• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Wednesday, February 29, 2012

    Scoped Out

    Plethora Of Staff
    dyspepsia, eructation, egression.

    .. Of the nearly 100 people, (86, by count) in attendance at the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks scoping meeting last night, we counted 19 staff members from various agencies in attendance.
    .. From uniformed and non-uniformed law enforcement personnel to uniformed and non-uniformed researchers, administrators, and employees, it was an overwhelming show of force.
    .. The meeting generally followed the form of such events: Introductions, Presentations, Interruptions, Questions, Chaotic Mumblings, Discourteous Inattention, etc. There were a few interesting disjunctions in the verbal brickbats that stood out:
    1] "This process started about 1999 when a group of concerned citizens approached the DFWP with their concerns about recreational usage of the Madison River."
       "We are very early in this process. This is the beginning of this action. We want your input"

    2] "We have been thinking about this problem for nearly ten years now.
    "We have no preconceived ideas how to address this problem and we're going to address the larger picture of the whole river."

    3] "We are lucky that we are ahead of the curve in this action and can address problems and areas of conflict before they happen."
    " The conflicts between user groups and the conflicts with land owners have brought about this action."

    4] "We are just trying to understand what you are saying. You seem to be talking about things that we just don't understand."
    "The science is the same and it should be easy to understand."

    .. We can only observe that it's interesting that after 10 years of surveys, research, and cogitation that;  "the beginning of the process starts now."
    .. It's also enlightening to find out that no ideas were generated by MFWP staff about how to address the perceived problems during that ten years.
    .. My, my, how sweet it is that we are ahead of the curve and that the conflicts that originated this process are not really conflicts.
    .. It seems that this whole exercise is designed to implement regulations about manners and morals. "Social Fishing Regulations" is an interesting bit of terminology that reflects the concerns of some nebulous group of insiders.
    .. For instance, it's acknowledged that, save for the Whitefish population, the other fish populations are not being affected by the kinds of actions of user groups being addressed. Even the Whitefish population concerns, cannot be linked to the social behavior of river users.
    .. Please note that the MFWP has a mission that seems to guarantee all of us the perfect recreational experience - or so it would seem - LINK.
    .. We are naive in these matters, and certainly need to become better informed, but for now we can't see how regulation of river use can reduce littering - unless there is a removal of all river users - seems to be a public education and law enforcement issue.
    .. We applaud the mentality that believes regulation of numbers and types of users will remove the idiot tubers, boaters, and fishing guides that run over your fishing line in a gentle shore-side pool - we just don't believe that it will work.
    .. We have a hard time believing that any newly promulgated regulations will enhance the recreational experience of vastly  different individual users - unless it favors some users to the detriments of others.
    .. We're going to watch this groundbreaking effort in social engineering through fishing regulations. Of course the anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, and recreational specialists of this world are also waiting for this breakthrough regulatory plan.
    .. Sadly, we had an attack of dyspepsia well into the meeting. Nausea accompanied our belching and farting and we had to leave just as the entertainment was reaching a crescendo. You'll have to read about the results of the meeting in the newspapers, or observations by bloggers who understand this stuff more than we do.
    .. Here's the link to the MFWP page: LINK.

    Monday, February 27, 2012

    D Minus One

    As If You Don't Know
    .. Here are the "official" maps of the Madison River that will be discussed tomorrow evening at 6:00 PM in a plush conference room just 200' from our front door. We'll let you know if anything new crops up.

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Speed Bump

    Champagne Flowing In Billings
    fast & loose lost

    .. Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United states handed down a decision in the case of PPL Montana vs. State of Montana.
    .. As of this moment Montana probably owns less river bottom than it thought. As of this moment there is great celebration in the PPL offices in Billings, Montana. As of this moment fly fishers and other recreational users of Montana's waters have some worries. As of this moment the courts in Montana have the herculean task of trying to be a bit more considered in their application of laws and precedents. As of this moment it seems that the law of the land has been changed regarding the definition of navigability. As of this moment there may be fewer rivers where access is legal because of the navigability precedent.
    .. You can read all about the concerns:
    -- MidCurrent - HERE,
    -- Moldy Chum - HERE,
    -- Chi Wulff - HERE,
    -- FOAM - HERE,
    .. The legal stuff is also available:
    -- Legal Planet - HERE,
    -- Environmental Law Prof Blog - HERE,
    -- Thomas Merrill - HERE,
    -- Decision (PDF) - HERE.

    .. So, Batman, what's it all mean? Well, as in many Supreme Court cases, the high court has criticized the lower courts for playing fast and loose with the law and remanded the case for correction.
    .. Interestingly the test of ownership by navigability seems to have been glossed over by much of the post decision analysis. The test of navigability at the time of statehood could be a genuine ball buster if title and ownership questions arise about current water that was not in existence then. At present there is not a set precedent - YET.
    .. Finally it also means that fly fishers have just one more thing to worry about on the river and stream access front. Consensus seems to be that the Montana stream access law is not in immanent danger - we'll see: especially if the state does not have title to currently navigable waters that did not exist at time of statehood, (think Mitchell Slough, think the re-arranged Ruby River, etc.)
    .. We believe that the real import of this case will be felt for a long time. It takes no real genius to understand that "navigability," will be a concern in legal cases for several more decades and may really mean: PORTAGE THEN - PORTAGE NOW.  Now there's a can of wigglers for ya!

