Sunday, May 14, 2017

Blown Out Rivers and Creeks?...

...Head for the many high country lakes and ponds...
Annie and me fly fishing Widgeon Pond on the Red Rock Lakes NWR a couple May's ago.
...scattered all across the Beaverhead National Forest, in southwest Montana. Contact,or better yet stop by, the Forest Service Headquarters here in Dillon and request the free Lake Inventory publication. Purchase the BNF Travel Maps and you're in business. Last time I looked there were about 300 lakes listed. Showing range, latitude and longitude, elevation and species and access--horse and foot travel, ATV, motorcycle, 4X4 or motor vehicle. Obviously this early in the season many are still iced over so pay attention to the elevation beforehand. As a rule those below 7500 feet are open now but there's still a lot of snow so getting there might pose a problem. The highest, the 8-9000 footers won't see open water until at least the end of June and some remain frozen well into July.

Many of the lakes hold westslope cutthroat trout, some pretty big. Brook and rainbow trout, Arctic grayling are found in many others. I know of only a couple brown trout lakes. No matter which lake, low, high, whatever the hot time is when the ice goes. For the next couple weeks trout swarm the shallows, looking for food in the warming water and in many cases looking to spawn. 

You don't need a lot of different flies--turkey jigs, chronomids, sheep creeks, wooly buggers and ants--always ants--are about it. Suspend the flies under a bobber, cast out and let 'er set, then let 'er set some more is one of the best methods. But if you can't stand staring down a bobber by all means strip 'em on a sink-tip or later when the trout go deeper, a full-sink line.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Catch And Eat

Article & Photo Courtesy Tom Dickson, Editor, Montana Outdoors Magazine
Sesame-Crusted Pan-Fried Trout

Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Serves 4.

Most trout anglers don’t keep fish anymore. That’s been good for trout conservation because a released fish can be caught again. But it’s a shame so many anglers—and their families—miss out on the joys of eating freshly caught trout, once a cherished Montana tradition.

Where legal, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally keeping some trout for a meal. FWP biologists account for harvest in regulations designed to keep populations healthy. In fact, regulated harvest could actually benefit some populations by giving remaining fish more food and habitat to grow larger.

A delicious way to turn a few trout into a scrumptious meal is this simple recipe. It’s a slight variation on one published in Field & Stream from a Maine chef, who created it for brook trout. The yummy sauce derives from a unique mix of ingredients, most of them found in the Asian aisle of Montana’s larger supermarkets. Readers may balk at buying sesame oil, hoisin sauce, and sherry* for a single meal. I urge you to make the investment. Believe me, you’ll make this dish more than once.
Fillets of perch, walleye, freshwater drum, and larger trout work well, too. Keep the skin on if you can, but it’s no big deal if you don’t. Store-bought cod, tilapia, or pollack also make good substitutes. 
4 whole 11- to 13-inch trout, gutted
1 T. plus 1⁄2 c. vegetable oil, divided
1 T. minced fresh ginger
1 T. sliced garlic
1⁄2 c. chicken stock
2 t. dry sherry
2 t. soy sauce
1 T.  sesame oil
3⁄4 c. all-purpose flour
5 T. toasted sesame seeds
1 t. table salt
1 T. butter
1 T. Chinese hoisin sauce
1⁄4 c. chopped scallions (green onions)
1 small tomato, chopped
Julienned scallions, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat 1 T. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Sauté the ginger and garlic for 1 minute, or until just golden. Add the chicken stock, sherry, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes, and set aside.
Combine the flour, 3 T. sesame seeds, and salt in a bowl. In this mixture, dredge the trout, which should be wet so the mixture adheres. Heat the remaining 1⁄2 c. oil in a large sauce or frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry the trout until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Cook in batches.

Place the trout on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in the oven for 6 minutes, or until just cooked through.

Meanwhile, bring the chicken-stock mixture to a simmer and whisk in the butter, hoisin sauce, chopped scallions, and tomato. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Place a trout on each plate and spoon the sauce over each fish. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 T. sesame seeds. Garnish with scallions.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Catch and Release...

...Keep 'Em Wet.

It makes sense that fish that are played longer and held out of water longer will experience more stress, and the more stress experienced by a fish the more likely it is to die when released. To reduce stress, scientists have recommended some general guidelines for catch-and-release angling

1) Minimize angling duration (the time a fish is played and handled for hook removal) .

2) Minimize air exposure (15-20 sec) by removing hooks with the fish in water and photographing fish quickly.

3) Use barbless hooks and artificial lures/flies.

4) Use rubber nets void of knots that protect fish scales and mucous 5) avoid angling during extremes in water temperature

Many of these guidelines are already practiced by educated anglers that retrieve fish quickly, leave them in water during hook removal, use barbless hooks, and photograph fish quickly before releasing them, ultimately keeping fish out of the water for no more than 15-20 seconds.

Anglers should also limit fishing during warm summer periods when trout are stressed (management agencies sometimes close fisheries during these warm periods).

These behaviors by educated anglers have helped substantially to reduce fish stress from catch-and-release fishing, thus increasing the chance those fish will live to be caught again.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Great Public Lands and Wildlife Heist...

Should the DC crooks get their hands on Pittman-Robinson Funds you can kiss the opportunity to photograph (watch) desert bighorn rams on public lands good-by. State wildlife agencies stand to lose millions and the first to go stands to be  managing fringe big game populations such as these. Desert bighorn tags bring big bucks but with no protections and no funds to manage they won't last long.

As the national media frets and fixates on whether or not Trump and his gang of thieves are in cahoots with Putin, he is quietly going about robbing we sportsmen and conservationists blind. Hardly a day goes by without another egregious Executive Order designed to gut every important protection which has to do with the things we hold near and dear—clean air and water, public land and water managed not for profit but for fish and wildlife; fisheries,  wildlife and public lands management based not on how the political winds blow but on sound science; assurance that moneys generated by hunting and fishing flow to the agencies mandated to protect and manage our fish and wildlife and not line the pockets of the crooks, the bottom feeders who are currently  jumping for joy every  time Trump picks up his pen. 

Clean Waters of the US...outrageous.  National Monuments... blatant Federal overreach of the antiquated Antiquities Act.  Dingell-Johnston, Pittman-Robinson Funds...outrageous waste of “tax” dollars. Grab ‘em, gut the state fish and wildlife agencies and get on with it. Here in Montana, this little review gem is estimated to cost Fish, Wildlife and Parks 20-million in lost revenue and nix any chance of purchasing the Grant Marsh WMA on the Bighorn River...”Make America Great, eh?”
And these three are just the tip of a very large iceberg. And what do most of us do? Nada, nothing, sit on our hands and keep on electing yes men like Ryan Zinke.  Insuring  a never ending supply line of self-serving  goons  to his cabinet posts, the Senate and HR.

Meanwhile we fret and fixate on that dreaded knock on the front door where the gestapo rushes in confiscates our guns...Never, I repeat NEVER giving a thought to what the hell good are the guns to us ordinary hunters if there are no public lands to hunt.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Fishin' Dog Training...

Spottin' trout for the Boss
When the fish ain't bitin' get the Boss' to toss sticks...

"OK kid, now watch me, this is how the Boss' want it  done....

That's it kick like hell, scare all the fish...

Someday Mags might make a fishin' dog but right now she is light years away. She probably ran at least 5 miles today around shore and probably half that many miles in and out the lake...The original perpetual motion machine...you  got it!!!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Upper Missouri Waterkeeper Settles Clark Canyon Dam Lawsuit

Recently Upper Missouri Waterkeeper settled a lawsuit challenging the Clark Canyon 401 Certification in return for both Clark Canyon Hydroelectric and the State of Montana committing themselves to working with local stakeholders in (a) fully understanding the Beaverhead pollution issue, (b) identify the scientific cause(s), and (c) identify and/or create solutions necessary to stopping these events from occurring.

The settlement essentially gets citizens and the Beaverhead what both need: a firm, enforceable commitment and timeline from key stakeholders to work on solving serious pollution problems.

For more please visit: 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Spring training is going well, Top to Bottom: Annie backing; Maggie pointing sage chicken, though not this handsome male; Maggie pointing sage chicken. And no the dogs are not pointing sage chickens on a lek but rather in the early afternoon well after and before the big grouse do their daily dance and well away from active leks.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Second Annual Beaverhead River Clean-up...

Terry Throckmorton (above) and your intrepid reporter did our best to clean-up the Cornell Park to Selway Bridge section of the Beaverhead River. This was the second-annual Lewis and Clark TU Chapter river clean-up in which members and friends scoured the entire 70-some miles of the Beav from Clark Canyon Dam to its confluence with the Big Hole River a mile or so downstream of Twin Bridges.

We did the same stretch last year and sad but true the volume was about the same...Shame on you litterbugs...c'mon now how much effort does it take to pack out what ya'll pack-in...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Killing The Clean Water Act: A Sportsmen's Nightmare

Take a good look, clean, healthy, full of trout cricks such as this are under almost daily assault from our newly elected President and his gang of GOP enablers hell bent to remove any and all protections and, worse, the agencies currently bound to protect them.

 With newly elected Trump as President and the GOP controlling Congress and 60 % Republican governors,  I wrote an opinion piece for the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association, of which I am a longtime member and newsletter editor extolling the new powers that be extreme bias against clean air, water and soil, the scam to transfer our public lands to the states and the eventual inevitable sale to private interests, yada, yada.  Since this isn’t my first rodeo I  hardly expected the entire NOWA membership to stand-up and cheer. But since we are ya know supposed to be OUTDOOR WRITERS/PHOTOGRAPHERS/OUTDOOR FILM MAKERS n RADIO BROADCASTERS, etc.—you can imagine my surprise at the outrage some expressed. Calling me, among other nasty tags, an extreme left-wing Cool Aid guzzler. Imagine. Anyone who knows me knows I not only hate Cool Aid, strongly favor bourbon, I also have no time for any politician left, right, upside down, inside out or otherwise who does not strongly support the few issues matter to me—clean air, water and soil, sound wildlife/fisheries  and habitat management, leave your grubby paws off my public lands and don’t even think of blocking access to same. 

Sorry folks, I am way too old to fret the rest of it.

So ya name callin’ jerks, we’re now but two months into it and hardly a day  passes without another  blow to protections for the air we breath, the water we, the fish and wildlife drink; the public lands we hunt and fish, camp, bike, hike, bird watch, you name it, no permission needed, just park the truck and go; our National Parks, Monuments and Wildlife Refuges, from the Trump and/or his GOP congressional enablers.
“But the real haymaker came the week before when President Trump ordered his administration to begin rolling back the Clean Water Rule, an Obama Administration initiative supported by sportsmen, conservation groups, and public health officials. Also known as The Waters of the U.S. rule—Trump labeled it a “horrible, horrible rule—has such a nice name, but everything about it is bad, “and was “one of the worst examples of federal regulation” and “a massive power grab.”

“To the contrary is among the most vetted, scientifically sound, careful examples of rulemaking in the nation’s history.” Some believe it is so sound Trump’s allies might spend years trying to dismantle it—and still fail.
“In truth his action is nothing but a unabashed gift to a few supporters which  is sure to hurt t a majority of Americans—especially sportsmen. If passed it will remove protections for more than 20 million acres of wetlands critical to a wide range of wildlife from trout to waterfowl; as well as, 60 percent of the nation’s streams, and affect safe drinking water for more than 100 million Americans.”
Below is a brief history of how the Clean Water Act came to be.

The  1972 Clean Water Act included protections for wetlands as well as streams and lakes—including entire watersheds and aquifers.   The agencies—EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers—extended  protections to include isolated and seasonal wetlands—prairie potholes, riparian areas, etc.—proven contributors to the overall health of watersheds and aquifers.

But as we sportsmen know all too well, the crooked bastards don’t give up easily. “And in 2006 the Supreme Court sided with a developer and threw out regulations on isolated and temporary wetlands, claiming Congress did not specifically include those habitats in the original ACT. The majority opinion said such wetlands could only be protected if a “nexus” existed between those and regular flowing waterways – the waters of the United States.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Greg Gianforte Is Not Our Friend

Decoying antelope on public lands in southwest Montana, no access fee, no begging landowners, just park the truck and take a hike...can't beat it.

In 2016, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle asked gubernatorial candidate, Greg Gianforte, his position on transferring ownership of Public Lands to the state.

I am opposed to deed transfer at this time, because I don’t think it’s attainable.

Now the GOP nominee to fill Ryan Zinke’s vacated post it seems not much has changed.

Using rhetoric that echoes land transfer zealots, former state senator, Debbie Barrett and her pal, current state Sen. Jennifer Fielder, he then ran through a laundry list of complaints about federal public land management to support an argument for why he’d rather see this land managed by the state. He then veered way off the reservation, from lauding state management to supporting a bizarre proposal for projects that would have county commissioners or “some new commission” to manage “federally-deeded lands.”

In other words, those of us—hunters, fishermen, guides, outfitters, campers, atvers, bikers, hikers, you name it—elect Gianforte to the House of Representatives and… If the political winds give him the chance we can, by God, kiss access to public lands good-by.

This might sound good to followers of the Bundys, but “local management” of  public lands is simply an unworkable idea. Just the cost of fighting wildland fires on an additional 27 million acres of public lands would put Montana’s taxpayers on the hook for a whopping $100 million in dry years. It would also come with many other costs that would, when added up, force the state to sell our public land to the highest bidder and/or prioritize resource extraction over public access.
Judging his financial support of the Property and Environment Research Center, this could very well be game plan. Backed handsomely by the fossil fuel industry (including the Koch brothers and other mega rich outside interests and landowners, such as the Wilks brothers, hell bent on building mega fiefdoms within the state, cutting access to public lands wherever possible), PERC has a long history of advocating for the privatization and industrialization of public land, going so far as to offer “a blueprint for auctioning off all public lands over 20 to 40 years.”

Obviously Gianforte is deaf the will of the majority of Montanans — nearly 60 percent, according to a recent poll — who adamantly oppose the idea of transferring our public lands to individual states. Obviously he is quick to turn a blind eye that public land in Montana generates $6 billion annually, including $403 million in tax revenue, and accounts for 64,000 jobs across the state. More importantly, public land provides the outdoor way of life that defines who we are as Montanans.
Montana GOP, which passed a resolution in 2014 to “support granting federally managed public lands to the states,” would also do well to remember what public land means to Montanans.

When we go to the polls, May 25th, we can send a strong message to all Montana politicians either honor and unequivocally support, retention of our public land and the gifts public land provides or take a hike. Our Public Lands are the birthright and we Montanans have NO inkling of ever allowing you greedy, land-grabbing, self-serving politicians to steal it.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Idaho Public Lands Rally

Organizers said roughly 3,000 people attended Saturday’s rally at the Idaho Capitol. Participants included hunters, bikers, rafters, hikers, bikers, and bird-watchers. Image courtesy of Kate Thorpe, Idahoans for Public lands.
One of the largest public land rallies in recent memory brought together the many diverse groups that value access to the outdoors—and are prepared to fight for it
Nearly 3,000 people rallied in support of public lands on the steps of the Capitol in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday, and their diversity was a powerful statement about the importance of the outdoors. It was a mosaic of individual interests as unique as Idaho itself.
There was an angler in full regalia talking to the rafter who had a polite sign affixed to his paddle that he constantly waved over his head. It said, “Please leave my lands alone.” There were three elk hunting buddies who couldn’t not believe the size of the crowd. There were the grey beards of Idaho’s small-but-potent environmental community, those people who knew Frank Church personally and have spent decades advocating for the outdoors. The endurance running community was there—the wiry kin who can run Idaho’s tallest peaks by lunch and then dance all night.

Four newspapers, three television stations, and two radio stations joined bloggers and volunteers watching the vast crowd spill into Jefferson Street. The rally was an effort that the TRCP was proud to help coordinate. It was a non-denominational celebration of the happiness that we all attain pursuing our own diverse adventures in the outdoors.
But the day’s diversity was only half the day’s story. In the rain on Idaho Day, those diverse groups gave voice to one cause: keeping public lands in public hands.

For rest of story please visit:


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Imminent Death of the Waters of the U.S. Rule

Fly Fishing the upper Galatin River...non navigable so better try it afore too late..Chuck Robbins photo
Just home from what turned out to be a wonderful 8 week sojourn, camping on public lands, enjoying nightly campfires with long-time friends, chasing quail about the Arizona desert with Gale, Annie and Maggie my internet machines began to buzz like angry rattlers with the sorry news President Trump had signed yet another another wild, off the wall, executive order, to “get rid of the Waters of the U.S. Rule” which, given the track record of our whacked out Congress will certainly get tossed out with all the fanfare of the baby's wash; certainly “destroy the Clean Water Act” and "open the door for an American descent into a kind of new wave Chinese-level hell of pollution, fish kills, dead rivers, and blue ruin."
For the rest of this sorriest of tragedies being almost daily tossed out by Trump and his greedy, thieving, land grabbing cronies please visit  http://www.fieldandstream.com/imminent-death-waters-us-rule/  courtesy Hal Herring and Field and Stream.
And while you're at it (if you dare) read the rest of Conservationist Blogs...though you might want to take a seat first...

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Arizona Quail 2017--Land, Gun, Dog, Birds

Mearn's Country; Public Land; Oak/Juniper Forest; Grass Savannah Understory; Steep/Rocky and Remote...
No Country For Old Men.

Browning Citori; 20ga.;Open/Skeet#1; Light Loads; 7 1/2 shot 
Mearn's Hold Tight; Are Usually Found In Heavy Grass; Made to Order for Savvy Pointing Dogs, such as Annie the Wirehair.
Cock Mearn's (left) are strikingly handsome and easy to pick out on a covey flush. Scaled and Gambel's not so easy to spot on the wing.D

Monday, February 20, 2017

Arizona Quail Wrap-Up 2017...Part 2

Here Annie's got 'em (Mearn's quail) as Maggie sticks a pretty back. Of all the many bird dogs I've blown a whistle over, even hunted behind, Mags is by far the most natural backer. Almost from the get go last spring when she really had know idea what the hell, she would back Annie's every stop...stop to pee, Mags backed; stop to poop, Mags backed; stop to look around, Mags backed...

This of course proved a good thing since once she put the two together, e.g. bird scent and Annie stopping...Well it wasn't long until she started finding and pointing her own birds with Annie now doing the backing. Of course too this sort of teamwork is what put birds on the ground and...Now I get to not only smell the birds I get to mouth (taste) 'em as well...Like HOW GOOD IS THAT!!!

From what I've seen Mags totally agrees. The bad news is she learned quickly that Annie does not give a hoot who fetches the bird so...Annie picks up the bird, in a flash Mags steals it...Fun stuff but... Not such a good thing especially when it's a pal's dog getting swindled...

Typical Mearn's quail hunting scene...oak, grass, steep, dog pointing up, hunter wheezing his best...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Arizona Quail 2017 Wrap...Part 1

Following a white-knuckled couple hours of really icy roads and a near disastrous slide-off pulling off I-15 to get gas outside Idaho Falls the rest of the four-day drive to the Arizona desert proved uneventful...Whew!

With now about 20 desert quail seasons under our belts we pretty much fell into a routine. First camp is on public land in the Sonoran desert northeast of Tucson. And, as always, the first order of business is to police the site of unwanted, unsightly trash--murdered beer bottles and cans, perhaps an old TV, empty pistol and rifle cartridges and shotshells littering the ground and other assorted treasures left behind by thoughtless idiots too lazy to haul out what the bastards bring. And of course shoveling the ever present cow crap...

Anyway enough bawlin', that done we rig the dogs, Annie and Maggie, with bells and electric collars ( you know, just in case the puppies forget their manners), pull on our boots, shell vests, sticker proof (hopefully) brush pants or chaps, load the guns and take a hike. The first circle is a short jaunt around camp, how short depends on how much daylight. This time the sun is well settled on the tops of the Tortalitas. In other words if the dogs are going to hit paydirt will have to do so soon.

As if on cue, suddenly the bells stop ringing. And as we round a mesquite thicket we spy Annie locked tight with her understudy, Maggie, sticking a pretty back. I circle quickly, hoping to come in to the front but the covey busts before I can get there. Coming up in a typical Gambel's scatter, I have my choice of several birds buzzing off well in range, right to left. Easy pickings, naturally I miss both barrels. Blame it on the long drive, a too-tired ol' boy...cast the blame as you wish but...the good news we are HERE and the season doesn't end for about 8 weeks...like lots a time for redemption.

Stay Tuned For More...