Smalley balks at $45 fee to fish Duck Lake

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Forty-five dollars to fish Duck Lake for one day?

Are you kidding me?

Fishful Faithful may remember last week’s story where I got so excited about returning to the fly rod that I planned to head to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation the very next day.

And I did! But with certainly mixed results!

Before leaving home we checked www.blackfeetfishandwildlife website and found a Sept. 15 Fishing Report. Nice touch!

Somewhere I had read about the Blackfeet Reservation AIS Watercraft Inspection station hours. Highway 2 station just west of Browning was still open. Seville, near Cut Bank was closed.

Must’ve been a press release because I couldn’t find the same story on the website as I was writing this week’s column.

The website indicated non-member tribal fishing permits could be purchased in the Flathead Valley at Sportsman’s Ski-Haus and Snappy’s, also Glacier Way “C” Store north of Browning, and online.

For weather reasons, we opted to purchase our fishing permits at Glacier “C” Store — $20 for daily permit, $10 for seasonal recreational/conservation license. When the clerk said, “$35,” he pointed to a sign that said “$5 service charge for writing up permits.”

OK, I could live with that, so we put our daily fishing permits in our waders and drove to Duck Lake—where we saw nobody fishing!

A blue sign (which I’d never seen before) said, “The campground is the only authorized boat launch on Duck Lake.”

There were no vehicles parked at the “sistern.” No vehicles at Pelican Rock. One camper/trailer in the campground.

A sign near the campground said, “Everyone must sign in at the Office.”

All cabins, including the Office, were boarded up for winter with sheets of plywood.

When a fisherman emerged from the camper, we asked him, ”What’s going on?”

“Costs $10 to launch a boat or float tube,” he replied. “A guy will come along and collect your money.”

“By the way, did you get your waders inspected?”

We had our boat/wader Permission to Launch papers on our truck dash. But, ka-ching, 45 bucks was too much! Way too much.

And no mention of a “Duck Lake Launch Fee” in the 2017-2018 official Fishermen Regulations.

When we returned to cell service, I called Blackfeet Fish & Wildlife Department (406) 338-7207 to ask specifically if float tubes are ‘boats’ and why there is no signage about a launch fee.

A polite secretary told me she had no answers. The director was not in the office and the guy in charge of collecting launch fees on Duck Lake was in a meeting So we fished Hidden Lake.

Jerry Smalley’s “Fishful Thinking” column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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