CrossCurrents believes strongly in thinking about our world beyond our company, individuals and our time. We try to put our time and money towards many conservation efforts and organizations. From executive office holders in the Pat Barnes Missouri River Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the State Council Board of Directors for Montana Trout Unlimited, to membership and support in Missouri River Flyfishers, The Nature Conservancy, Montana Land Reliance, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation and others. CrossCurrents is the only business on the Missouri River that is a Trout Unlimited Member.
Pat Barnes Missouri River Chapter of Trout Unlimited (#055)
Federation of Fly Fishers
The Whirling Disease Foundation
Trout In The Classroom in Helena, Montana sponsored by the Pat Barnes Missouri River Chapter of Trout Unlimited teaches Elementary, Middle & High School students about wild trout, their biology and their survival needs as the students raise hatchery trout from eggs (upper right) to fingerlings that they release in Spring Meadow Lake (lower right) [Spring Meadow is a closed system with a put & take fishery]. This highly successful program is an example of some of the educational outreach work that Trout Unlimited accomplishes. We of course, also do the “dirt & water” projects such as stream bank restoration and water savings & leasing.
The following is a handout from our Fly Fishing School. I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to include some information on stream etiquette and catch & release on this website and the Conservation page is not a bad place for it. Please feel free to download a pdf of this essay (Stream Etiquette by Chris Strainer.pdf) and copy and print it as you see fit. (Wouldn’t it be nice to hand this to someone who just crowded in on you on the river! Yes, I know you would rather shoot him with a Taser Gun but please take the high road and be calm and cordial. You know, the golden rule type.)
Introduction To Fly Fishing School
It used to be that most new fisherman were gradually introduced to the sport of fly fishing by a family member or friend who had a fishing background, and various rules of behavior would be acquired over time and adhered to as a matter of course. Nowadays, we welcome many adult newcomers to the sport with no tradition to rely on for guidance so stream side misunderstandings can easily arise.
The rules of stream side behavior are few and easily observed. Mostly they revolve around common sense, courtesy and consideration of others sharing the stream.
A section of water belongs to the first fisherman fishing it. It is inconsiderate to crowd him/her and just “how close” an approach is permissible is an obvious variable.
A slow moving or stationary fisherman has every right to remain just where he is. If you are moving, leave the water and walk around him, being certain not to disturb his fishing or the water he might be working. In a similar vein, a fisherman may be resting a pool or planning his next move. It is still his water, and you should not jump in without his permission.
A fisherman working in an upstream direction has the right of way over someone coming downstream. Wading upstream against the current forces you to move slowly, cover less water and you are approaching the fish from behind. The fisherman working in a downstream direction covers more river quickly, and has the potential to disturb more water, i.e. careless wading could send silt or debris washing downstream to alarm fish someone is working over.
Many streams flow through private property. Recognize access across that land is a privilege, not a right. Respect private property. If unsure about access, ask the landowner politely. On ranch properties, don’t trample crops, disturb livestock, or leave gates open. Leave no litter at stream side. In fact, get in the habit of picking up discarded monofilament, cans and other trash, and carry them out to be discarded properly. [Montana has a wonderful Stream Access Law that allows the public to access rivers and streams if the individual(s) remain within the ordinary high water mark. Montana is the only Western state in the nation with such a law. It is under constant attack in the courts by some selfish landowners – mostly out-of-state, absentee landowners – who want their own private trout stream. Please support organization that actively defend this law, like Montana Trout Unlimited, and do nothing to give the stream access foes ammunition for their cases. Basically do what was mentioned earlier in this paragraph.]
