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Bill Schneider

The Muskies of Minaki

Beware of Muskie Fever. It can ruin the life of a perfectly normal fishaholic. And contagious? You betcha. I caught it even before I went anywhere near water where the mighty muskellunge lurks. Then, last year, I finally had my first chance at a muskie, and what an introduction! Six long days and 8,600 casts without a single hook-up. (Click here to read the gory details.) But even such a royal butt kicking can't come close to curing Muskie Fever. Instead of giving up and going back to trout, I couldn't wait to go back for another beating. Catching a muskie was high on my life list, so it had to happen. All I needed was a better time and place, eh?

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Selwyn Lake Lodge: Remote Island Paradise Surrounded by Trophy Fish

I've had all kinds of fishing experiences, and some of them--perhaps too many of them--have been in somewhat primitive, if not brutal, conditions. Roughin' it is okay, I guess. I've done plenty of it, but now, as I get older every year, I've discovered that a little relaxation and indulgence goes just fine with fishing. Which is one reason I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Selwyn Lake Lodge.

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Ena Lake Lodge: Secluded Luxury and Good Fishing, Too

Way up north in northern Saskatchewan on the 60th Parallel within sight of Northwest Territories is a massive body of almost-virgin fishing water called Ena Lake. The owners describe it--and the overall experience--as "unspoiled, uncrowded, and unforgettable." Since I was fortunate enough to spend a few days this year, I know that slogan isn't merely marketing hype. It's more like an understatement. Ena Lake Lodge is the only speck of civilization on the enormous lake and many miles of trackless wilderness in every direction, so you not only get that feeling of remoteness, you know Ena Lake and several other smaller lakes lodge guests can fish have incredibly low fishing pressure.

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Now Anti-Wolf Groups Are Blowing It

No reasonable deed goes unpunished, eh? That must be how wildlife managers or advocates who actually want to resolve the wolf-delisting impasse must feel. On September 23, I posted a commentary with the title, Pro-Wolf Groups Blew It where I criticized the left-leaning plaintiffs in the various lawsuits for pushing too hard, too long, and turning fence setters and most western politicians into the anti-wolf camp and possibly endangering the integrity of the Endangered Species Act. Now, the pendulum has swung to the far right.

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Forest Service Moves to Intimidation to Collect More Entrance Fees

On September 29, I wrote about a historic court decision overturning the Forest Service's (FS) policy of charging an entrance fee to visit or park in the Red Rock High Impact Recreation Area (HIRA) in Arizona's Coconino National Forest. In my commentary, I not only urged the FS to forego appealing the ruling but also to throw in the towel and comply with the court decree and stop charging the fee--and then purge the National Forest System of all 95 HIRAs. I'm one for three.

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The Tea Party America Really Needs

We've been mired in a lot of contentious issues lately, wolves, wilderness, guns, et al, so let's lighten up a bit today. We've all seen the tea party faithful on TV, protesting big government, high taxes, and anything-Obama with those tea bags hanging from their hats as they chant and wave an anti-the-way-we-are placard. Well, I've had enough of it. First of all, that is a disgusting waste of perfectly good tea bags, and second, these protesters are giving tea drinkers a bad name. It's about time we launched the Real Tea Party with a single mission--giving tea drinkers the respect we deserve. I am so painfully aware of this long-festering inequity. Like other minorities, I have spent my entire life fighting discrimination and prejudice and intolerance. And don't tell me you haven't seen it--that snooty, high-and-mighty, attitude coffee drinkers have and how it has become ingrained into the fabric of our culture. Here are just a few examples:

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NRA Still Getting it Right, Except on Tester

Here's something that isn't news to anybody. The number of guns Americans own has skyrocketed, but how is this significant? An incredible--and later proven unfounded--paranoia swept the country starting back in 2008 when it started to look like a perceived anti-gunner, Barack Obama, might become Commander-in-Chief. The rest of the economy tanked, but thanks to Obama, the gun industry flourished and had its best three-year run ever. Firearms manufacturers worked three shifts per day and still couldn't make enough guns, especially handguns, to meet demand. Not only has the number of handguns owned by private citizens at least doubled, to more than 100 million handguns, about one handgun for every two adults, but sales of long guns and shotguns has also soared. Americans now own at least 250 million guns, more than one per adult, including at least 20 million firearms gun control advocates might call "assault weapons." The number of privately owned firearms continues to go up by at least 4 million per year, and interestingly, many new handgun buyers are women.

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Leading Sportsman Blasts Montana Senators for Derailing Wolf Delisting

The founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW), a multi-state conservation group that has been aggressively pushing for a congressional resolution to the wolf delisting controversy, claims Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester, both Democrats, are not his allies. Instead, he insists, both the Montana Senators worked behind the scenes to actually derail delisting efforts at the same time they were jointly introducing a bill to delist the wolf. No, I'm not making it up.

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On the Walleye Trail

You ever heard that rumor about Montana being Trout Country? Well, I guess it's true, sort of, at least in the collective public consciousness. In reality, though, Montana is also Walleye Country. Especially up in north central Montana, officially known as Russell Country. In July, in fact, with the kind assistance of the Russell Country tourism office, my fishing partner, Gene Colling, and I spent nine days up there trying to prove it.

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Earth to Forest Service: Recreation Fee Program Is Still Illegal

Since December 2004 when the Bush Administration talked Congress into tacking the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) onto a must-pass budget bill as a dreaded "midnight rider" and made it the law of the land without public debate or congressional vote, it has been more than controversial. The Forest Service (FS) immediately started illegally interpreting the law as a license to charge the public entrance fees to drive, walk or ride a bike into National Forests and to park along state highways passing though federal land. Citizens protesting the illegal policy have won court cases in the past (click here for details), but in every case, the FS reacted by appealing with the full force of the federal legal machine until it prevailed over volunteers hoping for a little justice.

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