Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Are You F'n Kidding Me? Again?

I try not to show this side of me on these public forums but there is little that pisses me off more than this. The person in the white Tundra with the after-market fenders, parked at the Sterling gate just upstream from Craig on the Missouri River ought to be ashamed and embarrassed. And the fact that he had a little kid with him that he is passing on these traits to is equally troubling. This is a yearly event and it's incredibly tiring and frustrating so if you see this guy, direct him to this blog post and tell him to feel free to defend himself. It's because of A-holes like this that legislation is written, rules are made, and ranchers close their gates off to the general public. Nice work A-hole. And by-the-way, we picked up your shit so you're welcome.
Keep 'em where they live... 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

The 2016 waterfowl season was put on hold for a week and then this happened. Saturday the 14th of January; four guys, two dogs, and twenty-eight duck and 2 geese dropped. On day one of the late season, we limited out on mallards 40 minutes before the end of shooting hours. And in that last 40 minutes, we easily had another dozen or more ducks landing in our spread as we were picking up. We would have been able to shoot a couple more limits for sure.

In this photo, I was setting up the GoPro to get a pic of all of us and there's Cutter; hamming it up, watching ducks pile into the channel. Literally thousands of ducks on the river and with a perfect wind, these guys wanted to sit down. It's something that is rare to see and when you do, you're just grateful for the experience and for being able to share it with good buddies like Mike Kuhnert, Scott Hirschi, and Bryan Conquergood.

So we planned on getting an early start the next day. Knowing how many birds were on the river this evening, the next morning would be sick, right? As the light came in to greet the next morning however, the light switch was flicked off and those thousands of greenheads were gone. Where did they go? I have no idea but in four hours of hunting, we pulled the trigger on a two geese that randomly got too close but only saw a few mallards that were on a mission to get the hell out of Dodge. At least we had that first day.

Keep 'em where they live...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Quiet Waters Proposal Going Down in Flames

Well, the public has spoken loud and clear and it seems obvious almost no one in Montana is in support of the proposal from Backcountry Hunters and Anglers to limit motors on certain public waters across the State of Montana. (They also think it's ridiculous to make a rule on a stretch of water that says you can't row back upstream, which I agree.) I attended the Helena public commentary meeting last night with about 60 other folks that were absolutely, 100% opposed to these rule changes. That is, accept the one gentleman that showed up to represent BHA. The Great Falls meeting had around 260 people with a similar, yet more volatile outcome according to reports from the Great Falls Tribune.

This rule change proposal was dead before it had any legs and here's why. It was proposed by a group that not many people knew anything about and would appear to be acting in the interest of a minority of people. That minority of people most folks attributed to this proposal were guides and outfitters. Over and over and over again, the public comment appeared to be anti-rule and anti-guiding community. In fact, one woman's comments that echoed the sentiment from many of the participants of the meeting, flatly called out the outfitters and "big business" for stripping her and her family of their rights to fish the Missouri River. She accused BHA as being staffed by only outfitters and guides and all they were concerned about was their profits. The reality is there isn't a single guide or outfitter on BHA's staff.

The other major problem with the proposal is that no one understood what the rule changes were meant to address. Many of the folks assumed it was because of a safety issue for other recreationists as jet-boats speed past them in tight waters. The problem is, there isn't a whole lot of evidence to support this because there have only been a couple accidents recorded in the past decade or so. Others thought maybe it was a conservation issue and then again, others thought it was just a few selfish guides and outfitters that were driving the bus.

Let me just say for the record, just as much of the guiding community opposes these rule changes as the general public, albeit for different reasons. This proposal is definitely extreme and doesn't take into account a lot of people who use motor boats on certain public waters, where if folks are respectful and considerate of other recreationists, there isn't a problem. However, there are a lot folks out there that don't act responsibly and aren't considerate and it's why proposals like this come up.

