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Spring Fishin’

by Connor Erickson

MSU’s Fly Fishing Club gives some tips for the spring season. 

Spring in Montana: the season where snow rears its ugly head every few days until June, and a time when the thought of getting out on the river tops all else. Spring fishing can be one of the most magical seasons ‘round these parts, and if you haven’t, you should probably get started. Here are some tips and tricks from the MSU Fly Fishing Club to get you going.

First, a few common terms to know:

Nymphing: Using subsurface imitations under a bobber.

Streamers: Patterns that imitate small fish or crayfish.

Redds: Areas of clean gravel where fish do the nasty.

Swing: In reference to the fly where it is cast across a current and allowed to catch the current and “swing” out.

Strip: Taking line in by hand.

Dead Drift: To ensure that flies are fished at the same speed as the. current.

Tungsten Putty: a malleable putty used to add weight to line.

Split Shot: Small fishing weights.

Next, lets talk about why you should stop making excuses and get out on the local water. The fish have had a long winter, and food has been scarce. As we get warmer days, the water temperature in the rivers will rise, triggering the emergence of insects as well as Rainbow spawn. Why is this important? Because, fish get more active and become easier to catch on the fly. It doesn’t take much. A good reason to start fishing is it provides a welcome break from the monotony of school, and gives you a great chance to enjoy the outdoors. Spring is a great time to fish as most people are still skiing or daydreaming about the prospect of coming here in the summer. If you want that honey hole all to yourself, now’s the time.

A different kind of spring rainbow

A different kind of spring rainbow

Now that you’re imagining open water and hungry fish, lets talk about what gear you’ll need. We’ll assume that you’ve got a fly rod setup and waders but if you don’t, head to Bozeman Family Fly and talk to Matt (the owner) who can hook you up with everything you need to get started. There is even a student discount.

Fishing Paradise Valley

Fishing Paradise Valley

For flies, it’s time of the year when it’s less daunting to get the selection right instead of looking at a box and wondering if trout even notice the difference. Pat’s Rubberlegs in black or olive fished 4-5’ below an indicator (also known as nymphing) with a midge trailer can be deadly. If that doesn’t work, try switching the midge out for the trusty ol’ San Juan Worm. Pro tip: if you’re not occasionally catching the bottom, you’re not deep enough. Don’t be afraid to add some tungsten putty or split shot. Wind too fierce? Take a Wooley Bugger and swing it across a fast current into slower water and slowly strip  it in. To keep your hands warm, use nitrile gloves as they’ll keep water out, and don’t be afraid to layer up as it’ll extend your day on the water.

A good ol' brownie

A good ol’ brownie

Don’t know where to start looking? We love to fish the mouth of Gallatin Canyon if we only have an afternoon to fish. Look for slower currents and drop offs. For a place a little further out, the upper Madison can yield great results at any fishing access above the West Fork. Please watch out for redds and do NOT fish or tread on them.

Montana State Fly Fishing Club is on Facebook. Come to one of our meetings where we can outfit you and take you out on the water!

Paddle On

by John Ward

MSU’s new kayaking club brings a film festival to Bozeman. 

The Whitewater Kayak Club at MSU, with help from the Wave Train Kayak Team and the Gallatin Whitewater Festival, is bringing the Paddling Film Festival to the Rialto in downtown Bozeman.

This spring is the Whitewater Kayak Club’s first semester; it serves as a resource for students to participate in the whitewater community, whether they’re just joining the sport or are experienced and are looking for a good group to get out with.  So far, they’ve been attending roll sessions and have their first trip coming up at the beginning of April, where they’ll join the University of Montana Kayak Club on the Lochsa River in Idaho. Hosting the Paddling Film Fest in Bozeman is their way to make a splash, get involved in the community, and raise money for future whitewater trips.


The festival is an international adventure film tour which showcases the best paddlesports films of the year. From whitewater to paddleboarding to kayak fishing, the Paddling Film Festival has it all. It starts with submissions from filmmakers across the globe. This year there were over 190 submissions, and the Festival shows the best of the best.

Here’s a look at some of the films this year:

Doors open at 6pm on the evening of April 25th, and the show kicks off at 7. Tickets can be found online, and are also available at the Barn and Joe’s Parkway.


