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Jack C. Mauer has more than a thirty year investment in fishing, floating and wading the waters of western Montana. He is intimately acquainted with the surrounding fisheries and their corresponding ecologies. It is his passion and enthusiasm for the art of fly fishing, a respect and knowledge of trout habitat, and the ability to expertly instruct the technical aspects of fly fishing that clients appreciate as they return to western Montana and Wapiti Waters. Contact Jack at 800-254-5311.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Painted Rocks Reservoir in the Bitterroot Valley and How It Is Operated

Information from and email by Larry A. Schock, CFM DNRC Water Resources Division

Painted Rocks Reservoir State Park image by FWPHello Everyone,

The DNRC has received several inquires lately concerning the outflows at Painted Rocks Reservoir and how the reservoir is operated. Therefore, the following email will provide a brief explanation of reservoir operations.

The operation of Painted Rocks Reservoir involves three main parties. The DNRC, the Painted Rocks Water Users Association (PRWUA), and the MT FWP. Painted Rocks Reservoir holds approximately 32,656 acre-feet (af) of water, with 25,000 af of that stored water marketed to the MT FWP and the PRWUA. Additionally, there is the Bitterroot River Water Commissioner who manages the river in a manner that insures the apportionment and diversion of decreed and contract waters.

The DNRC is owner of the dam and the reservoir area. It is our responsibility to insure that the reservoir is filled and operated safely and that water is available for delivery to the contract holders. Once the reservoir is full the amount of water that flows into the reservoir equals the reservoir outflows. The reservoir is held in this state of equilibrium until the contract water is requested. The DNRC is under contractual obligation to deliver the contract water a the dam to the contract holders when it is called for.

The 10,000 af (or 2/5ths) of shares that has been marketed to the PRWUA is primarily used for agriculture purposes. Releases to the PRWUA usually occurs in mid July, but it is delayed this year due to higher than normal flows on the East Fork and the Mainstem of the Bitterroot River.

The other 15,000 af (or 3/5ths) of shares has been marketed to the MT FWP for in-stream uses . The local FWP contact in the Bitterroot Valley is Chris Clancy at 363-7169. The FWP contract water is released for instream flows in the mainstem of the Bitterroot River, based upon the conditions at Bell Crossing. According to the FWP current guidelines, they determine their desired releases based upon a minimum targeted flow rate of approximately 450 cfs at the Bell Crossing gage. As of today the flow rate at the Bell Crossing gage is approximately 737 cfs. The current FWP guidelines do not discuss the release of water from the reservoir for the augmentation of flows in the West Fork of the Bitterroot River, only the mainstem of the Bitterroot River.

Recently inquires have been made to the DNRC about the following issues; low water levels effecting raft access to the river; low water levels effecting quality of fishing; low water levels effecting water temperatures; and bad access road into the shuttle parking area upstream of the USGS gage below the dam.

Low Water Levels
The low flow conditions in the West Fork of the Bitterroot River are simply a reflection of the low inflows into the reservoir. As inflows to the reservoir drop, the DNRC adjusts outflows to match. The DNRC is passing all of the inflows through the reservoir, either over the spillway or out of the low level outlet. Flows below the dam will raise, pending a call for contract water from either the PRWUA of the MT FWP. The DNRC has recently made several gate adjustments on July 23rd, 24th, and 28th in order to insure that the reservoir outflows matched the inflows. These adjustments are also needed in order to transition the flows from the spillway to the low level outlet in preparation for the anticipated contract water deliveries. An additional adjustment is anticipated on July 31st. Requests for the release of contract waters for in-stream purposes on the West Fork of the Bitterroot River should be directed to the FWP.

The dirt road that goes upstream past the USGS gage to the pioneer launch site below Painted Rocks Dam, is not a DNRC road and it is located on US Forest Service (USFS) property. Any concerns about this pioneer road, launch, and camping site should be directed to the USFS West Fork District Ranger Office.

Larry A. Schock, CFM
DNRC Water Resources Division
Missoula Regional Office
(406) 721-4284

Click here to go to the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (MT FWP) site for the West Fork of the Bitterroot.
Click here to go to the MT FWP site for Painted Rocks Reservoir, Tributary of the West Fork of the Bitterroot. They have an interactive map link.
Click here
for contact information for US Forest Service, West Fork Ranger District.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Western Montana Rivers - Tips for Angling When the Weather Heats Up

Cutthroat TroutLast week we had temperatures in the upper 90 degree range. For us, that is very hot. The water levels were dropping dramatically and the water temperatures were rising on all rivers but the Big Hole and the Blackfoot water temperatures were in the upper 60 and lower 70 degree range. Low water flows and high temperatures stress trout, making them especially vulnerable to disease and predators.

In conditions like these, Wapiti Waters’ goal is to get out early and get off before the water temperatures peak in the late afternoon. We also choose reaches that have cooler/higher water. It is better fishing, easier on the trout and more pleasant for the anglers. Our guides are knowledgeable and skilled at using the tips listed below.

