The Snag Hole

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by administrator
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on Monday, 10 April 2017
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   First thing in the morning Dexter Prescott put in a call to his attorney, Dewey Cheatum. The lawyer was a long time friend, fraternity brother and confidant. His expertise was litigation…he sued people and corporations and he won. He started out chasing ambulances doing the fake-whiplash-shady-doctor thing, and worked his way up to the big time, suing major pharmaceutical companies over defective penal implants and poorly designed trans vaginal mesh products. In fact, he would sue anybody anywhere for anything as long as he could make a buck. Some said he would sue his own mother if he thought he could pocket some cash. Dewey made so much money suing people he got bored and took up fly fishing. He even got himself on the Board of Directors of the Big Riffle Foundation.


   But Dexter Prescott needed some legal advice.
“How can I keep people out of my water”?


   “Got some bad news for ya, buddy, you can’t keep ‘em out, it ain’t your water, only the land surrounding it.” Cheatum replied. “The public has the right to access your stream from the Madison River as long as they stay below the high water mark. Not only that, it’s a tributary of the Madison and has been since Popeye was a punk. No bueno, amigo.”

   “But, but, but…what if I blocked access? What if I put up signs, electric fences, used attack dogs, had my man Shorty scare ‘em off? Intimidate ‘em”?

   “No can do pard,” answered Dewey. “ That stuff is illegal as long as the stream is flowing. Plus there is that “traditional use” thingy. There’s a history there, folks been using it for years…Native Americans used it. They even camped here.”

   “But there might be a way…”

“Tell me, help me.”

   Dewey Cheatum thought for a moment…

   “You could build dams”


   “Yeah, it would be a tough sell, but if you could convince the Water Board to issue you Code 12 Permits stating an undue Act Of God caused this creek to feed into the Madison and it was causing undue stress, anguish, loss of income, irreconcilable pain, etc., etc…”

   Dewey Cheatum was on a roll now, his scheming mind was drifting back to his ambulance chasing days.

   “You might be able to talk them into to it.”

   Prescott perked up. He remembered something. The place he stayed at recently, that dude ranch, the guy that worked there, the juicer, Otis I think his name was, wasn’t he on the Water Board?






































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by administrator
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on Tuesday, 04 April 2017
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   Jenny Bishop lined up her target and zeroed in. A large brown trout was rising steadily to tiny midges along a grassy, undercut bank. The Outlet was one of her favorite places to fish…there was almost always something rising and she stopped here to fish frequently during her float trips.

   She timed the rise rings and began her casting sequence in rhythm with the fish. The size 20 Griffith Gnat landed gently four feet upstream of the feeder, drifted slowly down the glassy surface and disappeared with a dimpled, soft sucking sound.

   Jenny lifted her fly rod, came tight and cleared her line as the large fish careened away from her and raced downstream. She carefully pressured the trout, opposing its direction, eventually subduing it in the shallows just upstream from where the Outlet entered the Madison River. She gently and expertly unhooked the fine trout and watched it swim away unharmed.

   She had arrived in Montana from Colorado a few years ago, finally getting far away from her abusive, meth-addicted boy friend. Attractive, athletic, 5’6”, sandy blonde, with looks that reminded one of Carrie Underwood and with an outgoing personality that drew people toward her, Jenny had found a new home and a new start in Montana.

   Her fly tying business had done well; she tied for Wally’s Fly Shop and as part of her deal with owner Wally Livingston, she set up her table and vise in the front display window of the shop from 4-6pm every Tuesday and Thursday while the sidewalk shoppers on Main St. watched her through the plate glass. She also booked her ladies fly casting schools through the shop.

   She baked scrumptious strawberry pies which she sold locally and bred keen nosed, super birdy black Labrador retrievers.

   This day she was fishing with her good friends Doc and Huey. She never abused the Outlet…a quick stop, a few casts, then off in the boat downstream for new adventure. It was one of the many tributary creeks that fed the Madison and a one of her favorites.

   The spring creek was part of the large Evans cattle ranch that had been in family hands of since the 1930s. Fishing was allowed in the Outlet because it was public water below the high water mark the same as the West Fork, Beaver Creek or any of the many other Madison tributaries.

   The twin brothers who ran the place, Noah and Newt, were well known and well liked around Town, often stopping in to the Wagon Wheel to toss down a few. Rumor had it though, that money was getting tight and the brothers might consider selling.

   Jenny and her friends hopped back into the boat, popped cold beers, and floated on down the river. Just as they passed a bend at the side channel, they noticed a black Hummer parked in the bushes.undercover_angler_2

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by Randy
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on Sunday, 02 April 2017
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Ed "Mystery Trip" Curnow

John " If It Flies or Crawls I'll Eat It" Seaman

Bill "No Effing Backing" Owen

Photo journalism: Randall "Better To Burn Out Than Fade Away" Brown

And a bunch of men...Madison R. August, 1983

eds_tacckle_shop_dec_79 shore_lunch_8-83





















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by administrator
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on Thursday, 30 March 2017
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   Dexter Prescott looked out over the vast creek bottom and didn’t like what he saw. Sure, it was 5000 acres of Montana meadow with braids of prime spring creek full of fat trout winding through grassy banks, bear grass and scrub willow. It had natural beauty. But something was not quite right.

   Prescott had just purchased the property from an old-time Montana rancher for 10.6 million dollars. He snickered to himself when the deal closed…in his home state of California the place would be worth twice as much. But his dream of owning a ranch in Montana had finally come true and he vowed to make the most of it.


   The first thing was to get rid of all those stinking cows. After all, everyone knew cows and spring creeks don’t mix…cattle knock down the banks and silt up the stream beds. Plus he really didn’t like cows. Never did, just pretended. Yes, he would sell the cows.


   Next, he would bulldoze the creek beds and build ponds. Ponds! He always dreamed of owning his own, private ponds. Ponds, ponds and more ponds! He would stock them with trophy trout and feed ‘em pellets to make ‘em fat!


   In his mind he was already picturing how to bring in back hoes and dozers to carve up the landscape. This Mother Nature thingy only went so far. He had his own idea of how nature should look.


   And a house! Not just any house…an 18,000 sq. ft. mansion positioned on the bench, looking out over his empire, with pillars! And flag poles! And a swimming pool, bowling alley, movie theater, and a huge room for his stuffed animals. And a helicopter pad!



   Rumor had it there were some old Indian camps on the site that might have to be dug up. So what? The Indians ain’t around no more.


   Yes, Dexter Prescott’s California dream was becoming a Montana reality.


   Research, he had done a lot of it. Found out he could do just about anything he wanted to the spring creek as long as he called it “restoring wetlands”…”creating new habitat”…or “conservation easement.” Yep, he could tear the place up all he wanted and not only that, SOMEBODY ELSE WOULD PAY FOR IT.


     Government institutions, conservation groups, land reliances, trusts, endowments, foundations, environmentalists…they would pay for it…all of it…he would see to that.

   He had a plan. He would carve out his empire here…re-work the creek to his liking, stock the ponds with huge trout that people would pay big bucks to catch.



   The natural world would become Dexter’s world.


   As he rode the perimeter of the new project in his big, new, all black custom Hummer H2, his mind was churning. He knew high tech business and corporate associates back in California that would pay handsomely to fly fish on a place like this. How would he charge? By the day? Week? How about a yearly lease? Yes that was it, just like an exclusive country club. Charge a hefty initiation fee then annual dues. Electric gates would be installed with secret codes. $100,000 to join with a $10,000 yearly fee. Limit to maybe 30 memberships. As he rode the ranch property he did the math. He could make millions!
   And he could re-arrange nature for free!

   The rutty ranch road wound around the creek and wandered toward the Madison River. The  water broke into a Y… one channel leading off into an S curve with several inviting undercut banks, deep pools and bouncy runs, eventually meandering down and emptying into the Madison. Down further, another smaller, similar channel broke off into a gravelly riffle and likewise led to the river. Dexter Prescott slowed the Hummer to a stop under the shade of a willow.



   As he watched upstream, he saw a drift boat with three figures floating down the Madison. As they grew closer they pulled over to the near bank. A man and a woman got out of the boat, fly rods in hand and they worked slowly up the side channel, one casting, one watching. The third figure stayed in the boat. Prescott watched as the woman laid long, graceful casts out over the glassy spring creek, landing her fly delicately, poetically…it was mesmerizing.
   Her partner watched as she crouched low and stripped in line, then a splash, a bent rod and a wild trout of size came rocketing out of the creek. The woman deftly turned her body 180 degrees as the fish burned line and headed straight downstream toward the Madison. She followed methodically and worked the fish back to the bank, sliding it up on the shallows, reaching down, gently removing the fly, releasing the trout without touching it and watched it swim away unharmed. The man and woman put an arm around each other’s shoulders and walked back to the boat. The figures reached into coolers extracting cold beverages, popped caps, made a three-way toast, and continued on downstream.



   Dexter Prescott watched the whole scene with great interest. He was well aware of Montana Stream Access laws. He knew these anglers had legally accessed the spring creek he now owned via the main river and everything they did was totally within the law. They never set foot on his property, never ventured above the high water mark and never trespassed.

   This disturbed him greatly.

   As the three anglers drifted slowly downstream, disappearing below a bend in the Madison River, Dexter Prescott hatched another plan.

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by administrator
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on Sunday, 26 March 2017
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   The dusty road to the Lone Vista Dude Ranch was a winding, gravelly , washboard affair, twisting up the canyon about 10 miles from town. Smitty told me the couple from San Francisco, Dexter and Harriet Prescott, had booked two months at the ranch, along with some friends (bartenders know everything). I had called them on the phone, introduced myself as a fly fishing guide and asked to talk to them about guiding them this summer.

   I drove through the ranch gate and met Otis, the handyman.

   “Can you tell me where the Prescott’s are staying?


   “Yessir, cabin four.”


   I drove up to the cabin. The white drift boat with the rainbow peace sign was parked in the driveway. Even before I got out of the truck, Dexter Prescott came out to greet me.


   He was a tallish, sun-tanned man in his late 40s. He was dressed in khakis, tassel loafers, no socks and was wearing a robin’s egg blue polo shirt with Yellowstone Club embroidered on the pocket. He had a gold chain around his neck but the pendant was hidden.


   Word was he had made a fortune in Silicon Valley building up his high tech company from scratch and selling out to Google for zillions. He extended a bony hand:


“What can I do for you?”


   I told him the real reason I was here was because of the fire along the river and I was there that day and I saw his drift boat and his party leaving the scene and I checked out the fire and I found this laying on the ground:


   I opened my back pack and showed him the mangled hunk of charred metal.


   “This is what’s left of a Phantom 4 Pro Quadcopter Aerial Drone we found at the fire scene. We traced the serial number back to a Fry’s Electronics Store in San Jose, Ca. It was purchased in March of this year. The price was $1499.00. The buyer was a Mr. Dexter Prescott.”


   Prescott’s tanned face turned a whiter shade of pale.


   “Look, it was an accident. Me and Harriett along with our friends, Jack, Muffy, Gilbert and Claire…we stopped for a shore lunch. We popped open a few bottles of wine, spread out the charcoal and soaked it with lighter fluid. I emptied the whole can because, you know, we wanted it to start FAST."


   "I touched it off and POOF! A big ball of flame blew up and the wind was blowing real hard and the dry grass caught on fire and it spread really FAST. Harriet and I were stomping out the flames while Gilbert and Claire were taking phone camera video and posing for selfies. Jack and Muffy thought what a great chance to start up the drone and take aerial video. So we had the drone flying and the camera phone going and wind was blowing and the fire was spreading and then more flames and more smoke and somebody ran and got the Coleman cooler full of water and dumped it on the fire but too late the blaze was out of control and then the drone crashed and we all kind of panicked and dashed to the boats and got out of there as fast as we could.”


   “Mr. Prescott, you should have fessed up on the spot. The sheriff is pissed…he thought my crew started the fire. The mess cost the Town $28,680.”


   “You know, I am truly sorry about this. Me and my wife and my friends, we are all avid outdoors people. We support Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Turkeys Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Save The Whales, Save The Rain Forest, Save The Dolphins, Save The Sea Otters, Save The Spotted Owls, Save The Penguins, Save The Pandas, Save The Puppies, the Gorillas, the Orangutans, the Tree Frogs, the Yangtze Finless Porpoise, the Black Footed Ferret, the Black Spider Monkey, Save The Starving Little Kid In Africa with the Fly on His Nose and we give generously each year to The Big Riffle Foundation. What more can we do?”


   “Mr. Prescott, write the Town a check for $28,680, that’s what you can do.”


     Back at the Wagon Wheel, me and Skeeter and T-Bird had beers with Butch the Game Warden and the sheriff and the Volunteer Fire Chief. We had a good chat and a few grins and I handed over a check for $28,680.


   Skeeter looked at me kinda funny.

 “No tip?”


   “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon was playing on the jukebox.



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