Batman vs The Joker
DIAMONDS, AND DUST. POOR MAN LAST. RICH MAN FIRST. LAMBORGHINI’S, CAVIAR. DRY MARTINI’S, SHANGRILA.”- AC/DC
Just let it happen Montana.
Let the forces of Evil take away Montana’s coveted stream access “High Water Mark”. Yeah we’ve won the war up to this point, but nobody thought The Donkey’s would beat the Panthers 6 weeks ago in the Super Bowl either. In other words, anything can happen and you can bet your left testicle that The Joker’s will forever attempt to buy or heavily influence the folks that could take away what we covet and benefit from most as anglers. The Joker’s that lie in wait, hope to elect a Governor, Montana State Supreme Court Judge, County Commissioner or other special interest group that wants to back “property owners” by not letting the public invade their precious oasis known as a streambed, even though Montana’s streambeds have never been for sale to begin with.
This story is as sleazy as a Larry Flynt “koochie” magazine and it reads like this. Some “heavy hitter” land owner that wipes his ass with “C” notes every morning after passing a bowel movement consisting of gold nuggets and uncut diamonds, calls his attorney and gives them the directive to do one of the following; 1) Erect a fence across a road to prevent public access. 2) Film anglers stopping to wade fish and then have a local sheriff’s deputy waiting at the take out to write them a trespassing ticket, or 3) eerily have their “ranch manager” track angler’s on an ATV as they make their way upstream. All it takes is one Judge to side with one wealthy landowner’s legal assertion that the public is not entitled to put their unworthy, low class wading boots on the very rocks their hard earned money paid for and just like that our stream access is in question.
Like a lot of Rocky Mountain States, Montana seems to attract its share of out of state Big Dollar Assholes that somehow believe that money buys everything. Unfortunately for those folks, Montana is not like our border state Wyoming, who’s courts and legislative leaders have already sucked up and pandered to the agriculture lobby, wealthy landowner’s and real estate business group’s instead of representing their own tax paying sportsmen and women.
In the fight of Batman VS The Joker, let’s examine who the Batman’s are, and who The Joker’s are in the never ending war to keep The Treasure State’s coveted “High Water Mark”.
1) The Public Land Water Access Association. In the state of Montana, there is no bigger stream access Bat Man more BAD ASS than the PLWA. These folks have fought the true fight in raising the necessary funds to legally combat the likes of the Ruby River “Joker” himself. Every Montana Outfitter, Guide, Fly Shop and sporting goods box store should treat the fine folks at the PLWA to a weekend every year consisting of strippers, premium smoke and more booze than they drink at the annual Simms Ice Off festivities. Without the PLWA, all of us in the industry as well all anglers throughout the state of Montana would be more screwed than a guy wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt at a Donald Trump rally. If you are a Montana resident or better yet, a stream/public access advocate, please at minimum, purchase an annual membership to the PLWA for a measly $20.00 a year. Let’s face it, you’ve spent that much money on a shitty meal at Apple Bee’s this month. Every penny of that $20.00 will go to fighting the stream access threats that we as anglers will always face.
Foul Hooked Whitey PLWA Rating- Bat Man
2) Montana Trout Unlimited. It seems like there is a lot of varied opinions in the sport when it comes to TU. Whether it’s TU’s historical stands against certain industry, or the ever present political angle, it’s definitely true that not all of what TU does is either agreed with or appreciated. That being said, it is very important for Montana angler’s to know that the Montana chapter of Trout Unlimited has been instrumental in assisting the PLWA through donations in the PLWA’s legal fight against stream access advocacy. Supporting Trout Unlimited is a lot like being married to a hot chick. You got to put up with a lot of compromise, spend a lot of money on projects that don’t mean a damn thing to you, and most importantly learn how to keep your mouth shut when you disagree, but it’s all worth it when you get to see that beautiful ass walk across your living room floor. You may not be a big TU fan or supporter, but that doesn’t mean that your “High Water Mark” loving booty doesn’t benefit from what Montana TU does.
Foul Hooked Whitey Montana Trout Unlimited Rating- Bat Man
3) Patagonia. No I’m not talking about the South American mountain range here, I am talking about the company that makes some of the best gear on the planet while still being a huge public advocate in regards to all things that are vital to the outdoors. Though Patagonia hasn’t won over the “bullet crowd”, or my good friends in Montana’s beleaguered coal industry. The truth is, Patagonia takes its clean water and stream access support to the upper echelon
Of the fly fishing industry. We’re not talking about just here in Montana, we’re talking globally. “PataGucci” is that big. The Foul Hooked Whitey knows for a fact that “PataGucci’s” fearless leader has personally stroked some legit coin to the PLWA without any ceremony, credit or fanfare. That’s called putting your money where your mouth is. Other vendors in the sport should try it.
