Fishing meters coming soon?

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Popcorn Joe with his fishing meter.

Metered fishing access on public waters?

Let’s hope not, but less than 30 years ago it was rare to see a drift boat on the Flathead River. Now there’s a drift boat hatch every summer day.

In waders and with a fly rod in my hand, I was walking back to the truck last weekend when a guy hollered, “Hey, you catch any fish?”

“Twenty inches of rainbow trout,” I replied. “But it took 3 fish.”

I’d spent a few hours fishing Rock Creek, east of Missoula, when I’d run into a guy the locals call “Popcorn Joe”.

Admittedly I was a bit miffed because I’d found someone casting in one of my favorite holes. As a result I’d been forced to fish water that was “iffy” at best.

“Meet my friends from Pennsylvania,” said Joe, “they’ve been here for a couple weeks.”

When Joe showed me the parking meter he had set up in front of his rental cabin, my first thought was “Is this where we’re headed for fishing Montana’s Rivers?”

Somewhere in our conversations about brown trout, grasshoppers, bighorn sheep, weather and gratefulness for lack of forest fires this summer, I casually mentioned I had recently a hole-in-one while golfing in Kalispell.

“Putt-putt golf?, he chided.

“No, no. Hole No. 9 at Buffalo Hill Golf Course. 187 yards. Used a 5 iron.”

“Anybody see it?”

“You bet. The people I was playing with had to sign that they had witnessed to make it official.”

“Seems like that would be a good idea for some of the fish stories I hear around here!” concluded Popcorn Joe.

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears regularly in the Hungry Horse News.

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