If you’re interested in joining the club, or just want to stay up to date, join their Facebook group: Whitewater Kayak Club at MSU. Or shoot an email over to [email protected].

Cold and Quiet

By Emily Harris

Spring camping in the Park. 

Yellowstone has yawned herself awake and begun to shake free her winter blankets of snow and ice. Freshly thawed riverbanks swell with the promise of willow buds, hillsides whisper green, and that steadfast mountain chickadee has shivered through its last cold night and into the warm dawn of spring.

JimFranklin_Landscape-Flora (14)

This time of year, it becomes easy to wax poetic about the springtime splendors of Yellowstone. We all have a touch of the cabin fever, and while we pretend to be excited that it’s snowing again because “we need the moisture,” we really just want it to be green outside already. While a visit to Yellowstone to observe newborn bison frolicking in the mist of ancient geysers will certainly relieve some of these doldrums, an early-spring camping excursion requires checking weather forecasts, bringing multiple backup pairs of socks, and the knowledge that if you drink a hot, caffeinated beverage directly before bed to compensate for unplanned cold weather, you will be wide awake all night.

Springtime in Yellowstone is a study in the temperature ranges a human body can physically withstand. Expect everything to be frozen at daybreak—fingers, boots, snowshoe bindings, the sausages you intended to eat for breakfast. As the sun climbs above the horizon, the world begins to thaw. You’ll gradually weigh down your pack with extra layers and eventually strip to shirtsleeves. Snowshoes will end up being dead weight as you wade through flowing rivers of buffalo patties (which thaw faster than the ground around them).


Yes, now is the season to visit Yellowstone. No mosquitoes, no traffic jams, and no question of whether the bears are still hibernating or out of their dens and really, really hungry—the extra burden of pepper spray is shouldered with neither doubt nor regret. And the two million summertime visitors to the Park have not gotten the memo… let’s keep it that way.

Man-Made Mountain Machines

by Taylor Burlage

A new brand of mountain racing in southwest Montana

Engineering students with an adrenaline addiction, your time has come. The 2nd Annual Creek to Peak Soap Box Derby, a competition in which teams build their own soapbox cars and shoot them down a steep hill riddled with obstacles, is just around the corner.

Creek to Peak, an outerwear company from Bozeman, started the derby last year after some beer-induced brainstorming by founder Frank Gazella Jr. in an effort to not only promote their brand, but to create a truly Montana competition. “Ultimately, we wanted an excuse to have some fun,” says Frank, “and after doing it once, I can tell you it’s an adrenaline rush. This is the only event in the country that does this. It’s super unique and it’s a great team-building event. It’s not just a competition but it’s also kind of a party in the outdoors.”

“The race itself was an absolute blast,” says Shayne Forsythe, driver for last year’s winning team, the Cake Eaters. “Each cart was totally different so it was a lot of fun to talk about everyone’s design choices.”

Shayne graduated from MSU with a BS and an MS in civil engineering, and that is what really piqued his interest in the derby— and ultimately won his team the race. “This is exactly the type of fun engineering students (and others, of course) can have when given the right motivation. Our build process started with some very lofty ideas that slowly morphed into a more achievable design that we put to the test the day of the race, and we had a ton of fun doing it.”

Soap Box-1


Creek to Peak hopes to eventually turn the derby in to a team-building event for students, and is currently looking for more support on campus. “There are loads of incentives to enter the race, especially for college kids,” says Frank.  “You’ll get the most comfy t-shirt you’ll ever wear, a stainless steal bottle opener, and 500 bucks for the first-place team. Not only this, but once you have a car built, you can enter any race as the years go by, building a legacy in the Soapbox Derby community.”

Frank is hoping to get 15 to 20 teams in the race this year. The more people who enter, the more prize money Creek to Peak can give away. They are also partnering with local outdoor-oriented companies such as Outside Bozeman  that will be donating other gifts and prizes for racers.

The basic rules are this: you need to be at least 14 years old, have a maximum of five people per team, and two people per car on race-day. The registration deadline is March 1, so hop to it.