Recognize that skilled anglers and/or heavy fishing pressure with excessively liberal limits can greatly reduce the available fish populations in any stream unless voluntary restraint is practiced. A legal limit is not a quota, let your fishing motto be – “limit your kill, don’t kill your limit.” Orvis and CrossCurrents encourages a catch and release philosophy of angling, allowing fish to mature, reproduce, and live to challenge other anglers in the future. [Remember, Montana is unique in that we have not stocked any river or stream with hatchery fish since the late 1960’s. We rely solely on wild trout to produce more wild trout. So the fish in the river today have the awesome responsibility of perpetuating the species. Therefore, it should be our awesome responsibility to protect those wild trout and their habitats so they have the best chance to make lots of strong, healthy fish in future! A few years ago we outlawed the hunting of big game animals on “game farms” in Montana with the understanding that there is a difference between wild animals and “domesticated” versions of those animals. We have a fair chase ethic with hunting wild animals – we too should have a fair chase ethic with fishing for wild trout.]
Multiple recreational uses of streams are common. We may share the resource with tubes, canoes, drift boats, rafts and other float crafts. It is the responsibility of the floater to recognize that the wade angler has established a position before the boat floated into view. The floater should try to pass behind the angler. If the space doesn’t permit this, the floater should float by quietly and with minimum disturbance. [Polite communication by both the rower and wader is always a help in this circumstance, thereby avoiding many of the contentious issues that surround the hotly debated “Row vs. Wade” on our rivers!]
In summary, behave on the stream towards other anglers, as you would like them to behave towards you. Welcome to the wonderful world of fly fishing and have fun!
Below are some quotes from Chris Strainer’s favorite book, “A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold. Although written in the 1930’s & 40’s they ring true today and maybe louder than in Aldo’s time. If you would like to purchase a coffee table quality special, illustrated hard cover edition of this amazingly insightful book for only $35, please contact CrossCurrents.
“Wildlife ….often represents the difference between rich country and mere land.” -Aldo Leopold
Forward to A Sand County Almanac:
“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These …are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot.”
February – Good Oak:
“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
The Round River:
“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. By land is meant all of the things on, over, or in the earth. Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism. It’s parts, like our own parts, compete with each other and cooperate with each other. The competitions are as much a part of the inner workings as the cooperations. You can regulate them –cautiously — but not abolish them.”
“The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: ‘What good is it?’ If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not.”
“To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”
“We console ourselves with the comfortable fallacy that a single museum-piece will do, ignoring the clear dictum of history that a species must be saved in many places if it is to be saved at all.”
“I think we have here the root of the problem. What conservation education must build is an ethical underpinning for land economics and a universal curiosity to understand the land mechanism.”
“There are yet many boys to be born who, like Isaiah, ‘may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this.’ But where shall they see, and know and consider? In museums?”
“…the ethics of sportsmanship is not a fixed code, but must be formulated and practiced by the individual, with no referee but the Almighty.”
The Ecological Conscience:
“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.”
Land Health and the A-B Cleavage:
“Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity.”
Wilderness for Science:
“Many conservation treatments are obviously superficial. Flood-control dams have no relation to the cause of floods. Check dams and terraces do not touch the cause of erosion. Refuges and hatcheries to maintain the supply of game and fish do not explain why the supply fails to maintain itself.”
“The art of land doctoring is being practiced with vigor, but the science of land health is yet to be born.”
“The trophy-recreationist has peculiarities that contribute in subtle ways to his own undoing. To enjoy he must possess, invade, appropriate. Hence the wilderness that he cannot personally see has no value to him. Hence the universal assumption that an unused hinterland is rendering no service to society. To those devoid of imagination, a blank place on the map is useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.”
The Clark Fork Coalition
Check out the Milltown Dam Cam!
Click above or here for information on FWP’s Future Fisheries Program
Free at last! Check out the Milltown Dam Cam! The Clark Fork is experiencing its first, unabated runoff season since 1906! Migrate on through wild trout and explore the world above the Wall.
North Coast Steelhead Alliance
Click on the names of these organizations to see their websites:
To learn more about one of the biggest threats to our fisheries – aquatic nuisance species (ANS) – and how to prevent their spread and how to properly remove them from your fishing gear, please click on the banner &/or other links below: