August: Trout & Wildflowers

The sego lily, a jewel among wildflowers.

Summer is a fleeting season here in our Mile High city. We had heavy snow back in early June. We had frosts, or near frosts, in mid-July. Now we are getting some hot weather to push our gardens along as we struggle to keep our lawns green. 

But, at the end of this week we’ll flip our calendars to August, and that will mean we’re just a month away from the opening of this year’s upland bird hunting season. Those first walks of the hunting season are usually summer outings, but heaven knows we’ve often had snow and freezing temperatures on Labor Day weekend. When we get to September, the seasons can be a day-to-day thing.

In other words, now that we, at last, have real summer weather, we’d better take advantage of it while it lasts. 

At the top of my list for outdoor activities in August is fly-fishing, not that there’s anything new about that. How we do that may be quickly changing, however, as rivers drop to seasonal low flows. Sometime in August I usually put my pontoon boat back in the garage rafters and concentrate on walk and wade fishing for the duration. 

I don’t mind, as I generally catch more fish when I’m wading than when I’m floating. 

Right about now, and continuing well into September, the main hatch on area rivers will be tricorythodes mayflies, usually referred to as tricos. Tricos are tiny, but when tangible clouds of these little bugs settle on the river in their last act of life the fish take notice, and the action can get hot.

Also about now we should be seeing spruce moths on the Big Hole, and that can get fish really excited and on the feed, if you’re on the river at the right time. A few years ago I did hit it right and I spent just about a whole afternoon working my way up a current seam where the moths were floating along and getting picked off by hungry trout. I probably covered less than 100 yards, but that was sufficient.

There are other things to do, of course. With the cool, rainy weather in June and early July, there has been a profusion of wildflowers on our mountainsides and riparian areas.

On my last outing I was looking on a Big Hole island for one of my favorite wildflowers, the sego lily. I didn’t see any until I got back to the fishing access site and they were a number of them right next to the parking lot.

The sego lily is native to many western states, from Nevada and Utah to the south, to Montana and the Dakotas. It’s also Utah’s state flower, as Native Americans taught hungry Mormon pioneers where and how to dig for the plants’ bulbs for food.

More flowers!

I’m just happy to see them during the short time they’re flowering; because I think they’re about the prettiest wildflower around.

Naturally, there are other things happening besides fishing, gardening and wildflowers.

This being the political year it is, it seems to me that one of the more interesting developments is Governor Steve Bullock, who is also challenging Sen. Steve Daines for a Senate seat, suing the Federal government to block the current acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management from leading the agency while his confirmation is pending before the Senate. This is the third lawsuit to be filed, so far, as Federal law, according to the filing, “prohibits acting officers from running agencies while their nominations are pending before the Senate.”

Acting Director William Perry Pendley is a terrible choice to run the agency that manages millions of Montana’s public lands acres. Most of his career has been devoted to attacking public lands. His record as an acting director is one of mismanagement.

Maybe it’s picking at trivia. If we believe the polls, even if confirmed as Director, he’d be in office no longer than next January. That’s still no reason to install an unqualified person in that crucial office.

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