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    It's Coming

    Snow Piling Up Slowly
    we're pleased
    West Yellowstone: 11:50 PM, February 20, 2012.
    .. Better late than never!! Went to bed with a gentle snow falling. Woke up to 5 inches of warm, soft, glorious powder. More on the way.
    Winter Storm Warning
    Statement as of 3:47 AM MST on February 21, 2012

    ... Winter Storm Warning in effect until 5 am MST Thursday for
    elevations above 6000 feet...

    The National Weather Service in Great Falls has issued a Winter
    Storm Warning for elevations above 6000 feet for heavy snow and
    blowing snow... which is in effect until 5 am MST Thursday.

    * Timing and main impact: widespread snow... heavy at times... will
    combine with strong winds at the higher elevations to create
    dangerous conditions in the mountains and passes of southwest

    * Snow accumulations: total snow accumulations of one to two feet
    are expected in the mountains. Higher southwest valleys...
    including the West Yellowstone area could see 8 to 15 inches of

    * Winds and visibility: strong winds in the mountains will cause
    blowing snow with visibility reduced below one quarter of a
    mile at times.

    * Elevations: for elevations above 6000 feet.

    * Other impacts: roadways will become snow covered and slick
    causing hazardous driving conditions. Mountain recreation will
    become dangerous.

    * Locations affected include: Battle Ridge Pass... Targhee Pass...
    West Yellowstone... Raynolds Pass.

    Precautionary/preparedness actions...

    A Winter Storm Warning for heavy snow means severe winter weather
    conditions are expected or occurring. Significant amounts of snow
    are forecast that will make travel dangerous. Only travel in an
    emergency. If you must... keep an extra flashlight... food... and
    water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.

    Saturday, February 18, 2012

    Two Down

    The Charade Begins
    join in if you choose
    Courtesy Photo: THE MOOSE - 96
    .. It's apparent that quite a few folks are interested in the possible proposed actions for regulating recreation on the Madison River.
    .. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has already determined that:
    .. Two public meetings have been held, (Ennis & Bozeman.). Two more are scheduled, (February 28, 2012 at 6:00 PM in West Yellowstone, MT at the Holiday Inn ==> 315 Yellowstone Avenue,  AND  March 1, 2012 at 6:00 PM in Whitehall, MT at the Whitehall High School ==> 1 Yellowstone Trail.)
    ..This is not a surprise move. This has been in the works for at least five years. The action has come to this point after careful preparation and savvy maneuvering by a few influential citizens and the staff of MFWP. You can read the first shots fired across the river:
    1.) 2008 Madison River Resident Angler Survey, (PDF.)
    2.) 2008 Madison River Landowner Survey, (PDF.)
    3.) 2009 Madison River Onsite Survey, (PDF.)
    4.) 2010 Madison River Angling Pressure Estimates, (PDF.)
    .. While apparently laudable in it's conception and execution to date, one dares not ask about the impetus for the current action.
    .. We make the following observations, & bring some questions to the fore:
    A,] We are well along in the regulatory decision process. This is near the end not the beginning,
    B,] Regulatory agencies stay in business by making and enforcing regulations,
    C,] Verbal input at public meetings is interesting and entertaining: if you are serious about having your concerns addressed write them down and give them to the public employees running the meeting. Get their names and contact information. Keep in contact with them about your concerns being included for consideration.
    D,] Just what is the meaning of: ". . . affected the quality of recreational experience . . ."? Is this a scientific investigation? Is this a resource impact issue? Are regulations aimed at protecting a resource that is within the province of the MFWP? Is individual recreation a Montana resource?
    E,] Informal meetings, closed-door meetings, personal and group lobbying, and continued contact with public employees, (including elected officials,) have always been more effective than the "show-and-tell" gatherings around the region.
    E,] Circumvention of regulations and regulatory processes is an American pastime. Folks and groups with the money, time and inclination are far more successful at this than folks without money, or time, or involved commitment.
    F,] Regulatory agencies and their regulators have a mind set that leans towards restriction rather than enablement. ((For instance: restricting usage of a boat ramp rather than expanding the facility to satisfy demand.))
    G.] Although apparently transparent the decision-making process is a slippery and secretive endeavor. It takes place in the minds of humans - 'nuff said !!
    H.] It's well worth reading the MFWP "Administrative Rules for River Recreation Management" (PDF.) It is also well worth your time, (if you choose to participate in any meaningful way in the decision-making process,) to make your concerns address this document. Your case will be far stronger and decisions that are exceptions to these rules will need to be very well justified.
    I,] Please be assured that new regulations will be promulgated. Know that the instigators of this action have been working for half a decade on getting their concerns addressed.
    J,] If you desire participation in this arena remember that you are playing catch up, and you are out-gunned by money, influence, and connections. You can have your say - - it's just very tough !
    K.] If you can't attend a meeting, (more importantly even if you do,) fill out the online questionnaire. Find it HERE.  Everyone interested should fill out the questionnaire. It's not good enough for your fishing buddy to voice both his and your concerns. It's not good enough to attend a meeting and not fill out the questionnaire.
    .. The showcase element of this decision-making process is the "MADISON RIVER CITIZEN ADVISORY COMMITTEE, (MCAC.)" This is an interesting bit of window dressing and as noted by the MFWP:
    The MCAC serves in an advisory capacity. While the role of the committee is critically important, there is no guarantee that the Final Plan will follow the committee’s recommendations. The FWP Commission is the final decision-maker and shall consider the recommendations of the MCAC, the best available information, the environmental analysis, and input from the public and staff.
    .. Should we add influential and monied interests as well? Do you know who is on the FWP Commission? When was the last time you spoke with them and voiced a concern about the Madison River?
    .. Should you be intrigued with the workings of this current process you can apply to be on the MCAC. (Application HERE.) Then, again, how much time are you willing to spend to have your recommendations considered and not followed?

