Sunday, September 11, 2016

Protecting Sage Grouse Habitat Benefits People

Your intrepid reporter with Annie the Wirehair doin' what we love best...huntin' sage chickens.
"One of the strongest points sportsmen can make in arguing for regulations protecting fish and wildlife habitat is that when critters have healthy homes, so do humans.

"The latest example is science showing that preserving healthy sage brush habitat in the semi-arid west not only benefits wildlife like sage grouse and grazing acres for livestock, but it also improves late-season water availability for all living things, including people.

"That’s the take from a review of USDA research done by the Science for Solutions program, run by the Sage Grouse Initiative. That’s the coalition of private landowners, state and federal agencies, and conservation groups that has been opening eyes with their successful efforts to keep that species from the being listed as threatened or endangered.

"A key finding: a sagebrush-dominated watershed holds water in snow drifts an average of nine days longer than one dominated by juniper trees. And stopping the incursion of junipers is one of the SGI’s primary goals. Of course, it’s been the fashion in the last decade or so for some western politicians to sell the idea that any government regulation to protect fish and wildlife hurts landowners and other folks. So this report provides yet another handy reply to that specious argument.

"Another would be to suggest a reading of Tim Egan’s “The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl.” There is no better example of what can happen to entire landscapes when profit is the only consideration."

Courtesy Bob Marshall, Field and Stream Conservation Blog...

Stay tuned for more...

Friday, July 15, 2016

Old Guys Highlight The Guide Season...

For me the "Old Guys": A group of fly fishermen ranging in age from 100 thru the 90s, the youngest one is just a kid in his late 80. They are a delight to guide and indeed highlight my guide season. This year Jack's goal (100 years young) was to catch "just one trout, my birthday present to myself'".  And with all us guides cheering the old boy on, of course he by god got it done. Just minutes after launching first morning he hooked, fought and landed a nice brown. And, with pressure off, of course he went on to catch several more over three days. We should all be so lucky, eh?

Meanwhile, in my boat, Charlie (92 1/2 years young) got skunked first day. Rebounded the 2nd with 6 or 8 trout in the net (one rainbow, about 4 pounds, nearly wore the old boy out before he finally managing to put her in the net) several others missed. But the highlight came the 3rd morning when he hooked a really big brown which refused to give up and...Well, worn to a frazzle, Charley mumbled "Chuck, think I'm gonna have ta break the bastard off, can't hardly hold on much longer." But he did, just long enough to slip the net under the beast--something like 25-26 inches and at least 8 pounds. Slumping in bow seat, almost to whupped to speak, whispered, "Goddamn, Chuck, what a beautiful trout...thank you."

Thank you Charley for being such a good guy to share time with...don't know about you but for me the trout were just a bonus.

PS No the above is not "the" brown; Hard to believe, I know, but both the old man and the kid forgot our cameras...Imagine!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Stealing Your Public Lands....

...In a series of short videos (15 in all), hunter and activist (our side), Randy Newberg, calmly shoots down every argument the greedy wing-nuts are spouting as they attempt to steal our public lands, turn them over to the various states who will (there is no doubt) then sell-off big chunks to the highest bidder forever shutting down free public access. No matter how you use our public lands--hunt, fish, camp, hike, photograph, bird, watch wildlife, hell, just kick back and enjoy the scenery. Should such as calamity ever come to pass we can flat out kiss it goodbye--unless of course you have deep enough pockets to pay the new fiddlers...Trust me folks these videos are well-worth the few minutes each takes to view and better yet provide all the ammo you need to throttle these bastards...

For more check out: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLdxutimd-JsEtFEIVd4kfFhn3EMTBRuC

Friday, May 27, 2016

Puppy Rescued After Falling Into a Mine Shaft...

 While training our 5-month old German wire-haired pointer pup, Maggie, on BLM land outside of Dillon, MT she ran headlong into a 26-foot deep abandoned mine shaft. Right away she started yelping and crying and, having no idea the hole was there, at first we thought she had somehow injured a leg or something? When we realized what you can imagine our terror...Then just as we reached the hole she stopped yelping and crying...When our pleas, "Mags, hang in there baby, we'll get you out..." brought no response naturally we feared the worst.

