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  • Thursday, April 05, 2007

    Bye The Way, The Weather's Rotten

    MONTANA LEGISLATURE SHIRKS RESPONSIBILITY
    Weather Cold - Fishing Hot
    California To Slap Boaters ??
    Quagga's Threaten Utah
    .. It seem a simple thing. Just affirm that the state law - already on the books - is the right law and that it means what it says. Not in Montana!
    .. The Montana Legislature has shirked it's responsibility and tabled the stream access bill that would have clarified the meaning of the law.
    .. The law is simply worded and not ambiguous: people can access their water from public property and use that water between high-water marks. Back in 2000, Montana's attorney General, Joe Mazurek said:
    "Montana's Constitution guarantees the public the right to use all of our state's waters for recreation, our legal research revealed that bridges on county roads are basically the intersection between two public rights-of-way: the road and the stream or river. When the public has the legal right to use both, it wouldn't make any sense to conclude that people can't use the point where they intersect."

    .. Recently there have been some notes in various posts on the web, and an occasional note in newspapers. However, the issue is larger than the play it has been getting. This has been simmering for at least 10 years and has only recently gotten some attention in the media.
    .. And, lest the pictures of jury-rigged barbed wire and electric fencing fool you into thinking that this is just a transient problem on a few rivers, we provide you with another to clarify how substantial the threat is, and how much money and effort go into keeping the public from their water.
    .. 10 years ago the issue was reignited by the need for county workers to access bridges in order to maintain these structures. They discovered that hunters and fishers were being illegally excluded by the attachment of private fencing to public structures - which also excluded the county workers. The conflict from it's inception is well documented by Three Rivers Park, in their series of excerpted articles.
    .. In 2005 the skirmish escalated from low to high gear as the Cox Foundation began honking their horn about their rights. An article in New West spells out the vitriol that entered into the discussion at that time. It was this article that provided the picture used in most web posts about the conflict.
    .. The New West article posted yesterday brings us up to date on the current status of the issue.
    .. An intriguing 'sidebar' note in the issue is the role(s) of Trout Unlimited. The Montana chapter of the organization was instrumental in drafting the current bill - the national organization wanted nothing to do with stream access - but have decided now to study the situation. Hal Herring, in New West, has detailed this, and of course provided another classic picture. You can check the local reaction in the post by A Step Apart.
    .. By avoiding their responsibility, the current legislature will allow this issue to go to the courts and deprive the public of their say in the issue. Given the players, and the attitude of moneyed interests, this promises to be a grand fight indeed. Fishers and the rest of the public stand to have their constitutional rights decided by entities outside of Montana because the legislature is not doing their job.
    .. Those folks interested in how avoidance works in Montana can follow it at the official Montana State Legislature site.
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    .. The waters are clearing a bit thanks to the typical cold spring days we've had for a week now. Fishing has picked up, and fishers with gumption are finding the fish a bit more cooperative than last week, (and they were pretty cooperative then.)
    .. The Madison River tailwater fishery between the lakes has seen a few of the large fish enter the stream. Spawning will begin any day now and by this weekend, or next - for sure - will be at the point that we will abandon this stretch of water to the fish and those that would trample redds.
    .. Right now is a good time to tie on some small nymphs and fish the faster water and the bigger pools at the head of the runs. A Yellowstone Badger in size 16 - 18 will do nicely, and for prospecting use the Yellowstone Winter Grub. The snow flies are still abundant and you can use any diminutive bit of fluff for a midge cluster imitation. Good results are also possible with a bead head prince or a pink Montana Duster.
    .. The ice and snow is off Cabin Creek. It warmed enough last week to produce a silt plume and is beginning to see some fish. About a week's worth of fishing is available here before spawning takes place. This is an excellent time to use a rubber legs Golden Stone imitation, or a yellow Montana Duster: sizes 8 - 12 are producing well now.
    .. If you happen to find yourself on the north side of Yellowstone National Park, stop in at Park's Fly Shop. They report that there is some surface action beginning on the Yellowstone River near Gardiner, (can you say BWO?)
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    .. From Protect Your Waters comes news that there is a distinct possibility that California will slap boaters with an enormous tax - $1,500. We can only wonder what it will cost to launch a float tube in the land of Queen Califia.
    .. They also report that the Quagga Mussel is poised to invade the waters of Utah. It will be only a matter time before these too, are in Yellowstone's waters.
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    .. The map at the bottom of the page is slowly growing and has attracted the attention of the Platial Blog. - - - - - - - We're flattered.