Fishing and freedom go hand-in-hand

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As I write this, our county is considering a ban on fireworks due to dry, fire-prone conditions.

One can only hope that everyone will consider the importance of waiting until conditions improve, and that they will have the common sense and respect for the conditions and obey any bans — but we all know there will be someone who really doesn’t get it.

Folks, it is HOT and DRY in the woods, and one spark can start a fire around here that could devastate our local woods and fields. Ban or no, don’t do it. Sure, buy fireworks while you can but put them away until conditions improve or New Year’s.

Most people would not necessarily consider the Fourth of July as a holiday about fishing, but when we talk about Independence Day, we really are talking about freedom to pursue our dreams and activities that bring us pleasure. When it comes to fishing, the word freedom gets used quite a bit.

Most advertisers love the word and we have everything from “freedom of movement” clothing, boats named “Freedom,” a Freedom to Fish Act in the U.S. and even a kayak model named The Freedom.

So yes, it seems as if fishing and freedom go hand in hand. While fishing occurs on almost every body of water in the world where people exist, freedom is much more fleeting for still too many.

I am reminded every time I venture on to the water how lucky I am to not just get to fish almost anywhere at any time in Montana, but I actually get to make a living from it.

There are lots of people who don’t get to go fishing. It might be because they live somewhere where no lakes are within reach. It may be because they are sick and can’t physically go. It may be because they don’t know a person who can take them. There are many, many reasons why people may not be “free” to go fishing.

But for those of us that have the freedom to go fishing, we should be thankful for a whole lot of things: thankful for that first person who took us fishing, whether it was our first time or just this last time; thankful for the folks who write magazine articles so we can learn (and maybe pass that knowledge on); thankful or those who introduced and wrote laws protecting our waters and resources and for those writing and enforcing them today.

I am truly thankful for everything that allows me the freedom to do what I love to do: fish!

Fishing conditions around the valley resemble mid-August conditions more than the first couple days of July. Surface temperatures on area lakes and rivers are through the roof. I am seeing afternoon temperatures on Flathead Lake in the low to mid-70s. Many of our local, smaller lakes are well into the upper 70s and our rivers have no snowmelt.

If these conditions continue, fly anglers are going to have a hard time and restrictions may have to be imposed. Trout don’t do well in these temps, so fish in the morning and let these fish rest in the afternoons.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Fourth of July holiday and weekend. While our festivities may be impacted a little bit this year by the weather and local forest and water conditions, this too shall pass. Maybe this is the time to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. I’ll see you on the water!

Howe runs Howes Fishing/A Able Charters. Contact him at or 257-5214 or by emailing

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