Last night we had a good rain. The short range forecast is for a bit cooler temperatures and we are already seeing water temperatures drop. But, we are heading into August and it will probably heat up again. It is worthwhile to understand how to fish responsibly during hot weather.

Drought Tips by Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Fish will feel the stress caused by low flows, higher water temperatures and competition for space and food. Low water conditions in spring and fall can cause spawning failures and increased predation on young fish. Also, fish will "group up" to take advantage of pools where the water is deeper and cooler -- making them more vulnerable to anglers and predators. If conditions worsen, fish are lost to stress from the higher water temperature, lower oxygen levels, and reduced resistance to disease. These threats can impact adult trout numbers in future years.

To help preserve a threatened fishery anglers can:

  • Fish in the cool morning hours -- low water flow and rising temperatures combine to stress fish.
  • Try another location, if water is low at a favorite fishing spot.
  • Be alert for fishing closures on streams hardest hit by drought.
  • Work with water users to try to conserve flow.
  • Report fish kills to the local Fish, Wildlife & Parks office.

Anglers who practice catch-and-release fishing can minimize the stress they place on fish:

  • Use barbless hooks.
  • Land fish quickly once they are hooked.
  • Keep fish in the water as much as possible while handling them.
  • Limit the amount of time fish are handled.
  • Wet hands before attempting to remove the hook.
  • Handle fish gently.
  • Take care not to touch a fish's gills.

On streams experiencing extreme drought conditions and high water temperatures anglers may want to avoid catch and release fishing as it is difficult for trout to recover under these conditions.

Bull Trout, Arctic Grayling, West Slope Cutthroat Trout are species of concern in Montana.

More information on...
Bull Trout and management during hot/dry conditions:Bull trout

Bull Trout ID site on MT FWP
Under FWP’s drought plan, angling restrictions are called for on streams that provide habitat for bull trout when stream flows reach 1-in- 20-year lows and maximum daily water temperatures equal or exceed 60 degrees for three consecutive days. For all other trout, the water temperature to trigger angling closures is 73 degrees for three consecutive days.

Arctic Grayling on the Big Hole and management during hot/dry conditions:Artic Grayling
The Big Hole River Watershed Committee identifies when low river flows should trigger angling closures.

These trigger points were met in early August of 2006, placing the river’s grayling at risk. The upper and middle reaches of the Big Hole totaling 47 miles were closed due to low water flows and high water temperatures.

The upper reach of the river was not opened until it exceeded 40 cfs for at least seven consecutive days with water temperatures that did not exceed 70 degrees for more than eight hours a day for three consecutive days.

The middle reach reopened when the river exceeded 80 cfs for at least seven consecutive days with the same water temperature guidelines.

To read more, click this link for Big Hole River Drought Management Plan

Note: 21 °C = 70 °F, 16 °C = 61 °F

Click here for Wapiti Waters Stream Flow Links

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fly Fishing the Bitterroot with young friends

Chloe with a Bitterroot River Trout
Irv and his daughter, Rachel, have fished with Wapiti Waters for many years. Today they brought friends, including young Chloe. Her photos tell a story of young friends seeing new things, learning new things and having a great time on the Bitterroot River. What a pleasure it is to share these things!

Click this link to see a couple of blogs about Rachel.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Clark Fork River 320 Float in July 2009

Clark Fork River - 320 float
The Clark Fork Coalition believes that recovery of this amazing river is within reach. One board member, Dan Keily, wanted to see for himself what needs to be done.

This summer, Dan and fishing guide John Havlik floated the length of the Clark Fork River, starting at Racetrack Creek near Butte, and taking out 320 miles downriver at Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho.

Using the words of the Clark Fork Coalition: Long abused and neglected, the Clark Fork River is poised to make a tremendous comeback over the coming decade, and the dream of watershed-wide restoration we've been working toward for years is now a little closer to reality. We're using this historic float to launch our Vital Rivers Initiative, the Coalition's new stream restoration program that will repair damaged tributaries of the upper Clark Fork River.

During their month-long float, Daniel and John will be joined by Coalition members, political guests, scientists, writers, youth, and sportsmen-- and, maybe, by you. This hard-working river is coming back to life, and the Clark Fork 320 will showcase what this restoration means for all Montanans.

Jack participated in this float with many, many other dedicated people. Below are some photos that Jack took. After that, see a video and a map of projects that need to be done. Visit Clark Fork Coalition 320 for more information.

