The Snag Hole
YELLOWSTONE RIVER CLOSED IN RESPONSE TO ONGOING FISH KILL
MEDIA AVAILABILITY AT 11 A.M. IN BOZEMAN
(Bozeman, Mont.)—Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is implementing an immediate closure of all water-based recreation (fishing, wading, floating, tubing, boating, etc.) on the Yellowstone River and its tributaries from Yellowstone National Park’s northern boundary at Gardiner to the Highway 212 bridge in Laurel. This significant action on the part of the Department is in response to the ongoing and unprecedented fish kill on the Yellowstone. This action is necessary to protect the fishery and the economy it sustains. The closure will also help limit the spread of the parasite to adjacent rivers through boats, tubes, waders and other human contact and minimize further mortality in all fish species.
In the past week, FWP has documented over 2,000 dead Mountain Whitefish on some affected stretches of the Yellowstone. With that, FWP estimates the total impact to Mountain Whitefish in the Yellowstone to be in the tens of thousands. FWP has also recently received reports of the kill beginning to affect some Rainbow and Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.
Test results from samples sent to the U.S. and Wildlife Service Fish Health Center in Bozeman show the catalyst for this fish kill to be Proliferative Kidney Disease – one of the most serious diseases to impact whitefish and trout. The disease, caused by a microscopic parasite, is known to occur in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. It has been documented previously in only two isolated locations in Montana over the past 20 years. Recent outbreaks have occurred in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. In trout, research has shown this disease to have the potential to cause 20 to 100 percent mortality. The parasite does not pose a risk to humans.
The effect of the disease on Yellowstone’s fish populations is exacerbated by other stressors like near record low flows, consistent high temperatures, and the disturbance caused by recreational activities.
FWP Director Jeff Hagener says in coming to the decision, the Department had to weigh the totality of the circumstances and risk to the fishery.
“We recognize that this decision will have a significant impact on many people. However, we must act to protect this public resource for present and future generations,” said Hagener.
"A threat to the health of Montana's fish populations is a threat to Montana's entire outdoor economy and the tens of thousands of jobs it sustains," said Gov. Steve Bullock, noting that Montana's outdoor recreation economy is responsible for more than 64,000 Montana jobs and nearly $6 billion in yearly economic activity. "We must be guided by science. Our state cannot afford this infectious disease to spread to other streams and rivers and it's my responsibility to do everything we can to stop this threat in its tracks and protect Montana jobs and livelihoods."
FWP will continue to monitor the river and will lift the closure when stream conditions such as flow and temperature improve and fish mortality ceases.
FWP staff will be available to the media Friday, Aug. 19 at 11 a.m. at Region 3 Headquarters in Bozeman (1400 S. 19th Ave.) to help answer questions related to the fish kill and this management action.
In addition to the closure on the Yellowstone, FWP is asking for the public’s assistance in preventing the spread of this parasite by properly cleaning (CLEAN.DRAIN.DRY) all equipment prior to moving between waterbodies (i.e., boats, waders, trailers). FWP has also set up two Aquatic Invasive Species decontamination stations set up along I-90 near the affected area in an effort to help reduce the chance of this parasite moving to other rivers
"Stream access proponents are hailing a judge’s Wednesday ruling as a victory for public access at a long-contested Madison County bridge.
District Court Judge Loren Tucker determined that the public easement for the Seyler Lane bridge across the Ruby River extends 5 feet past the bridge abutments.
“This is a win because people can get to the water,” said John Gibson, president of the Public Land/Water Access Association.
PLWAA’s opponents in the case seemed less certain of the judge’s ruling.
“It’s not clear if that grants public access or not,” said Reed Watson of the Property and Environmental Research Center, which had sided with Madison County in the dispute against PLWAA.
Also intervening on the county’s side were the Montana Stockgrowers Association and James Cox Kennedy, the billionaire chairman of Cox Enterprises.
Whether the ruling ends a 12-year-long court fight is unknown, but for now the PLWAA is savoring the victory.
“If we hadn’t fought this I’m afraid we’d be looking at ‘No Trespassing’ signs and electric fences across the state,” Gibson said. “Somebody had to stop these people.”
The Ruby River is a small stream that starts in the Gravelly and Snowcrest mountains of southwestern Montana, running about 100 miles north to its confluence with the Beaverhead just south of Twin Bridges. Seyler Lane is one of the last roads across the Ruby before it reaches the Beaverhead.
This is the third access case that PLWAA has fought in the county on three different bridges over the Ruby River. The other two bridges were at Duncan and Lewis lanes.
All of the cases were instigated when Kennedy tried to block public access at the bridges. PLWAA sued the county to force Kennedy to provide public access and remove fences blocking entrance to the river. If this final bridge case goes in the win column then the PLWAA has won all three.
“This one shouldn’t have gotten this far and it only did because of the resources of the landowner,” said Bruce Farling, president of Montana Trout Unlimited, which supported PLWAA in the case."
from The New Yorker
Postscript: Jim Harrison 1937-2016
by Thomas McGuane
On Saturday night, my oldest friend, Jim Harrison, sat at his desk writing. He wrote in longhand. The words trailed off into scribbles and he fell from his chair dead. His strength of personality was such that his death will cut many adrift. He was seventy-eight years old and had lived and worked hard for every one of those years. He published a book a month ago. His health had failed, he lost his wife of fifty-five years, and his shingles were a torment. Recent back surgery had made his beloved walks impossible and yet he was undefeated. He was active and creative to the end, but it was time to go: no one was less suited to assisted living. For his family, vastly numerous friends, and admirers, the death of Jim Harrison leaves an extraordinary vacancy.
From the moment we met, we talked about writing, and in some ways co-evolved over time, through letters and talk, until our views hardened and separated to such a degree that it was better not to do it in person. But we went on as before, in weekly letters, and continued to do so until a week ago; and left all that was not literary—nature, food, sport, love—to times we actually saw each other. To select a book or poem from the ether for chat was best handled in print, though we could revisit favorites for euphoric consanguinity. At times, we resorted to censorious silence. We worked out differences in letters and tried to make each other better. I could always expect Jim to write something marvelous and seemingly out of the blue. Few American writers of recent times have had his erudition and phenomenal memory. To the end, Jim was a country boy who’d been touched.
Read Jim Harrison’s contributions to The New Yorker: two works of fiction, “The Woman Lit by Fireflies” (1990) and “Father Daughter” (2004), and “A Really Big Lunch,” about a thirty-seven-course meal that Harrison enjoyed in 2003.
Born: Dec. 11, 1937 Grayling, Mi.
Died: Mar. 26, 2016 Patagonia, Az.
(Randy Brown photo)
I fished and guided anglers in the Florida Keys for 30 years. On a rare occasion, there would be a video camera on board the boat...usually one of the cheapo, hand held, low-tech gizmos…but sometimes decent. A lot of film was shot by anglers, wives, girlfriends, buddies…and a lot by me. It was a shaky operation for sure…most of the film was poor quality, upside down sideways stuff…kinda like convenience store surveillance tape. This was the 1980s-90s… before IPhones… before photoshop…before GoPros…before the internet was invented by Al Gore.
There were no fancy film crews…just a camera in the boat run by amateurs…bouncing around in my flats skiff…doing the best we could. The quality is mostly poor, grainy video but it is real. It is the way it was.
Wading the Jo-Jo's flat for bonefish with George Kelly and Victor Colvard...Grassy Key, April, 1987
(Randy Brown photo)
One day I rediscovered them…unpacked them…had them converted to computer- compatible and re-watched the show. Quite a few shows actually. Several tarpon, bonefish and permit adventures survived the cut.
Some chaos, trash talking, mild panic attacks, screw-ups and salt water shenanigans...and a few nice fish.
If you are looking for slicked up high-tech glitzy vids with Star Wars special effects and heavy metal background music, forget it. No headbanger stuff here. This footage is raw. But it’s real…the way it happened. The view is the white caps, the wind blowing hard, the chop and sometimes the slick calm, all shot from the deck of my Hewes Bonefisher.
Poling my skiff...Mud Keys, 1989.
I will be posting video clips on Facebook, YouTube and on this site over the next several weeks.
One final note...these videos cover several days of fishing over several years. Of all the fish caught, EVERY SINGLE FISH WAS RELEASED ALIVE TO SWIM AWAY. I believe we should do all we can to protect this unique fishery...
For starters, here's a fun one from 1991...me getting ripped off by a big tarpon on fly rod...
A quick little permit vid...
Watch a 12 lb. tailing bonefish caught on fly
150lb. tarpon jumps 14 times!
Tarpon daisy chain in Rabbit Key Basin
Sea Turtle foreplay on the white sand
Wintertime tarpon on the fly
Permit at Big Torch Key
Tarpon at the Bongo Holes
Bonefishing Splained and Testified!
Amazing Permit Tale!
Tarpon in the Wind
Keys Cuda Show 1986
I get asked a lot about the changes in the Florida Keys through the years. I guess I have a good perspective overlooking the 30 years I spent there.
When I started in the early 1980s, the water in Florida Bay was crystal clear. We would go out to Schooner Bank and fish for trout and drift over acres and acres of lush, green sea grass waving underneath us...and now that grass is brown or dead and the water is murky or dish water or sometimes pea-soup.
Photo of Fla. Bay water taken recently...a far cry from what I used to see in the 1980s.
This is how the turtle grass looked in Florida Bay in the early 1980s.
When I started in the early 1980s, the barracudas on the flats would bite just about anything you threw at them. Now they just swim away unimpressed.
When I started guiding, the bonefish were plentiful. If you figured the tides for a spot you could usually count on the bones to show up...hundreds and hundreds on the oceanside flats at Key Largo or the gin clear grass flats of Nine Mile Bank or the Gulf-edge flats of the Lower Keys. The top bonefish guides would catch eight, ten, a dozen bonefish in a day.
Nowadays, the bonefish are getting slim...the water is murky...the redfish are moving into the old bonefish flats.
I could always find tailing bonefish at sundown at Jo Jo's, Walkers Island, Tavernier or Long Key State Park...lots of places. Tailers are now tough to find.
Throwing a live blue crab at a permit used to be like feeding candy to a baby. These days permit are just as likely to refuse a crab!
When I started guiding the tarpon flies were large, gaudy, blaze orange/red/black/purple clumps of chicken feathers and rabbit/squirrel tail tied on 4/0 hooks using 100 lb. hard Mason bite tippet.
These days the guides use "slim-jim" worm flies tied with a thin sliver of fur strip tied on a #2 hook and maybe no shock tippet at all. It's common to throw at hundreds of tarpon in May in the Keys all day long and never get a sniff.
There are so-called "guides" that will take you out to one of the bridges at night and drift the boat blind casting flies to tarpon in the dark.
These "captains" belong in the same category as car thieves, pick pockets and scam artists. The tarpon get hooked up and eaten by sharks cruising the bridges at night while the fly lines get sawed off on bridge pilings. Tarpon deserve a better fate.
Do it the right way or don't do it all.
Avoid these shysters if you care at all about the welfare of the tarpon.
The top tarpon guides in the Keys can still get the tarpon to bite the fly...book the best guide you can to give yourself a chance. They are some of the best fishermen in the world.
And organizations like the Bonefish & TarponTrust are doing some good work on behalf of the fish...here is a link to their site...support them if you can...CLICK HERE
It's not all doom and gloom. The redfish are everywhere. The snook fishery is healthy. You can still catch a nice mess of mangrove snapper for dinner...yum!
The spanish mackerel are plentiful in the Bay during the winter months...and the offshore/reef fishing is still very good.
Nothing stays the same. There is still great beauty in the Keys and excellent fishing if you know where to look.
Now back to more videos!
Worm Bar Tarpon
Woman Key Permit
Live Permit Release
Nine Mile Bonefish
The Captain Gets Lucky
Out Back Permit
Garden Cove Bone
Rising Tide Permit
Patty Bags A Bone
Long Key Tarpon on the Fly