2014 – expressing many thanks and indelible memories

2014 – expressing many thanks and indelible memories

Big Hole River with Dave Brant
Jack Mauer and Dave Brandt in the Big Hole

The 2014 Guide Season is officially over having my last personal guide days the last week of October. Despite the slow fishing, the radiant fall colors and memories of fast fishing we had through out the year helped ease in the inevitable – winter coming on!

I want to say many words of thanks to all who fished with Wapiti Waters during this glorious season of good flows and good angling. I would also like to mention a couple of anglers who have passed on to the “Happy Fishing
Ground” namely E. Terrill Nobles (Terry Nobles) and Dave Brandt. These two fishermen were the reasons we love guiding. Their attitudes were upbeat whether the fishing was fast or slow and they genuinely loved the waterways and trout environment. Their desires to share this love will always be with us. We will forever miss yet forever remember them.

Another note: We also had the privilege of  fishing with Dave Brandt in Argentina– fantastic time and memories.

Dave Brandt and daughter KJ in 2009

Thank you,

Jack Mauer, Wapiti Waters Fly Fishing Montana, Outfitter #867

Terry Nobles in 2005
Terry Nobles and Jack Mauer - East Fork of the BItterroot June 2007
Jack Mauer and Terry Nobles in 2007

Montana House Bill 187: replace guides with assistants? not a good idea.

Montana HB187 creates unlicensed temporary guides called outfitter’s assistants to replace licensed guides who are injured or absent. These “emergency guides” could be a positive solution used by professional outfitters when 1) there’s a bonafide emergency, and 2) the clients of an outfitter and the public are protected. But, as written, the bill fails in both cases, and more. This is reposted from the FOAM blog. Read on.

Representatives of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (MOGA) and the Professional Wilderness Outfitters Association (PWOA) who drafted the bill talk and testify about only using OA’s in somewhat rare emergency situations, but nowhere in the bill is the term ‘emergency’ used or defined in order to justify replacing a guide with an outfitter’s assistant (OA). Without requiring proof of a definable “emergency,” the bill lets any outfitter replace any guide any number of times during a season with an OA for a limited time – up to 15 days – without having to declare or prove an emergency situation or pay for a guide license.

Who cares? We do, and so should the public, right along with Montana legislators. Some reasons why:

• The OA’s are unlicensed, so they dodge a mandatory background check for prior violations as a professional license holder or any criminal convictions in MT or elsewhere – a prerequisite for anyone seeking to be licensed for any profession in Montana. Without this check, even the well-intentioned outfitter may not really know the background of the person they’re putting in the field with clients.

• Licensed guides are required to have first aid training; unlicensed OA’s are not. Clients served by an OA may be at risk in a medical emergency, particularly in rough back country.

• Licensed Outfitters are held accountable for actions of their licensed guides. But, this bill does not hold a hiring outfitter accountable for an OA’s violation of any Board of Outfitters or FWP laws or rules while serving clients. We believe accountability encourages compliance and responsibility with regulations that safeguard the public served by licensees. Without accountability, public welfare is jeopardized.

• Montana outfitter license rules require an outfitter to get written permission from a client before changing their rates. We think the bill should have similar language for personnel changes, requiring the outfitter to tell the client when an OA replaces a licensed guide. It just makes sense to bring the client into the decision whether or not to continue the trip without a licensed guide. We believe full disclosure helps everyone work out a satisfactory solution to any true emergency.

• Since they’re not licensed, OA’s won’t have a valid guide license. The Board of Outfitters must somehow create a document for OA’s to carry in the field to replace that license as proof of compliance with this new law. We can’t think of a way to track on paper the fifteen-day limit for each OA, much less show which day of the 15 is current when an OA is checked in the field. Since no one knows when an emergency will happen, this document will have to be issued to all outfitters each year just in case it’s needed, and the circumstances of the replacement situation may not be known until the end of the license year. This documentation is intended to enforce compliance, but we just don’t see how that might work.

• With no licensing, there’s no fee to “create” or pay for administration of OA’s. The term “outfitter assistant” will have to be added to many board rules and even some Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks rules. So, who’s going to pay for rules covering these new OA’s? All licensed outfitters and guides, one way or another. Simple rule-making can run as high as $1700 and up, not to mention the cost of administering whatever rules are eventually developed.

Worse, without the various sideboards mentioned, some less ethical outfitters may well replace guides with no-cost OA’s, directly reducing the board’s income and requiring all licensees to pay more in fees to make up the difference. Our members don’t want to pay higher license fees to subsidize uncontrolled use of OA’s.

FOAM has dealt with similar emergency guide replacement issues by simply licensing one or more guides to be used in other capacities in the field – think “freighters” who row the gear boats on the Smith river – or as standby help who may be available on short notice. Consider that our outfitters and guides are in the field for up to eight months statewide, starting fishing trips every day, and a survey of our outfitter members shows very infrequent need for an emergency replacement guide that could not be handled by having a spare guide or two available.

MOGA and PWOA representatives backing the bill claim this spare-replacement-guide technique will not work in their business model, even though there is evidence other MOGA members have used these auxiliary licensed guides in a variety of camp capacities or had them on standby for quick replacement.

The FOAM Board of Directors agreed to oppose HB187 for these and other reasons, including the fact that such uncontrolled, unsupervised, and unaccountable behavior may well lead to abuse that can tarnish or degrade the outfitting industry in the public’s eyes. Simply put, we believe public safety and honest dealings are more important than any outfitter’s business model.

FOAM is proud of it’s professional, responsible outfitter and guide members, and we see no reason for the legislature to pass a proposed law that, even with the best intentions, does nothing to account for, discourage, or punish abuse of public safety and welfare by even one outfitter falsely employing an outfitter assistant in a bogus emergency.

We’re not alone in this thinking. The Montana Board of Outfitters is responsible for protecting the public health, safety and welfare by qualifying outfitter and guide license applicants. With this charge in mind, the board met via a conference call on Tuesday, Feb 5, and voted 4 to 2 to oppose HB187 for many of the reasons we’ve stated: no mention or definition of emergency in the bill, the OA is not vetted for prior violations and has no first aid training, and the hiring licensed outfitter cannot be held responsible or disciplined for the unlicensed OA’s behavior, lack of first aid training, or violations of law and rule.

We believe the outfitter board would agree that, by and large, members of the outfitting and guiding industry are responsible professionals who run outstanding, quality operations. But, because the board members deal with disciplinary cases involving outfitters and guides, they are well aware that some licensees use questionable business practices that skirt or break the law.

FOAM has worked for years with our fellow hunting outfitters, and, like a family, when one of your brothers or sisters is headed down the wrong path, we owe it to them to try to set them straight. We have asked MOGA and PWOA representatives to amend this bill to address our concerns. So far, few changes have been made.

We also think this issue is important for the public, because, aside from all the internal administrative questions and costs, there’s still the issue of public safety. Would you want to be on a hunting trip out in the field with an OA with an unknown past who has no first aid training? Would you want a nonresident relative – or any nonresident visiting Montana for our quality hunting – to be with an OA? To us, the potential risk of a client guided by an unlicensed OA must be balanced with some degree of control and accountability. Unfortunately, HB187 does not set that balance.

If you’re a Montanan and you agree with us, go here, then click on “Senate Roster by Name” to find the Montana senator in your district and ask them to oppose passage of HB187 as written.

FWP hosting a women’s ice fishing workshop Feb. 8-10

FWP hosting a women’s ice fishing workshop Feb. 8-10

BIGFORK – If you don’t want to wait until spring to start fishing, Fish, Wildlife and Parks is hosting a women’s ice fishing workshop Feb. 8-10 at Peterson Lake.
A $100 fee pays for all fishing gear, food and two nights lodging at a camp on the shore of Peterson Lake near Bigfork.
The workshop is sponsored by FWP’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Program.
Beginner and intermediate anglers are welcome. Activities include learning to use ice fishing rods, tip-ups, ice augurs and sonar fish finders. Participants don’t need a fishing license.
For more information, call BOW coordinator Liz Lodman at 406-444-9940 or email llodman@mt.gov.
Click here for an online registration form.

Ice Fishing — February 8-10, 2013

Near Bigfork, MT

Fee: $100

Don’t sit inside waiting for the long winter months to pass by. Put on some warm clothes, get outside and try ice fishing. This workshop is at Big Sky Bible Camp with a very short walk to Peterson Lake. You’ll learn to use ice fishing rods and tip-ups and other gear like ice augers and sonar fish finders. The workshop is for beginner and intermediate anglers and includes some optional indoor activities and night fishing. The registration fee includes all your fishing equipment, 2 nights lodging dn meals from Friday dinner through Sunday breakfast.

Fishing for big Carp with Eric

Fishing for big Carp with Eric

Jack was in Springfield, MO visiting his sister and mother recently and fished with Eric. They fished for carp and longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus). Caught carp (huge carp), but only teased the gar. Fun time. Thanks Eric.

Eric Olliverson with a carp

Fishing Guide on Table Rock Lake, Taneycomo, Bull Shoals, Beaver, and More – Eric’s Elite Guide Service
Eric Olliverson is an FLW Touring Pro and a Full-Time Fishing Guide.

This is Wilson’s Creek near Springfield. Jack was surprised at finding huge carp in this kind of water. Not very deep.


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