Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Best Guns for Shooting Your Television

Personally, I like the old Remington 870 in the photo but it seems Rob Quist and Greg Gianforte would beg to differ. Scott Hirschi and I discuss the recent ads from both Congressional candidates running for Montana's one-and-only seat on this week's podcast.

Best Guns for Shooting Your Television

What is the deal with these ads? You know the ones; the first was Gianforte claiming Quist wants a registry that will eventually take away our Second Amendment rights and then takes a shotgun and blows a TV away showing a Quist ad and then Quist comes on and says he's the one that will protect your rights to own guns and then he takes an old lever action .30-.30 and blows a hole in a TV that was showing the Gianforte ad. Crazy! Maybe we ought to have a good 'ole fashion shootout at the OK Corral to settle who represents us redneck Montanans...

This is embarrassing and to be honest, I don't want either one of these guys representing me. We are educated citizens out here in Montana. We care about a lot of things other than guns, like keeping our neighborhoods and schools safe in a ridiculously violent culture here in the U.S. We don't need this. I've said it before and I'll say it again; show me a sportsman or woman who wants to lead the charge to real solutions for addressing violence in our culture that goes beyond protecting our Second Amendment rights and I will support them.

Keep 'em where they live...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Variables to Spring Fly Fishing on the Missouri River

I guided a few days last week and was pretty excited about it. It's good to get back on the water when it actually means something and my anglers were good folks and definitely pretty chill. The problem is, they came out to fish on April 18th through the 20th so although the weather cooperated, and the water temps were perfect for bugs like BWO's and March browns, the dam operator wasn't buying in so if you look at the chart above, the river came up 2,000 cfs right when they wanted to be fishing. What's the big deal? Well, fish don't like that. So what do you do?


I'm just kidding. Although fish get a little finicky and they might not want to come up to the bugs until things settle down a bit, there are fish to be had and my clients will attest to that. We actually did pretty well and here's why.

The first thing is giving them what they want. Although there are bugs in and on the water, they just don't seem to want to eat them because there are other things in the water that might just be tastier or pack a little more protein. The water is also off color because it's pulling debris and sediment in from the bank. With that comes worms. Yeah, I know. Worms aren't really flies and some folks don't like fishing with the San Juan or the wire worm but if you want to catch some good quality fish, you gotta feed 'em.

Color also matters so change it up. Sometimes the red works and sometimes it's the fire red or florescent orange. And sometimes you have to be observant and try to match the colors you're seeing. I found a big 'ole night crawler floating in the water that was all waterlogged and washed out that was a purplish-pink works.

Two of the three days, we fished low on the Missouri because the changes aren't as drastic when the water comes up. The river spreads out and the currents slow down quite a bit so fish seem to be happier. There are also more channels and islands where fish can take refuge so your option for finding fish are a little more obvious but you still do have to find them. The water has to be moving but you don't want to be in the main current. Depth matters as well and where there's one fish there is usually a bunch of his buddies stacked up. Take note of the type of water and the depth and fish those spots that are consistent with that.

Some folks figure; the higher the water, the longer the float because you're moving along with the current faster. I go the other way because I figure when you find fish, you don't leave them and most of the runs you're getting them in are in pretty soft water where it's easy to row back up. I'm a re-cycler. I'd rather work a little bit because I like to stay in the action versus fishing along, watching a bobber float downstream for a mile without it moving. I know, there's a balance to this and one of my pet peeves is a guide sitting in one spot for hours just pounding fish but there's nothing wrong with hooking a few before moving on to the next run. There are plenty of runs to re-cycle with the water we have as long as you're willing to pull on the oars a little.

The changing conditions in the springtime can cause problems for folks but like I always tell people, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way in fly fishing. You might be off by a foot in depth or you might not see something that some else sees but fish gotta eat. It's rare that trout will shut down for an entire day or across the entire river. But again, the conditions can make it tough unless you have some tools in your belt you've developed through fishing these conditions for years so some folks might see that spending a day with a guide is money well spent.

Keep 'em where they live...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Kicking Off the 2017 Season with Fatty Browns

I usually have a few days in the books by now but with the weather going up and down and people holding off until there's a little more stability, I've had a bit of a slow start. It's all good though because honestly, I've really only seen a few days this spring that I'd want to fish. The wind has been crazy and the barometer has been doing burpies and when I see guys getting their asses blown all over the river and I'm sitting in my shop tying flies, there's a sense of calm that comes over me and it's kind of nice. Yesterday was the first official trip for Montana Dream Fishing Outfitters and you know what? The weather couldn't have been better. And look at that fatty brown, hen! Nice work Aaron.
The weather is what it is and it should start coming around but you know what we do have working for us? Bus! Delicious bugs. BWO's and midges are blanketing the river right now and with the right conditions, fish are happy mowing through them. In a week or so we'll start seeing March browns and then caddis and with the flows, the channels will fill up and those browns will be lurking right along the willows. It's going to be fun. We still have opening here at MDFO for spring specials so give us a call.
Keep 'em where they live...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Bill to Generate Revenue to Fight Aquatic Invasive Species in Montana

