Thursday, November 21, 2013

More Bad and Ugly News for Sportsmen...

Biofuels Devastating Wildlife Habitat

I often wonder why I should care about what goes on in Washington. After all, outdoors sports are about recreation, not politics. Why should I care what Congress is debating and doing?

One of the best answers to that question was given in a recent report in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, one of the nation’s most prestigious journals of scholarly research. The title of the report is as jarring to hunters as it is to academicians: “Recent land use change in the Western Corn Belt threatens grasslands and wetlands. ”

What South Dakota State University researchers Christopher K. Wright and Michael C. Wimberly discovered is what wildlife advocates have been warning about ever since Congress decided that ramping up production of corn-based ethanol could bring down our fuel prices: Skyrocketing commodity prices have led to the greatest loss of prairie wetland and grasslands since the Dust Bowl, posing a serious threat to a long list of fish and wildlife.
...Bob Marshall
Click below to read the rest of the story...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Norwegian Fly Rod...Coming Soon

Lest you think Sage, Orvis, Winston et al have a corner on coming up with what seems to me an endless parade of "latest, greatest, must have, can't live without fly rod innovations"...well think again.

The fly rod pictured above (note the weird handle) is the brain-child of Norwegian Robert Selfors who says "I found the recipe in the laws of physics."

Selfors explains the principles of his invention with a quick course in fly fishing physics:

• A fly rod is charged with energy by the flexing it undergoes in the casting action.
• The more the rod can be flexed, the more energy it can store.
• The greatest energy storage potential is in the lowest part of the rod. With conventional handles, some of this potential energy remains unused, because existing handles are built up from cork attached using glue, which reduces flexibility.
• In other words, the part of the rod whose flexibility is of greatest importance for energy storage is too rigid.

Selfors says, “I spent many long evenings designing a hollow handle. It has a hollow cavity in which the rod “blank” can move freely. This has been the core design concept throughout subsequent development work.”

On the drawing board for several years now with the help of Sintef, Scandinavia's largest scientific research organization--and Permafrost Industrial Design Studio in Oslo, Selfor's idea is soon to become a reality. The first 500 rods have been manufactured and were scheduled to hit the streets by end of the year but...the handles were deemed to be too slippery when wet demanding a solution which will apparently delay the unveiling until later when the 2014 fishing shows open.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Drones for Hunting...

...sort a leaves the ol' boy speechless but please do read on...

"In the future there might be no need to sit in a deer blind for hours, freezing and bored.

Instead, all you’ll have to do is walk out your front door, launch your drone, pop a cold one and wait for it to shoot dinner.

That’s the idea proposed by Bailey Hurt, whose “Critter Gitter” concept appeared in a recent issue of Wired, challenging readers to imagine devices of the future.

“It’s all very tongue-in-cheek,” admits Hurt, an art director who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. “But at the same time I’m trying to use that humor to get people to think about the larger implications of drones and guns.”

In all seriousness folks, I for one feel this one really sucks!!!

The Colorado Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers recently applauded the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission for showing national leadership in protecting hunting rights and fair chase from emerging technology of civilian drones.

“Hunters are America’s first conservationists and we have a century-old tradition of policing our own ranks,” said David Lien, Co-Chair of Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “We’re pleased that the CO Parks and Wildlife Commission has stepped up to protect our hunting traditions, by ensuring fair chase and fair distribution of wildlife.”

Today, the Commission took an initial look at draft regulations which would ban the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for hunting or scouting in Colorado. UAVs, or “drones” are increasingly popular in civilian hands and there are videos on the internet of the machines being used to spot, stalk and hunt wildlife..

“Drones are poised to be very popular among civilians and there are many legitimate uses in science, agriculture and search-and-rescue,” said BHA Director Land Tawney, of Missoula, Mont.  “However, hunting should remain an activity of skill and woodcraft, not just technology. If drones take off in hunting fields, it will split the ranks of hunters between those who can afford and embrace the technology and those who do not.”


Your humble correspondent take on the latter action is, of course, “Kudos to the COPWC commissioners for getting out in front of this pathetic affront to ethical hunters everywhere…and hopefully this IS the last word on a very sick idea!”

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sage Grouse At The Brink

In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)k determined the Greater Sage-Grouse warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but listing was precluded by the need to address other species first. One reason for the FWS determination was the “need for improved regulatory mechanisms” to ensure species conservation. The principal regulatory mechanisms for the BLM and the Forest Service are conservation measures in land use plans.

In 2011, the BLM and Forest Service joined forces to develop, analyze and incorporate coordinated, long term conservation measures and actions for sage grouse in their land use plans. These planning measures must be incorporated into land use plans by the end of 2014, to give FWS time to evaluate them before making a court-ordered final listing decision in 2015.

To date more than a dozen coordinated environmental documents have been developed by the various agencies and state advisory councils to provide a consistent approach to sustaining the species and its habitat across the West. Draft documents are being released for public comment as they are completed. Each draft is comprised of several alternatives that address sage grouse conservation issues using different management actions. For example, the Idaho and Southwest Montana Draft EIS includes six different alternatives ranging from no-action alternative to the Idaho Governor’s proposed plan.

For more information on what is happening in your areas of interest follow the links listed below:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fly Tying...

...goodie box arrived yesterday; as expected, inside were more than a few surprises. Like most things when it comes to tying flies I am long on tradition and way short on keeping pace with the recent explosion of new materials and, perhaps more to the point, the flood of new and improved tying techniques today's army of innovative tyers seem to unveil almost on a daily basis.

So armed with Hareline's extensive catalog I decided to take the plunge, live dangerously as it were, and order up a bunch of stuff I really have no idea what the hell to do with but...I do vow to give one and all my best shot over winter and hopefully come spring find my fly boxes brimming with the latest, greatest in trout fly innovations. I even got a bunch a spiffy new fly boxes on the way from Umpqua, you know just to keep the pressure on...Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Montana Fall Spawners

Ten Montana fish species spawn in the fall. Bull trout kick things off starting in mid-September; mountain, lake and pygmy whitefish spawn well into December. All of our fall spawners are salmonids, e.g. members of the trout/salmon tribe. According to FWP Fisheries Biologist, Jim Vashro, “I don’t know why but of all the fish families only salmonids spawn in fall. But I do know “ fall spawning can give those fish a competitive advantage over rainbow, cutthroat trout and Arctic grayling which spawn in spring. When eggs are laid in fall they incubate over winter in gravel and hatch one to two months earlier than eggs laid in spring. That gives those fry a chance to grow and outcompete spring spawned fry.”

The risk is eggs laid in fall must survive sometimes brutal winter conditions such as floods washing eggs away and shelf-ice freezing them out. Vashro speculates one reason no warm water species lay eggs in fall is warm-water fry eat plankton which is most abundant in warm weather; while salmonid fry eat insects which are plentiful year around.

Montana’s Fall Spawners

Bull trout, mid-September-early October
Brook/brown trout, Chinook salmon, October-November
Mountain whitefish, November-early December
Lake whitefish, October-December
Pygmy whitefish, late November-December
Cisco, late November-early December
Kokanee, lake trout, late October-November

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tenkara, Fly Fishing's Latest Rage...

...photo courtesy Daiwa

I’m not much on fads but must admit the recent surge in popularity of the age old Japanese art we call Tenkara has at least piqued my curiosity.  Apparently conceived to impart a simple, minimalistic approach to catching small fish (Tenkara) found in Japan’s small mountain streams. Taking minimalism to new heights Tenkara rods sport no reels, no line guides, even the flies are the essence of simplicity.

In the US and outfit calls itself Tenkara U.S.A. got the ball rolling. Offering a variety of telescoping rods, 11-15 feet in length extended (about 2 feet telescoped in),  tip the scales at around 4 ounces with thin responsive tips.  Lines come in two types: tapered (furled) in fixed lengths of 8-30 feet; and level lines which are sold in spools, three different weights to suit different rod actions. Lines are attached to the rod tip via a Tenkara knot (?) and depending on conditions affixed to that is a tippet of varying size and length.

Billed as a small stream rod, most of the videos I’ve seen show Tenkara anglers plying somewhat larger waters. Craig Matthews and cronies regularly produce action packed videos using Tenkara gear to fool Madison River trout—given the unwieldy rod lengths my first thoughts were “now that is more like it.”

While some outfits will set you back a pretty penny, others are modestly priced, like less than $200 for rod, line and several flies. Whether or not Tenkara Flies catch more fish than say your basic Adams or Hare’s Ear is more than I know. But I suppose if you are gonna jump in you might as well jump in whole hog…right!
As with most fads, once they cross our borders you can bet the farm some of us are bound to take Tenkara to whole new levels—check out Chris Hunt’s Eat More Brook Trout Blog and you will see what I mean. Like c’mon Chris, walleye? Pike? And no doubt by now many more species have bit the dust.

To get the whole skinny contact www.tenkarausa.com

Monday, November 11, 2013

Giant Whitetail Buck...

...found dead (presumably of EHD) last year in Kansas has been scored a whopping 312+ by an official Boone and Crockett scorer...If accepted the non-typical buck ranks #3 all-time. It's 51 point rack is the most points ever recorded on a whitetail buck.

Read more: http://www.northamericanwhitetail.com/2013/10/21/new-kansas-state-record-whitetail-tops-300-inches/#ixzz2kNgNlOKc