Foul Hooked Whitey Patagonia Rating- Bat Man
4) James Cox Kennedy. This is America. I love money like the next angler. The Foul Hooked Whitey doesn’t write no commie blog if you know I mean. I also don’t begrudge success and a fat bank account unless…..they use that success and fat bank account to be a douche bag and attempt to take away the rights of the public. That is exactly what some out of state wealthy landowners have attempted to do by using their deep pockets to challenge our Stream Access laws. I am talking about the likes of billionaire James Cox Kennedy who has waged an economic war against Montana citizens, Montana small business owner’s and the Montana Fly Fishing industry as a whole. The Foul Hooked Whitey validates that statement by the fact that if Montana loses its “High Water Mark” access due to Kennedy’s continued legal challenges, the negative economic impact on the state of Montana would be in the tens of millions of dollars annually. There is no doubt that James Cox Kennedy has become the “Montgomery Burns” of the Montana Fly Fishing Industry. I can just hear his “Blue-Hair Lawyer” say, “Sir, we have just lost another Montana Supreme Court decision regarding your Ruby River property”. Without even a glance or acknowledgement, Kennedy coldly replies, “Release the Hounds”. You get the picture. Kennedy owns 8 miles of Ruby River property. Kennedy’s history in Montana is his legal fight along Seyler Lane near the Ruby River. This fight includes erecting fences, including at one time installing an electric fence to prevent the public from crossing Kennedy’s “line in the sand” between the folks that can hire and pay a thousand dollar an hour lawyer, and the folks that just want to enjoy their state’s resources. If it wasn’t for the Public Land Water Access association, the likes of James Cox Kennedy, Huey Lewis and the Yesterday’s News, and Charles Schwab, would already have Montana singing the Wyoming state anthem regarding Stream Access Laws. This fight will never end. There will always be a James Cox Kennedy looking to impede the rights of the many just to satisfy the luxurious taste of the few.
Foul Hooked Whitey James Cox Kennedy Rating- The Joker
5) Montana Ducks Unlimited. I don’t know about you, but MDU’s recent firing of its own volunteer beat writer over a straight up article about James Cox Kennedy is the biggest outdoor sport, “cover your ass” situation The Foul Hooked Whitey has ever seen. Though it’s no secret that Kennedy is both a big volunteer and contributor to Ducks Unlimited, the Montana chapter’s decision to let this writer go because he pointed out that Montana Ducks Unlimited was talking out of both sides of their mouth by both advocating public access to water ways while also praising Kennedy’s contributions and role in their organization. That’s like the mafia whacking folks during the business week, yet every Sunday, there’s Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero, front and center before a Priest at a Catholic Mass, with a big old wad of cash ready to drop in the collection plate, tithed with a sleazy smile and wink. Maybe Montana Ducks Unlimited should change their name to “Montana No Nuts Unlimited”.
Foul Hooked Whitey Montana Ducks Unlimited Rating- The Joker
6) The Boulder River Culture. South of Big Timber Montana is a beautiful freestone stream called The Boulder River. This stream is just far enough from “BozeAngeles”, and Billings to not get as much pressure as other streams in our region. Though the fishing can be fantastic, the problem with the Boulder River is that its bank is littered with property owners that simply don’t want you on “their” stream. Whether it’s the crazy old dude at a popular public fishing access being aggressive to rafters, Hollywood celebrities harassing anglers as they fish, or dude ranches offering “private” fishing water, the Boulder River has a reputation and history of angler/property owner stream confrontations. A former fly fishing industry representative with a lot of credibility, told me how he was confronted and then repeatedly “high holed” by a famous actor who first questioned how this person legally made it up to “his” spot on the Boulder river. When the celebrity was told that this person biked several miles from a legal parking spot, and then legally chained his bike to a county bridge, this celebrity tersely replied, “Who are you? Frick’n Lance Armstrong?” Damn! Even Bat Man’s sometimes The Joker. A good friend and customer has a similar story of putting in a lot of effort one fishing day, and wading upstream several miles on the Boulder to reach a coveted spot he had only heard about. While nearing this spot on the river and while staying below the “High Water Mark” the entire day, it wasn’t long before “Jethro” rode up on an ATV and questioned this angler as to how he gained access to this stretch of river. When told he got there from walking all the way upstream from a legal put in at a bridge, “Jethro” casually replied, “I guess we’ll let you fish here today. We don’t have any guests this week”. Moments later, “Jethro’s” old man “Cletus” came down to the water and proceeded to “stink eye” my friend as he fished. When the stream access law savvy angler asked “Cletus” what his problem was? “Cletus” without saying a word, aggressively charged upstream towards the angler faster than “Cletus” runs to a “wife beater” t-shirt sale at Wal-Mart. Before “Cletus” could reach the angler, “Cletus’” old lady, “Bertha” ran from the river bank and held “Cletus” back before he did anything too stupid, all while saying to the angler “Go ahead and fish. We don’t harass fisherman here”. No I’m sure you don’t. Unless of course they are NOT a paid client of the Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch which asks for $2000.00 per week, per person all while advertising, “Fly Fish PRIVATE Boulder River”.
Foul Hooked Whitey Boulder River Culture Rating- The Joker
7) The Montana Supreme Court 2016 Election. If there is one thing that truly puts our “High Water Mark” laws at risk, it’s the upcoming Montana Supreme Court Election. The word on the “streams” is that candidate Kristin Juras is NOT the Supreme Court candidate to vote for if you are looking for a Judge who supports the public’s right to existing Stream Access Laws. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Juras is a lot more sympathetic to private property owners and not the general public in regards to “High Water Mark” issues. Juras is also easily linked through fundraising and political support to the “good old boy” network here in Montana. These are the same folks who generally embarrass Montana nationally whenever Montana’s state Legislature is in session. This group of Legislator’s has repeatedly attempted to change our state name to “Montucky”. Before you make your decision as to who to vote for in the upcoming Montana Supreme Court Justice election, The Foul Hooked Whitey respectfully suggests that all “righties” out there become “thinkies” before you cast this vote.
Foul Hooked Whitey Kristin Juras Supreme Court Justice Candidate Rating- The Joker
Regarding the future of Montana Stream Access, and all The Joker’s out there trying to take our state’s High Water Mark standard away from its citizens, I think “Moses” said it best-
“When you pry it from my cold dead hands”.
~The Foul Hooked Whitey
- Foul Hooked Whitey