“That’s pretty much it,” says Frank.  “Get out of the rut of doing the same thing, do something different, come enjoy some scenery and be able to say ‘yeah, one time I bombed down a hill in a tiny little car I made myself.’”

Full rules and regulations for the Derby can be found on the Creek to Peak website. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram to keep up on the countdown to race day, and have some fun at this daredevil-meets-engineering-nerd contest.

Soapbox Derby Poster April 2018


Making Climbing Great Again

by Noah Bosworth, head route-setter, MSU Climbing Wall

 Climbers work together to create a bigger, better wall. 

Some of you may have heard that the MSU climbing wall is undergoing an expansion. Well, the rumors are true.

The MSU climbing wall will indeed be fully renovated.

The current space will be redesigned and expanded with improved walls, upgraded flooring, and new holds, creating a modernized version of a space that already plays an important roll on campus.

Here’s a bit of history. The original MSU climbing wall took shape over a decade ago in a dark corner of Romney Gym. It wasn’t long before a growing population of student climbers required more space, so they pushed for expansion.

By the fall of 2008, MSU architecture students designed and constructed a climbing wall in a repurposed racquetball court in the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center. This larger, more accessible location provided new services, such as instructional courses and events.


Anticipating future growth, students and faculty advisors recently continued the expansion effort. For years, the passion to improve the  current climbing wall passed from one class of climbers to the next. There were meetings and student polls, small victories and defeats, and more than a few ASMSU sessions interrupted by swarms of climbers. This persistence culminated in a student body referendum in the spring of 2017, which included an updated expansion plan. The referendum saw the highest-ever voter-turnout rate, and students voted overwhelmingly to approve the construction of a new 2,000-square-foot climbing wall.


The planning and design process for the new wall has been guided first and foremost by a desire to maintain the spirit of the current space, which is a central pillar for the MSU climbing community, as well as a place where students can expand their personal potential. The new wall will incorporate user education as a key functional component, allowing the expansion of instructional courses, the introduction of for-credit classes, and the development of hands-on safety-education resources.

Meanwhile, the larger size and updated terrain of the new facility will create a diverse and relaxed environment for students of all abilities and skill levels to build a community while staying active.

New construction focuses on joining the current space with the racquetball court next door. By expanding into the neighboring racquetball court, the design team was able to include a variety of low-angle and slab features, while integrating steeper terrain and  top-roping stations.  The addition of a designated training area creates a more functional climbing wall, one that can meet the needs of novices and experts alike.

The new and improved wall is expected to open by fall 2018. Keep an eye out for new classes and educational opportunities, or just come by with your friends to check out the new wall. Construction will take several months, meaning the current wall will be closing some time this spring.

Until then, the wall is fully operational and the annual Prince and Princess of Plastic event will be held February 24 as a celebration of the little racquetball court where so many friendships and memories have been made.

For more info, visit our Facebook page.

Let’s Get Wild

by Augie Schield - President, MSU Wild

Students fighting for public lands. 

Over the past few semesters, MSU students have been hard at work advocating for conservation. Not only did we rally for public lands in Helena last January, but we also held on-campus discussions to educate students on local conservation and environmental issues, hosted state senator JP Pomnichowski for a discussion on public-land transfer, and testified in front of legislative committees. Additionally, we attended forest-planning meetings, screened a documentary about the threats to the Badger-Two Medicine, and spent countless hours registering our peers to vote.

The MSU Wilderness Association (MSU Wild) is a perfect representation of this next generation of conservation advocates. MSU Wild members act as youth ambassadors for the statewide conservation nonprofit, the Montana Wilderness Association. We take action by communicating with and inspiring our peers to get outside and be active advocates for wild places.

Many freshmen take their first steps in Montana’s  wilderness areas on club-organized hikes.  By facilitating these experiences, we can solidify the values of quiet recreation and conservation. These wild places become essential parts of both the physical and mental health of many in our communities, and students are no different. Wilderness areas provide clear water and clean air to the Gallatin Valley, some of the most pristine wildlife habitat in the lower 48, and are a big part of Montana’s booming outdoor-recreation economy.