The one gentleman from BHA did have a conflict with a jet-boat, as he told of his experience last night, on the Marias River. He and a few friends were out paddling around and a jet-boat raced by them swamping their canoes, not only putting them in danger but also damaging their property. I've heard from many others with similar experiences and I've also had my own encounters that illustrate the fact that people aren't always considerate, which does foster support for change. Unfortunately, we didn't hear from those folks at the meeting in Helena and from the sounds of it, not many of them showed up at the Great Falls meeting either. I did express my sympathy for the folks that support parts of the rule changes but with only having 2 minutes to speak and really being the only person there besides the gentleman from BHA expressing this view, I doubt anything I said was either heard or considered.

The unfortunate truth is nobody wants to hear the other side. We dig our heals in making some pretty outlandish arguments spiraling down with, "Now the general public won't even be able to fish the Missouri," or, "Now all the marinas will go out of business," to the all or nothing sum of, "Then we shouldn't have any boats on the river...", which is one of the big problems with this proposal. It does strike fear into those folks that are animate about not losing their rights and we get to these types of arguments that don't move the issue towards some solution and absolutely don't allow for any kind of compromise. The rule changes were just too heavy and too detrimental to a large group of people and those people spoke, which I guess is how our system works.

Here's the problem: Last year there was about a twenty-five foot cabin cruiser ripping up and down a twenty mile stretch of the Missouri below the Holter Dam. As they sped by anglers, kayakers, and other recreationists, they waved as if they thought everyone was just having the time of their lives and they were the coolest boat on the river, not even considering how disruptive they were being to EVERYONE else trying to enjoy the scenery and the fishing. And quite literally, not understanding the fear they were putting into some of the kids I know that were in their kayaks doing everything they could to just stay upright as the wake from that cabin cruiser slammed into them. I also know a gentleman who actually brags about speeding by guides with his jet-boat, knowing how much it pisses them off and I've personally had a run-in with another outfitter completely destroying a channel I was fishing with clients as he ripped by us sending a wake crashing against the bank causing huge chunks of earth tumbling into the river. It is a problem. It is a safety issue. It is a conservation issue and it is an economic issue as we are potentially destroying what is considered a blue ribbon, or in Montana; a class 1 fishery for those folks who bring millions of dollars of revenue that supports conservation efforts as well as supporting the livelihoods of your neighbors, your grandkids, and your son's and daughters.

I ran into a gentleman last night after the meeting who animatedly opposed these rule changes and I asked him, "If not these rule changes, what is the solution?"

Now believe me, I was not and am not in favor of the rule changes but I also recognize there is a problem so I'm asking all of you that oppose this, what is the solution?

The gentleman last night suggested we need more education to which I agree but what about those folks that know they are causing a problem for others but just don't care? Those people do exist. I realize we want to believe we live in a part of the world that we all want to do the right thing but trust me, I see the folks that don't care and don't do the right thing almost daily in the summer. They are out there and it is a problem so what do we do? Seriously. I'm asking. What is the solution?

Keep 'em where they live...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ducks are Off, Perch are On

So yesterday I was lookin for content for The Montana Dream Cast, where we talk about fishing and hunting out here in Montana and since the duck season is on its annual break for this week, I decided to see how the perch bite was going.
I drove up to Holter Lake completely unprepared for the weather, wearing flannel lined Carharts and a puffy down jacket, some gloves and my perch jig-stick. I parked at a one of the beaches on the North side of the lake and walked out a few hundred yards, drilled a hole and sunk my jig to the bottom. Nothing. I walked in a few yards, drilled, dropped and again; nothing.
I did this about 5 times looking for a ledge I had fished in previous years. I started in about 50 feet of water and when I got back to about 35 feet, I dropped my jig and within a few seconds, pulled a good sized perch out. Dropped it down again and caught another one.
It didn't take long for the dogs to abandon me as it was fricken cold! They headed back up to the truck and I kept plugging along, fighting frozen eyes on my jig-stick and frozen finger-tips. I was catching fish as soon as I was able to get my line down to where they were so I wasn't noticing the cold so much until about a half-hour into it when I lost the feeling in just about every extremity. It was time to go and maybe time for a portable fish-house.
The problem with the fish-house scenario is that it doesn't allow you to be mobile. I don't have a Vexilar so I can't run around the lake looking for schools of fish without actually dropping a line. And just because you found the perch one minute, doesn't mean they are going to be there in an hour. What I like to do is drill and drop, drill and drop and when I stop catching, I move. I think the fish-house is a little limiting. However, I would have probably fished for a while longer yesterday if I could have got out of the elements. It was fricken cold.
Keep 'em where they live...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Sad Day at the Dobrzynski Residence

That's right, there is an empty bucket of my mom's Christmas cookies. I did share them, and didn't eat them all in one sitting but I could have. In fact, it took me almost two weeks to finish them, which I'm proud of. But now it's time to get busy. I lost 6 of the 8 lbs. I found in Minnesota while visiting for the Holidays. Only 12 more to go!
Keep 'em where they live... 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Some Clarification on Quiet Waters

I've referred to the Quiet Waters Initiative as a bill, which is not completely accurate. I've learned that it's actually a rule change. Departments like Fish, Wildlife, and Parks are in a position to make "rule changes" without them going in front of the legislation in the interest of speed and efficiency. It also gives the department latitude to make adjustments to the rule changes on the fly as circumstances change and as they get more of a feeling of the general climate of individuals the rule may affect without having to go to a vote either in the legislative session or general elections. Why is this important? Because the power in making such changes goes not to those we elect to vote on the changes nor does it go to us but to a department committee.

In defense of FWP, they are holding hearings for public commentary on these changes across the state. They have also set up an email so that folks who cannot attend one of those hearings, can make their voice heard. I have faith the department doesn't want to make changes unless they are certain the change is warranted and is in the best interest of the resource and its users. However remember, just because it may not benefit you doesn't mean the changes are not in the best interest of the resource, the majority of the users, or the State.

Generally speaking, hearings for these rule changes don't generate as much interest as hearings in front of the legislators because people may not believe there is as much impact from those changes. Given the feedback I've received as well as some of the comments written in the Independent Record, I would believe there is a substantial interest on this matter. Some people are opposed to the changes. Some people are for them and many people oppose them for different reasons. This is not a bill that has an all or nothing sum. It's a rule change that can look very different after the department sorts out the various attitudes being expressed at these hearings. This is why it's so important for folks to attend.

And here's the deal, I understand my opinion on this may not be consistent with "Joe Public," because I have an economic stake in the matter. But I do believe in the process and I believe that people from every different perspective should have the chance to express themselves. In the end, we hash it out and do what seems to be most appropriate, taking all the players into account. Not everyone is necessarily going to be happy with the outcome but I can tell you, after spending the amount of time I spend on the water, seeing some of the absolute inconsiderate nature of the actions of a few, (both the Joe Public as well as the guide/outfitters,) there is legitimacy behind the proposed changes.

In the our most recent podcast, Scott Hirschi and I discuss these rule changes. Please check it out and feel free to engage in the discussion and then attend the hearings. There may be enough interest in this to where there needs to be an actual bill proposed that would go to a vote. Maybe that's what we should push for.

Quiet Waters Initiative: New Restrictions Being Proposed on Montana Rivers: Scott and I discuss the Quiet Waters Initiative; what that means for boaters and anglers. We also talk beer from Ten Mile Creek Brewery and a follow-up on the zebra mussel issue. ...

Once again, here is the link for emailing comments on this:

And here is the schedule for the upcoming hearings:

On January 9, 2017, at 6:00 p.m., the commission will hold a public hearing at the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 5 Office, 2300 Lake Elmo Drive, Billings, Montana, to consider the proposed amendment and adoption of the above-stated rules.

On January 11, 2017, at 6:00 p.m., the commission will hold a public hearing at the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 4 Office, 4600 Giant Springs Road, Great Falls, Montana, to consider the proposed amendment and adoption of the above-stated rules.

On January 11, 2017, at 6:00 p.m., the commission will hold a public hearing at the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Headquarters, 1420 East 6th Avenue, Helena, Montana, to consider the proposed amendment and adoption of the above-stated rules.

2. The department will make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who wish to participate in this rulemaking process or need an alternative accessible format of this notice. If you require an accommodation, contact the department no later than December 9, 2016, to advise us of the nature of the accommodation that you need. Please contact Kaedy Gangstad, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, Montana, 59620-0701; telephone (406) 444-4594; or e-mail

Keep 'em where they live...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year, Same Resolution

These little bastards are straight up evil. They're my mom's Christmas sugar cookies and they are worse than potato chips. I spent a week in Minnesota eating them and laying around the house watching football and I gained 8 lbs. That's right. Eight pounds so now my New Years Resolution is the same as every lose those 8 lbs.
Actually, I do go through this just about every year because I spend the summer rowing and then the fall and part of the winter hiking around the mountains or dragging a sled of decoys to the duck blind and that keeps me in reasonable shape. However, Christmas comes and I go see family and for a couple weeks, the bod goes into hibernation mode. With the added caloric intake of those damn cookies, things get a little sloppy...or lumpy.
I think it was five years ago I decided to do my own version of P-90Trex. I used the P-90X philosophy and curtailed it to my circumstances, which meant I used whatever I had up in my little cottage in Wolf Creek for a hard-core, hour-long workout. I hiked through snow, post-holing with a fifty pound pack. I hauled rocks up a ridge and piled up my own little edifice to the gods. I lifted logs and other random things I could find on the trail. I skied. The only thing I really spent money on was a single kettle bell and I watched YouTube videos for work-outs that totally kicked my ass. In the end, I lost about 20 or 25 pounds.
The next few years, I had a gym membership in Bozeman. It worked pretty well but not as well as my P-90Trex program. It very well might have had something to do with motivation though and quite frankly, my age. Reaching further into the 40's, those days of rocking the six-pack are probably over. Right? I mean, what's the point?
Here's the deal. It's more than just looking good. Every year, up until five years ago, I went into the season out of shape and it took its toll for the first month or so. It wasn't just being tired or the obvious pains one would think to have like a stiff back or sore muscles but it was also in the hands and wrists and even the knees. Arthritis is a bitch and the one thing we all can do to combat it is be active and get into shape. Last year, with the new house and all the adjusting to it, I neglected the winter work-outs and paid for it. This year is going to be different and when the season comes up, I'll be ready.
The goal is to lose about 15 lbs. That would put me at a buck-ninety. I have a membership at a gym hear in Helena that has a pretty cool cross training room with heavy bags and gloves. Along with a boxing regimen, (given all the snow we've got,) I'll probably bust out the snow-shoes as well. And skiing is always in play.  
Diet is also important. When I've been the most successful at the weight training I've got into the routine of eating a packet of oatmeal every morning; soup and a sandwich for lunch using venison summer sausage or smoked duck, and then a healthy dinner usually consisting of some other wild meat. The one thing I never did eliminate though was beer and coffee. (My doc says I'd lose 15 lbs. in a month without those two things but then what is the point of living? Right?) The other thing is there's still a bucket of those damn cookies on the counter.
Keep 'em where they live...
P.S. Last week I wrote a blog post about the proposed rule changes for some of the rivers out here in Montana; specifically, the Missouri. I received a LOT of feedback and the hits on my blog quadrupled. That's a good thing. What I didn't get however, was any clarification or even a response for the letter I wrote to the site dedicated to this bill. I do hope there is a strong showing at the hearings for this bill as it does affect a lot of us that work and play on the Missouri. That doesn't mean we all have the same idea of what is right or wrong about these rules that are being proposed but with the dialog, I think we can come up with something that's best for the fishery and the community that uses it. I hope I see you all there.