    P.S. Don't tell anyone about this post

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Monday, February 06, 2012

    YUM !!

    Certainly Not A Gourmet !
    pleasure derived from eating

    .. There was a football game: somebody won. There was an ice fishing tournament: somebody won. There was a neighborhood BBQ: we all pigged out.
    .. Super Sunday in the neighborhood means a BBQ - weather be damned. It was 15° F and dead still. Last night it got to -11° F. The high pressure has settled in and the snow is afraid of the cold.
    .. Depending on the annual host; it's steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, pork chops, or "all-day-brisket." This year it was chicken. Simple fare and plenty of it.
    .. It's an easy recipe: drench, (you can think marinade,) the chicken halves in several gallons of "Yellowstone Brown Ale BBQ Sauce," overnight in the refrigerator. Then jab it with a fork and let it sit at room temperature for 3 or 4 hours. Keep it moist and keep turning it. Giant punch bowls serve for the containers. Then just BBQ the chicken over coals for about 45 minutes to one hour per side, (low heat in a covered grill is preferred.)
    .. Serve with home-made potato or macaroni salad and freshly sliced tomatoes. Grind some dill seeds and sprinkle to taste over everything. Everybody should get at least 1½ chickens; fingers is O.K.
    .. The key ingredient is the sauce. You can cook it up yourself if you can't find it in your local super market. It contains Moose Drool Brown Ale, Garlic, Onions, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Tomatoes. Everything is run through a blender, (or food processor,) and salt and peppered to taste. Simmer for a few hours to thicken. Make it thick and let it sit for a week before using.

    Sunday, February 05, 2012


    How About Ice Fishing ?
    commercials - shamercials
    FLAT OUT FAST  !!!
    .. Too much happening to blink at 120 cycles. We'll catch the second half - maybe.
    .. The pubs and theater will be full; so too the neighbor's couches.
    .. Spent last evening with the kids and snow program at the hockey rink.
    Thanks Dad.
    .. The evening was another in the series of  "S'mores & More" events: great fun.
    .. Fearless 4-yearolds vs. timid adults always results in cathartic confrontations.
    .. We're constantly confounded by visitors and the belief that winter is something to be feared.
    .. With open arms our neighbors embrace the opportunities of the season. No great fear here.
    .. Not even fishing is ignored. The "post card" images of idyllic pools and inviting riffles are lost in the frenzy of preparations for a daily outing on the ice: with augers, coolers, tackle, warmers, (for the hands, feet, and innards,) and all the necessary impedimenta for a grand time.
    .. The NAIFC regional Ice Fishing Tournement kicks off on Hebgen Lake in about an hour. Temperatures have warmed up to about -13° F: the sun is bright and the breeze is below 5mph - PERFECT !
    .. We may fish. We may officiate. We may just watch. It's a big deal around here. There's a $21,000 pay out.
    .. It's a simple thing: you get five hours to catch and keep five fish; top weight wins. Only Rainbow Trout count.
    .. Every entry, (2-person team,) is carefully searched at the start, (there's plenty of places to hide a big fish in the gear, clothing, snowmobile, etc.) the gun sounds and if everything goes well you can be at home for the kick-off.  OR NOT !
    .. We tried laying on the beach for a year or two. Sum Fun !
    Just Push A Bit Harder.
    Skates Or Shoes - Your Choice.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2012

    12 - 4 - 12

    Across The Nation
    we're jealous

    .. Last summer we noted that there was a Montana-born itinerant fly fisher spending the whole summer in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. He's still at it and has taken a fish, across the nation, in each of 12 months. There's a concept for you - "COAST-TO-COAST" - trout hunting. Read about it HERE.