MSU  Wild groups have ventured into the Bob Marshall and Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness areas, headed south to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for spring break, and spent countless hours exploring our incredible back yard, the Gallatin, Bridger, Crazy, and Madison ranges.

Photo by Taylor Burlage

Photo by Taylor Burlage

In the coming months, MSU Wild has many opportunities for students to get involved in both public-lands advocacy and outdoor adventure. These events include a winter survival skills course, a civic engagement and advocacy training, a GPS educational field day, and loads of other fun activities like group hikes, film festivals, and potlucks.  We aim to create a community of students focused on having fun in Montana’s wildlands while making sure we can pass that outdoor way of life on to future generations of Montana State students. The club is open to any student, regardless of experience. All it takes is the desire to protect that which makes Montana so unique.

Photo by Fay Bohmer

Photo by Fay Bohmer

Stay up-to-date with MSU Wild club events by joining our Facebook group MSU Wild (Wilderness Association) and following @msuwild on Instagram.  We can also be reached by email at [email protected].   Keep it Wild!

That Snow Excuse

by Emma Nord

What to say when the mountains call.

While many people in our country spend these frigid months watching the news or Netflix in Snuggies, most Bozemanites keep warm by skiing or snowboarding Bridger, Big Sky, or the backcountry. Unfortunately, many of us must spend five of seven days inside an office or a classroom—sans ridiculously comfortable blanket with arm holes—in order to afford gear, lift passes, and the medical expenses that accompany a mountain lifestyle. For the weekdays when the heavens anoint our peaks with fresh powder, and your closest view of the Ridge is the background photo on your laptop, try these excuses with your superiors.

“I strained my chi doing camel pose in yoga last night.”
It’s really important to listen when the universe tells you to take a day off. Some unbalanced chakras could really mess up the workspace feng shui.

“I’m taking a sick day.”
Although I typically discourage using the word “sick” interchangeably with cool, awesome, wonderful, etc., there’s finally an appropriate use for it—and it’s barely fibbing when used as an explanation for your absence in class or at work. The nipple-deep pow and the lack of lift lines are sick, indeed.

“I’m sick. Really.”
Chances are you may truly be afflicted by a virus, but what invigorates your system better than some fresh air and cold smoke? You’re less likely to spread your infection while bundled up head to toe in ski gear; however, you are more susceptible to a snotty beardsicle—and pneumonia. Use this one with caution.

“My dog has the flu.”
Most professors will understand that you will need to be gone all day giving her medicine, organic chicken noodle soup, and mixed-berry popsicles. Substitute “cat” as necessary.

“My doctor recommends that I spend time outside to cure my winter blues.”
You will probably do yourself and everyone else a favor this season if you just go outside. Ask your doctor, a yoga teacher, or the cashier at the Co-op to write a prescription. “200 turns in fresh powder before lunch, three to five times a week to help prevent the transmission of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Repeat after one week. Refills: Unlimited.”

“Do you mind if I take a half-day today? I’d like to take advantage of the powder.”
Be real and remember that you are in Bozeman, after all. The powder clause and nature tax are real things here, and your supervisors likely want to get outside as much as you do. Odds are, you’ll be running into them on the slopes. If they still say no, give ‘em a disappointed head-shake and mutter something about the robust middle-management job market in Miami.

Shop Smart

Discounted duds and outdoor gear mapped out.

by the editors

Eight hundred dollars for skis. Five hundred for a fly rod. Who knows how many thousands for a mountain bike. Bottom line, gear is expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to get discounted new items, and used stuff downright cheap. Here are a few places to look.

Gear Swaps
There are three major swaps every year in Bozeman. The Gallatin Valley Bike Club hosts a swap in April, so instead of shelling out a year’s worth of food money for a new ride, pick up a discounted one there. If you like to run rivers, the Barn’s boat swap mid-spring is a great way to cut costs. Check them out on Facebook for details. In the winter, the Bridger Ski Foundation coordinates a massive ski swap at the fairgrounds. It’s the perfect place to pick up solid alpine or Nordic equipment, or even a lightly-used touring setup for backcountry adventures.

Photo by Lars Scinny

Major Sales
Bozeman is flush with great gear stores, but prices aren’t exactly cheap—except for two weekends a year, one in the summer and one in the winter. Crazy Days, as these weekends are known, see sales up to 50% off up and down Main Street and at surrounding retailers. Check out for this year’s dates.

