Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good News for Fish in the NW

I may be a bit behind others in reporting this, but good news deserves to be repeated. As reported by many sources, the Obama administration has greatly expanded the critical habitat designation for the threatened bull trout. This decision will greatly benefit not only bull trout, but all fish species by improving overall water quality. Here is a good recap by OregonLive.

Bull Trout may just be my favorite fish. Lots of reasons for this...size, aggression, historically maligned, etc. Hooking into a big bull on the fly can really create an adrenaline rush, especially when you realize just how powerful these fish are. I truly hope that these fish make a strong comeback, and that more areas to fish for them will open up. If we, in the fishing industry, work to change the image of this fish...then it will lead to even stronger conservation efforts. Sportsmen can provide essential means and motivation to help threatened species.

I'm glad that the Bush-era policy has been changed, and that the notorious Julie Mcdonald is no longer at the helm...I wonder sometimes what she is doing for work these days. Maybe she began a new career in the fast-food industry, after all her last name fits the bill. Wherever she is, we can be happy that she is no longer interfering with these types of decisions. The increase in protected habitat is about 5 times greater than before...and includes 3,056 miles of streams and 221,471 acres of lakes and reservoirs in Montana.

Hot Diggety

Monday, October 18, 2010

Good to Be Home

I returned home the other night...promptly turning my house into a disaster zone. Stuff has literally been strewn everywhere, and I have been busy trying to put things away. The trip was a great success. I caught one of the fish of my list, and I shot a bull elk, which provides me with an ample supply of meat for the winter.

I fished in western Montana for a bit, trying hard to get a pikeminnow. I have previously caught these fish in other states, and was surprised that I was having such a hard time catching one. I decided to switch tactics and move locations. I was quickly rewarded with a bite, and I landed a chunky largescale sucker. I fished that spot some more and it turned it out to be swarming with these fish. I caught and released several large fish. Watch for a more detailed post on this native fish, as I hope to be able to provide more information about them.

Next on the trip was elk hunting in Idaho. As light began to fill the sky on opening morning, I was fortunate to find myself watching a herd work along a hillside feeding. I followed and continued to watch, waiting for a opportunity for a shot at a nice bull in the group. Hours later the chance came as the bull worked uphill away from the group, and into a break in the timber. One shot from my .45/70 quickly dropped the animal and ended the hunt. As any hunter knows, this is when the real work began. I made several heavy pack trips up the steep hillside, and then along an old roadbed back to camp. By the time it was over I was completely worn-out and looking forward to a couple of days of just hanging around camp caring for the meat. I returned home on Sunday with coolers full of elk meat, bags of stinky clothes, and a bunch a great memories.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Heading West

I'm on the road again. Heading to the land where the rivers flow to the mighty Pacific. More specifically, I am just going to cross the divide and hang out in western Montana and also Idaho. I have a few goals to attain. The first part of my trip will be dedicated to catching a few of the native fish species from the area. I hope to catch a Northern Pikeminnow (a.k.a. Squawfish), a Peamouth Chub, and maybe even a Largescale Sucker. There may even be some intentional angling for other species such as Northern Pike and Largemouth Bass. I won't have a lot of time to fish, however, as I am also expected to arrive in Idaho for an annual elk hunt.

This elk hunt is definitely a tradition. I have been hunting elk in the same place in Idaho for the last 10 years, and the season always begins on the 10th of October. It doesn't matter if the 10th falls on a Wednesday, that will always be opening day. I think I prefer the way Montana does it, making sure that opening day is on a it is just more convenient that way. In fact, Montana took the extra step this year and changed the opener to a Saturday instead of Sunday. Amazingly, some common sense exists within our state government. One has to be careful about how many "traditions" to get involved with. Once a trip or hunt becomes a tradition, it has been elevated to a sacred level. That typically means that there is no way you are allowed to not participate on any given year. Well, at some point a guy can get overly committed. The danger really lies in not being able to fulfill all of these commitments. Not being able to attend one of these sacred events will inevitably get you in trouble with some of your friends, while an uncompromising attitude will just get you in trouble at work.

I leave early in the morning and will be away from my blog until the 16th or 17th of the month. I hope some of you will continue to visit, and maybe take this opportunity to visit the archives. I will resume blogging with a trip report that will hopefully contain photos of some new native fish species...and maybe a bull elk. See you soon!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Locals May Stare...

They saw us coming from a ways off, but didn't know what to think just yet. All they knew was that a unknown white pick-up had made the turn into their sleepy Montana town, and was slowing creeping down the unpaved Main Street. Few strangers would make the turn, as the town consisted of only a few run down buildings and a post office...but our quest for a bar after a long, hot day of fishing had brought us here.

There were four of them, stereotypically leaning against an beat-up truck. They all had cowboy hats on, they all had plaid shirts, and all of them were eying us with a uneasy look of suspicion. As we got closer, with our windows down, we could distinctly overhear comments about us. "I don't know him," one said, while another chipped in "Those were the guys parked down by the bridge fishin'. Where do you suppose they're from?" They were held momentarily in suspense as we passed them by, and then you could see them all lean forward as one to get a glimpse at our license plate. They all could clearly read the plate which began with the all-telling number 6. They all knew what that meant, and we could easily hear as they drawled out the word "BOZE-MAN" with a note of contempt.

My buddy and I looked at each other, but he beat me to it by saying "Maybe we should just get a beer back home." I agreed, as the bar was clearly devoid of life anyhow, and we turned the truck around at the other side of town. We drove by the four locals again on our way out, they were still leaning on the truck unabashedly glaring and an instinctual friendly wave that I threw up went unanswered.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Letter to a Missing Net

Dear Brodin Net,

I miss you, please come home. I don’t know how to say it more plainly. At the very least call me and explain why you left me for a riverbank on the Yellowstone River. Ever since you left last week, I have felt alone, lost, and confused…stumbling around familiar rivers struggling to land fish. I even looked for another net at the store, but I just wasn’t ready to move on. We have had too many great memories together for you to just up and leave like this. How could you just walk away from the life we made together? Maybe if we could just take the time to talk it over we could work through our problems. Maybe you could give me another chance.

I have taken the time recently to reflect upon our long relationship. I always felt that we were a great team…you knew just how to hang on my back and were always ready for a quick dip in the water to land a fish. Think of all the fish that we landed together! I know that sometimes I was rough on you…making you work extra hard to land oversize fish. You complained the time I made you land a huge bull trout in Oregon, and you weren’t real happy about that Missouri River rainbow either. You were always up to the task though, and together we never let a big one get away.

I hope that the riverbank you have found has a great view, and lets you rest your weary frame. If you do decide to come home, I promise to give you that refinishing job that you have been asking for. If not, and you decide to make your home with another angler…I hope he treats you well, and appreciates your ability. Just remember that you can return anytime and will always have a place to call home.

- A Forsaken Angler