Spring 2017


Montana Fly Fishing Magazine is the free digital magazine devoted to fly fishing culture in the great state of Montana.

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Montana Fly Fishing Magazine

Spring 2017

Volume 5 Issue 1

Three Forks Publishing


Senior Editor:Greg Lewis

Graphic Design:Suzann Crist


Eric Adams

Ed Anderson

John Arnold

Pat Clayton

Suzann Crist

Justin Edge

Walter Foster

Greg Lewis

Mark Raisler

General Inquiries and Submissions:


Cover Image and This Page:

Pat Clayton

Copyright © 2017

Letter from Editor Final 2017

Welcome back!

We’ve gathered some amazing contributors and have another creative issue in store

for our readers. Best of all, this online-magazine remains 100% free to view and


While the new cover-design and overall layout has clearly been revamped, and there

was a year or so long hiatus between the last issue and this one, rest assured; you’re

still receiving Montana Fly Fishing Magazine from one of its’ original developers -

Greg Lewis.

I am now solely the magazine’s owner - senior editor and will control its future

content cover-to- cover. The only reason to make this distinction is to protect my

former business partner, as well as the many contributors I have gathered, from any

potential repercussions. While I always enjoy great feedback and compliments, if

someone should take umbrage with a particular piece in an issue of the magazine,

those feelings should be directed toward me.

We’re heading into new territory with this new issue as I intend to tackle some

controversial topics along the way. There are several key issues taking place in our

state that the general public is being kept in the dark about. Many of these will have

dramatic and negative effects on our rivers due to pollution and overdevelopment.

With a local mainstream media focused on living the dream without mentioning

upcoming nightmares; we, as outdoorsmen and fishermen are continually left chasing

after permits that got past us, versus getting a chance to fight.

While the magazine will continue to be loaded with original fly fishing related and

positive content, given what is occurring in our state connected to our rivers being

harmed and public-access being targeted, I intend to tackle one such topic per

quarterly-issue. We will collectively explore what is occurring in-depth, add no

nonsense reporting by professional independent journalists, and inform our readers to

what is coming; so, they too will have a say-so in what is at stake.

Just like Montana Fly Fishing Magazine was originally launched in 2012, with the

intent of helping the states’ creative artists, photographers, and guides, recover from

a financial-disaster that was occurring at the time; I have now chosen to relaunch the

magazine to address some topics many are unware is occurring - in an effort to save

The Last Best Place from becoming just like everywhere else.

Greg Lewis





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er Fishing on the Paradise


Spring Creeks by Eric Adams | Photography by Greg Lewis

Beautiful surroundings, reliable hatches and

plentiful sight fishing opportunities have resulted

in worldwide admiration of the Paradise Valley Spring

Creeks: DePuy, Armstrong and Nelson. While widely

known, and fished throughout the summer, the winter fly

fishing on these creeks has less notoriety. The select few

anglers who take advantage of this year-round fishery

enjoy ice free waters, good insect hatches, ample trout,

and most importantly, solitude. As anglers and guides

on these creeks for nearly 20 years, we’d like to share

some late winter tactics for those who want to start

expanding their fly fishing season throughout the winter

months. We’ll focus on how to prepare for a winter day

of fly fishing and offer a few suggestions once you hit

the water with an emphasis on sight fishing.


Preparation for

Winter Fishing

Best Weather Bet…

Getting prepared is one of

the more overlooked aspects

of fly fishing in the winter

months. Not only does it

apply to your fishing gear

and clothing, but even to

planning your day based on

the weather. Let’s start with

how to pick the best weather

day. Those of you familiar

with the Livingston area know that it can be a rather windy

location and there’s nothing more challenging than sight

fishing to selective trout when the wind is blowing upwards

of 20mph. Late winter on the Paradise Valley Spring creeks

isn’t always windy, but knowing how to pick the best day to

plan your trip is crucial to your fishing success.

Warm usually equals windy. While it’s certainly nice to take

advantage of the days that climb above 40 degrees, we’ve

found that these temperatures usually equal the wind speed.

So if it’s 50 degrees outside you’re likely to have 40-50mph

winds. Why? High pressure in the surround-ing mountains,

particularly in Yellowstone National Park can fall drastically

down to the lower pressure, narrow valley floor which acts

like a funnel. In turn this produces the unfavorable fish-ing

winds. Our suggestion is to watch the local forecasts from

the National Oceanic and Atmos-pheric Association (NOAA).

They provide excellent, detailed local coverage of weather

and wind forecasts. We’d also recommend not choosing the

first or last day of a warmer series of days. These tend to be

the windier days as the front arrives or as it leaves. Ideally a

string of 4 or 5 days in the 30’s with light snow in the forecast

will give you the best opportunity to test your an-gling skills

on the trout rather than the wind. It will also provide some

overcast skies and in-crease the chances of steady hatches

of midges or mayflies.

