Wednesday, April 30, 2014

2014 Northwest Outdoor Writers Association Conference Roundup...

41st Annual Northwest Outdoor Writers AssociationConference was held recently in Polson, MT at the Kwataqnuk Resort overlooking beautiful Flathead Lake.

Top left photo, Kyla Merwin, NOWA Executive Director and Dennis Clay present the Fred L. Peterson Award to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for Best Supporting Member;

Top Right Photo: None other than your intrepid reporter grabbed the Enos Bradner Award (Former recipients Gary Lewis (left) and Milt Kiezer). "In recognition of your commitment to uphold the professional standards of outdoor communication and your outstanding dedication to the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association." To be sure, Kind, Humbling and Flattering. Well deserved? Well, I'll leave that for others to debate.

Bottom Photo: You are probably wondering "what the heck is that?" and you would be right. Pal Bert and me pondering "what the heck is that" one of a table full of items we must ID in order to win the Annual What The Heck Is That Contest. Each table at the Awards Night Banquet competes not so much for prizes (which are minimal at best) but for, you know, the glory goes with whipping ass--and yes, as usual, our table won. Imagine. And yes I am kidding...all just a big part of the fun and camaraderie joining NOWA entails.

Next time I'll post some shots of the Annual Photo Shootout Contest and...well stay tuned, you're gonna love the results...or more likely hate 'em...your call.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Montana Fly Fishing: Little Flies/Larger Trout

Last few days with all the storm fronts blowing through have ramped up the midge and BWO hatches. While at times the wind has been a bit too much in between gusts you can manage to get your bug on the water, in the feeding lane, the trout are eating almost any reasonable match. Regardless whether midges or olives, my best fly has been a simple Deer Hair Emerger size 18 or 20. As you can see the wings on the above are synthetic (Enrico Puglosi, Trigger Fibers) rather than deer hair--seems to work almost as well as the natural hair and I find it easier to tie on size 20 hooks. Body is simply dubbed hare's mask, the rougher the better.  For what its worth I fish the teeny-weenies on a 12 foot leader tapered to about 4 feet, 6X. Tippet to fly is a double surgeon loop which seems to add a little to its appeal over my usual clinch knot...OK could very well be more the mysterious workings within an old man's noggin...what can I say.

And yes, this Poindexter brown is skinny, too skinny; to my way of thinking another good reason to get on with the improvements ASAP.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Montana Fly Fishing: Big Hole Dropping...

...faster than your basic "anvil tossed in a swamp" as Ol' Lefty might say.Friday evening, a few hours after I shot this (4000 cfs) the river spiked just under 6000 cfs--which is not quite double the highest peak all last year (3500 cfs). This morning it is running about 3000 cfs...Judging the forecast for the next few days is on the cool side the river should continue to drop and the fishing pick up daily. I'd be surprised if it didn't fish well even today tossing streamers or the always reliable turdnworm duo off the banks; look for skwalas, especially later on in the day.

What the future holds, who knows. With snowpack as high as 170% of normal anything like a heat wave might send the high snow runoff runnin' right off the charts--higher even than the record setting 14,000+ of a couple years ago. If stays cool, why hell, Friday evening's 6000 cfs might just be it...stay tuned.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Montana Fly Fishing: Help Save Poindexter Slough

Thanks to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Beaverhead Watershed Committee Poindexter Slough near Dillon is on track to get a major overhaul. A badly needed one given Poindexter has been in steady decline for at least the last dozen years. Decreased groundwater discharges (on going drought combined with a huge increase in development, both residential and agricultural) the Slough now relies heavily on increasing amounts of diverted Beaverhead River water through an antiquated head gate. The river water deposits large amounts of fine sediment resulting in diminished fish counts, bugs and angler use—all of which are at all time lows.

The project involves the replacement of existing irrigation infrastructure (head gate), modification of the channel's dimensions and other work, designed to flush out the sediment, restore fish and bug habitat and improve the fishery to historical levels. Which, by the way, were pretty damn good—great hatches, good fish in a challenging arena—can’t beat it.

As we all know such work does not come cheap. In this case the estimate is about  $445,000. Thanks to a variety grants, in-kind-services and private donations about $358,000 has been secured.  So yes, the goal is well within reach but  if you would like to help raise the final $85,000 please send your donation to:

Beaverhead Conservation District, 420 Barrett St., Dillon, MT 59725.

For more information visit:  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fly Fishing Montana: How High's The River Mama?...

"Pretty Damn High and Risin'...

With the snow pack in the Big Hole watershed currently 145% of normal not many would argue this year's runoff might just reach record levels...Should you harbor such doubts consider just a few days ago, April 4th, the river was running at a benign 450 cfs or so...fishing great and promising to get only better in the upcoming days...Then it got warm. Suddenly the low snow started to melt and, surprise, surprise last night the river roared past 5000 cfs...Yes, it did drop slightly over night but with today's forecast of temperatures near or above 60 and strong winds...It would not surprise me to see it top 6000 before night fall...And remember this melt down is only the low elevation snow, which by the way, is considered only so, so as low snow pack goes...Hopefully once the low snow is gone, temperatures will remain on the cool side, the high elevation snow will come off slo-o-w-wly and good water and fishing will prevail straight thru to freeze-up...Keep your fingers and toes crossed and stay tuned for the latest...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Montana Fly Fishing: The Bridges of Madison County Saga...

...continues despite the Montana Supreme Court's denial of LORD KENNEDY's latest attempt to deny public access to all Montana rivers and streams but his very rich pals and cohorts. Will it ever end? I, for one, harbor grave doubts...

As you may recall, James Cox Kennedy requested a rehearing of the January Montana Supreme Court decision  in the Seyler Lane bridge case. This was the case which effectively settled the issue of stream access at prescriptive road bridges and reaffirmed the stream access law.  On March 6th the court found no merit in the legal  argument that it had retroactively overturned case law in regard to prescriptive easements and that it had overlooked  other significant arguments of Kennedy.  Here is the court order .

The Seventh Inning Stretch

The next step in the continued fight over stream access in Montana

By George Bauer

 If the Bridges of Madison County saga on the Ruby River was a baseball game then we would be at the seventh inning stretch.  This historic case was filed in 2004 and was finally heard after eight years of early inning maneuvering.  The score was PLWA - 2, Media Mogul - 0 when Kennedy was ordered to remove his "No Trespassing" signs from Duncan Road and Lewis Lane.   The ruling reinforced Montana's 2009 Bridge Access Law which says a public road right of way extends the full width of the road and over the bridge to a stream's high-water mark. That law, passed after much compromise between anglers and landowners to help gain public access to public waters, came on the third try and only after lots of hard work.

 Before the hearing the parties (PLWA v. Madison County) stipulated Seyler Lane was a public road right of way - it is one of the oldest roads in the state.  And yet District Judge Loren Tucker ruled there is a distinction between the public's right and the county's right to access the river.  Judge Tucker's ruling did not get to first base - it was thrown out by the Montana Supreme Court.  The January 2014 ruling stated the roadway could to be used by the public "for all foreseeable uses, including recreation."  The case was sent back to District Court with instructions to hear evidence on the width of the right-of-way.

And now, like a big league manager who didn't like the call at the plate, Kennedy  filed a petition for rehearing. This would have reopened the case  for further arguments on the grounds the court abandoned property law principals and converted Kennedy's private property to public land. The court denied the petition and in effect said  "Nonsense". The Supreme Court has never been eager to plow the same ground twice .

The Supreme Court took nearly a year to reach a decision this last time so it could be 2016 before the fat lady sings at the bottom of the ninth.

 Later this year another District Court will hear evidence of decades of public access to the Ruby from Seyler Lane and then could take months to issue a ruling.  Don't be surprised if Kennedy appeals, whatever the decision.

 Step up to the plate and take a swing at those who would rob the public of their access rights. Join PLWA or make and additional contribution. Let's keep on winning.