The Snag Hole
My 1970s fly box for the Rogue River
Spent a lot of time on the Rogue River in the 1970s...chasing steelhead up and down...staying in Gold Beach, Oregon. One of the fun sidelights was cruising the estuary where the Rogue fanned out into the ocean. Putted around in a little skiff looking for "dimples"...sea run cutthroat trout feeding on the surface. We would motor up, shut down, and drift into the spot...then chuck our Coachman wet flies out there with our fiberglass fly rods and Pfleuger Medalist fly reels. The take was vicious and these fish pulled hard! A dozen or so cutts on a calm morning or evening was pretty standard. And they grilled up real tasty!
Sea run cutthroat trout on the fly...Randy Brown, Gold Beach, Or., 1973
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Great to see old friend Peter Matthiessen here in Ennis...author of "The Snow Leopard", "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse", "Killing Mr. Watson" and many others. He writes about So. Florida and the Chokoloskee-Everglades country like no other. Three time winner of the National Book Award...and he casts a mean dry fly!
photo by Anni Shores
Happy fifth year anniversary to Pennsylvania Power and Light. It was five year ago today, August 30, 2008, that your Hebgen Dam stop logs busted up sending a 4000 cfs wall of water down the Madison River that resembled the Banzai Pipline.
A lot has happened in the last five years:
Osama Bin Laden was snuffed out.
Andy Rooney passed away.
The Iraq War came to an end.
The New York Giants won two Super Bowls.
Facebook reached over 1 billion users
The new 1776 foot tall World Trade Center tower was completed
I-phones and I-pads have become a way of life for millions.
A lot has happened...but fixing the Hebgen Dam isn't one of them.
The flows have pinballed...the water temps have risen...there have been talks, meetings, press releases, newletters, texts, tweets, photo-ops, emails, proclamations, promises...next year, next year, next year...but next year never comes...the dam is still broken. The Hebgen Dam has become like the old Brooklyn Dodgers..."Dem Bums"..."we'll beat the Yankees...wait til next year."
The old grandpa brown trout in the Madison is telling his kids and grandkids, "hang in there chillins, help is on the way."
And mama rainbow in the riffle is keeping the family cool and in the shade for as long as she can hold out.
And there is a very small group of Rocky Mountain Whitefish that still remember "The Great Flood of '08".
With the water temperatures in the Madison rising every year, how long will it be before "next year" is too late? A lot is riding on this one, PP&L. Let's make this anniversary the last one.
Generations are depending on you.
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The Madison River Foundation is looking for a new leader...someone who cares about the river more than playing politics...someone who will get down to the core issues: protecting flows, protecting water temps, protecting the trout. It's not easy...but you are out there...the right person to lead...the right person to fight...the right person to take the challenge.
All of us who love the river and the trout are hoping that person will come forward. We are all tied to the river in some way...work, play, beauty. It's time to put away personal agendas...if the Madison River thrives, we all thrive.
I have a good feeling for the future. Let's roll!
"The water level on the upper is and has been stable for over a week now. 776 cfs out of Hebgen which translates to just under 1000 at Varney. This is lower than the long-term median average but not a bad level all things considered. Speaking of this…there may be some very positive changes in the works starting as early as this fall/winter. PP&L has recently indicated that they are considering some in-house changes to their Madison River management policies. In essence they will be looking at running the flows in a completely different and reactive way as has been been discussed here (and elsewhere). Their plan, apparently, is to run the flow out of Hebgen at the current rate (or close to it) all winter and keep most of the water in the reservoir instead of drawing it down as has been their practice. They will then react to real-time, on the ground conditions of snowpack and water content. They are talking about doing away with the 10% flow increase rule for the spring months and potentially upping the maximum over-Quake flow rate to 4000 cfs or a hair higher if possible. In essence they’re considering running the flows here more like a “real” undammed river would operate…moderate and stable over-winter flow and higher, runoff-like flows in the spring. The light bulbs seem to be flickering to life…Hallelujah! We’re not holding our collective breaths yet but it’s definitely a very good sign. Believe it or not (and some folks continue to choose not to believe it) this could be HUGE for this river and this fishery. If they actually make these changes and once they get the dam fixed (a whole other point of contention here) yearly spring flushing flows, cooler water temps and potentially higher flows here through most summers could mean some dramatic changes in the health and numbers of not only fish but fish food as well. We’ll be keeping a very close ear to this."
Shouldn't we be getting this kind of seriously vital input from the Madison River Foundation instead of a local boat rower? Isn't that the core reason for the existence of the Foundation? To Preserve, Protect and Enhance? THE HEBGEN DAM IS FAR AND AWAY THE SINGLE MOST CRITICAL FACTOR FOR THE HEALTH OF THE UPPER MADISON RIVER AND ITS TROUT. Nothing else is a close second.
Why doesn't the Foundation have someone like Lum agressively posting river info on a daily or weekly basis, especially during the important summer fishing season? Oops, I forgot...they did have that person on their board...his name was Mike Lum and he resigned. Why?
You can follow Mike Lum's comments in the River Reports section of the Madison River Fishing Company's website: