Spring 2018


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


Treat Yourself To a

Fly Fishing



Located Near Cascade

Just Minutes

From Craig

on The


Missouri River!

Book your vacation at


George & Cathy



Find us: facebook.com/JumpingRainbowLodge

Welcome back!

We have another FREE online-issue lined up for you. This one is loaded with amazing

imagery supplied by some incredibly talented local photographers and artists. We

also have some solid written work too on Fall brown trout tactics, fly tying, and even

a piece outside our region as we sometimes like to add, this time Alaska. So, be sure

and check them all out.

If you enjoyed reading the investigative article in our Spring 2017 issue, about Big

Sky Resort and the developers’ plans to discharge effluent into the Gallatin (an idea

which has been recently nixed by TU, American Rivers, and GYC) get ready; as we

have another one for you. This time the subject is on the Yellowstone River fishkills,

which began in 2016, causing FWP to close a 183-mile stretch of the river that

summer, then a secondary, unexplained, kill in summer of 2017. While some have

written this off as a naturally occurring event, the kills remain scientifically unsolved.

New information gathered by Montana Fly Fishing Magazine reveals interesting and

never before released information about this event. We also interview a 30-year

expert on bryozoans and PKD* in trout, and what is revealed will be surprising to


To top it off, we’re beginning an online campaign to independently bring in this

expert and his team to conduct extensive research on the Yellowstone, in July of

2018. You too can be a part of this unprecedented endeavor by donating toward

these efforts.

We’ve always remained a FREE online-magazine and never actively requested

donations from our subscribers. Today, however, we do request that you go to the

Go Fund Me account, provided at the article’s conclusion, and give as generously as

you can toward this unique PKD research project. All proceeds collected online go to

the research team and the proposed project.

It’s important to our western rivers that we gather more scientific data, by actual

experts in the field, on what potentially caused the largest fish-kill in Montana’s


Thank you,

Greg Lewis

Publisher / Montana Fly Fishing Magazine

*PKD refers to Prolific Kidney Disease

Montana Fly Fishing Magazine

Spring 2018

Volume 6 Issue 1


Senior Editor:Greg Lewis


Craig Campbell

Pat Clayton

Zack Clothier

Ed Coyle

Terry Dunford

Stephen C. Hinch

George Kalantzes

Greg Lewis

Jodi Monahan

Jason Savage

Stacey Schad Randall

Charlie Smith

Ehren Wells

General Inquiries and Submissions:


Cover Image: Zach Clothier





tos By Ed Coyle Photography



Harrison Lake, Self Portrait. Image By George Kalantzes



St Marys Lake. Image By George Kalantzes








PH: 435-703-4569


8 Tips for



Written by Ehren Wells

Photo: Charlie Smith

When to go.

The best time to begin fishing for fall browns can vary slightly from year to

year but is generally found from mid-September through October, after the

crowds have pretty much cleared out for the year and the fall colors have

reached their prime. If you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone country, be aware

that fall weather here is on a different timeline from that of much of the state,

bringing early ice and road closures, so it is advisable to plan to fish earlier

rather than later in the fall.

Know your boundaries.

Before planning your fall brown trout excursion, it is a good idea to familiarize

yourself with the park boundaries. You will need to buy a separate license for

the either side of the boundary you wish to fish – a Montana license won’t cover

you in the Park and vice-versa – and each side of the boundary has its own

regulations covering harvest, possession, and gear requirements.

Playing the weather game.

Slow down, stay warm. Fall air temperatures in and around the park generally

run 10-20F cooler than Bozeman and Ennis, with nighttime temps often

dipping into the teens and twenties. Weather cycles and road conditions

also can be dramatically different. You could leave bluebird skies in town and

drive into a blizzard near your destination.

As the saying goes, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. It’s easier to

remove a layer than it is to put on a layer you forgot to bring with you. Even if

I don’t plan on wearing them, I often carry an extra pair or two of my warmest

socks,a warm hat, and long underwear, and a heavy winter jacket to go under

my waders if I get too cold. It is also not a bad idea to keep a spare change of

warm dry clothes in the vehicle in the event of an unexpected plunge.

Perhaps everyone’s worst pet peeve this time of year is ice in the rod guides.

Unfortunately, there’s little that can be done to curtail this time-sucking

line-grabbing menace. Solutions range from applying a coat of Vaseline or

Pam cooking spray to your line and guides to just flat staying home. My solution

is to hit the water anyway and take time to dunk the affected guides in

the water and swish the rod back and forth a few times to melt the ice, and

perhaps crunching it away with my fingertips if that seems to be taking too

long. The same technique can be used to free an ice-bound reel, although

submerging a reel in sub-freezing conditions can put the brakes on the spool

in a hurry, locking your setup into an impromptu Tenkara mode… not exactly

the ideal situation for tackling a beefy brown on 50 feet of line.

Matching the rod (not just the fly) to the hatch.

For most applications, a nine-foot five- or six-weight single-hand rod will work

just fine. However, since the topic here is targeting larger than average prespawn

browns, there are some things to consider when gearing up for a

specific tactic.

If you plan to focus on nymphing, you might look for a 10-foot with medium action

and good sensitivity. An extra foot of rod length can help cover more water

with each cast, and lift more line off the water to eliminate drag.

If you plan to chuck sizeable streamers at pocket water and behind structure

“bank robber” style with your single-hander, consider going up a weight class

or two to a 7, 8, or even 9-weight. A bit more backbone will handle the larger

flies and lessen the time it takes to haul that bruiser to the net.

If making long casts is your game, consider fishing with a two-hander, like a

switch rod or a short (11’-13’) Spey rod. Spey casting strokes allow for greater

distance when bank vegetation limits your backcast. A minimum of a

6-weight two-hander is recommended for throwing streamers, consider a

9- or 10-weight for handling heavy articulated patterns. Two-handed rods

can also be rigged for nymphing. Long-belly “Speydicator” lines allow for

extremely long drag-free drifts. Being on the longer side as opposed to most

single-handers, and two-handed rod allows you to fish and retrieve a longer

nymphing leader without the necessity of beaching your catch in order to land


Feeding those hungry browns.

Fall browns are notorious for being hungry and aggressive, meaning they can

be targeted with dry flies, nymphs, and streamers.

Dry fly: Greater Yellowstone in the fall can provide a world-class level of dryfly

action. Often times, as temperatures rise in the afternoons and evenings,

midges and mayflies can hatch to the point that the fish will feed on little else.

It is not uncommon to find a pod of a dozen or more fish exceeding 18” chowing

down on these insects. Bringing one of these fish to hand can be highly

challenging but also highly rewarding. It often takes time to discern exactly

what the fish are keyed into, though varying midges, Parachute Adams, BWOs,

and Callibaetis are good starter flies. You might identify four or more insects

present in the feeding lane, but only one imitation will work, forcing you to try

multiple patterns/combinations before dialing it in. Conditions may also force

you to put effort into getting the presentation and placement right. A foot one

side or the other of a lane might be asking a trout to go too far out of its way.

The slightest ripple or v-shape from drag can ruin your drift.

Nymphs / Subsurface: If you’re looking to land a number of fish, with the idea

being that the more you land the better your odds that a few will be larger

than average, then nymphing is likely your best bet. Golden stones, like Pat’s

Rubberlegs, Copper Johns, Pheasant tail nymphs, Prince nymphs, and Hare’s

ear nymphs, and San Juan worms should be in every angler’s fly box.

Streamers: For many, fall brown trout fishing is synonymous with streamer

fishing, and by and large these are indeed the best patterns for singling out

large and aggressive pre-spawn brown trout. If you’re fishing a lightweight

single-hand rod, single-hook streamers (Baitfish Emulator, Gonga, Sasquatch,

Kreelex) are most effective. Heavier setups are needed for articulated flies

(Circus Peanut, Sex Dungeon, Drunk ‘N Disorderly, etc). Streamers come in an

array of colors, and if you go to buy these flies at the fly shop, you can empty

your wallet in a hurry. To narrow down your selection, I’ve found it best to stick

with natural colors. It may be somewhat ironic to point out that the best colors

for catching big brown trout are often those you find in a baby brown trout

(yellow, orange, brown, etc). I don’t know if there are scientific papers on this,

but my feeling is that patterns with eyes get better results.

A sink tip (T-6 to T-11) or some split shot placed a few inches away from the fly

can help drop a streamer into the strike zone quickly – an essential component

to success when conducting a vigorous “seek and destroy” mission down the

far bank.

Be bear aware.

Whether you’re headed out for a week or an hour, it’s important to remember

that this is bear country. The bears don’t care if you are “only fishing,” and

Fall is primetime for grizzly and black bear activity. Just a few weeks ago, a

resident outside of West Yellowstone shot and killed a grizzly that came onto

his porch looking to make lunch of the freshly killed elk he had hanging in the

garage. The same rules apply to fishing as with hiking and backpacking: travel

with partners, make noise (particularly where visibility is low), keep your food

in storage when you’re not cooking or eating it, carry bear spray and know

how to use it. These precautions can certainly help minimize your encounters

with a bear, and they can help you keep distances between you and other species

that can do you harm if too close. These include bison, elk, moose, and

even river otters.

Angling Pressure

For those who live to fish in southwest Montana during the fall one of

the allures, beyond the hope of landing a big feisty brown, is taking time

to enjoy the scenery and be part of the landscape. These days it can be

tough to find solitude, so don’t be surprised if you arrive at your dream

hole to find another angler fishing through it. On the flip-side, you might

be blissfully lost in your fishing, content that you’ve got the hole all to

yourself, when another party shows up and tries to muscle in.

When deciding what to do in these situations, consider what is needed to

preserve the quality of the experience for all involved. Even if it appears

obvious that you both have plenty of room to fish, it is considered courteous

to announce your intention or ask your fellow sportsman if he’s alright

with your stepping in. Likewise, if you’ve already put good time in, it’s

considered good form to allow a little room. Low-holing, or stepping in below

and angler within reach of where he’s fishing, or where he soon might

be fishing, is almost never considered acceptable stream-side etiquette.

It’s better to begin at the top of a hole or run and then fish down, the assumption

being that downstream anglers have already fished through.

If you find it difficult to fish a stretch effectively without someone interfering

with your cast or presentation (or your interfering with someone

else’s), consider stepping back and allowing the other angler(s) a turn. If

push comes to shove, move to another stretch up or down stream; or go

back to your vehicle and try putting some miles between you.

Where to find them

Big browns can be found almost anywhere in the fall, but some places are

more likely than others. Riffles likely aren’t your best bet, though it’s never a

bad idea to hit a bucket if it looks just right. Give these places a knock on the

door and move on if nobody’s home. The same can be said of structure. Any

structure that lies in slow water or slows the water down, like a protruding log,

a boulder, or an undercut bank, can hold a brown looking to ambush its prey.

These spots can and do often hold big browns, but don’t spend too much time

in any one spot. Instead, it’s best to focus on deeper, slow-moving water,either

in the form of deep hole, say at the end of a bend, or a long, steady run with a

distinct separation in water speeds at the seam.








Idaho’s Premier

Flyfishing Shop







1682 S. Vista Ave • Boise


Montana Fly Fishing Magazine interview

on the subject of what caused the u

Written by Greg Lewis, Publisher


River Killer!

s a 30-Year Expert in Bryozoans and PKD,

nsolved fish-kill from 2016-2017

By most guide and outfitter

accounts the Yellowstone

River has recovered from

the year-long event from

2016 to 2017, and in some

cases as far as fishing goes

anglers are catching more

trout per-mile than whitefish

in the past. So why revisit

this unfortunate episode in

our state’s past, some might

be asking?

…Because the event still

remains scientifically



What we know:

In the summer of 2016 the Yellowstone River began experiencing the largest

recorded fish-kill in Montana state history. This unprecedented event caused the Fish

Wildlife and Parks Department to close the river for a 183-mile stretch, as well as all

its’ tributaries for over a two-month period during peak fishing season. This extensive

closure resulted in a loss of angling and area tourism business totaling over $500,000.

What we didn’t realize at the time:

Contrary to multiple articles in the local and national press through misinformation

provided by Region- 3 FWP, anglers across the globe were led to believe that only

native whitefish were killed by the tens-of-thousands in the original event during the

river-closure in summer of 2016. This is untrue. Thousands of rainbow, cutthroat,

and brown trout, were also decimated during this episode, as the unexplained kill-off

carried on throughout the winter and lasted well into the summer of 2017.

This new information was revealed within internal reports and research-work

conducted by FWP over the past 16 months, obtained by Montana Fly Fishing

Magazine, through special-request in January 2018.


Timing - August 2016:

At the time of the initial fish-kill in August of 2016, I was living in Big

Sky fulltime. There we had recently experienced what a river looks

like only months earlier, in this case the Gallatin, when on April 2015,

30-million-gallons of muddy wastewater spilled out of an effluent pond

discoloring the river for over 50 miles. Information had materialized

soon afterward amongst those in the conservation community about

the potential for direct-discharge in the near future; so, my focus as a

journalist was on effluent, capacity-issues, and treatment.

Given that mindset while I was reading the news of the Yellowstone

river-closure, I began to wonder if the fish-kill might be related to the

upcoming 100 th Anniversary of Yellowstone National Park and the

anticipated 1-million visitors?

I asked myself a basic mathematical question, how could the small

rural-facility designed for 1,800 local Gardiner residents be handling the

volumes of raw wastewater being produced, by what had already been

estimated to be an arriving 900K in tourists annually, over the previous


I did some preliminary research online and realized the Gardiner plant

was renovated in 2012, advertised as state of the art at the time, yet

and it was designed for 600,000 annual visitors. The plant has not been

expanded since that time, to adjust for the significant increase in tourism



I then began looking into bryozoans and Prolific Kidney Disease in fish

species (PKD) online. After a couple days of research, I came up with a

name of an expert in the field of “bryozoans and PKD in trout” - the very

culprit FWP was now blaming on the massive fish-kill occurring. Since

there appeared to be very few scientists dedicated to this field of research,

I emailed Dr. Timothy Wood and after a brief introduction, I asked him this


Q) Is it possible, in your professional opinion, the wastewater treatment

plant in Gardiner inadvertently flushed some type of bryozoans into the

river over the few weeks leading up to the initial fish-kill in August 2016;

inadvertently causing this event?

Twenty-four hours later, this was his reply appearing in my in-box:

A) The short answer is: Definitely yes, the

discharge of nutrient-rich water at Gardiner

could be an important factor in the spread

of PKD downstream.Some bryozoans

do thrive in wastewater plants, and it is

conceivable that the plant in Gardiner is

discharging statoblasts or live bryozoan


Whether or not this is really happening, and

if so whether those bryozoans are infected

with PKD are things we could easily check.


I then followed-up with this question:

Q) FWP originally stated the bryozoan and PKD parasite was “an invasive

species, likely introduced by an angler or boater” and that “the fish in the

Yellowstone River were naive to it”. Does this sound accurate?

A) Bryozoans and their associated PKD parasites have probably been in

the Yellowstone River since the last glaciation.

In general, the infection rates are thought to be low and hardly

noticeable. If the latest fish kill was really caused by PKD the most

likely reasons would include: (1) Increase in the infection rate among

bryozoans, (2) increase in the bryozoan population, (3) a lowered

resistance to infection among fish, and (4) a change in the virulence of

the parasite.

Dr. Timothy Wood has published over 60 scientific papers, books, and book chapters on

freshwater bryozoans;

* Named 26 species of bryozoans;

* Conducted full bryozoan surveys in Ohio, Illinois, Britain, Ireland, Panama and Thailand;

* Published the first molecular genetic phylogeny of freshwater bryozoans;

* Currently serving as elected President of the International Bryozoology Association.

An FWP Introduction Gone Wrong

This information (above) shared by Dr. Tim Wood, was then immediately

relayed to FWP officials at the public meeting in Livingston on August 24

2016. The meeting was designed for FWP to explain the river-closure and

was attended by over 300 concerned locals, a senator, and news media.

About 20 minutes before it began I spoke to Sam Shepard, who was at the

time Region 3 Supervisor, as well as Dr. Eileen Ryce. I read the information

that the expert had said “the bryozoan and parasite have been in our rivers

for hundreds of years and are commonly transported by waterfowl”, thus

impossible to control. They both openly dismissed my input, then went on

stage to further spread a false narrative riddled with multiple inaccurate

statements, as to what was occurring on the river.

trout pose


All attempted connections afterward between actual experts on bryozoans

and Region 3 FWP, were dismissed in 2016.

After reading countless articles filled with false information between Region

3 Fisheries and the press, as well as a second fish-kill occurring in the

summer of 2017, (when recorded-flows were higher and water temps much

colder), I decided to conduct this in-depth interview.

– What is a Bryozoan?

Bryozoans (literally

“moss animals”) are small, invertebrate animals that

grow as branching colonies attached to submerged surfaces.

Often they resemble brown moss or plant roots and so they

attract little attention. Using tufts of ciliated tentacles

they feed on microscopic particles in the water. In turn,

they provide food and shelter for insect larvae that help

support fish populations. Bryozoans occur in lakes and

rivers worldwide as a normal part of any healthy freshwater


New Information

Q) Would bryozoans be considered an “invasive species” such as zebra


A) No, not at all. The bryozoans harboring PKD are well established

across five continents. They occur throughout North America, especially

in cold, flowing waters like the Yellowstone River. By contrast, zebra

mussels invaded North America from Europe about 30 years ago and we

are now seeing them move across southern Asia - a true invasive species.

Q) How is the bryozoan most commonly spread from river to river and

commercial bodies of water?

A) Most freshwater bryozoans produce dormant capsules about the size

of a period in newsprint. Called statoblasts, these can survive freezing,

drying, and other harsh conditions. We know that statoblasts are

easily transported by waterfowl - on the feet, feathers, and even in the

digestive tract. However, I have found bryozoans in glacial lakes at high

elevations where waterfowl seldom go, and I have no idea how they got



Q) Besides your 30+ years as a professor at Wright University in Ohio, you

also own and operate a commercial company called: Bryo Technologies,

which routinely treats certain commercial facilities of bryozoan outbreaks.

(www.bryotechnologies.com). What types of problems can bryozoans cause

inside these facilities and what does your company do to stop the spread?

A) The problems we fix begin when water from a lake or river is drawn

through a pipeline. Very soon things are growing on the inner pipeline

walls. Among these are zebra mussels, which most people know, but

there are also bryozoans, hydroids, peritrichs, sponges, and other

unfamiliar aquatic pests. They can completely block a pipeline, or if

they break loose they can clog equipment.

This is what we deal with, and it is a very common problem. Every

situation is unique, but over the years we have developed a variety of

successful methods to handle them.

