A Montana Fly Shop Reducing Guide Trips by 20% To Prevent Overcrowding??

Category:
Fly Fishing, Kingfisher fly shop, Underground Entertainment
Added Date:
Tuesday, 3 May, 2011
Summary
I've been to the Kingfisher fly shop in Missoula, and I'd go back again in an instant. They were nice and helpful and not one bit condescending -- even after American Express declined my charge because the day before, I'd gone on a multi-state gas-buying spree.
 
Content
I've been to the Kingfisher fly shop in Missoula, and I'd go back again in an instant. They were nice and helpful and not one bit condescending -- even after American Express declined my charge because the day before, I'd gone on a multi-state gas-buying spree. (What good are credit cards if you can only use them at home?)

So they're nice guys, but I was still shocked when Alert Underground Reader [Name Redacted]
sent along this startling announcement:

In response to lots more people coming to Montana and an unrestricted growth of the fishing industry, The Kingfisher has decided to back off the amount of guiding we will do now and into the future. We are doing this with the same concerns in mind that prompted us to pull our guides off the rivers 2 full weeks before FWP mandated fishing closures due to rising water temperatures during the drought of 2007. We have NEVER felt the rivers "owed" us a living. Quite the contrary, we feel ALL users, but particularly commercial users, owe the rivers the best we can give them.

For the past 2 years the shop has been actively cutting our trips by 20%. We have done this by reducing our core guide staff and pulling ALL of our printed national advertising. We are happy to accommodate our repeat and word of mouth clientele which we have generated over the past 29 years and a limited number of new clients generated by our website. It's our goal to stay ahead of the curve here, to help preserve the quality fishing experience that we still do have, for local fishermen and the reduced number of guided clients we bring to the river.

Wow.

A fly fishing shop/guide service reducing their guided trips to stem overcrowding on the river?!

Kingfisher 20% Off Rivers

This is either a bold embrace of a quality fishing experience, or a hell of a way to justify massive laziness.

Whatever the intention, I'm afraid other guide services will simply expand to fill the market (nature hates a vacuum), and they might not be so thoughtful as to pull their guides when the rivers get a bit too warm.

This raises a larger question about the "famous" waters which are being loved to death fly fishermen, and while I'm tempted to offer up the usual plea to "get off the beaten track" I'm hampered by two things:

    1. It doesn't seem to make a difference

    1. I'm already off the beaten track, and I'd rather everybody else didn't join me there


(Sure, #2 is pretty selfish, but at least it's genuine.)

Hopeless gesture, economic suicide, or Mankind's Last Hope For a Fishy Future?

Comments, anyone? Bueller?

See you on the water, Tom Chandler.
 
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5minutes
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Author
Destinations
 (1)
Nestled at the convergence point of five valleys, Missoula is a picturesque as it is interesting. Surrounded by towering mountains, three rivers come together here; the Clark Fork, ... moreBlackfoot and Bitterroot. Each river is overflowing with rainbow, brown, cutthroat and bull trout, and the variety of opportunities to fish here are nearly infinite. For those inclined to venture out, it’s even possible to drop an impromptu line from a bridge in the middle of town and expect success with a catch. Other year round outdoor sports include white water river rafting, hiking and competitive marathon running.

What’s most unique about Missoula is that it’s not only beautiful but it appeals to sportsmen and artists alike. In fact, Missoula is a premier choice for fly fishermen with diverse interests such as the visual arts, live theater, cinema, local brewpubs and an active nightlife. Much of this activity is attributed to the presence of the University of Montana, frequently ranked as the most beautiful campus in the US, as well as being recognized for its academic excellence. The city is now host to the Montana Book Festival, the International Wildlife Film Festival and the Montana Museum of Art and Culture.

Whether you are a fly-fisher with a yen for culture or you are a fisherman traveling with people who don’t fish, this is a wise choice for striking a balance between great angling and satisfying entertainment.
Fishing Waters
 (2)
Given its association with transport, commerce and business development, it’s easy to forget that there remain parts of the Missouri set aside for fishing, boating and enjoying nature’s ... morebounty. From source to mouth, it is the longest river in North America, over 2, 341 miles. The river’s watershed consists of over a million square miles and includes parts of 10 American states and 2 Canadian provinces. When combined with the lower Mississippi, it is the 4th longest river in the world. Whew! That’s a lot to take in. But, if you’re a fly fisher in Montana, the only section of the Missouri you really need to know about is a tiny, 40 mile, stretch downstream of Holter Dam, near the towns of Wolf Creek, Craig and Cascade and not far from the city of Helena. This is the “Blue Ribbon” trout section of the Missouri.

Water released from Holter Dam keep this section the river at a fairly consistent level, helping to maintain cool temperatures year round. Some guides describe the river here as a gigantic spring creek surrounded by weed beds with long riffles, great banks and undercuts that provide ideal habitat for the river’s substantial trout population. By substantial, we’re talking 3,500 to 5,500 fish per mile on a yearly basis – and many of these exceed 16 inches! The first ten miles of the river from Holter Dam to Craig tend to have the largest number of hatches resulting in the highest concentration of fish.

In this “gigantic spring” part of the river, rainbow trout outnumber browns by a ratio of 6:1. In addition, stable populations of burbot and stonecats live below the dam. As a bonus, the reservoir is surrounded by the Beartooth Wildlife Management Area as well as three other designated nature preserves and wilderness set-asides. Look up and there’s a good chance you’ll spot a bald eagle, various types of falcon, red-tail hawks, osprey and golden eagles – you may even get a chance to see them snatch a fish from the water. Shore side it’s not unusual to sight bighorn sheep, elk, and mountain goats. This may be an area small in size but its large in its grandeur and many offerings.
 (2)
The Jefferson River is an important part of a system of rivers that combine to form the majestic Missouri. Starting at the confluence of the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers near Twin ... moreBridges, Montana, it winds 77 miles in a northeasterly fashion to Three Forks. Here, it meets with the Madison and Gallatin rivers that together converge into the Missouri River at the Missouri Headwaters State Park. Like so many other rivers in Montana, the Jefferson, named by Clark in honor of the U.S. President, runs deep with history. In fact, the Jefferson River is a segment of the larger Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, administered by our National Park Service.

When thinking about the Jefferson, a Class 1 river for recreational enjoyment, most observers view the river in three distinct sections. Characterized by slow, meandering flows, the upper third works its way through a broad, arid valley. Along this braided, 44 mile long floodplain, you will encounter working farms, dense cottonwood stands, flowered meadows and a variety of wildlife until you reach the town of Cardwell. Throughout the next 15 miles, its waters flow through a narrow, steep canyon where the water can be deep, slow and contained. As a result, the stretch from Cardwell to the Sappington Bridge has comparatively fewer trees, swamps, meadows and wildlife.

At Sappington Bridge the river once again becomes a circuitous, rambling river, rich in swamp life, colorful fields, large cottonwood groves and productive agricultural land. The presence of significant agriculture has resulted in competition for water use. During dry years, the river was tapped generously for irrigation, dropping water levels to the point where fish populations were adversely affected. Recent improvement in riparian management has tended to alleviate these issues. Primarily known as a brown trout river, rainbows, mountain whitefish, burbot and northern pike can also be found here. Less well known and less discovered, the Jefferson offers the opportunity to catch large fish in a scenic, un-crowded environment.
 (4)
The Beaverhead is a nearly 70 mile long tributary of the Jefferson River. Its original course has changed due to the construction of the Clark Canyon Dam, as have its headwaters, once ... moreformed by the confluence of the Red Rock River and Horse Prairie Creek. These rivers, along with the first 6 miles of the Beaverhead, are now flooded as a result of the reservoir project. Today, the Beaverhead flows through a wide valley where it meets the Big Hole River and forms the Jefferson River. The river is well known for its clear, blue-green color, narrow, winding turns, willow-lined, undercut banks and thriving insect life that attracts fish.

The origin of its colorful name can be traced back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, when their indigenous guide, Sacajawea, recognized a large rock formation in the middle of the river known to her as the Beaver’s Head. According to Lewis, this indicated to her that they were close to the summer retreat of her Indian nation. On August 15, 1805 the party reached her tribe, where one of her remaining brothers, Cameahwait, Chief of the Shoshone, provided crude maps, food and horses, making it possible to continue the Expedition through the mountains. On their return trip Lewis gave the river, once full of beavers, the name it now holds.

Fortunately, floating the Beaverhead in today’s world is much easier, more fun and amply rewarding. It is widely considered one of Montana's premier Brown trout fishing rivers, producing more large trout, particularly Brown trout, than any other river in the state. Due to its abundance of large trout, fly fishing the stretch near Dillon, from Clark Canyon Dam to Barrett’s Dam and through to Twin Bridges, tends to be very popular and get can crowded, even although the fish can also be hard to catch. While large fish can be caught with dry flies, it is primarily a nymph fishing river along with a swiftly moving current, so expect to be constantly mending your line.
Trips
$
550
/ Boat
Capacity:
2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Destination:
We specialize in guiding on the Beaverhead river. We cater to anglers of all skill levels, from beginner fly fishermen looking to catch that first trout on a fly, to the seasoned angler ... moreseeking a veteran Montana fishing guide who knows these waters like the back of their hand. Our experienced guides will work hard to help you have a first-rate Montana fly fishing experience.
$
500
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Destination:
Experienced anglers will apprediate The “Mighty Missouri.” Well develped skills of stealth and accurate casts are required to catch the large, cautious rainbows and browns. Wade fishing ... moreis great on the Missouri, with abundant hatches of BWOs, Caddis, PMDs, Tricos match-the-hatch dry-flies that compete with thousands of the real bugs, and a drag free drift are required to catch the huge, wary and finicky Rainbows and Browns rising to Caddis, BWO’s, PMD’s, Trico’s and more. The Missouri river can be one of the finest in Montana for experienced wade fishermen. But float trips can also be good when there are no fish rising.

We fish the Missouri from Holter Dam to Cascade, a 30-mile stretch of river designated a “Blue Ribbon” tail water fishery. Our guides know this section well and can help you hook an awesome catch.
$
495
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
The Jefferson River offers some incredible Montana fishing. We provide guided fishing trips along the Jefferson River with knowledgeable guides that will tailor the experience to your ... moreskill and preferences.
Outfitters
 (3)
Ennis Montana Premier Fly Fishing Outfitter and Fly Shop on the Madison River Trout Stalkers is a fly fishing outfitter that specializes in Montana and Madison River Fly Fishing Trips. ... moreWe are located in Downtown Ennis and just three blocks from some of the best fly fishing in Montana, on the Upper Madison River. Our fly shop is staffed with experienced and welcoming fly fishermen who enjoy sharing their knowledge.

Trout Stalkers fly shop and online store features a diverse collection of the finest fly fishing gear, clothing, fly fishing gifts, fly rods, reels, flies, rental gear, boats and accessories. Our carefully curated fly selection is focused on proven fly patterns for the Madison River and other major southwest Montana rivers.

We have a variety of watercrafts and rafts for rent and for sale, including inflatable rafts equipped with fishing frames, drift boats, kayaks and SUPs. We also have an ever-changing fleet of new and used rafts and drift boats for sale. Need a Madison River shuttle service? We can help with that too.

Our extensive knowledge of fly fishing the Madison River stems from many years and countless days spent “driftin’ and dreamin'" on this great river from top to bottom. We strive to make every visitor to Ennis, Montana feel comfortable and welcome in our fly shop. We want you to have a great Montana fly fishing experience and our top-notch, seasoned guide staff will work hard to make sure of it! Our motto at Trout Stalkers is simple: The first time you fish with us you're a client. The second time you're a friend!
22 comments
Spoken like a true contributor to the problem! lol Sounds like you have several agendas to me but what do I know. Your assessment that we have begun cutting trip numbers due to us being a "failing business" only suggests that you've misassessed lots of what's going on around you. Maybe after you've been here a few more years, you'll catch on. Actually I'm sure you already DO know this and find it ... more frustrating. We are oldest fly shop in Missoula under continual ownership, the 5th largest Simms dealer in the nation and have a guiding business that would expand as far as we are willing to let it. That's kinda the point. I have no doubt that your expertly run alternatives to our silly little business will take up the slack in river traffic. That becomes YOUR issue. BTW, I DID grow up here, on a ranch with nearly a mile of Clark Fork frontage, and I HAVE seen the changes and they SUCK! Maybe you need to reevaluate your own attitude when concerned acts of personal/business responsibility seem "self righteous". By the way, all the people you guide with are ugly and their mothers dress them funny, you couldn't find a fish with a stick of dynamite and nobody likes you either! At least I have included one line you'll be able to relate to. A Witness: I live and guide in Missoula, and in my opinion this is a feeble and painfully transparent attempt to justify a failing fly shop/outfitting company. The quality of their guide staff (and shop staff) has been on the decline for years, and as far as the market filling the vacuum, it's already happened: there are a couple outfitters here in Missoula, one of whom I work for, that are quickly growing their businesses based on professional service and good guiding–the same qualities the Kingfisher has always advertised, but can no longer provide. I personally know several excellent guides in this area who worked for them for anywhere from one to several seasons, and then CHOSE to move on because they no longer wanted to deal with the owners/company. These guides continue to work around here (successfully), but simply don't want anything to do with the Kingfisher anymore. It's the same standard self-righteous Kingfisher BS from Jim and Matt (who, by the way, grew up in Connecticut, not Missoula as the “shop” so often collectively claims). Get off your internet fishing report soapbox and close your doors quietly. Missoula will not miss you.
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Yes, if one guide service announces that they'll limit the trips that they offer, then another one who has less scruples will begin offering more. Truth be told, why waste your time limiting the amount of trips that you offer? Wouldn't it be easier to just raise your prices and let supply and demand take care of it?
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A very interesting post. I don't get up to Missoula much during the peak of the summer (busy making a living guiding on rivers around Bozeman). On my excursions to the Missoula area it has never seemed too crowded on the rivers. This is always a tough one because everyone would love to have a river to themselves, but should fishing also be exclusive? FWP has already restricted numbers on some rivers ... more like the Beaverhead and Bighole.
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PS> Crowding, both by other anglers and the much-acclaimed tuber/bikini hatch, can be a problem in Missoula, but only if you don't think outside the box. Yes, if you float the Clark Fork through town or anywhere on the lower 10 miles of the Blackfoot on a summer afternoon, you're going to get run off the river by the Keystone Light cliff-jumping crowd. Don't snag your fly on a dreadlock. But 20 ... more miles upriver or in some other direction altogether, me and my buddies or clients are fishing in peace and quiet and enjoying quality Montana fishing. It's out there, you just have to know where to look for it.
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I live and guide in Missoula, and in my opinion this is a feeble and painfully transparent attempt to justify a failing fly shop/outfitting company. The quality of their guide staff (and shop staff) has been on the decline for years, and as far as the market filling the vacuum, it's already happened: there are a couple outfitters here in Missoula, one of whom I work for, that are quickly growing their ... more businesses based on professional service and good guiding--the same qualities the Kingfisher has always advertised, but can no longer provide. I personally know several excellent guides in this area who worked for them for anywhere from one to several seasons, and then CHOSE to move on because they no longer wanted to deal with the owners/company. These guides continue to work around here (successfully), but simply don't want anything to do with the Kingfisher anymore. It's the same standard self-righteous Kingfisher BS from Jim and Matt (who, by the way, grew up in Connecticut, not Missoula as the "shop" so often collectively claims). Get off your internet fishing report soapbox and close your doors quietly. Missoula will not miss you.
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The idiot hatch does seem to be heavier than ever on rivers all over the country. Good news is with the moral decline in today's youth a young lady flashed me as she was drifting by last year.... almost melted my sunglasses... when I could finally breathe and speak they were 40 yards past and I called out a thank you...... I don't buy the "responsible" bit either no idea whats driving it...... but ... more they do have much bigger problems....
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I have to agree with the tubing complaint. I tried to fish the Clark's fork and found more relaxation in NYC. The tubers were on the river til 10pm too. The reality is that they have bigger issues in Missoula than too many flyfishermen. Also, from what I saw, there were plenty of drunks, any many wore bikinis, but the ones I saw weren't doing anyone any favors. At least not me. BTW, I went to the ... more Kingfisher and wasn't impressed. Then I went to the Grizzly Hackle and was. Just one easterners opinion.
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The Fisherman's Spot down here in VanNuys seems to be holding its own, but is feeling the effects of the economy. They do a pretty good internet business, I'm told, so that helps 'em. Mariott's down in Orange county also seems to be surviving. The Artful Angler in Carpenteria also still has its doors open. The key to all of these, I think, is that they market; they get things going, other than just ... more sitting there selling flies, rods and reels. They all offer fly casting lessons by certified instructors; fly tying classes; and organized outings. And, of course, the Orvis stores in Pasadena, as well as the one in Roseville, are still going. That said, I wouldn't want to open a fly fishing store...anywhere.
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Ralph C: Fly shops are dying like flies because of reputed dwindling interest in fishing. It's a lot like the demise of the journalism. When you can get a streamlined, aggregated, cheap (free) 'news' story from the google or the huff, why buy the real thing? When you order the flies, gear, etc. from the Cabela or the Flyshack, why visit the fly shop? There may be more anglers but they aren't ... more the same as they were 20 years ago. Sign o' the times.
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Ed Abbey says if you find a really special place of wilderness that you want to protect; stay away for a few years and give it a break. Seems it makes sense for fishing too. My in-laws own a chunk of land with a river running thorough it, and once the water drops and temps start to rise, I become the a-hole that tells everyone, "NO FISHING!"
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Fly shops have always had a high mortality rate regardless of the economics. There's nothing new here ... What I see is a singleminded rush for trophy fish - and few if anyone fishing the small creeks, lakes, and other impoundments that don't boast of lunkers. My experiences are like TC's - I don't see anyone on my water at all .. under or over 30.
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Tom Chandler: You had me until “throngs of drunken tubers.” but drunken tubers = drunken bikinis. True, its hard to argue with drunken bikinis in a college town.
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Kirk: and now you tell us that the rivers are so overcrowded that an outfitter is canceling float trips? Actually, Kingfisher is telling you that, and I'm not sure what's driving it.
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Ralph C: The Yuba, Truckee, Carson, etc are definitely seeing more anglers than ever – and most are UNDER 40. I'm pretty sure the Upper Sac is seeing a lot *fewer* anglers than ten years ago, though I'd guess most have simply headed over to the McCloud (called the "McCrowd" for a reason).
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Waitaminit- overcrowded rivers? Too many fly fishermans? I thought the industry was in a decline? MacLean's movie resulted in a spike of participants which has since waned. Numbers of participants is down significantly. Shops are closing on every street corner across America. Craigslist is chalk full of used gear being sold off by people who are walking away for the sport...and now you tell us that ... more the rivers are so overcrowded that an outfitter is canceling float trips? Boy, I need to get out more because this makes no sense ;) They already won.
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Laziness perhaps or marketing genius! The 20 % cut of guided clients will go to another outfitter. In the end the river will have the same amount of people fishing it. The difference is that the Kingfisher fly shop will now be able to charge more to the remaining 80% of their clientele. You could charge 100 people $10 a day or 80 people $15.00 a day, you do the math! Less work for more money, PERFECT! ... more In the end everybody wins!
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Ralph C: ...Yet, rivers over-crowded with fly fishers seems to be a common and growing theme. .... There is a disconnect somewhere. Yeah, it does seem to be a contradiction. Perhaps its the intertube fly shops that are killing brick and mortar.
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Fly shops are dying like flies because of reputed dwindling interest in fishing. FFF, TU, etc plead with us to "take a child fishing" to "save" the sport. Yet, rivers over-crowded with fly fishers seems to be a common and growing theme. The Yuba, Truckee, Carson, etc are definitely seeing more anglers than ever - and most are UNDER 40. There is a disconnect somewhere.
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Who thought it was a good idea to stuff two of the letter "u" in vacuum? Somebody ought to be fired.
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I thought he said "thongs of tubers" which I'm all for in a bikini sense and fully against in the Borat sense.Yeah, I call this a meaningless gesture. Capitalism, like nature, abhors the vacuum.
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You had me until "throngs of drunken tubers." Sure, they make a mess of the fishing, but drunken tubers = drunken bikinis. There is a big picture perspective here that would relegate this to the "gesture" category, but I still think it's an interesting move, though one that's likely doomed.
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Wow, that is a noble gesture. But my guess is that the rivers of Maclean have bigger problems than (theoretically) responsible guide traffic, like I dunno, giant mining equipment being hauled to the tar sands of Alberta and throngs of drunken tubers (people in tubes not root veggies) floating through bull trout habitat.
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