Wednesday, September 30, 2015


It seems the last post either ruffled some feathers or at least, sent a little bit of panic into a few people that hold some of the "off-the-wall," beautiful places in Montana dear to their hearts. I get it. I don't like what's happened to some of my favorite fishing holes either with the pressure they are getting now from other guides and outfitters. Even on the Missouri, there were places you could go to get away from the crowds, which was a huge benefit to those guys willing to take the risk and learn the water to offer the quality of experience their clients expect but now the word's out and clients are looking for solitude. (Which may mean going other places and taking their money with them.)

I've heard it said that the Missouri is big enough and it can handle it and it's really not that sacred of a place anyway but that comes down to perspective. There are a lot of people that would argue the Mo was that sacred place for them but in the last few years, guides and outfitters from all over the State have been marketing the Missouri as options to their clients, which has absolutely diminished the quality of experience for a lot of folks. It has become more and more difficult to get away from the crowds, which has been a disappointment for clients; not to mention how disgusted they get when they see a jet-boat ripping up and down the river. So is the Missouri really that sacrificial lamb we're willing to abuse for the sake of keeping other places for ourselves?  Apparently it's not, which is evident by the "creel surveys" that have been conducted all season.

If you've spent any time on the Mo this summer, you've probably seen the FWP interns with the clip-boards asking folks to answer some questions. They say it's a creel survey and they can only ask the questions to those who have been fishing so the guide figures it's not for him/her and they go about their business. But have you heard what they are asking the clients? "Do you think there are too many guide boats on the river?" "Should there be limits for commercial use on the river?" What the hell does that have to do with how many fish you caught? And why shouldn't they ask the guides those questions too? (FYI, if you want your voice heard, pick up a rod and take a couple casts and when they ask you if you fished, just say yes.)

Here's the deal; there is an  effort going on right now to limit the use on the Missouri because it's gotten too busy for some people who have the resources to make enough noise and honestly, I don't know if I can totally disagree with them. So what I'm doing is trying to find options because I'm afraid my opportunities on the Missouri are going to be limited. I also want to offer a worth-while experience to folks that are paying a lot of money and I want to do it respectfully. I'm not going to write a book with detailed directions on how to get to these places and I'm not going to send people there without professional guidance and a commitment to preservation. (By the way, there are folks in the community that are doing just that but nobody has the guts to say anything.) I want to give people what they are looking for; to offer a fly-fishing trip that is more about the quality of experience than the numbers and I want to do it in a way that respects other people's rights to those places as well.

And the reality is, there are already outfitters that are guiding these places. Some of them have the permits and have been doing it legally for decades. Some don't and are doing it illegally. IF I choose to go through the process of obtaining the permits, I would be doing it the right way. And if through that process it's determined that there are already enough outfitters that have the permits and they don't allow more, I'm fine with it. I'll have to figure out other avenues to offer clients what they want.

Keep 'em where they live...

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