Win the Cold War…

Now that you’ve made a best guesstimate on the weather,

being prepared with the right fishing gear will keep you on

the water longer. There’s nothing worse than getting frozen

toes right when the fish start getting active. While the water

temperatures in the Creeks remain relatively constant at



around 50 degrees,

standing in it for hours

at a time combined

with cold air temperatures

can lower your

body temperature and

cause an early end to

your fishing day.

A well prepared

winter angler will have

breathable waders,

thermal layers, heavy

socks, and a warm

hat. Winter specific

anglers should also

have at least one pair

of warm, windproof,

finger-less gloves.

Often a second dry

pair of gloves is a good

idea if the first pair

gets too wet. We also

add hand warmers to

pockets and gloves

(on top of the hand) to ensure we can tie on small flies and

fine tippet with unfrozen fingers. Your gear list should include

some oversized wading boots to accommodate warm socks

and provide enough room to wiggle your toes. Upsizing one

shoe size is usually the best bet. Additionally, felt sole tend

to collect snow and ice which build up on the bottom of

the shoe making for challenging walking along the creekside.

The rubber-ized soles are much better in this regard.

One thing experienced winter anglers consistently battle

is frozen rod guides. This occurs when water from the fly

line collects on the rod guides and freezes with the cold air

temperatures. The line will actually stick to the rod guides and

it makes casting accurately quite difficult. There are a number

of remedies to combat this issue. Many Steelhead anglers will

spray their rod guides with non-stick cooking spray (i.e. Pam

or similar product). However, we’ve had good results us-ing

Mucilin with Silicone (it’s the one with the green label). Apply

the paste to your dry guides and on the rod itself above the

guides when first rigging up. You’ll likely have to re-treat the

guides a couple times during the day depending on the air

temperatures. If all else fails you can dip the rod into the 50

degree water and much of the ice will melt. This method isn’t

recom-mended as ice will quickly return and it’s really best

to take a few minutes to re-treat the guides.

Finally, hatches in late winter can be sparse or come in waves

throughout the day. Being com-fortable and on the water as

much as possible looking for active fish is crucial. One of the

best ways to do this is having a hot beverage nearby. There’s

nothing that will warm you up quicker than a hot cup of tea,

coffee or even soup. Packing a thermos and setting it creek

side for easy access will help you accomplish this and keep

you out there longer.

Winter on the Water

Walking & Stalking…

The Creeks are a sight fishing angler’s dream. Thingamabobbers

and streamers can be effective, but we’ll be focusing more

on sight fishing tactics. Fishing the Creeks is quite a bit



different from wading a freestone like the Yellowstone or

Madison Rivers. Using common tactics for those rivers won’t

necessarily translate well to the Creeks so you’ll have to be

willing to change it up a bit. Spend more time walking and

stalking. Not only will this keep you warm, but it will give you

a chance to find active fish, even if there isn’t much surface

activity. Finding active trout is the key to getting into fish

throughout the day. Often times looking in slow to medium

speed water is a good place to start. It provides good visibility,

and if there are no mayfly hatches pre-sent, fish will tend to

opportunistically feed on midge larvae or emergers.

Sneaky Hatches…

As previously mentioned winter hatches can be sparse

or intermittent. The most prominent hatches will include

midges, and baetis (A.K.A. Spring Baetis, BWO’s, Blue-winged

Olives). Al-ways be prepared for these to occur. Having

said that, winter anglers should also have well supplied fly

boxes consisting of insects that aren’t currently hatching,

but are living in their aquatic forms. mayfly nymphs such as

Pale Morning Duns (PMD’s), various caddis species in their

larval stages, crane fly larvae, damsel fly larvae, and dragon

fly larvae are present in the Creeks most of the year. Also,

don’t forget about the aquatic insects including sow bugs

and scuds. These are all quality trout food that anglers often

forget about when hatch activity is lim-ited. Remember that

trout will actively search for, or opportunistically eat larvae,

nymphs, and aquatic insects in the winter months.

Up Top…

Now that you’re fully prepared and you’ve targeted active

trout, getting them to eat is the final challenge. Watching the

rise form is the best way to approach your rig set up and fly

selection. Aside from the obvious head breaking the water

surface eating dry flies, dorsal fins or tails will identify trout

targeting emergers. These rise forms will most likely suggest

a midge or baetis hatch in progress. We recommend a 9

foot to 6X leader and low profile fly imitations for dries and

emergers. Over the years, we’ve also gotten away from 2 fly

rigs as the additional tippet and fly can increase the possibility

of micro-drag in the multiple currents present in the Creeks.


Down Low…

The observant angler will also look for subsurface trout

feeding. This is a bit harder, but with a little practice you’ll

notice subtle movements of a trout and often the white of

its mouth opening underwater. If your target is consistently

feeding a short nymph rig is your best bet. Again a 9 foot

6X leader with a single fly is a good start. Midges, scuds,

nymphs or the various larvae pat-terns previously discussed

are wise choices. Most of the active feeding areas, especially

when sight fishing, aren’t overly deep so having both lightly

weighted and unweighted flies is a must. For indicators we

prefer either the New Zealand Strike Indicators or the Palsa

Pinch On, mainly because they can be trimmed very small.

We’ve found the trout in the Creeks tend to shy away from

large, colorful indicators.


Gist of the Drift…

Finally you’ve recognized the feeding activity of the trout,

are rigged accordingly and have cho-sen a couple good

flies. Now it’s all about understanding the presentation and

drift. The Creeks have so many subtle currents a standard

upstream or up and across technique is difficult to manage.

We recommend a slightly across and down technique when

sight fishing. Slowly ap-proach your target and line up your

downstream shoulder on the head of the trout (or a few feet

upstream). Cast slightly upstream in the trout’s feeding lane,

preferably with a reach cast. How-ever, if an on water mend

is needed make sure it happens prior to your fly reaching

the feeding zone of the trout. The fly should be drifting as

naturally as possible within a 2 to 3 foot area sur-rounding

your target. This technique is not exclusive to winter fishing,

but when fishing smaller flies to intermittently feeding trout,

it’s a great method to increase your catching opportunities. If

the trout doesn’t show interest, change your mend or move


up or down stream slightly before changing

flies. Often times it’s the drift and not the

fly selection.


Few anglers will complain about extending

their fishing season. Winter fly fishing on the

Paradise Valley Spring Creeks is a perfect

way to enjoy the solitude and quality fishing

here in Montana when most rivers are far

too cold and icy. Taking advantage of these

year-round fisheries will have you bending

a rod before most anglers take their fishing

gear out of storage.

About Eric Adams

Eric Adams is the owner of

Montana Fly Fishing Guides based

in Livingston, Montana. He has

been guiding for over 15 years

and been involved in the fishing

industry in various forms for over

20 years. His passion for fly fishing

occupies most of his time even

when not guiding—from fishing

destination travel to volunteer

work that supports the health and

protection of Montana’s fisheries.

Montana Fly Fishing Guides




Fishing For A

Get Hooked On Our Back Issues...


ood Read?

Big Sewer Co

Written by Greg Lewis,

Publisher of Montana Fly Fishing Magazine


untry 2020


When I first became aware that

Big Sky was planning to discharge

hundreds-of-millions of gallons

of wastewater annually into

the Gallatin River, it came at a

surprising time – April 2016, only

one month after the well-publicized

Yellowstone Club’s effluentreservoir

collapsed, sending 30

million gallons into that very body

of water.

Explore Big Sky, reported the news

of Big Sky’s intent to discharge

wastewater into the river and

accompanying the article was the

proverbial quote from Big Sky’s

Sewer District GM, Ron Edwards,


“I’m over storage ponds…I’m over

relying on third parties to manage

this stuff…We need another piece

of this that is 100 percent under

our control…and that piece is a

pipeline to [the Gallatin] River.”

This single pull-quote, written

in large bold font, grabbed my

attention and invariably launched

my year-long quest to uncover, what

exactly did Big Sky developers

have in store for our state’s most

cherished rivers?

Never did I expect my little

investigative-reporting odyssey

would lead to what turned out

to be an elaborate and ongoing

collaboration, including even leaders

from our most popular conservation

organizations, which plan to use

a Wild and Scenic designation to

mask a 1.5-million-dollar pipeline

to directly-discharge Big Sky’s

wastewater into the Gallatin.

Along with my investigation, I

discover much of the motivation

behind all of this lies upon the

notion that the DEQ will enforce

a moratorium on development in

Big Sky in the year 2020 if there

is no viable wastewater disposal

mechanism in place, as it will have

reached capacity, as well as little

fresh water supply left for build-out.



I realize wastewater discharge is not

the most interesting topic to read

about in a fly-fishing magazine,

but this topic goes far beyond the

usual questions of whether or not

trout can survive the conditions

at hand. This story has to do with

greed over common sense, and the

very real potential that a handful of

developers could ruin the last best

place forever.

Far too many anglers assume,

“oh, they’ll put a stop to it

and block it,” referring to

conservation organizations or

environmentalists, but this is not

the case anymore when it comes to

important environmental issues in

the Big Sky area.

A Little History

Some visitors assume the

unincorporated resort community

of Big Sky already discharges their

wastewater into the Gallatin River.

Not so, the Gallatin remains one

of the few rivers left in America

without a significant wastewater

discharging-mechanism upstream.

Instead, since 1993, an innovative

sewer system has protected the

water from sewage discharge, using

what has become to be known as the

closed-loop system.

The innovative sewer system, which

entails spraying the ski resort’s

treated-wastewater onto the areas

2 main golf courses (in upwards

of 1.2 million gallons per-day can

be applied during summer) isn’t

something the developers came

up with on their own. Instead,

those developers who intended to

further grow the resort community

beyond what the vital Yellowstone

ecosystem could sustain, were

forced to not pollute the Gallatin

back in 2000 by the influential

conservation-group, at the time

known as the Greater Yellowstone

Coalition, along with other key

conservation organizations. These

groups collectively accomplished

keeping the Gallatin free and clear

by suing the developers and the Big

Sky Water Sewer District.


In celebration of this agreement

between the conservation

organizations and the developers,

the GM at Big Sky Resort, Taylor

Middleton, made an announcement

at a national travel company

convention (quoted in a Bozeman

Daily Chronicle in 2000). Middleton


“Never in the history, past,

present, or future, will Big

Sky ever discharge treated

effluent into the Gallatin


Taylor Middleton is still, 17 years

later, Big Sky’s Resort GM. In fact,

he was awarded the Chet Huntley

Lifetime Achievement Award

in 2015 for honesty and being a

positive role model. Good old Mr.

Huntley made a similar statement,

which preceded Mr. Middleton’s,

when he first envisioned Big Sky as

he promised, “we will never pollute

the Gallatin.”

What happened?

“About 10 years ago, developers,

the mining industry, and well

anyone who wanted to accomplish

something negatively impactful

on an important resource, that

environmental orgs wouldn’t

approve, said ‘if we can’t beat them,

let’s buy them’” (local angler: K.R.).

My first assumption after reading

that Big Sky’s Sewer District GM,

Ron Edwards, wanted to build a

pipeline and discharge directly

into the river was that the Gallatin

River Task Force had been recently

corrupted by the sewer district’s

manager, as by then I’d learned he

was on their organizations’ board of


It turns out Mr. Edwards has held a

seat on that board for over 10 years.

Concerned, I reached out to Kristen

Gardner, the director of GRTF (in

early April 2016) for clarification on

where the organization’s board of

directors stood on this key issue.

I wrote to Kristin requesting a

formal statement from her as

Executive Director, “where do you

stand on the recently proposed

pipeline discharging millions of

gallons of effluent directly into

the Gallatin River on an annual

basis?” Along with, if Ron Edwards

as a longstanding board member of

GRTF speaks for the organization’s



Kristin replied to me stating, “Ron

Edwards is one member of the Task

Force board, which consists of eight

members. His opinion on discharge

stated in EBS was his opinion and

not that of the Task Force board…

The Task Force board has not

taken an official stance on direct

discharge. When and if the board

has to take an official stance, they

will do so by evaluating if direct

discharge falls under our mission,

which is, “to partner with our

community to inspire stewardship of

the Gallatin River watershed” and

if it will help us obtain our vision

of “a healthy Gallatin watershed for

future generations.”

After more investigation, I

discovered legal public records

of Big Sky Water Sewer District

meeting minutes, wherein

collaboration with developers

and board members are identified

and verified. Packy Cronin,

President of BSWSD, on June

30, 2015 addresses the issue of

discharge with board members, as

well as Kristen Gardner and Ron

Edwards of Gallatin River Task

Force: The following information is






Ducuennois (Yellowstone Club)

reviewed their engineer’s (WGM

Group) findings of the resort area

wastewater analysis using a 20-

year build out plan. The highlight

from the report is the collaboration.

Including Moonlight Basin,

Ducuennois reviewed the graphs

of estimated wastewater generated

in 2035, disposal capacity, and

shortage. Ducuennois would like

to jointly explore options for the

community’s targeted wastewater

disposal needs. Both Edwards and

Ducuennois stated that a discharge

permit has to be pursued in addition

to other year-round disposal options.

President Cronin

“wants the District to

document its efforts for

disposal without discharge

and to start now at developing

a public relations campaign

for discharge.”


A Road Map

In following BSWSD meetingminutes,

over the following months,

it was learned direct-discharge was

discussed into not only the Gallatin,

but also the Madison River, via Jack

Creek, between Kristen Gardner,

Ron Edwards, Michael Ducuennois,

and others. This series of meetings

culminated with the beginnings of a

stakeholder forum being proposed

in November 2015. Initial funding

for this forum was provided by none

other than Yellowstone Club and

Lone Mountain Land Company, the

two key-sources of new wastewater

introduction due to rapid and out of

control development.

Following the interconnecting

minutes of these past meetings

of BSWSD and GRTF, as well as

the Big Sky Area Resort District

(BSRAD), provided a virtual road

map for a choreographed directdischarge


One of the issues so telling is the

need for public approval through

a PR campaign in an effort to sell

the likely unpopular proposal of

sending sewage into the historic

gem of the Greater Yellowstone

Ecosystem. As fisherman flock to

the wild and calming waters of the

Gallatin River, many would believe

this is a centerpiece of environmental

protection, but the truth and reality is

saddening and disheartening.

One would think an organization

with the name Task Force within it

would be a protector of the entire

river system bearing its name, but

with a board consisting of people

who fall outside of the spectrum of

conservationists, little good is to

be expected. Board member Ron

Edwards found little need to worry

about opposition to proposals from

other conservation groups as he

conveyed to me in an April 2016

interview that he, “doesn’t see GYC

or TU as litigious as once were back

in the day,” and doesn’t anticipate

strong backlash. He continued to tout

that perhaps, “one environmental

group might take run at them,”

but suggested they would win the

discharge permit from DEQ.

Greater Yellowstone


But, GRTF is not the only nonprofit

undermining and disserving our

beloved river. I reached out to other

groups only to receive discouraging


trout pose


When I asked Bob Zimmer, of the

Greater Yellowstone Coalition,

“what if I wanted to stop directdischarge?”

He replied, “You’ll need $200,000

and 35,000 signatures, based on my

experiences with Wild and Scenic.”

I was visibly discouraged by this

answer and he seemed rather

pleased with this reaction. There I

was, reaching out to a key member

of one of the largest conservation

organizations in the country to share

what I’d gleaned so far: that Big

Sky was pursuing direct-discharge,

and he spends the better part of the

conversation attempting to shake me

off the story, to dissuade me from

pursuing it further, and then shoots

me down with figures in both funds

and signatures he assumed I’d have a

difficult time acquiring. This meeting

too occurred in early April 2016.

Mr. Zimmer’s attempts were

especially troubling given I’d by

then logged-in to GYC’s website and

learned the organization he works for

operates on an annual budget in the

range of $3 Million and has 40,000



During the months of August

through September, the Big Sky

Sustainable Water Solutions Forum

commenced (aka: the PR campaign

for discharge) and though I followed

the proceedings and notified anyone

that would listen what exactly was

going on, I was forced to turn my

attentention away for a few months

due to the Yellowstone River fishkill.

Montana TU

By October 2016 I’d heard and seen

enough, and at the recommendation

of people equally concerned, I

reached-out via email to the other

main conservation group involved,

Bruce Farling of Montana Trout

Unlimited, to share what I had

uncovered and offer to further

communicate with him as I learned



I conveyed to Mr. Farling the overall

troubling sense I was feeling that

the developers and those in charge

with running this unincorporated ski

resort area, along with the two most

powerful conservation groups, Trout

Unlimited and Greater Yellowstone

Coalition, might not be opposing

direct-discharge into our rivers this

time around.

Big Sky Developers were even

so confident of this that

they announced a 10-year, $150

Million-dollar ski resort upgrade on

the same exact week in August of

2016 as GRTF launched their public

relations campaign for discharge.

Mr. Farling, of Montana TU

responded, “we, or at least

Montana TU, has not

talked to Ron Edwards nor

anyone else associated with

Big Sky, the Yellowstone

Club, or Moonlight. So,

anyone associated with the

development community who

says they know what we’re

thinking is not getting their

information directly from the


Mr. Farling continued, “Frankly,

direct discharge of treated

wastewater might be unavoidable.

The problem is that the Big Sky area

has mushroomed, and it is continuing

to grow rapidly. The wastewater has

to go somewhere.”

“As long as members of the

community, as well as the many

outfitters and guides and other folks

ignore pressing local government

to institute an effective, regulated

growth policy that recognizes limits,

the developers will continue what

they’re doing — which is to expand

the development footprint around

Big Sky and stress the river and its

tributaries…As long as promoters

of tourism, skiing and fly fishing

— including the outfitting industry

and angling publications that make

money from the waters around

Big Sky — continue to advertise

the Gallatin and Madison as great

destinations, people will want to

come there, and want to have their

piece, which often means more

McMansions more condos and more

demand on water sources.”


TU National

While Mr. Farling correctly suggested it

was up to the general public and those

in the many associated businesses to

act, and that Montana TU has not been

intimately involved, Trout Unlimited

National on the other hand, under the

representation of Pat Byorth, has in

fact been to Big Sky and has spoken at

length with Ron Edwards, as well as the

key developers at YC and Moonlight,

on multiple occasions over the previous

three months.

Mr. Byorth has been floating the idea of

rewarding the very Big Sky developers

who have been causing the pollution and

diminished inflow rates for years, with

what are called mitigation credits, from

what is known as a Mitigation Bank.

This is an appealing program when

it relates to discussing water rights

with ranchers - those diverting a vital

tributary’s inflow - but to suggest

swapping fresh water inflow to

accommodate future development with

treated-wastewater seems ludicrous.

It has been further suggested in

meetings, that in order for this mitigation

credit swap to occur, the existing

wastewater storage-ponds at BSWSD

treatment facility could be used.

Michael Ducuennois, VP of Yellowstone

Club Development, suggested just that

in a stakeholder-meeting on the topic of

mitigation credits on Nov. 3, 2016:

“These empty ponds with fresh, or

a mix of reclaimed water, could be

used…then you could have your August

and September types of releases there,

which would be helpful.”

