So here’s the New Deal

Good news folks!  Yesterday, Governor Bullock announced the State of Montana will be moving into Phase II of our Reopening Plan.  Embarking on Phase II of the reopening plan includes lifting the 14-day out-of-state travel quarantine on June 1st. Truth be told, the original Phase II provision included continuation of the 14 day quarantine, but the Gov modified that and eliminated the requirement under the revised Plan.  Thus we are open for business to non-resident fisher folks as long as we implement CDC recommended social distancing practices.  This year will be a little funky and we’ll adjust as we go depending on any new data, information, or Governor’s directives.  I’ll likely be taking personnel temperatures, offering use of mask, using lots of sanitizer, and asking you to complete a risk acknowledgement form before we hit the stream.  All responsible outfitters have been asked to do the same by the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM) of which I am a member.  As draconian as that sounds, I will not be asking you to shoot up with either Lysol or Chlorox.  (Just kidd’n folks, during these times, humor helps, even if it’s bad humor.)

Helpful Hint:  Since the beginning of the viral experience, many previously scheduled trips have been cancelled for obvious reasons.  I’m not sure how many, but it’s been a bunch.  In that respect, RFO is no different that other fly fishing outfitter in the Treasure State.  Which means that those who do continue with their vacation and fishing plans will likely experience much less river traffic than usual during the height of the upcoming summer season.  Might just feel like a throwback to the Eighties out there this summer.  I’m ok with that!

And now for the fishy talk.  Going, going, gone …….  Due to the high temperatures we have been experiencing, area creeks and rivers are up and ripp’n.  If you look at the USGS hydro-graphs, they all look like we’re building a stairway to heaven.  And thus we are now into the run-off season.  There are still a few options for fishing but they are limited.  Last week the fishing was good with a plethora of bugs.  (Should have been here last week).  But the good news is that I do not anticipate a long or unusually high runoff this year, at least that is what my crystal ball is telling me now.  As in all things, that might change.  However, I think we’ll be floating and fishing the rivers come the last of June or the first-ish of July.

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I call him Spot.  He’s one of my local friends.

And now for the non fishing news.

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It’s time for these.  Cottonwood and Aspen stands are where they’re at.  Much like toilet paper, they don’t last long …..

 

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So, here’s the deal …

I thought it prudent to update those of you who are interested on the status of guided fishing in Montana.  (Don’t worry, we’ll get to the fun stuff a little later.)

The current Corona Virus direction released yesterday indicates that the guided fishing industry is enabled to operate beginning next Monday, April 27, 2020.  The directives goes on to state ….” Guides and outfitters may offer services consistent with any ongoing quarantine travel restrictions provided they adhere to social distancing guidelines and sanitation protocols.  Visitors should check the status of any closures and restrictions before traveling.”

Additional guidance provided in this Phase I: Montana re-opening plan includes the following ….”Each outfitter or guide needs to confirm that their clients are aware of the 14-day quarantine restrictions for out-of-state visitors and they are in full compliance.” ….. which means out-of state-visitors who are not here for work related purposes must first conduct a 14 day quarantine, before they would legally be eligible to go outside and play with others.

So, if your guide ask if you have self quarantined and then ask you to stand 6 feet or more away, and ask you to wear a face mask, and well as other sundry things that last year would have seemed comical if not ridiculous, please understand there is a reason …. we don’t just make this shit up.

In fact here are a couple of informational resources;

MONTANA: Reopening the Big Sky, Phased Approach

Outfitting Under COVID-19 Restrictions.

Please understand, this is subject to change as documented in the Governor’s Directive if/when we enter into Phase II and hopefully Phase III based on data and not anger.  Fingers crossed, heads up, and think good thoughts.

Now for the fun stuff.  We got some good and we got some less good.  We seemingly jumped from winter to near summer in one week.  Thus, most of the rivers and feeder streams are mucky and offer limited opportunities for success.  About the only thing that is really fish-able right now, is the Rock Creek system.  The good news is that it’s beginning to turn into a bug-o-rama out there.  I’m seeing at least four species of stoneflies, a few caddis, and both baetis and March Brown mayflies.  Unfortunately, the surface action has not been red hot and the truth be told, I got spanked hard the other day while fishing drys, dry/droppers, and two deep and dirty nymphs….. so you just never know and each day is unique, just like all the others.

One thing that you should be aware of if you are considering venturing forth, you likely will not be alone.  Since the shutdown, the streams have been crowded, as least by my standards.  If you’re smart, you’ll take a nice hike before you start the fishing.  There is amble room out there, ya just gotta use it.

Today is predicted to be coolish, overcast, drizzly and gray.  Sounds like the perfect dry fly day.  I’m headed to the crick at noon, we’ll see how today shakes out.  It should be great no matter what.  Social Distance on America!

March Brown

March Brown

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Lots of these and their relatives out

 

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Social Distancing in Montana

When I reflect on my last post where in I suggested 2020 is likely to be a bumpy ride, little did I know how bumpy weird it would get. To that end, the Governor of Montana has issued Executive Orders which essentially lock down non essential businesses and activities which includes a shelter in place/stay at home directive.  In that respect, we are not unique, much of the nation has similar constraints enacted.  However, the Orders in place do allow for Outdoor Recreation, with all the appropriate social distancing rules. 

If there is anything we have out here in the great beyond, it’s room for social distancing. And thus I and a friend socially distanced ourselves on the waters of Rock Creek near the hometown Berg of Bob.  We kept our distances, drove two vehicles, and not only didn’t come within the recommended six feet, but our thoughts were, “if I can hit you with my rod tip, you’re too damn close”.  No water, beers or anything else was shared…. We shared nothing but time spent in a place which hadn’t seemed to change.  For about three hours, the world in front of us was familiar and predictable.  Currents still flowed strong, hiddy hole pools held fish or at least the possibilities of fish.  The right flies cast to the right locations and drifted appropriately produced the spotted gems which serve as a reason to reacquaint ourselves with natures’ alternative reality.  Three hours isn’t a long time, but it was enough time, until next time.

 

Nobody Downstream

Nobody Upstream

 

Nobody Upstream

Nobody Downstream

Appropriate Social Distance Maintained

Appropriate Social Distance Maintained

Same As It Ever Was

Same As It Ever Was

Pretty Spots

Pretty Spots

Nice Hat, Fish, and the Socially Distanced

Nice Hat, Fish, and the Socially Distanced

Life can be a challenge, but outcomes are largely determined by how we face those challenges.  It does not require strength of character to cave in and  believe it’s all going to hell, because unless we let it, it won’t.  Indeed, we are living in strange times.  Stay positive, check in on your friends, family, and neighbors, this too shall pass.  And if you have the chance, I highly recommend you heed the Governor’s Orders and socially distance yourselves outside.  It helps.

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