Photo provided by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online
Are you tired of hearing about zebra mussels yet? Tough. It's obvious from the amendments made to SB363 during this legislative session that people are not taking the potential risk for spreading these critters throughout Montana seriously. Here's the bill if you want to look at it yourself:
It's going in front of the House for a third reading today and will probably get passed, which on one hand is a good thing because it means we are trying to generate funds to prevent an outbreak in Montana but when you read this article from the Helena Independent Record, you get an idea of who's driving the bus and the fact that nobody wants to pay for it.
And that's not even considering the fact that the original bill didn't come close to including the biggest stake-holders in paying for prevention.
I know it's a little late because the bill is going to be passed and will not come up again for another two years but here's the deal; as much as I appreciate Sen. Vincent's work on this and appall the short-sightedness and complete lack of responsibility of those fighting to amend the bill, I have to say that our legislators are missing the point here. We have stake-holders and we have high-risk vehicles for spreading these mussels and all the folks belonging to both of these groups should be paying for the efforts for preventing an outbreak. Instead, we are now counting on anglers, the hydro-electric companies, and non-resident bicyclists for all of the funding? Seriously? And as far as hydro-electric goes, who do you really think is going to be paying?
In the original bill, some of the biggest stake-holders and high-risk vehicles were going to have to pony up. Landowners and boaters were going to be charged an annual fee and somehow, some way, that was scrapped and instead, a fee for non-resident bikers was assessed by a legislator that admittedly didn't like the bikers and decided this was a good way to either penalize them or keep them out of Montana all together. What kind of crap is that? What the hell does a bicycle have to do with AIS and why should landowners that are trying to keep their irrigation systems clean and boaters of all people, be exempt from paying for a this? That's LUDICROUS!
So who are the stake-holders? Well, I'm a big one because I make my living on fishing SO...I should be paying. I already have to pay a commercial user fee for the upkeep of Fishing Access Sites, which I completely agree with. I should also have to pay for fighting zebra mussels. Do I want to? Hell no but it is what it is and I'd rather pay a little now than have my livelihood destroyed later. Who else?
BOATERS!!! And I'm not talking just motor boats. I'm talking all boats. We should ALL have to pay to register our boats and watercraft and some of that money should go into the AIS fund because 1.) we're stake-holders and 2.) WE ARE ALL POTENTIAL VEHICLES for spreading invasive species!! But somehow, someone made this group exempt. CRAZY! And you know what? If you're holding an event that brings people and boats in from all over the country, YOU SHOULD HAVE TO PAY! (Yes, I'm talking about the walleye tournaments.)
You know who else is a stake-holder? Home owners on our lakes and rivers. YES, you too should be paying. Why? Because your property value will tank if there is an outbreak of zebra mussels in your lake.
Hotels and lodging? Yep. In fact, all sub-sectors within the tourism and travel industry should be paying. That means the airports as well.
Gas companies? You too.
Restaurants...I think you get the point.
The most disturbing part of this, (and I know I said it but I can't state this enough,) is the fact that boaters and specifically, out-of-state boaters, are exempt. That my friends, is bull-shit and the person that is responsible for this amendment ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Keep 'em where they live...
P.S. The 2017 legislative session is about close and the fishing is getting good so you'll be seeing more fishing and less bitching soon.
P.P.S. Having said that, if we want to keep hearing and reading about the fishing and hunting out here, we all need to be a part of the preservation efforts. Short-sightedness and selfishness will lead to the demise of our great outdoors so before you decide to donate another dollar to the NRA, consider finding an organization that will really fight for your rights to recreate.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rob Quist and Greg Gianforte Duke it Out Over Who Looks More Montana

How important is it that your Montana representative to congress looks the part? Apparently, pretty important as the onslaught of ads for this upcoming special election inundate our TV time. Check out The Montana Dream Cast and listen in as Scott Hirschi and I discuss the strategies of Quist and Gianforte to get your vote. It's getting pretty deep out there...

Rob Quist and Greg Gianforte Duke it Out Over Who Looks More Montana

We also talk about gear and beer and all the other things we care about out here in the Treasure State so download the Podbean app and take us with you on your next adventure.

Keep 'em where they live...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Going Green with Montana Dream Fishing Outfitters

Yeah, I know. It's just a water bottle, right? Let's say that every guide goes through 8 to 12 store bought water bottles a day for about 120 days per year. So 1,200 water bottles a year. Would you say that's about right? So 1,200 water bottles a year per guide find their way into our landfills because most of us aren't going to make the effort to put them into the recycling bin at the end of the day and let's say there are 1,500 guides and outfitters working throughout Montana, which I think is pretty conservative. We're talking like, (conservatively,) 1,800,000 water bottles a year--just in Montana that will find their way into landfills!

That's a ton of plastic folks. Actually, that's like 112.5 tons! That's f'n  crazy so a few years ago I decided to try out a solution. I had these bottles made and I gave each client their own bottle at the beginning of the day. I carried re-useable jugs of water in my cooler and every morning, filled those jugs with fresh water and re-filled their bottles throughout the day. At the end of the day, clients either took the bottles with them or I deposited them into the recycling bin. Two bottles versus 10 and most often, the clients took the bottles with them as a souvenir.

My initial concern was that some of the outfitters that I worked for would have a problem with my logo being given out to their clients so I approached the outfitters and explained to them what I was doing. None of them had a problem with it because we had been working together for long enough for them to trust I had no intentions of stealing clients. However, I did get some feedback from a couple outfitters that I thought was interesting.

Two of the outfitters said they had tried a similar approach with little to no success. One of them said clients didn't really care that much and thought it was more of a pain than what it was worth. The other said he was using aluminum bottles and washing them every night and re-used them and clients weren't completely convinced the bottles were sanitary. I had different results.

I assured clients they were each getting their own brand new bottle that they could take with them so there wasn't an issue with sanitizing. Most also thought it was cool that they had a souvenir they could take with them and most also agreed that dumping that much plastic into the landfills was a problem. There were a few that could care less and I had to dispose of about 15 to 20% of the bottles but even so, it's still less than individual store bought bottles.

So let's talk cost. The first round of bottles I bought were around $.90ea. This last batch came out to around $1.15 after shipping and another set-up fee because I decided to order them online myself. (The original batch was ordered through Hands On in Bozeman while I was staying down there so there wasn't the shipping cost. I would definitely order from them again if I was still staying down there.) If I remember correctly, a case of water bottles from Costco is about 5 bucks. Let's just say that a bottle costs between $.20 and $.30. So if we average that out, it's roughly $2.50 per day. If you use two re-useable bottles and one for yourself that lasts all season, you're actually saving money--not a lot but even if it's a wash, you're saving the environment and that's the point.

I do hope other guides and outfitters get on board with this. I certainly want to do my part in being a good steward of the environment and know others do as well. This is just one simple way we can do that and another way we can be an example for our communities.

Keep 'em where they live...

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Smokin Ducks and Contemplating Life


Hey iGrill, do you? Check out what I've been cooking! #iGrillDoYou #iGrill #Weber

Apparently, there is an app for that and you can share the graph via social media. The iGrill remote thermometer is a pretty cool tool for those of us that don't have the fancy dancy electric/auto smokers. You put the probe in the smoker and connect it to the interface, which then connects through Bluetooth to your app on your smartphone and vuala; you can see exactly how hot your smoker is without leaving your Barcalounger. Pretty sweet and it allows you to get results like this:
It's a pretty crappy picture but the app does that too! It's amazing what technologies they have come up with in the past couple decades; all to make our lives easier and it does for sure but it can also add some serious frustration when that technology breaks down. For instance, these podcasts that we've been doing called, The Montana Dream Cast. (By the way, you can check them out here: I spend a considerable amount of time trying to figure out my editing software and then they go and "upgrade" something and one command change costs me hours of trying to figure out something so simple like mixing and exporting a file so that it can be uploaded to the Podbean hosting site. And only after six hours of searching through chat rooms and message boards do I find the solution and it's literally the push of one button and my problems are solved...except now I have turrets.
What technology has done for me is shifted my expectations of what we ought to be able to get done and how long that ought to take. Everything now-a-days should be as easy as pushing a button on your phone and a somewhat sexy voice tells us where we can find our next adventure, how long it will take us to get there, and if that place has wheelchair accessibility. (Thanks Google. By the way, you and I need to talk about this 'front page' crap too.) But what happens if Siri sends us on a wrong turn or God for bid, makes me 10 minutes late for picking up the kid? H-o-l-y Siri!! You're just lucky you're stuck inside that damn box...
This is why we need the smoker and ducks and hunting and fishing in general. We need these things to slow us down a bit and maybe develop some patience and a little more realistic set of expectations. This is also why I fly fish and why you should too. I'm just's a great way to put life into perspective and contemplate what's really important and that's also why guys like me are here--to help you spend a little quality time living the dream.
Keep 'em where they live...
P.S. Wow, that was just one big commercial wasn't it? Yes. It was and if you're interested, follow the links or contact us at: to BOOK YOUR DREAM TRIP TODAY!!