The Clark Fork 320 Blog

320 Fact Sheet Map

For a list of other sites and articles click here, Bing search results for Clark Fork Coalition 320 Float.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fly Fishing the Blackfoot and Bitterroot Rivers with Ray Gillette

Ray Gillete and a trout on the Bitterroot River
I am catching up on blogposts after my trip/native camp with the Me-Wuk tribe and others in northern CA. In this post Ray Gillette is fishing with Jack. Jack grew up in Chicago and Ray lives there. They fished together some years ago and were able to hook up again July 11 and 12 on the Blackfoot and Bitterroot Rivers. It was a great time.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fly Fishing the Bitterroot - Father and Son

Jeff and Alex Rogers on the Bitterroot River with Alex's trout

Jeff Rogers is a friend, neighbor and one of our favorite clients. We have been fishing for years. On July 10, he brought his son, Alex, for the first time. Talk about a happy face... see the photos.

Alex Rogers with his trout, Jack Mauer guiding on the Bitterroot River

We love fishing fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. I need to make this a category,
"Take your kids fishing" posts.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fly Fishing the Bitterroot River with Tore and Sandra - revisited

On July 3 Jack and two other guides fished with Tore, Sandra and friends. Sandra created this slide show and sent it to us. I also put her photos in our original slideshow with the original blog entry. See it at Fly Fishing with Sandra and Tore.

Father / Daughter Day Fly Fishing the West Fork of the Bitterroot in July

Rachel and Jack with her Bitterroot Brown Trout
This was a special day on the West Fork of the Bitterroot with Irv and Rachel. They were all remembering friends and family, but that is another story. By special graces, they caught beautiful fish and had a wonderful day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Four Days Fly Fishing with Father and Son on the Bitterroot River

Jeff and Jamie Jones on the BItterroot River
Jeff and Jamie Jones fished and camped with Jack. I am posting two slideshows. One is of photos we took and the other is of photos that Jeff sent us. They all had a great time. It was hot, but who cares when you are on the river. They caught fish, saw spetacular scenery from dusk to dawn, swam, and just had fun.

Thanks Jeff and Jamie! When we come to Missouri to visit Jack's Mom and Sister, maybe we can "hook up"....excuse the pun.

See the photos Jack and I took in the slideshow below. Jeff's are the next slideshow down. We are so glad he shared them!

See Jeff Jones' photos in the slideshow below.

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July Party at the Rattlesnake Gardens

Getting some beverages
Rattlesnake Gardens signIf you haven't been, you need to go to the 4th of July BBQ put on by the Rattlesnake Gardens - (406) 543-9962
2501 Rattlesnake Dr, Missoula, MT 59802 Get directions Cross Streets: Near the intersection of Rattlesnake Dr and Powell St.

Jack's band, Pinegrass, played the music there this year. I had never been and had no idea this was their 10th annual party! I can see why they have been so popular. The family picnic atmosphere was amplified with the great food, beverages, and ice cream. There was plenty of seating in the shade and some in the sun. Music was both the feature and the background.

Pinegrass - A Bluegrass Band

So many people of all ages seemed to grin, visit, eat, dance and be merry from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. When it was over, the crowd left by bike, foot, and car and with in minutes, the place was quiet and clean. Amazing!

Lemon Orzo Salad

If you want to see for yourself, see the slideshow below. There are lots of photos so you might want to open it in a new window and buzz through it. Or, you can come for yourself next year!

Click here to view all in a new window - feel free to download copies

Jack will be doing a benefit float on the Clark Fork River this Tuesday and Thursday for the Clark Fork Coalition 320 Float. They will be doing 320 miles in 20 days! Whew. He has decided to use the Rattlesnake Gardens for his lunches. That will be tasty! Lucky floaters.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fly Fishing the Bitterroot - Teak's First Fish

David has fished with us for many years, but today, he had 5 other people in his fishing party. In Jack's boat, David and his daughter, Teak, caught fish and we got a couple of photos. First is Teak's with her first trout according to Jack. Pretty cool! Next is David with a very nice cutthroat trout. That must have been a good fight. Teak snapped the photo of her Dad with Jack's camera. Good job!Teaks with her Bitterroot Trout

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fly Fishing Montana on the Bitterroot River in June

Jeff Cockrill and Dave Shobe on the Bitterroot
Dave Shobe recently sent us these photos. They were taken on the Bitterroot in mid-June when the Keith Oden group was fishing with us. See the slideshow below for all 3 photos.
click here to view all in a new window.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fly Fishing the Bitterroot River with Tore and Sandra

Sandra's Bitterroot River Trout
Guides Dave Demmons and Jack Mauer fly fished Tore, Sandra and friends on the Bitterroot River today. Highway 93 in the Bitterroot is in the process of being upgraded and they recently finished the section and bridge just north of Hamilton. The old Silver Bridge is no more and a large new bridge with a new access point to the river has been constructed. There are photos of Tore, Sandra, an owl, and the new bridge in the slideshow below. It was hot today, 90 degrees plus, but there were fish to be caught and it was a fun float with fun people.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Peter Rein Revisited, Fly Fishing the Bitterroot River

Peter Rein on the Bitterroot River
Peter fished with us years ago, in the late 1990's, with his family and we often thought of him. Recently, he called to say he never forgot us either and was coming to Montana, did we have some time for him. The answer was yes!