December 16th, 2002

By James Castwell

It looks like things will be a little different this coming season. Some test streams, and notably, a nine mile section of the Bighorn River in Montana, will be off-limits to anyone not fishing dry-flies. The idea has been under consideration for some time now and with the approval of the newly instituted 'Fly-fishing Competency' regulations going into effect next year, many thought it would be a good time to continue the goals of the project.

For those of you who have been unaware of the above proceedings, let me try to bring you up to speed. There have been, over the past several years, many factors adverse to the proliferation of our native species and those introduced as well. Drought, unregulated forest fires, diseases and mismanagement of certain watersheds have all combined to deplete the stock of stream game fish, mostly trout.

The impetus started some time ago with the creation of an organization of fly fishers who only fished with dry flies, deploring wets and nymphs. As their ranks swelled they applied for certain stretches of some streams to be 'Dry Flies Only.' Their requests were considered, but in light of the recent ruling which went against some sections being set aside for 'Women Only,' the agency felt it would only rekindle hard feelings. They opened a site on the Internet and formed 'D.F.O.' Dry Flies Only. Soon, with world-wide recognition they gained the necessary voice to be reckoned with.

At about the same time, another group of fly fishers felt there were far too many inept and neophyte types causing irreparable harm to the remaining trout fishery. Too many fish being gut hooked and if released, done so with no regard to the well being of the trout. In an effort to curb this reckless practice they lobbied for a regulation to be applied to some of the more fragile 'Blue-Ribbon' sections of a couple test streams to see if it would make the necessary difference between being able to fish or not.

The information about both of these events did not surface to most of the general public as it was all done with an eye to determining results to be used in further study. It came as a complete surprise when it was brought out of committee, to the floor, voted on, passed and was signed into law last Thursday.

The fee to apply for testing will be held at twenty dollars for the next three years and will be divided equally between the testers and the Fish and Game Department. A special light blue 'patch' will be provided along with a certificate upon completion of, and passing of, the fairly stringent 'Fly-Fishing' tests.

F&G field officers will be furnished with a list of flies considered by the State to qualify as 'Dry Flies' and the details will be listed in the next printing of the F&G regulations, be sure to check page 27, item 'M', sub-paragraph 9.

Some of the finer details at this time which will be implemented are: no 'blind' casting of attractor flies, casting only upstream, casting only to 'rising' fish, if a fish gets more than fifteen feet downstream from the angler it must be immediately broken off by either cutting the line or jerking severely on it, no 'shadow' casting as it annoys fish and is considered as 'harassing' wildlife.

Of course, as you all know, the old management tool of 'Catch & Release' has finally been abandoned as it was proven that a very high percentage of fish were in fact killed and it was better for the fishery to adopt the European form of 'Catch & Kill' as it had less impact on the actual numbers of fish harmed, therefore, all fish caught count against the yearly aggregate limit of three fish and must be kept upon landing and duly recorded in the provided ledger (in ink).

That seems to be how it will be for the opening day of 2020. We have come a long way in the management of our resources and I think we all owe a great debt of gratitude to those worked so long and hard to give us the privilege of enjoying our marvelous fly-fishing heritage. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

All Previous Castwell Articles
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice