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Short casts: Zinke and public lands, leases cancelled and the F3T

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Not long after industry groups like the Outdoor Industry Association and the American Fly Fishing Trade Association vocally supported U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Montana) as President-elect

Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Interior, Zinke was among many in Congress who pushed a bill through that makes it easier for the government to transfer and sell public lands to private interests. Industry trade magazine, Angling Trade, noted the development and called on the outdoor recreation industry to hold Zinke’s feet to the fire. “In an era when fly fising is constantly engaged in access battles, this issue is arguably the most threatening access issue of all,” the publication noted in its online newsletter today.

And speaking of public lands, sportsmen are celebrating the cancellation of the last oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region of northwest Montana’s Lewis and Clark National Forest. As TU volunteer and Chairman of Montana Trout Unlimited Dan Short noted: “The cold, clean headwaters of the Badger-Two Medicine are critical for native cutthroat trout surviving east of the Continental Divide. These sources of clean water will prove more valuable over time than any amount of oil or gas that might have been extracted there.”

I noted yesterday that’s it’s “show season” for fly fishers all over America, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, too, that it’s film season. This year’s Fly Fishing Film Tour gets under way in Denver on Jan. 21, and moves north into Montana throughout January. The tour, of which Trout Unlimited is a longtime sponsor, is a compilation of some of the best fly fishing films crafted over the past year, and the atmosphere at the events is always celebratory.

If you haven’t been to a screening of the F3T, make some time this winter and spring to check out truncated versions of some truly remarkable films produced from craftspeople all over the country. It’s a great night out, and a fantastic way to get the fly fishing fix when it’s miserably cold outside.

— Chris Hunt