Grayling Recovery Program

Chuck Robbins who is a good friend of mine and an avid outdoor writer called me this morning and asked if he could interview me about the Grayling Recovery Program. He wanted to get the prospective from an outfitters point of view and he wanted it from an outfitter that has been around awhile. The first couple questions regarding my age and how long I have been outfitting, I simply answered with old enough and long enough. He then asked if I had to make one quote regarding the grayling, what would it be? My answer was swift and direct. The Grayling Recovery Program will be the salvation of the entire Big Hole River. This has become a hot topic on the Big Hole since the US Fish and Wildlife Service has threatened to put them on the endangered species list. For those who don’t know, the Big Hole River is the last river in the lower 48 states which contains fluvial arctic grayling. Through dewatering and poor irrigation practices the population of these fish has been dwindling. The good news is that most irrigators have become aware of the severity of this problem and now are cooperating with Montana FWP. There are now several programs in place to increase instream flow from tributaries which are critical to spawning grayling as well as proper head gates which are monitored. There are also programs which will allow for revegetation of stream banks which will include fencing of the banks to keep cattle from more riparian damage. This program will not only benefit the grayling but also all species of fish and birds along the Big Hole corridor. No one wants to see the Feds come in with their endangered list as this could potentially be a big headache for ranchers as well as anglers. The Big Hole Watershed Committee and especially the Big Hole River Foundation are working very hard on this matter. They have received grants from several sources to help with this project. Ranchers, anglers, conservationists are now working together in a cooperative effort regarding this program. Isn’t it grand when this one species of beautiful fish can bring so many people together in one common cause?

Chuck’s article about this program will come out toward the end of April in the new Montana Sporting Journal. I can’t wait to read it as he has done extensive research on this including interviews with biologists, ranchers, guides and conservationists.

Chuck is also the author of the book titled Fly Fishing Montana which is the most informative book I have ever read.

We sold numerous autographed copies of his book out of the shop when he used to guide for me. I will have to admit the sales have slowed down since he has done more writing and less guiding. If you want a copy of his book let me know.

Who knows the difference between a Great Horned Owl and a Long Eared Owl?
This will be the topic of my next entry between two wildlife photographers who have taken photos of the nesting owls near my house and differ on the species.

2 Comments:

  1. Al, when I was a kid, I would go up on either the north fork, but more son the south fork of the big hole and fish with my grandfather. We would catch at least 5 grayling to every eastern brook. On the main stem, even as low as divide, we would catch grayling. Now as I come to the bighole anually, it is a rare exciting prospect to catch a grayling. Anyone who loves the river should pay attention to the misuse of the valley, poor irrigation, and over development.

  2. Tom, Unfortunately those days are gone. The good news is that the Grayling Recovery Program is working and according to Pat McGee who is the Montana FWP biologist specializing in gralying the decline has leveled off. Many ranchers are now seeking him out to get advice on how to improve their irrigating practises. Believe it or not things are turning around. The 7 year drought we have been having has hot helped.

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