Bob Ward’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse both have occasional sales; check their Facebook pages and look for newspaper ads. If you’re an REI member, the Bozeman location has periodic co-op sales that open early to members.

Resale Stores
While it’s sad to see, lots of folks ’round these parts take up an activity, only to quit and move on to another on a whim. That means there’s lots of lightly-used gear at resale stores. Second Wind and Play it Again have the biggest selection and best quality, but Nu2u and some of the pawn shops on N. 7th also boast a strong inventory. Even some of the fashion boutiques, like ReCoutre, Sacks, and Cat Walk have apparel and outerwear worth checking out.Photo by Lars Scinny

One of the best ways we’ve found to save money and still get after it is by renting. The ASMSU Outdoor Center has great deals for students, but Chalet Sports, Round House, and other local shops also provide rentals, and their fleets are often higher quality. Also, look for free demo days at places like Owenhouse and Gear Wizard. It’s nice to know how a $4,000 bike rides before buying it.

Scheming for Skiing

How to plan a hut trip.

by Drew Pogge

Just like an elk hunter plotting his autumn hunt in the sweltering heat of summer, skiers must plan their trips well before winter arrives—or that awesome hut weekend just isn’t going to happen. Life has a way of getting in the way if left to chance, so make your plans and mark the calendar now to enjoy plenty of deep powder, bacon, and whiskey later.

Where: Outside Bozeman has covered the local ski-access yurts, USFS cabins, and fire lookouts many times before—check out for some great ideas. While you’re searching, pull out a map and think about the hut’s elevation, aspect, position relative to treeline, distance from actual skiing, and other factors that will affect the snow conditions, avalanche risks, and the effort it will take to ski.

When: The kind of ski experience you have largely depends on the time of year. Early season (December-January) will typically be dominated by cold, short days and thinner snowpack, but often yields the deepest, lightest powder. Late season (mid-March through May) is often defined by a deep, more stable snowpack, and longer, warmer days, but less opportunity for blower snow. Mid-season (February to mid-March) can go either way, any day. What kind of snow, weather, and travel conditions do you prefer? Regardless, book early—the best dates tend to be snatched up by October.

Why: This may sound silly, but be sure everyone is on the same page. Are you going to crush vertical from dawn until dusk, eat a fiber bar and go to bed sweaty; or are you planning a relaxing vacation with late breakfasts, afternoon siestas, and some mellow ski-touring between glasses of pinot? Different strokes for different folks.

Who: A common mistake is to fill the hut with people, no matter what. It usually ends up costing less per person this way, and there’s a perception that more hands make for lighter work when it comes to chores and carrying food and supplies. But often, if you’re scraping the bottom of the friend barrel, you end up with one or two companions who are poorly conditioned, weak skiers, or unable to contribute to safe decision-making—and this can have a huge effect on where and how you ski. Consider your partners carefully.

Access: Is it a 10-mile, 3,000-foot approach? Is a snowmobile required? Can you drive to it? When it comes to Montana backcountry skiing, sometimes getting there is half the battle. Make sure you know what it takes, and line up the appropriate resources ahead of time to get there safely, and in good enough shape to enjoy the trip.

Guiding: Several local guiding operations offer guided and catered hut trips—in that case, you can disregard everything you just read and let the pros take care of planning, portering, breaking trail, and cooking. In Bozeman, Big Sky Backcountry Guides operates Bell Lake Yurt in the Tobacco Root Mountains ( Beartooth Powder Guides operates the Zimmer Yurt and Woody Creek Cabin out of Cooke City (, and Hellroaring Powder Guides out of Idaho Falls operates a quonset hut in the Centennials (

Fitness: This one should go without saying, but don’t expect to crush your hut trip off the couch. Spend the fall and early winter preparing your body for long days in the skintrack, followed by lengthy descents in variable snow conditions. You don’t want to do all this planning only to be laid up in the yurt, completely wiped out after the first day.

Drew Pogge guides skiers all winter long out of the Bell Lake Yurt and in Yellowstone National Park.