That scenario of course, could only

be accomplished if a pipeline directly

leading from the treatment ponds to the

Gallatin River were built, satisfying

the precise wishes of Ron Edwards and

the developers he works for (ex: Mr.

Ducuennois) who sit on BSWSD’s board

of directors.

Here we have Big Sky and Yellowstone

Club developers who have been

diverting the surface water and draining

the groundwater for the second-home

market usage for years, replacing miles

of native grasses with pavement, as

well having a recent history of fouling

the very stream - the West Fork – with

30-million-gallons of effluent.

So, for Mr. Byorth representing

Trout Unlimited National to initiate a

recorded conversation and propose

awarding them with some type of

mitigation credit is confusing, and

warrants further clarification from

those involved. And preferably

sooner and before DEQ permits are

filed, rather than later; when it’s too



Irreversible Impacts

The reality of the pipeline and

wastewater discharged into the

environment could mean that main

stem flow-rates would increase.

While it is assumed that trout

should survive the discharge, there

are no promises to be made as to

whether this added, unnaturally

treated wastewater entering a low

and warm river could sustain such a

flowrate, without any way to control


The pipeline and where it’s being

proposed, would be located in the

dead-center of the river, coming from

beneath the bedrock.

“Unless you’re standing over it

wearing waders you wouldn’t even

know it’s there,” said Ron Edwards.

“The days of a big pipe visibly

entering the river are a thing of the


Given its central location, the

effluent mixing-zone would be

significant and would reach shore

to shore for hundreds of yards.

Fisheries biologists have suggested

this mixing-zone could cause a

temperature-barrier trout may not

move upstream of.

There are also potential impacts

on aquatic life by the 18

pharmaceuticals that were recorded

by DEQ as present within the

effluent pond at YC, which breached


last year. A pipeline going directly

into the river would mean all 18 plus

likely many more, would be found

within the Gallatin, and as Ron

Edwards admitted, “there currently is

no way to control pharmaceuticals.”

Added to that, Big Sky now has a

full-scale hospital located ¼ mile

away from the West Fork. According

to DEQ, there are no federal water

quality criteria for pharmaceuticals,

nor does Montana have any adopted

pharmaceutical water quality


Wild and Schemic

Then I discovered this by diving

into even more BSWSD meetingminutes:

A deal was pitched to the

district back on April 28, 2016, by

Greater Yellowstone Coalitions’

Waters Conservation Associate,

Charles Wolf Drimal.

Unedited from BSWSD minutes:

Drimal assured the board

that the GYC would

not get in the way of a

discharge permit.

He feels that discharge

can be a benefit to the

quality of the Gallatin

and believes that there

are positive aspects

of discharge. If GYC

supports discharge, there

is a positive political

aspect of the District

supporting the “wild &

scenic” designation. The

board was in agreement to not

take action on Drimal ‘s request

today. The board suggested that a

management level person of GYC

engage with the board, answer

questions regarding degradation, and

provide formal written answers to the

board’s questions and concerns.


That management level person at

GYC is Bob Zimmer, who currently

sits on the steering-committee of the

PR campaign for discharge. Within

that same meeting, Kristen Gardner

of GRTF was also present, as well as

a dozen key-players in the Big Sky

community. Direct-discharge to the

river was discussed multiple times


throughout Mr. Drimal’s Wild and

Scenic proposition. Then the subject

moved on to the Big Sky Sustainable

Water Solutions Forum and the

suggestion that Big Sky’s current

wastewater capacity has reached

nearly 80%.

April Foolishness

It’s important to point out this GYC

proposal took place during the

same month, April 2016, when I

communicated with Kristen Gardner

of GRTF about whether they were

for or against direct-discharge, also

when I spoke directly with Ron

Edwards and Bob Zimmer at length

on the subject, and more importantly

only one month after the Yellowstone

Club’s wastewater pond had

breached sending 30-million gallons

of effluent into the river.

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition

used to be considered a large group

of conservationists and feared

litigious organizers, but under its

current leadership and direction,

those days appear to be a thing of the

past. Instead, collaboration, and in

some cases collusion with developers

and those posing as stakeholders, is

the new approach taken. This would

explain the over-development boom

throughout the Montana region, not

only in Big Sky, but Bozeman and

surrounding cities, despite the costs

associated with the impairment of

downstream waterways, destruction

of wildlife, and the fragile


Moonlight Toilet


Kevin Germain, of Lone Mountain

Land Company, is another key player

in all of this and is fond of repeating

at the meetings: “With existing rules

and regulations we can keep spraying

the forest with it, but I think this is a

poor use of a precious resource”.

What Mr. Germain is referring to is

his company’s current wastewater

disposal method. He’s talking

about his company’s effluent being,

“a precious resource,” not the

freshwater originating from the

headwaters his company Moonlight

Resort sits upon.

…That pure water is the most

precious resource of all, it is the

primary source of life the tributaries

leading toward both the Gallatin

and Madison River’s, down the

mountain, require in order to survive.



The Solution

Since Montana DEQ, DNRC, and

FWP, has in its possession the

scientific data and can predict that in

2020 the unincorporated ski town of

Big Sky will be beyond wastewater

capacity and its wells will begin

to run dry, any conservation

organization involved should be

pushing for a permanent buildingmoratorium

going into effect by


Any further discussion or collusion

on a pipeline directly-discharging

effluent into the Gallatin River, by

any of those involved in Big Sky,

should cease immediately!

Especially since they too are privy

to the facts and figures - showing

both the West Fork and the mainstem

of the Gallatin River are already

negatively impaired by existing

pollutants originating from Big Sky’s

past and current development.

I’ve lived in Big Sky full-time for 5

years now and can attest that the last

thing this town of 2,800 residents

need are more second-homes and

condos, those which are only

inhabited by their wealthy owners on

average 60 days per-year.

Even by the Resorts’ own 2016

figures: There are only 10 days per

year the resort area is over 90% full.

Otherwise, they’re floating in the

50% to 30% capacity.

In fact, as you’re reading this both

Big Sky Resort and Yellowstone

Club are closed. This happens

twice a year, during what are called

shoulder-seasons. Their seasonal

foreign staff, those arriving on

J-1 visas and paid minimumwage,

housing per diems, and ski

passes; are now back in their native


For another glaring example of how

unnecessary any future development

is in Big Sky, we have Mr.

Ducuennois, VP of Development at

Yellowstone Club, who when asked

recently “how many of the current

570 club members are year-round

Montana residents?”

He responded: ”I don’t even have to

take off my shoes to count that high,

last time we counted, we only had 5

or 6.”



So Long,


Photography by Justin Edge

the odd couple



with Walter Foster

by Ed Anderson


swift water rainbow

“I’m not an inside guy”

Walter Foster tells me as we

ride toward one of his favorite

fishing streams nearby in

Utah. Foster discovered

this after graduating from

Southern Vermont College

and trying to fit into a

corporate life. “I aspired

to be an environmental

scientist…out in the field…

working. That’s not how it

was. I tried three separate

times to work in a firm and

found I got to stare at a

computer screen all day.”

So, the artist found himself

standing in rivers. “I’ve been

fly fishing my whole life.

While hanging out in a fly

shop in Truckee, I showed

the guys some of the fish I’d

been catching on the flies

I’d been tying. ” The rest is

history. Foster has been a

professional fishing guide

for over 20 years.


“Capturing a

moment of time on

the river that will

last forever in my art

will always inspire

and challenge me in

the studio.”

He now runs Trout Tales

in Utah, guiding the many

great waters around Park

City, and doing colored

pencil drawings of the fish

his clients catch. When

asked if that has always been

his M.O., Foster responds

with an emphatic “No. I’d

always done art as a kid, but

put it away for a long time.

I was guiding and working

in restaurants. There really

wasn’t much time to draw.”

It was only six years ago

when Foster put a client into

a 30-inch brown trout and

the pencil box got opened.

“There was some rust, but

I remembered how much

I loved it.” He says the first

takes weren’t brilliant, but

it gave him the thirst. With

no formal art education, he

jumped online. “There’s so

many resources out there.

Between YouTube and social

media, I was able to study

up and get lots better fa st.”

Another Utahn proved to

be a big influence. “Travis

Sylvester was cranking out

unbelievable work. Watching

him manipulate pencil



trout pose


was really encouraging.

Who else influenced you?

“There’s a long list, but I

was definitely watching

AD Maddox, Mark Sussino,

Yusniel Santos. There’s also

an incredible portrait artist

that blew me away, Heather


Walter got spun up pretty

fast. His drawings are now

adorning sought-after

gallery space in Park City,

and Foster’s work is generally

sold once it’s finished. He

admits his process is very

time consuming, but he’s

evolving every time he sits

down to a piece.

You’ve got a good working

relationship with Montana

resident and Fish Eye Guy

photographer, Pat Clayton.

How’d that come about? “I

saw his work on the web,”

says Foster, “and thought it

was great. He let me use a

photo for a project. I always

try to take care of great

photographers when I get

to work with them. I’m really

looking forward to using

more of his unbelievable

photos for reference.”

The future for Foster is

looking good. His guiding

business is slammed and he’s

got enough commissioned

work to keep him busy for a

few months. “I need to hire

an office manager. Running

multiple guides requires a

lot of administration. It’ll put

more hours in the day.” And

we can all hope Foster gets

that time to create more of

his brilliant drawings.


a cutt above

“Every spot on every trout is unique, like no

one fingerprint is the same.”



Finally, do you have a soft

spot for Montana? Spent

any time fishing there?

“We did a big loop through

Montana and Idaho a couple

years ago. My wife and I fell

in love with a little creek up

there…. You probably don’t

want to publish it. We were

only supposed to be there

a night and stayed three. It

was unbelievable fishing.

We’re definitely going back.”


stream leopard












Idaho’s Premier

Flyfishing Shop







1682 S. Vista Ave • Boise




From the Ice to the

Words and Photos by Patrick Clayton | www.fis





Washington State’s

Olympic Peninsula is

the lynchpin to west

coast salmon and steelhead

recovery. It is the fulcrum

in conservationists and

fisherman’s hope to return

salmon runs to their historic

abundance. Brawling glacier

and rain fed rivers pour from

the slopes of the Olympic

Mountains, descending in

all four directions, while

streams of salmon ascend.

The cycle of life humming

at an increased intensity

beneath the towering green

canopy of forest so vibrant

it seems to breathe.

Radiating like spokes from

a wheel and fueled by

direct hits from The Pacific

Ocean’s strongest storms,

the legendary rivers of the

Peninsula still hold some of

the most productive rearing

and spawning habitat in

the lower forty eight. Their

headwaters lay protected in

the Olympic National Park

to remain undisturbed in

perpetuity. This is a place

where the sky turns into

a grey sliver above the

towering old growth forests,

a crack of light as crystal

clear cold water rushes

from the glaciers a high.

With better management,

continued preservation,

rehabilitation, and lessening

reliance on hatcheries this

zone could become the

anchor in recovery efforts

in both directions. Great

strides have been made. The

north slopes premier river,

the mystical Elwha River,

has undergone a historic

dam removal project and is


Sculpted by ice,

battered by waves,

and drenched

in rainfall, the

Olympic Peninsula

is a biological gem

and geological


recovering at break neck

speed. Stray fish heading

eastward up the Strait of

Juan De Fuca seemingly

smell opportunity in the

water pouring down this

canyon and take a right turn.

The gauntlets of gorges

that lie upstream are the

ultimate test piece and the

survivors of this Herculean

journey historically were

known to produce mutant

king salmon to a hundred

plus pounds. Iconic Rivers

like the Sol Duc, Hoh,



barred owl

fairy slipper

king salmon

King Salmon are what

you want if you feel

like getting in a tug of

roosevelt elk

war with a leviathan.


the olympic mountains


Quinalt and innumerable

tributaries emerge from the

mist, in but a few short miles

fill river bottoms become

salmon highways. Sculpted

by ice, battered by waves

and drenched in rainfall,

the Olympic Peninsula

is a biological gem and

geological masterwork.

Fishermen come from

around the world for a

chance to tussle with these

ocean-fueled vagabonds.

These fish represent the

survivors of intensive

logging, industrial scale

commercial, and sport

fishing. The most iconic of

them all is the steelhead,

known for reel busting

runs and notorious for their

nomadic movements, the

few remaining wild fish

need to be treated with the

utmost reverence. Guides

have gone so far as to curtail

their pursuit of them leaving

them be to reproduce and

in time create a stronger

fishery. The chances are

slim but just knowing the

possibility exists is enough

for many, a chance to stand

amongst the massive groves


steelhead salmon


This place will

soak into your

soul like the

rain does your



of trees in water fresh from

ice fields or the sky itself.

If one chooses to pursue

these remnant fish, utilize

heavy tackle to quicken the

fight, barbless single hooks,

and minimize any handling.

Every species of salmon ply

these waters. Pinks fill up

riversheds in odd numbered

years, Coho Salmon provide

great sport as they come

upriver with the rain, King

Salmon are what you want

if you feel like getting in a

tug of war with a leviathan.

Coastal Cutthroat provides

fun fare given you can find

them. Whatever it is you do

or don’t hook into, this place

will soak into your soul like

the rain does your gore-tex.

To coastal dwellers, salmon

have a mythic pull on us.

They represent something,

maybe a leaving of the nest in

search of something greater

to return home in all their

glory, years later stronger

and wiser. Returning to the

exact spot they whence

came from only to sacrifice

themselves for the next

generation and the place

they came from, the cycle

perpetuating. More work is

needed and groups like the

Wild Fish Conservancy are

fearlessly advocating for

salmonids. Wild Olympics

is a proposal to protect

adjacent land and will make

great progress in protecting

these watersheds. The

resilience and fortitude to

survive heavy abuses in

the past, shows that these

silvery torpedoes, if given

half a chance, will continue

to fill our hearts with love.≈

Words & photos by Patrick Clayton





coho and steelhead




then and now: the olympic peninsula has

a lengthy history with logging.


Fishermen come

from around the

world for a chance

to tussle with these


vagabonds. These

fish represent the

survivors of intense

logging, and industrial

ale commercial and sport


washington’s hoh river

coho salmon


chum salmon



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