other two my best guess is Anna's, (gender?) If you know or think otherwise by all means feel free...over and out...Chuck

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Montana Fishing: More on HB 309

The link below will take you to the Montana Standard and a more comprehensive article by Nick Gevock on the disasterous ramifications anglers face should HB 309 pass...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Montana Stream Access Law: Here We Go AGAIN!!

RE:HB 309

The bill effectively repeals the Mitchell Slough decision that upheld Montanans' rights to float, fish, and enjoy our rivers and streams. HB 309 aims to limit Montanans' right to access the public waters of our streams and rivers by more broadly defining irrigation ditches.

The 2008 Montana Supreme Court decision unanimously ruled that Mitchell Slough in the Bitterroot Valley is a natural stream and therefore open to public recreation under the state's stream access law.

In other words, Montanans have the right to fish, wade or float the stream so long as they are below the high-water mark, even if it passes through private property. HB 309 seeks to elliminate such access to a number of streams by defining them as private irrigation ditches.

HB 309, sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Wellburn (R-Dillon), has its hearing Thursday, 1/27 in House Agriculture Committee.

The Committe voted 13 for, 8 opposed on Thursday, 2/3 so the bill is now headed to the House floor.

Contact your representative and tell them to uphold the Montana Supreme Court decision and maintain public access to the public waters of our streams and rivers.

First Debbie Barrett, long a thorn in Montana hunters and fishers hides and now Jeffrey Wellborn...Makes you wonder when the sportsmen and women of Beaverhead County (Dillon) are ever going to wake up and vote these trouble-making, self-serving yahoos back out into the private sector where they belong.
Fishing, particularly fly fishing, is a large part of the local economy. While I'm certainly no economist I'd be surprised if in actual dollars dropped in local businesses...restaurants, motels, lodges, B&Bs, grocery stores, fly shops, gas stations, etc., etc...by visiting fisherfolk doesn't rival or exceed that of the ag community.
Regardless if it weren't for the stream access law fishing dollars would certainly be a drop in the bucket to what they are now and a lot of local businesses would feel the heat...
Besides just what in the hell is the problem anyway...fishermen aren't "stealing" the water just "fishing it"...
Get a life or better yet get ya a fishin pole and join in the fun...over and out...Chuck
PS Thanks to Josh Bergan for the heads up...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Travel: Arizona Critter Pix

While our primary goal is to hunt desert quail we are always on high alert to add to our growing critter file. Here are some keepers, some new to us, others just sort of caught our eye...enjoy. Click to enlarge.

Pygmy nuthatch

Harris hawk

Snoozing barn, aka monkey-faced, owl

Hungry channel catfish

Nasty-lookin tarantuala spider

Black-necked stilt

Inca dove

White-winged dove

That's it for now, I'll post some more photos as I get time...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Travel: Arizona Marathon Quail Hunt Highlights Or...

...Lowlights Depending Of Course On Your Viewpoint...

Home at last. Poorer financially, thanks in large part to the folks at Ford Country, Las Vegas, NV; but richer by far for the experience. We left Dillon in mid-December and got back late last evening after a marathon drive from our last camp outside Ely, NV. In all we slept in the camper trailer over 50 nights; most pretty nifty, some not so hot.

I think the girls, Gale and the Pointer Sisters would agree the worst were in the canyon outside Caliente, NV, not knowing if a flash flood would wipe us out as we tossed and turned trying our damnednest to ignore the pounding rain pelting the trailer as if being blasted by a firehose; the three nights in Nipton, CA serenaded by one rumbling freight train after another--whistles blaring naturally--just a few steps from the trailer having been litterally drug there by the tow truck which we hoped would be repaired quickly but of course was not; the night at Alamo Lake, AZ wind roaring banshee-like, rain pounding down such you could barely hear yourself think, wondering again if a flash flood might kill us in the night; and last but not least the camp mentioned  above outside Ely...with the temp flirting zero, the batteries near dead, the heater barely working, water still in the pipes, at 3 a.m. the panic alarm sounded, we fired up the generator, heated water on the stove to thaw the drains and finally...finally the water began draining...(don't bother asking why I didn't drain the damn thing in the daylight cause I ain't talkin)...The best camp by far was the 3 weeks plus out in the desert somewhere east of Tucson (top secret of course)...thank god we missed the whacko shoot 'em up in Tucson... Although we were actually lost closeby the scene day before...enough on that.

As I say we are now home and for the next while I plan to post a few highlight pix and naturally a comment or two...

High Tech Shaving/ Desert Style...click to enlarge, that is if you dare...

Chef Chuck grilling up a feast of bar-b-que Gambel's quail & mourning dove breasts
with grilled red spuds...damn don't it make ya wonder what the rich folk are eatin...

At first glance you might think Annie's hoarding the Fish Eye wine box but actually she's just pretending to nap...upside down a course as is her favorite style.

Laundry day in the desert...rather ingenious set-up, eh?

Two monkeys and a Ford truck...what else can I say...

Naturally geezers can't hunt 50 some days straight so...This day we set off to Kofa National Wildlife Refuge hoping to photograph desert bighorns (didn't happen by the way)...to get there we had to pass thru Quartzsite, AZ billed as the world's biggest flea market (sorry but I got other ideas)...Anyway on the way back to camp Gale insisted we stop so she could shop the many jewlery stands (no surprise there)...Anyway whilst she poked around I couldn't help taking the camera for a hike (to me the place is more like a friggin freak show, sorry)...

On a serious note almost everyone we ran into on the trip had also visited and not surprising had a horror story to tell...stollen generator, bikes ripped off while the owners slept...and on and on...so I guess we got off easy, Gale didn't bite and nothing ripped off...lucky us, eh?

Stay tuned, there's more...much more to come...over and out...Chuck