Q) How many years have you been studying bryozoans and their association

with Prolific kidney disease in trout species?

A) As a graduate student in Colorado in 1968, I discovered a way to

grow bryozoans in the laboratory. One of the species I worked with was

Fredericella, which is now known to be the primary carrier of PKD. In

those days I knew nothing of PKD but I did notice tiny, sac-like things

moving around inside the bryozoans, very likely the PKD parasite itself.

Years later I collaborated with Dr. Beth Okamura to study myxozoan

parasites in bryozoans, which led directly to discovering the link

between these parasites and PKD in salmonid fish.

Q) What is the relationship between PKD and bryozoans?

A) PKD is essentially a bryozoan disease. Bryozoans with PKD can

infect other bryozoans, they can infect the next generation of bryozoans,

and they can also (accidentally) infect salmonid fish.

Fish with PKD cannot pass the disease to other fish, they can only reinfect

bryozoans. So, without infected bryozoans there would be no

PKD in fish.




Q) In spring of 2017, FWP reported they found an entire larger age-class

of trout missing from the Yellowstone river in roughly the same general

location as 2016 year’s fish kill*. While they initially reported that the public

shouldn’t make the connection to last year’s event, given ice scourging and

possibly it being a cyclical event was to blame, now that we experienced

another fish-kill this past year, isn’t it plausible that we’re actually

experiencing a PKD event still unfolding?

A) It does seem unlikely that there would be a single isolated PKD

event without the effects rippling into the following years. But I would

emphasize that we know little about how PKD operates in the natural

world. Most of the research so far has been clinical, not ecological.

Regrettably, there are no PKD data from the Yellowstone River in years

prior to the recent fish kills.

*Source: Link

Records provided by FWP in 2018 show “a population decline, of as

many as 50% in all trout species”: Brown, rainbow, and cutthroat occurred

between 2016-2017 on the most impacted stretches due to PKD. This

information was verified in more detail within FWP’s internal records and

research work, which was obtained by Montana Fly Fishing Magazine in

January 2018.


Q) In your scientific research could a substantial increase in arsenic, which

was being introduced to the wastewater facility in Gardiner, have any impact

on the bryozoans present?

A) Possibly, but the fish would be affected even more.


Arsenic –

It was revealed in an article published in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Oct. 20, 2017 that

“high levels of arsenic were found in the district’s sewage treatment facilities”, originating from

a leaking pipeline in YNP. This has now resulted in a $2-million-dollar lawsuit. According to the

complaint an engineer told the district in February 2015 that high levels of the odorless chemical

were entering the treatment facility. The engineer also said that 95 percent of the arsenic was

coming from Yellowstone, and testing showed the park’s sewage had levels nearly 40 times that

of Gardiner sewage.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality had directed the district to empty the ponds,

but the engineer recommended they wait to do so until the park fixed its arsenic problems,

according to the complaint. The Gardiner treatment facility legally and routinely discharges its

treated effluent into the Yellowstone River. Source: Link

Second Recorded Fish Kill – August 2017

Q) Is it possible that the theory which FWP reported as recently as August

2017, “that the bryozoan colony, or host, was swept below last years’ killsite

during ice-out”, and now this is why the 2017 fish-kill occurred 20 miles


A) No, this does not strike me as very plausible. Most freshwater

bryozoans overwinter in the form of dormant statoblasts attached firmly

to rocks. It is unlikely that these would be significantly affected by ice-out.

Q) In your experiences treating wastewater facilities and nuclear cooling ponds

for bryozoan outbreaks how does the bryozoan grow to some problematic

proportions and what does your team do to stop it from recurring?

A) Many bryozoans grow best with continuously flowing water and

plentiful food. To control these populations, we use a variety of chemical

and nonchemical tools, all depending on the species, water chemistry, and

characteristics of the site. There is no single solution that works in every



Q) At the heart of the 2016 fish-kill and where biologists also located dead whitefish

again in 2017, a vital tributary, or artery known as Mill Creek, has long since been cutoff

from reaching the river due to ranchers’ diverting 100% of its spring and summer


That much lower volume, (if any) which does eventually enter the river, after usage for

commercial scale agriculture is then from irrigation ditches or leaching along the edges

of fields; with fertilizers mixed within the water. Could this be a possible factor in the

spread or bloom of bryozoan colonies, and a potential cause of PKD outbreaks in the

hardest-hit areas?

A) Possibly. We do know that elevated nutrient levels in the water promote

strong growth in bryozoans. Whether this also promotes higher infection rates by

PKD parasites is not known.


Q) Could a wastewater plant performing a by-pass, either authorized or unauthorized,

and sending into the river system untreated sewage be the cause of the bryozoan/PKD


A) Yes. It has been shown that the nutrients from wastewater have a positive

effect on the growth of bryozoans, including the species that carries PKD.

Q) There were reports by FWP in May 2017, of “septic shock as the cause of death

in whitefish in the hardest hit areas of the 2016 fish-kill”. Does this sound correct?

Have you or colleagues ever experienced or witnessed anything on this scale before in

hatcheries or in nature?

A) I am not aware of any instance where a massive release of PKD spores

resulted in septic shock in fish. If this has been reported by FWP it would be

reasonable to inquire about any evidence.


Q) Why is FWP calling Prolific Kidney Disease now PKX?

A) PKD is proliferative kidney disease; PKX is an old term for the parasite

causing PKD. For a long time, it was clear that another species was involved

in the life cycle, but no one could discover what it was. The “X” represented

the unknown species. Now that bryozoans are known to be the final hosts the

expression “PKX” has fallen out of use.

Q) Can anglers do anything to help stop the spread of bryozoans from one river to


A) It is always a good precaution to hose off boots and other equipment

before entering a new fishing site. Live bryozoan fragments or statoblasts

can adhere to fishing gear, especially in standing water. The statoblasts remain

viable even after being dried or frozen for months.

Q) FWP stated in early media reports and also at the meeting held in Livingston

after the Yellowstone River-closure, that they “had only located both the bryozoan

and PKD parasite in two isolated locations in the past 20 years, Cherry Creek and

an irrigation ditch (neither related to a fish-kill)”; yet in your paper on the subject:

Bryozoans as hosts for Tetracapsula bryosalmonae, the PKX organism it was

recorded as present in Ennis Lake and the Lower Madison in 2000.

How did you come to find both the same bryozoan and PKD parasite in this

region and for whom were you doing research at the time (or from where was that

information gathered)?

A) From various sources we compiled a list of sites where PKD had been

reported. The goal of this study was to find out what bryozoan species occur

in the same vicinities. The species we found were well known across the

northern states. This work was funded by the Natural Environment Research

Center in the UK.


Q) The question most asked after these back-to-back fish kills is why the Yellowstone

river is seeing reactions when both the bryozoan and parasite are in all of our rivers? If

it were merely temperature and flow rate which is triggering it, certainly the Jefferson,

Lower Madison, or Big Hole, should have experienced mass fish-kills, since both

rivers’ flows are typically lower and warmer (and Hoot Owl restrictions* go into effect

on) well before the Yellowstone’s levels drop.

So why the Yellowstone?

A) Bryozoans are a normal part of any healthy river ecosystem, and they

probably occur in every river system in Montana. However, we do not know

where the PKD parasite occurs or how much of any bryozoan population is likely

to be infected.

*Hoot Owl restrictions are when FWP halts fishing after 2PM to alleviate pressure/stress on trout during high watertemps.

Q) Also, why is a certain section seeing a fish-kill if temperatures and low-flows are a

cause? Others have questioned why wouldn’t the degree of fish-kill be more extreme

much further downriver where water is even lower and thus much warmer?

A) These are good questions that need to be asked. At this time, I have no answers

for you.

Q) Why do you suppose the parasite is targeting whitefish primarily, versus rainbow or

brown trout? Or do you think it is and we’re just not seeing as many of the latter*?

A) Scientists now believe there are many different strains of the PKD parasite,

and some of these may be more lethal to whitefish than to other species. At this

point we are still learning to distinguish one strain from another.

*Information was later revealed within internal FWP reports, to indicate thousands of trout also perished

between the summers of 2016-2017.

Q) Approximately how many times have you corresponded with Montana FWP and

state officials since 2016-2017 fish kills? Have they been asking related questions?A)

We initially made half a dozen contacts with various people. There seemed to be

very little interest, and no one has responded with questions of their own.


Q) In your initial written proposal to FWP in September 2016 you laid out a plan that

you and your team would conduct if the state brought you in to help research the fishkill.

It appears they simply read your outline and followed your proposed methods

themselves. Has anything like this occurred before?

A) Our proposal contained no privileged information. FWP was free to use it

any way they wished. However, following through with those ideas would have

required specific experience and knowledge that FWP seems to lack. For that

reason, they may have given the proposal a low priority. We found a similar nonresponse

from the State of Idaho, where there have been numerous unexplained

fish kills on the Snake River.

Q) Do you think it was perhaps because of budgeting reasons or cost concerns, why

FWP decided not to bring your team in?

A) Cost was never discussed as we’d not yet determined the amount of time

required to investigate the outbreak and its potential causes. I think a more likely

reason is that FWP preferred to focus on the fish rather than the less familiar



Proposal for Research - 2018

Q) Would your scientific findings after a two-week research project on the Yellowstone,

then be of benefit to other scientists and students studying PKD outbreaks, once its


A) Absolutely. Most studies of PKD have been done in laboratories. This would be

one of the first actually performed on site.

Here is what we want to know: What is the population size of bryozoans in the

study area and how are they distributed? What is the infection rate? Can we

identify PKD “hotspots?”

If so, do they suggest possible factors triggering the PKD outbreaks? Can we

identify steps to be taken that would decrease the likelihood of another severe


There may be additional information of interest mainly to researchers: is there

more than one bryozoan species harboring PKD parasites? Is this the same PKD

strain that afflicts trout farms in Europe? Etc.


Q) Could the two events, or back-to-back fish kills on the Yellowstone during August

2016/2017, be something that is naturally recurring and possibly something to some

degree we might experience annually from now on?

A) I certainly hope not. But I think the people supporting this investigation are

taking the right approach. You can speculate all day about PKD outbreaks and

what the future holds for the Yellowstone River, but without reliable data it is just

talk. I look forward to investigating the PKD outbreak area in 2018. If all goes well

we will be able to provide some real answers.


If you’d like to help us come closer to discovering what truly

caused the fish-kills on the Yellowstone River during 2016-

2017, and thus further help prevent similar events in other

western rivers, we are collecting donations toward independent


The costs for bringing Dr. Wood and his team of experts in

to conduct a two-week Bryozoan Mapping Project, in July of

2018, are significant - so we’re also searching out major donors

in the fly fishing industry, as well as foundations.

Please log into our Go Fund Me Campaign here:


Here is the link to the 2018 Research Proposal and the dedicated website for more

information: http://www.yellowstoneriverfishkill.com



Q&A with Craig Campbell,

Builder of Gravitas Boats

Interview by Greg Lewis



Q) How (and what age) did you get started in woodworking?

I grew up in a house with a wood shop. My father has been a

woodworker longer than I’ve been alive so I was always around tools

and equipment, stacks of wood, and the smell of stain and lacquer. It

was in my early teens when I truly started woodworking and since that

time I’ve built everything from a rubber band pistol to a hand shaped

Sam Maloof rocking chair.

Q) How about fly fishing, when did that bug kick in?

From Canada originally, I moved to Montana in 2001 and with a

degree in Biology and Chemistry worked as a wildlife technician. From

the moment the ice melted I was fishing the streams and rivers and it

wasn’t long before I began fly fishing. I’ve never regretted the decision.

Fly fishing from a wooden drift boat is the only activity where I am

completely relaxed and rejuvenated at the end of the day.

Q) How did you get into making custom drift boats?

I was searching for a drift boat that met my needs and quickly became

frustrated in the lack of personalized options. Given my woodworking

experience I decided to build my own drift boat and that was the

beginning of a passion. I did a lot of online research, bought some

generic plans, and started my build.

It wasn’t long before I had compiled a list of all the changes that

would make the boat a more appropriate fit for me and, as it turns out,

for others as well. I had a great time completing the build and realized

that this was a career I could fully embrace. There are many challenges

in “getting it right” and I’m constantly thinking of ways to improve

drift boat designs but these are reasons why it’s such a rewarding





Q) How do you figure out which custom boat design you offer, is ideal for

which customer?