Dr. Mike Clark, a friend and member of Beaverhead Search and Rescue,
about to rappel down to Maggie's rescue.
Vertical and too steep to get down to where I could see her, assess whether the hole was dry or, more to the point, how badly she was hurt. And no cell service, no way for me to get to her anyway, we took off to get help.

After meeting first responders, Sheriff Frank Kluesner and Under-sheriff David Chase we returned to the mine shaft. Our hopes soared when we found Mags had moved such we could now see her. While we could not really see whether on her feet or lying down, each time I talked she raised her head and looked up. Amazing to us she seemed alert, calm and gave no indication of being in pain.

Beaverhead Search and Rescue arrived and soon had Dr. Mike Clark rigged and on his way down. You can only imagine our elation when I asked Mike, "how's she doin'?" and he responded, "Chuck, except for bein' scared and scuffed up some, she seems okay, can't see that anything's broken."

When Mike shoved Mags (in the bag) over the last lip, seeing as how she was kicking and struggling...like get me outta this damn thing, NOW!!! ended any worries she might be hurt badly.

When Gale unzipped the bag she came out wagging her butt (stub of a tail) such we thought she       might self-destruct. It took two hands to hold her until we could get a lead on and safely get 
her away from hole...
Tired and way thirsty, hard to believe, but except for a minor cut on her forehead and a bloody nose she showed no signs of other injuries. After a quick stop at the Vet, who agreed she looked way better than she should, we took her home.

Now two days removed you would never know...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

All About Caddisflies...Part 2

Clockwise from top left: Lafontaine emergent sparkle pupae, rock worm, BH soft hackle Hare's Ear, BH rock worm, BH caddis larvae patterns and natrual, Goddard Caddis
Back in the day when caddis started to pop first thing I dug out was a caddis dry. Actually the only caddis dry I owned at the time was one we called Rozy's Caddis...the "invention" of Rozy Stidd a longtime pal and constant fishing companion when I lived and worked on Spruce Creek in Pennsylvania.

Rozy, Bill Howe and I tied it by the countless dozens, in several sizes,12, 14, 16, 18 but hardly ever used anything but a 14 or 16. Comprised of a dubbed olive body, deer hair wing and special dyed olive/yellow grizzly hackle wound behind the hook eye. The fly seldom let us down, was as good a searching pattern as any in our boxes and...Well we caught the crap outta trout all up and down and across Pennsylvania and throughout the West, especially Montana.

I now live and guide in Montana, still use it often and still catches lots of trout but...

Somewhere along the line I discovered during an actual caddis hatch, pupae imitations and even simple soft hackles worked even better. Lafontaine emergent patterns (as pictured above) fished deep and in the film are now my go-tos. During egg laying flights I fish a variety--Elk-hair, X-, Iris- and Egg-laying caddis (latter three tying instructions can be found at www.blueribbonflies.com).

My larvae imitations are standard nymphs such as rock worm, various Hare's-ear and Princes--adding a hot spot seems to help. Some of the Czech style nymphs are even better but I like to keep it simple...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

All About Caddisflies...Part 1

Clockwise from top left: larva pattern, architecurally perfect cases, adult, elk hair caddis, X-caddis, intricate case caddis pattern. 
Recently I did two Power Point presentations for anglers attending the annual Fish Like A Guide School at Healing Waters Lodge near Twin Bridges, MT. Following the presentation we loaded up and went to a nearby spring creek to seine naturals in order to show not only how to seine insects for sampling but how to identify, say, a caddis larva from a mayfly nymph. As I get time I will post the text and more photos here...Enjoy and by all means shoot me a comment if you have any questions.

CADDISFLIES have long taken a backseat to mayflies as must have imitations.  These days, due in large part to the work of Gary LaFontaine, caddis imitations receive their fare share of time on the end of the tippet, but many anglers still assume all caddisflies are pretty much the same.
In many species, the pupae become very active just before emergence and drift along the bottom of the river, sometimes for hours. The "deep sparkle pupa" patterns introduced by Gary LaFontaine in Caddisflies are the most popular of many imitations inspired by this behavior. It is a deep nymph fisherman's dream. Sometimes they drift similarly just below the surface for a long time before trying to break through.

Pupae of different species use three different methods to emerge:

Most species rise to the surface and struggle through. They usually take flight quickly once they're out of the water, but slow species first struggle and drift long distances half-submerged as they wriggle free from their pupal shucks.

The pupae of some species crawl out of the water on rocks, sticks, and such, so that the adults emerge high and dry.

Some pupae rise to the surface and swim quickly across it to shore where they crawl out to emerge.

Most caddis pupae are good swimmers, and they use their legs as paddles rather than wiggling their bodies to move.

After emerging, caddis fly adults live for a long time compared to mayflies, in part because they are able to drink to avoid dehydration (mayfly adults cannot eat or drink). This flight period lasts anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the species, so mating adults may be seen on or over the water long after emergence is complete.

Many caddis fly females dive underwater to lay their eggs on the stream bottom. Some crawl down objects to do this but most swim right down through the water column. The latter are responsible for my fastest trout fishing action ever -- days when trout raced each other to attack my flies the moment they hit the water, cast after cast.

Others lay their eggs on the surface in various ways. They may fly low over the water, periodically dipping their abdomens to lay eggs. Others land on the surface repeatedly, fussing and fluttering in enticing commotion. Less active species may fall spent to the surface with all four wings spread out. Others ride the water serenely while laying their eggs, and they are the easiest to match with the dead-drift techniques of mayfly fishermen.

Some egg-laying methods keep the adult females safe from trout altogether. They may drop their eggs into the water from overhanging plants, or lay their eggs on the vegetation itself. That way the eggs don't enter the river until the next rain--an excellent drought survival strategy.

Stay Tuned...For the rest of the story, more photos and a few tips on fishing caddisflies...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Montana Candidate for Governor Sues MTFWP to block Fishing Access...

Fishing Access Site on Ruby River is just one of several hundred scattered across the state which gives anglers free public access to fish up and down through public or private lands so long as we stay below the high water mark fishing through private...

...If you have followed my many past rants directed at greedy, always rich beyond belief, bastards who would take away this right...actually  law...you know I don't pull any punches telling the pricks what I think and where and what they can do with their scum-bag ways. Am I naive enough to think any of this does much good, that it'll somehow go away...in two words...HELL NO! 

Comes now this latest gem...Seems an SOB, name of Greg Gianforte, who is somewhat amazingly, running for governor, pulled this little stunt awhile back, one that should kill any chance of becoming elected. 

Seems in 2009, Greg and Susan Gianforte sued the Montana department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, seeking to get rid of a Fishing Access site anglers had used for almost 40 years to fish the East Gallatin River. Imagine...

Little more than a dirt road, maybe 75 yards long, that led from a county road to the bank of the river. This access route had been used regularly enough since the 1970s so that in 1993 the public acquired a legal right to use the road. The spur led not only to the river but to an entire riparian area of 75 public acres, owned and managed by FWP for the enjoyment and general use of all citizens but... 

The easement crossed the far end of the Gianfortes’s property. And so after purchasing the lot with the easement and building a trophy house (don't they all?) on the banks of the river the bastards took the issue to court. 

 Filed (sneakily) by a company called “East Gallatin LLC,” whose registered agent is listed as Susan Gianforte and whose address is listed as the family’s home. And if this meal is not tasty enough for you, there’s desert: Art Wittich was the attorney that the Gianfortes hired to bring the lawsuit. Wittich now has an attorney of his own, defending him from being evicted from office. Why someone with $400 million would hire Art Wittich to represent him when he could get anyone in the world is an interesting question.

Like many other things in the Gianforte’s past, to say nothing he is just another in a long-line of arrogant, greedy, self-serving jerks from elsewhere, who move to Montana to build a trophy home and fence off public land. And it’s made even worse by the fact that he tried to hide behind a corporate veil when he filed the suit, to shield his identity and had his wife file as agent. 

So much for his constant TV diatribe, "have a plan to fix all of Montana's woes"...Yeah, right!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Millions Acres Montana's Private Lands Locked-up For Outfitting...

Why do we care so much about public land access ? Put simply: Because if the current trend to lease private to outfitters continues there won't be anywhere else for us poor folk to hunt (or fish, or recreate). The brown areas on the above map of Montana show about 19 million acres private lands currently being to outfitters for commercial hunting. In other words the average hunter is now locked out of about 1/3 of Montana's 59 million acres...And considering in 2012 there was just 7 million acres leased there appears to be no end in sight.

Consider also of the private land that’s not leased much that remains is urban/suburban, industrial, governed by Indian tribes, or not suitable for wildlife or hunting.

The map doesn’t detail the variety of hunting but in my experience the majority is for big-game, with lesser acreage for upland bird hunting, waterfowl, turkey and even predator hunting. Hard to believe but recently I saw an outfitter ad for shooting ground squirrels (yes, pay handsomely to shoot gophers for cripes sake...like around here ranchers beg for shooters)

Saturday, April 2, 2016


Rainbow, Beaverhead National Forest, Montana

...But NOT SO FAST, for here we go yet again…

…Yes, I know the efforts of a handful crooked, greedy, self-serving politicians to sell off our public lands really has never stopped and doubtless never will until we—hunters, fishermen, campers, mountain bike riders, ATVers, snowmobilers, every last one of us who recreate on public lands comes together to vote the bastards out…

Until then we can count on a never-ending barrage of egregious bills such as the most recent entry submitted by Alaska’s head henchman, Congressman Don Young.

In a nutshell the bill would permit the sale of millions of acres of National Forest to the states. It would allow each state to sell up to 2-million acres of National Forest to be managed strictly for timber production. These lands would no longer be managed as “Multiple Use” thus the management of fish and wildlife would go down the drain. The bill makes no mention of maintaining public access nor does it require states to retain title, clearing the way for sale to to private entities.

Should this baby pass there is no reason to believe the flood gates will be flung wide open for any special interest group to get similar crap through the halls of a Congress which has to rank right up there with the smelliest ever.

If you buy this rant please take the time to contact your legislators and tell them bluntly “WE WILL NOT STAND FOR ANY MORE BS.”

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Southwest Montana Birding Tours...Book NOW!

Ice Out Trout Is Heating Up...

Clark Canyon Reservoir is still partially frozen but there is plenty of open water and big trout such as this handsome rainbow are cruising the shallows. Turkey jigs and your favorite bugger patterns will get 'er done. For updates, flies, etc. check with Josh at Anderson & Platt Outfitters (fly shop) in Dillon--406-683-2692.

I will again be guiding area waters this season--Big Hole, Beaverhead, Madison and Ruby rivers, as well as Clark Canyon Reservoir and several private waters. Shoot me an e-mail (crobb@bresnan.net) and I will hook us up with the appropriate outfitter.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ramblin' Maggie the Wirehair's...

first venture into the southwest Montana sagebrush was, I think, a resounding success. In typical fashion Maggie was undaunted by the sagebrush being in most spots three times as tall as she. Unaware at first she stumbled into scattered prickly pear, stuck her nose into it and came up with a couple spines. Gale held her and I pulled them out...and that was it, at least for today, for prickly pear.

Splitting time between chasing after big sister Annie and exploring on her own as we hiked beside a familiar two-track--naturally she finds it easier to ramble the open trail. And naturally too, she stopped frequently to sniff all the new smells and, of course, sample antelope and sage grouse poop--both of which are easy to find in this neck o' sage.

  While I would like to report finding the birds made the poop alas didn't happen but she did find and enjoy playing with a 20 ga. shotshell--no not one of mine, I make a habit of picking all up even if I have to return after to find them. And yes, it would be nice if the rest of you did like-wise, plastic as we all know is not biodegradable...

Ramblin' Maggie's house breaking is coming along, if ever so slowly--more fits and starts than any pup I can recall...way more "pee mistakes" than Annie and not even close to Katie, our other wirehairs. As for the pointers, setters and Britts sorry but my lizard-like memory is fading fast and I just cannot bring it up...Anyway, we didn't have any yesterday and none so far this morning so we'll keep our fingers crossed that maybe, just maybe, we're at least sort of on the right track...stay tuned.

Crate training is coming along nicely as she rarely makes much fuss and what little she does, does not last long. In the truck you rarely here even a whimper; ditto when time comes to shut down things for the night. Yesterday she slept from around 8:30 until 6:30 and this morning she did get up earlier--5:30 but after going outside, eating breakfast, back out to pee and poop, she went back in the crate and slept for over an hour...can't hardly ask for better...

Monday, February 22, 2016

Wirehair Affair...

Late great Katie got it started. In her long run she pointed and retrieved a bunch of upland birds and waterfowl. I can't imagine a bird dog knew more about sage chickens; in the last years of her life she proved time and again an uncanny sense letting us know almost as soon as she left the truck whether or not birds were around. Hard to believe I know but trust me, a true story.

 Like Katie, 8 year old Annie also struts her stuff in sage chicken country. And like Katie she run up quite the upland bird life list. Just back from a sort of marathon Arizona quail hunt (Hunting 38 of the 50 days of season we were down there, she pointed birds almost every time out and despite being tired and sore only once, hunting scalies down Tombstone way, did she refuse to give it her best shot...Shame on me for asking, eh?

 Comes now, Ramblin' Maggie...Not much I can say at this point beyond high hopes the little bitch does her best to keep the affair burnin'...Whether or not the ol' boy can hold up his end of the deal, of course, remains to be seen...Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Training the Western Bird Dog...

When a friend heard we were on our way home to Montana bearing 8 week old Maggie the wirehair he laughed  and said, “What you gonna teach her first, ain’t much you can teach an 8 week old pup.
Well maybe…Like building a house first thing is to build a good footer and lay up a solid foundation…Mags has just been yanked away from 11 littermates, shoved in a crate by strangers and transported 4 long days and nights to a strange home (in this case the move from balmy Arizona to frigid Montana  involves not only dealing strange folks, sights, smells and sounds…it’s damn cold here boss, I ain’t got much hair and…

So the usual simple operation of keeping a close eye grabbing her up, haulin ass  to the yard to pee and poop is suddenly compounded big time…like upon hitting the grass she is almost instantly shivering, suddenly not all that interested in relieving herself and—no dummy she bounds up the steps to the deck and races pell-mell  for the backdoor…Can you blame her? Hardly but she still needs to pee and poop outside NOT inside…So you repeat the process over and over until…
This in itself can quickly feel like a full-time training exercise but there can be no slacking off…every in house mistake is a step backwards. Eliminating mistakes entirely is the only way.

Crate training then goes hand in hand with house breaking. Why because I cannot watch her 24-7 so two things: 1) Since whenever she is loose in the house I must maintain vigilance the best way is to confine her to one room; 2) or… into the crate she goes.

Stay tuned, next up—Crate Training.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Montana Wirehair...

With everything out the camp trailer and at least sort of put away we decided to take a break and get Maggie (8 weeks and a couple days) out of backyard for a real run...For such a little thing man can she ramble...undaunted by tumbling into a dry irrigation ditch twice she then swapped directions and took a big rambling circle a couple hundred yards in diameter, chased sister Annie (8 years old) for another hundred yards or so, took a short breather then headed off on another jaunt all the way back to the truck...Whew! One can only hope she hunts birds with same gusto...Soon as the mud dries a bit we will take her out to the sagebrush see how interested she is sage chicken smells...I'm bettin' she'll like it pretty good...stay tuned.

Newsflash: Power Grab of Our Public Lands...

...Is NOT About to End Anytime Soon...

As the last of the armed occupiers left the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon this week, supporters vowed "the fight would go on." Five angry words which should serve sportsmen across the country as a rallying call to not let our guard down--to stay the fight however long it takes to insure public lands remain public and that future generations can enjoy them as we have forever.

That fact hasn’t been lost on Land Tawney, executive director of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “Now that the Bundys are in jail, it’s time to focus more on the politicians and fat cat industry executives bent on stealing our public lands,” said Tawney. “Those are the ones we should really go after. These people are licking their chops, looking at ways to steal our public lands so they can exploit them for their own profit. That’s the danger this really exposed.”

Those industries include the usual suspects—oil, gas coal, timber, big agriculture—that typically spend tens of millions annually trying weaken the environmental regulations that protect wildlife habitat on public lands and waters. They also pour millions into the campaigns of politicians we elect to protect our property.

On another track we need to weed out the politicians in favor of selling off public property. Here in Montana Senator Jennifer Fielder,was recently appointed CEO of the American Lands Council--
the despicable Utah group that boasts on its Web site: Our No. 1 goal is the timely transfer of federal public lands to willing states for local control…

Monday, February 15, 2016

Training the Western Bird Dog...

8 year old, Annie the Wirehair pointing sage chickens in SW Montana

We just returned from Arizona. A marathon 30 day desert quail hunt. We started hunting in late December and closed down the operation 50 days later when the season ended February 7. Mearn's quail numbers were off the charts and the Gambel's weren't too shabby either...in case you wondered.

Toward the end of the season we put down a deposit on a wirehair pup--Maggie Mae--who today is 8 weeks old.  She came to us highly recommended by our Arizona friend, Web Parton. Web, as you may or may not know, is one of the premier bird dog trainers in the country, a 30 plus year veteran desert quail and waterfowl guide and an expert snake aversion trainer. He was looking for a pup and when he heard Central Basin Wirehairs (Camp Verde, AZ) had a litter for sale he checked out the breeding discovered he'd recently trained two pups from the exact same breeding. "Chuck I really liked both these pups so I put down a deposit today. There are two females left, if I were you I would put down a deposit pronto." We did and so...Stay tuned, I promise regular updates on Maggies progress hope you enjoy the tale... 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Winter In The Arizona Mountains

Last week winter arrived in the Arizona Mountains. In the valleys the 5-day storm dumped mostly rain--pouring rain filled the washes and added much needed moisture. Water of course is the lifeblood everywhere in the West...But is particularly precious in the desert where the (hoped for) average annual precipitation hovers somewhere between 10 and 15-inches.
Staghorn Cholla fruit peeks out from under a rare snowy blanket.

I posted this recently on Facebook--ChuckRobbins-Outdoors--An attempted artsy
 fartsy rendition of a vast grasslands once part of the sprawling Empire Ranch
 (now part of the LasCienegas National Conservation Area) and the
 snow-splashed Whetstone Mountains.
Once facing an uncertain future that almost certainly included housing and commercial development, today more than 45,000 acres of rolling grasslands and woodlands in Arizona’s Pima and Santa Cruz counties are protected as a National Conservation Area.  The region’s rolling grasslands, oak-studded hills that connect several “sky island” mountain ranges, and lush riparian corridors are irresistible to both people and wildlife. Cienega Creek, with its perennial flow and lush riparian corridor, forms the lifeblood of the NCA and supports a diverse plant and animal community.  

Thanks to the efforts of local governments, elected officials and the public, the Empire and Cienega ranches, along with portions of the adjacent Rose Tree and Vera Earl ranches, are now under public ownership and managed by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the principles of multiple-use and ecosystem management for future generations to use and enjoy.  The BLM has formed a partnership with the nonprofit Empire Ranch Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving the historic buildings and surrounding landscapes.