As part of an assignment for the Fly Fish Journal regarding the encounter and it's relevance in the recent stream-access/ditch debate in Montana, I paid a visit to the Rice Ranch to apologize, to discuss the issue with two (hopefully) rational parties, and to inform them what I'd learned since the argument I was given was not exactly accurate. Unfortunately (maybe), the gate was closed and padlocked, and no one appeared to be around.
I therefore mailed a letter since all I really knew about them was the address, and waited to hear back. My deadline came and went without a response, so we moved forward without their response. But in late August, I did get a very nice e-mail from a member of the Rice family, which showed that the Rices are just another gregarious Montana ranch family trying to coexist with a broadly worded stream access law and a popular sport.
Many thanks for your recent letter and interest in the legalities of fishing in and around Cobblestone. I am very appreciative, not only of your inquiry but also your follow up. As you can imagine, it is hard live next door to a public fishing access…a constant balance between the public and the private.
I don’t know who you talked to on the Rice Ranch but your suggestion about posting further information is a good one.
Unfortunately, the verbage for that body of water has gotten hopelessly confused and mislabeled…even Darlinton, the actual spelling of my family name is incorrect on the documentation and signage.
My husband and I will be in residence at the ranch soon after Memorial Day. Next time you are out there to fish, please stop by to say hello so we can continue the conversation.
(name kept private)
I have not followed up with her yet, and frankly don't know that I will. From my perspective, the issue has been resolved. That said, it would probably be a lovely experience meeting such a warm-sounding person, and I'd probably be better off for it.
All in all, this has been a positive experience. I have learned about the intricacies of the Montana stream access law, met knew people, sparked an interesting discussion and got published nationally in one of the best fly-fishing publications going (you can read the piece in the current FFJ - 3.1). But at least for a while, I might stick to less questionable fisheries. Maybe.