The first and most important conversation that I have with a

customer centers around what type of water they float and how they

plan to use their boat. Not every drift boat owner is a fly fisherman. A

family may simply want a hard-bottomed boat which will offer both

stability and safety for young kids and their gear. Then of course

there are those who want all the necessary accessories for a great day

of fishing. Wooden drift boats don’t fall out of a manufacturers mold

and consequently they can be designed and built to provide whatever a

customer needs.

Q) How many custom drift boat projects do you take on per year?

My mission statement is built around quality as opposed to quantity.

I’m capable of working on two boats at a time while still paying

attention to the details that set my boats apart. If an interested

customer finds that I am occupied with other orders they are welcome

to join a waiting list. I think the wait will be worth it for them but I

also have boats available for immediate purchase.

Q) What’s the usual turnaround time on a custom wooden drift boat you


It is dependent on the complexity of each boat but the average time

is approximately 4-6 months.


Q) What custom features do you offer?

First and foremost, adjustability. I am working very hard to

make the current designs absolutely user friendly. For example, the

most important feature for a rower is that the boat floats level and

is easy to maneuver. The only way to achieve this is to move weight

throughout the boat accordingly.

The fishing seats in my most recent design have fore and aft

movement set on a track system which is set into the floor. The

rower’s seat has the same fore and aft movement, more than any

other on the market. When the seats are properly positioned based

on weight, the boat will always ride trim. Gone are the days when

the boat’s bow points to the sky or is buried in the water because of

your passenger’s weight and where they are sitting. The seats are

also removeable allowing for a cooler or dog bed.

My boats are designed more closely to the McKenzie style which

means they have the appropriate amount of rocker which equates to

easier maneuverability and less effort to stay stationary at a fishing


Q) What types of wood are you using when constructing a custom drift


I use 3/8” marine grade Mahogany plywood for building the

hull sides, dry boxes, decks and hatch covers. 1/2” marine grade

Mahogany plywood is used for constructing the hull bottom and

interior level floors. The gunwales are made of Ash or White Oak,

both of which offer a great deal of strength and are relatively easy

to steam bend. Parts such as the breast hook and anchor mount are

made from Mahogany with Black Walnut accents.

Components that require a great deal of strength, such as the oar


lock blocks, the rower’s seat, and adjustable rower’s seat frame are

constructed of White Oak. Unlike other manufacturers who simply

draw the side panels together into a point and then use a stem cap to

protect the bow, I use a solid Ash post which is inset for attaching the

side panels flush to the post. Not only does this provide a structurally

sound bow, it also provides a solid surface for attaching the bow eye.

Ash, White Oak and Mahogany have a very long history in wooden

sailing ships and serve equally well in a drift boat.

Q) What are some of the biggest challenges when building a drift boat from

wood versus fiberglass?

Occasionally a piece of wood will have a flaw below the surface that

reveals itself after the start of the milling process and these are to

be expected on occasion. The solution is to mill a new piece. Wood

has very few challenges that can’t be overcome. It can be cut and

shaped with basic tools, steam bent to provide flowing lines, and easily

repaired. It’s quiet on the water, has a natural insulating factor, and

catches admiring glances and comments from everyone who sees it. It

is a wonderful material to work with and when using the appropriate

species and with a little care, will last a very long time.

Q) Do you test float each craft before delivery?

Every completed boat is loaded onto its size specific trailer and taken

to the river for “trials.” I’m not only getting a feel for the boat in the

water, I also want to confirm that each boat sits well on its trailer and

that the loaded trailer pulls easily at all speeds. Once in the water I’m

listening, looking and feeling how everything is responding to the water

and my oar strokes. Each boat is floated several times to ensure that

the product is perfect. My wife jokes that this is not the time for deep

conversations because I’m usually in a world of my own.


Q) Personal favorite river to float and fly fish in Montana?

The Bitterroot River between Tucker and Florence. The Bitterroot is

my home water and I love every moment I’m floating that stretch. It

doesn’t matter what time of year or whether the fish are biting, it’s one

of those spots that has clear water, spectacular mountain views, and a

lot of structure to hold fish. I do float other rivers but the Bitterroot is

a special place to me.

To learn more about Craig Campbell and Gravitas Drift Boats, visit

http://gravitasdriftboats.com .





MIC! IAELCI 11 LCOAT.COM I 406.407.0932


Bristol Bay

Sockeye Salmon

A National Treasure

Words and Photos by Patrick Clayton

At the turn of the century,

the industrial revolution ran

like a wildfire up and down

the west coast leaving

ecosystems in tatters and

the once iconic salmon

runs a mere shadow of

their former selves. Dams

were erected, forests were

chopped down, mines

constructed, and irrigation

diversions all sapped

the once vibrant salmon

rearing grounds of what

was needed to sustain their

populations. Canneries

were some of the first

building constructed

along the Columbia

and overharvest was

commonplace. Before we

even knew what existed it

was gone. The keystone

species which supported

all forms of life entered

a precipitous decline

continuing to this day. In

the far north, there was

one place which avoided

this fate, Bristol Bay Alaska.

This vast region was

protected by its shear

remoteness, harsh climate,

and unforgiving wildness.

Like an apparition from

a bygone era, sockeye

salmon still pour out of

the Pacific Ocean by

the millions to these

untouched and pristine

waters. The long arm of

industry long held at bay

now has its eyes squarely

set on developing and

thus destroying this, our

last functioning mega

salmon run. Pebble Mine

is the vanguard industry

which wants to build

massive open pit mines,

dam free flowing rivers,

and drill for oil. During

the Obama presidency,

the mine got a temporary

hold, it has reared its ugly

head once again. The EPA,

under notorious fossil fuel

advocate Scott Pruitt, has

proposed to cancel the

Obama-era determination

that, if finalized, would

have blocked development

at the Pebble gold and

copper prospect in

southwest Alaska.

“Like an


from a bygone

era, sockeye

salmon still

pour out of the

Pacific Ocean

by the millions

to these

untouched and

pristine waters.

The long arm of


No single species defines the Pacific coast

more so than salmon.

No single species defines the

Pacific coast more so than

salmon. While efforts to restore

and preserve these salmon

runs in the lower 48 continue,

in Bristol Bay things exist as

they always have. Salmon;

A thousands year old native

culture rely on them, the tundra

springs to life due to them,

apex predators gorge on their

abundance, and sustainable

economies rely on their return.

The Aleut-Alutiq, Athabascan,

and Yup’ik cultures catch, dry,

smoke, and subsist off this

source of protein as they have

for time and memorial. Their

first language is their own and

they are the most intact native

cultures in North America.

Salmon push to the headwaters

of every available river system

resulting in an irreplaceable

transfer of nutrients from

sea to sky. These still intact

salmon runs support the largest

populations of Grizzly bears on

the planet, caribou herds graze

the salmon fertilized plants,

everything relying on this

food chain even down to the

smallest plants and organisms.

“This place

overwhelms the

senses and enlivens

the spirit; its mere

existence gives us

hope and a place to

dream of.”

Sustainability is more than a

buzzword when it comes to

the commercial fishery. This

massive region supports the

largest sockeye salmon fishery

on earth and is managed in

such a way to go on forever. It

is a billion dollar a year industry

that provides the healthiest of

food to the most discerning of


There is not a sportsman

on earth does not dream of

someday wetting a line here,

and this thriving industry in

itself is worth another hundred

million dollars and provides

employment for thousands.

This place overwhelms the

senses and enlivens the spirit;

its mere existence gives us

hope and a place to dream of.

Bristol Bay now faces its most

dire of threats, at its very heart;

mining interests have found

some of the largest deposits of

precious metals on earth and

plan industrial development as

large as any project on earth.

The intensity with which this

ecosystem and landscape

hum is unmistakable. At its

center are Lake Illiamna and

the Nushagak River. Alaska’s

largest lake and its tributaries

are responsible for almost half

the regions sockeye salmon

and represent the largest

salmon run on earth. The

Nushagak is the next largest

producer and one of the top

king salmon rivers on the

planet. The proposed Pebble

Mine is directly above these

drainages and exploratory

mining is occurring throughout

the region. Hard rock mining

of this magnitude spells disaster

for the fish, the culture, and the

ecosystem. In scientific terms

these fish stocks are known as

a strong portfolio. The genetic

diversity guaranteeing their

sustainability and vibrancy.

The potential loss of this core

population threatens not only

the immediate area but the

region as a whole.

Salmon are counted by the

hundreds as they wriggle

over concrete barriers

up and down the Pacific

coast while in Bristol Bay

they are stockpiled by the

millions. So numerous

is this run, if you were to

stack them nose to tail they

would stretch from Bristol

Bay to Australia and back.

The fact that salmon still

exist on many southern

rivers is a testament to

their fierce determination

and evolutionary mastery.

Stragglers still perpetuate

their species amongst the

steepest of odds. Their

efforts know no limit.

A Sockeye salmon known

only as Lonesome Larry

was the only one to return

to a Lake in Idaho after

swimming 900 miles and

passing 8 dams. Redfish

Lake, which in a bygone

era saw tens of thousands

of these oceans going

vagabonds return, had nearly

lost its namesake. This story

has been repeated over and

over from the Puget Sound

to Las Angeles.

The usual culprits who led to the

downfall of our iconic Pacific

Coast species now want a repeat

performance in this last great place.

Bristol Bay is the last treasure in the

chest and it is where the line will be

drawn. Whatever comes down the

pipe, we must be prepared to fight

once again, and this time fight for

permanent protection by whatever

means necessary and never allow

this resource to be destroyed for

the profit of a few.

Words and Photos by Patrick Clayton


About Fly Tying Feathers

~A Beginners Guide~

By Terry Dunford


When I first started the art of fly tying, I had many questions

about Fly Tying Feathers. I’ve done extensive research since

then and now aim to provide you with an exhaustive, thorough

guide to Fly Tying Feathers and their uses. This article will

provide you with information about the most used types of

features used in tying flies. I will also include great photos so

you can gain a visual perspective when reading the information

provided to you herein.

Fly tying feathers are usually broken down into two main

categories - Dry Fly Feathers and Wet Fly Feathers. Feathers

are utilized in a variety of ways. For example, feathers can be

used as body material, wings, throats, collars, tails, hackles,

cheeks and sides.


Dry Fly Feathers

The most widely-used feathers for dry fly wings are mallard, wood duck, and

teal flank feathers. Other feathers used include hen, mallard quill and turkey flats.

Certain feathers are selected for their coloration and visual appearance, whereas

others are chosen for their capability to absorb or deter water.


Wet Fly Feathers

Feathers used in tying steelhead, salmon, streamers,

saltwater and other larger flies are often very colorful

and are usually wet flies. Here you will be using the

larger saddle and schlappen feathers from chickens,

flank feathers from many waterfowl species and

some of the more colorful pheasant species. The most

common feathers used for wet flies include marabou,

hen, mallard quill, and ostrich herl.


CDC is an abbreviation for the fly tying term “cul

de canard.” CDC feathers are exceptionally fluffy

feathers and are also known as “oil gland feathers”

due to the feathers being located close to a duck’s

oil production gland which is the preen gland. This

location enables oils to become absorbed and will

then result in dry flies becoming buoyant and water

resistant (dry). These very useful feathers are available in nearly all colors, including

dark olive, natural brown, medium olive, light dun, yellow olive, white, wood duck,

slate dun, dark brown, light brown, black, salmon, rust, pale and yellow to name a

few. CDC feathers can be used for a very long list of fly patterns, but to name a few

CDC feathers can be used for parachute flies, caddis wings, or looped for emerger

wings. CDC can also be of huge value when used as hackle for both dry and wet fly


CDC Oiler Puffs are great for both emergers and dry flies. These tiny feathers lack

observable stems and are frequently called nipple plumes due to the fact that they

are located on the nipple of the preen gland. When tied in as wing posts, these fluffy

feathers entrap lots of air. Oiler Puffs can be tied the usual way, or reverse tied to take

advantage of the naturally integrated bubble created by the base of the feather. This

“CDC Bubble” is usually intended to float the fly in the surface film of moving water.


Marabou, or Blood Quill, is the supple, fluffy, soft feathers from turkeys and chickens and flow marvelously

in the water. Marabou gets its name from the Marabou stork located

in South Africa, which was formerly the singular source of this fluffy

feather. However, in the late 1930’s, it was discovered that turkey

down was incredibly alike, and a new, innovative industry came

into existence. Poultry processing now produces mass quantities of


Marabou is frequently used for tails and wings in flies and jigs. Once

a marabou fly penetrates the water, it immediately becomes lively,

and this dynamic, vivacious act draws curiosity from even the most

laid-back fish. This classic fly tying material is also widely used in nymph patterns and big saltwater streamers.

Marabou is dyed many different colors, and come in numerous different types, such as strung marabou or

blood quills, marabou plumes, wooly bugger marabou, mini marabou, and grizzly marabou.

Of all the diverse feathers used in fly tying, marabou feathers have to be one of the most distinctive and

valuable. The great thing about Marabou is that beginner fly tyer’s can still create realistic replications, which

is great reason why beginning fly tyer’s should use it frequently.

Peacock herl is well-recognized and cherished by fly tyers for its

glistening quality and vibrant color. These feathers are used to imitate

bodies that are energetic and lively when they enter the water. The

finest peacock herl can typically be located near the eye of the feather.

Peacock herl as well as Ostrich plume herl is used as “butts” or at

times as body material on numerous fly patterns. Peacock and Ostrich

herl is also occasionally used as wing, overwing, or underwing

material on numerous streamer fly patterns. Peacock Herl is also

commonly used to form naturally flashy tails, great great looking

nymphs and other various types of bodies.


The most commonly used pheasant feathers are taken from the Ringneck pheasant; however, there are various

fly recipes that call for Amherst or Golden pheasant neck feathers. Ringneck pheasant whole skins can be

a tremendously precious asset to any fly tyer because any tyer should be able to tie hundreds of flies with

just one full skin. Pheasant Tail feathers can, as usual, be tyed to imitate bodies, legs, wingcases, and tails.

Pheasant body feathers can be used to create very appealing.

Most of the pheasant feathers can be used for one thing or

another. There are many species of pheasant, which in the tying

field usually include Ringnecks, Golden, Silver, and Amhearst

just to name a few. The crest (head) feathers from the Golden

and Amhearst pheasant are frequently used as tails on Atlantic

salmon, Steelhead, and other fly patterns. Body feathers of the

Golden Pheasant can be used to tie on wings, body hackle and


About the Author

Fly Tying enthusiast Terry Dunford has been a very active fly-fisherman and fly tyer for decades and has

worked 10 years for Platte River Fly Shop in Casper, Wyoming and has written several articles on the topics of

fly tying and fly-fishing. For any questions or comments, please feel free to call the author at (435) 862-8151.


and be entered to WIN



Subscribe to Montana


* Open to all current and new subscribers.

Fly Fishing Magazine

1 of 5 great prizes!*




1 Dozen Articulated Streamers

*Drawing to be held April 15, 2018

Fishing For A

Get Hooked On Our Back Issues...


ood Read?

Above: On an early spring morning, a crane aggressively defends its

nest against an unwelcome intruder. Each spring, small populations

of sandhill cranes stop over to nest in wetlands throughout the state,

with some paying a visit to the Lake Helena Wildlife Management Area

just north of Helena. Just a few frames captured an amazing glimpse

into crane behavior— and certainly a memorable moment for this

photographer! JASON SAVAGE

Right: Sitting at just over 4,700 feet, Square Butte in Cascade County

(not to be confused with the other Square Butte in Chouteau County)

is a prominent landmark visible throughout the region just south of


Below: In Crow mythology, Old Man Coyote created people, animals,

and the earth. In some versions, Old Man Coyote is also a trickster,

and that characteristic has remained part of the coyote’s character.

Trickster or not, the coyote relies on stealth to hunt, using all of

its senses to locate prey. STEPHEN C. HINCH




Left: A nonnative to Montana, California quail were introduced in the not so distant past and now

thrive in the western part of the state.. JASON SAVAGE

Far left: The Beartooth Highway is considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world.

Starting in Cooke City, Montana, the road winds up through the mountains and crosses into Wyoming

before dropping back down into Montana and the beautiful town of Red Lodge. The view from the top

looks down into the heart of the Beartooth Mountains, a true Montana wilderness. STEPHEN C. HINCH

Below: The viewpoint at Devil’s Canyon Overlook towers more than 1,000 feet above the water

below in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, established in 1966. The point where Bighorn

Canyon and Devil’s Canyon come together is an incredible sight to behold. STEPHEN C. HINCH



Above: Bald eagles can be found throughout

Montana and are frequently seen around the

state’s rivers and lakes. Fish compose a large

part of their diet, and it’s not uncommon to

see an eagle harassing an osprey to make

it drop its catch. In winter, bald eagles hunt

waterfowl. This eagle was perched in a tree

above the Madison River looking for injured

or ill mallards. STEPHEN C. HINCH

Left: The Absaroka Mountains rise high

above the Yellowstone River as it flows

through Paradise Valley, a beautiful valley

north of Yellowstone National Park and south

of Livingston. Large herds of elk and deer

reside in the valley, while eagles and osprey

perch in cottonwoods above the river.

At sunset, when conditions are right,

the clouds and mountains light up in a

multitude of colors. STEPHEN C. HINCH


Jodi Monahan: Pain


“Patriotism Catch It“

ting For A Cause

There are times in your life when things fall into place and if you allow

yourself to follow your heart , passion and creativity it can lead you

to a spectacular place. My son-in-law asked me to paint fish and from

that I have entered the world of flyfishing and fly tying! I follow many avid

fly tiers on instagram and wait for one of their flies to grab me. When they do

I have to paint it to get it out of my mind. I’m well into over 100 fly paintings


One of my favorite sources told me he was coming to Montana to volunteer

with an organization called Warriors and Quiet Waters out of Bozeman.

They match up a veteran with a wounded warrior and teach them to fly fish.

When you are out on the water it’s a lot like when I paint, you can only think

about that one thing. Your mind is clear of everything else. I decided to look

into this organization and was so impacted and impressed. I took one of

Son Tao caddis flies and painted it on a Lazy Susan. I had it delivered to the

ranch while he was there volunteering for a week. I couldn’t stop thinking

about the impact an organization like that

makes in a community.

Helping veterans enjoy the freedom that fly

fishing gives you. I had an idea to use another of

Son’s flies and changed it into a America flag. I

choose a large canvas 36x36 to make the impact

I wanted. On February 7th I delivered it to the

Warriors and Quiet Waters Ranch to donate the

Original to them. What a wonderful group of

uplifting people that ingulf this special gift to the

warriors who are blessed to make it out there.





“Copper Beadhead”

“Floating The Hole”


Check us out

on Facebook!


Photo: Stacey Schad Randall

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines