Skip to main content
Original Issue


Indians scalp the Idaho Fish and Game Department, Maryland's McKeldin damns a dam and New York's Harriman moves to tidy up the Beaverkill

Based on regular weekly dispatches from SI bureaus and special correspondents in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and overseas; and on reports from fish and game commissions of the 48 states and Alaska


Even the almost 100 year-old Yah-nee agreed it was an important day. With 75 other Shoshone Indians she sat silently in the Soda Springs, Idaho courtroom last week, remembering days when her tribe's domain stretched far beyond the present limits of the reservation near Pocatello. Now she and the others waited for the white man's court to render its verdict; a verdict which would uphold or deny the right of the Shoshone tribe to freely hunt and fish lands it once had owned. And, her faith, like that of all the Shoshone, was placed in the justice of a blind judge, an 88-year-old treaty and the skill of a defense counsel who had championed many an Indian cause.

Wilford L. Broncho, head of the Shoshone tribal council, was the defendant. On October 16, 1954 he had been arrested for killing two deer without a license and off the reservation on unoccupied public land formerly part of the reservation. In local court he had been convicted and fined $100.

But there was more at stake than a $100 fine. By the 1868 Fort Bridger Treaty and by a congressionally ratified agreement in 1900, the Shoshone Indians held the right to hunt and fish unlicensed and without regard to game laws, not only on their Fort Hall reservation, but also on any unoccupied public lands which were once within reservation boundaries.


The Idaho Fish and Game Department, in recent years, had balked at the latter provision. It did after all have responsibility for Idaho wildlife, and the "unoccupied public land" included much of the state. A clear ruling was needed, but it was hard to come by.

Five times conservation officers had made arrests similar to Broncho's. Five times Defense Counsel Ben W. Davis had won acquittals by reading the Shoshone treaty to the nonprecedent setting local court and by citing Article VI of the Constitution which holds U.S. treaties to be the law of the land. Broncho was the state's first conviction and he had appealed. Now in the Soda Springs District Court, a court of record, Idaho would get its clear ruling.

Caribou County Prosecutor Francis J. Rassmussen presented his case. The act admitting Idaho to the Union in 1890, he contended, superseded all previous treaties and the state should have control over hunting and fishing plus power to enforce acts of the state legislature. A similar ruling, he pointed out, had been made in Wyoming.

Defense Counsel Davis presented his case. "Your Honor, I am here to prevent an injustice and to see that these people retain rights granted them by the United States Congress. The State of Idaho must recognize the Fort Bridger Treaty. It is the law of the land."

The trial was two hours old when Judge John A. Carver, a former U.S. district attorney who has been blind since youth and who studied the case in Braille, reversed the conviction of Wilford Broncho, ruling that the Fort Bridger Treaty and congressional ratification still stand and that Shoshone rights thereunder exist unimpaired.


The babbling brook, the rippling rill,
The smiling stream, entice me still,
But yet I find them getting colder
Each time I wade, now that I'm older.

The breakneck banks, the slopes of slime,
The rugged rocks, I used to climb
So easily, but how they differ,
They're mighty steep, now that I'm stiffer.

The stinging sleet, the scorching sun,
The wailing wind, are not much fun,
From each of them in turn I suffer
Now that I am an ancient buffer.

The portly pigs, the chewing cows,
The staring sheep, all make such rows,
Did that blare come from bull or heifer?
I'd better mind, now that I'm deafer.

The kinking knot, the fiddling flies,
The nylon noose, all try my eyes,
In foiling them I once delighted,
They're just plain hell, now I'm shortsighted.


What joy do I still find therein?
I must confess, the nearby inn,
The path to it I'll once more follow,
For all thanks be, I still can swallow.

Courtesy of
The Fishing Gazette (Great Britain)

Forty days after SI called attention to the deplorable garbage dumps along New York's famed Beaverkill (The Scandal of the Desecrated Shrine, SI, Feb. 27) and after years of fruitless efforts on the part of many concerned individuals and organizations, Governor Harriman on April 7 signed a bill introduced by Republican Senator Gilbert Seelye of Saratoga County which forbids the dumping of earth or refuse in any New York trout stream.


Among noteworthy catches last week: a 51-pound WAHOO caught by Susan Held of Erie, Pennsylvania, fishing out of Nassau in the Bahamas; a 19¾-pound WALLEYED PIKE, within¼ pound of the state record, caught at Center Hill Lake near Walling, Tennessee, by Charlton Howard of Chattanooga; an 8-pound RAINBOW TROUT caught by Frank Freeburg of Great Falls, Montana, in the Missouri River near Great Falls on a red-and-white wobbling spoon; a 48-pound CHANNEL BASS from Oregon inlet, caught by Martin Campasano of Nags Head, North Carolina; a 77-pound TARPON caught by Richard Raitt Jr., of Elmira, New York near Islamorada, Florida, on spinning tackle and 8-pound test line; a 7-foot 3-inch SAILFISH caught by Dr. M. A. Strowbridge of Toledo, Ohio, on 40-pound test line off Tavernier, Florida; a 54¾-pound COBIA caught by Howard Huntiger of Milwaukee at Key Shoals 14 miles from Biloxi, Mississippi.

It may come as a stiff shock to the Braves, but the much-respected Milwaukee Journal Consumer Analysis to be released in mid-April will show that 44.9% of Milwaukee men rate fishing as their favorite sport, while less than half that number, 20.8%, elect baseball.


Maryland's Governor Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin, a Galahad in states' rights armor, recently charged full tilt at the United States Army. The challenge is a dam being constructed by the Corps of Engineers at Little Falls on the Potomac River. So far the dammers have no evident intention of including a fishway in the project, and without one the spawning grounds of countless shad, herring, white perch and striped bass will be cut off.

Disputing the Army's contention that it has neither funds nor authorization for a fishway, Governor McKeldin dispatched an ominous, no-nonsense letter to Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker. In addition to claiming the river and all the water in it for Maryland, the Governor warned that "Unless the Corps of Engineers can be persuaded to honor the statutes of Maryland and the acts of Congress regarding a fishway at the falls, this state will be compelled to initiate legal proceedings to force compliance."


It is a general belief among saltwater anglers that sailfish, marlin and other billfishes always swat bait fish with their bills and then return to gobble up the defunct results at leisure. Hence the drop-back, a sport fishing technique whereby line is free spooled after a strike to give the marlin, or whatever, time to pick up the bait (Black Tails and Blue Ocean, SI, March 19).

Recently, however, Dr. Luis Rene Rivas, a University of Miami ichthyologist, announced that the drop-back is a sound practice, but, according to his research, the theory behind it all wrong.

Writing in Progress Report No. 1 of the Charles F. Johnson Billfish Investigation, Dr. Rivas concedes that "When marlin are feeding in a school of bait such as bonito or mackerel they usually rush through the school clubbing several fish with their bills and then return to swallow them." But, Rivas maintains, "When marlin rise to a trolled or skipping bait they very seldom use their bills for clubbing. Careful observations have shown that the fish merely opens its mouth and takes the bait across its jaws. This," Dr. Rivas continues, "is confirmed by the markings found on baits which have-been dropped by fish."

Why, then, is the drop-back still a valid and productive angling technique? According to Dr. Rivas, if a victim is longer than the billfish's distended gullet, the billfish invariably juggles it around to swallow the head first. This maneuver may take a bit of time, so whether the angler's bait is clubbed or grabbed he should still drop back before striking.


SO—season opened (or opens); SC—season closed (or closes).
C—clear water; D—water dirty or roily; M—water muddy.
N—water at normal height; SH—slightly high; H—high; VH—very high; L—low; R—rising; F—falling.
WT50—water temperature 50°.
FG—fishing good; FF—fishing fair; FP—fishing poor; OG—outlook good; OF—outlook fair; OP—outlook poor

TROUT: MINNESOTA: Lake Superior north shore streams beginning to open up and should be fishable this week; all were ice-choked first few days of season. Several rainbows to four pounds have been taken near mouth of Knife River just north of Duluth and a few to three pounds reported from the Baptism River. Streams just north of Duluth are high and roily; rivers north of Two Harbors, Minnesota and through Grand Marais to Canadian border are still icebound with waist-high snow on banks. Rainbows are believed concentrated in Lake Superior near mouths of streams ready to make spawning run when conditions permit, and run is already under way in ice-free streams.

WASHINGTON: Game Department now planting 6 million legal size rainbows, 15 million rainbow fry, 4 million cutthroat fry and 2 million brook trout fry in lowland lakes. In northwest area 10,000 legal rainbows went in Lake McMurray, 8,000 in Big Lake, 8,000 in Lake Sixteen, 15,000 in Lake Erie, 10,000 in Lake Samish. Last year's fry plants in Heart, Clear, Silver and Cain lakes now legal size. SO April 22 and OF as nearly 1/3 million anglers are expected to be out on opening day with biggest concentration of fishermen at lowland lakes on west side. North end of Lake Washington, open year round, producing good cutthroat fishing for trollers, and OG.

PENNSYLVANIA: OVP for most trout waters in state as SO April 15. In western part of state spies predict Tionesta and Oil creeks will be VH and D, recommend Tionesta tributaries Four-Mile Run and Farnsworth Creek, Oil Creek tributaries Thompson and McLoughlin creeks, which should be clear.

ONTARIO: OVP in southern Ontario for April 28 opening as many lakes and streams will still be ice-covered.

MICHIGAN: SO April 14 for rainbow trout in specially designated streams of both peninsulas as late spring breakup is keeping most rivers H and D. In lower peninsula best bets are Betsy and Au Gres rivers. In upper peninsula access roads to Huron and Two-Hearted rivers are still snow-covered. Big Manistee River below Tippey Dam, a favorite early-season spot, is closed due to spawner-netting operations.

CALIFORNIA: After blustery opening weekend, Topaz Lake anglers had fair fishing with worms and cluster eggs and OG as weather improves. San Diego County creeks and ponds were restocked with legal fish last week but sport fell off sharply after elbow-to-elbow fishing on opening weekend produced surprisingly good creels.

NEW JERSEY: High, cold and muddy water slowed opening days of the Jersey season despite record preseason planting of 257,000 adult brook, rainbow and brown trout. Fishermen are enjoying recently state-acquired two-mile stretch on the Pequest River which had been privately posted for more than 50 years. In general OP until weather improves and water clears.

MAINE: To qualify for state-sponsored "One That Didn't Get Away" club you'll have to produce a brown trout weighing eight pounds instead of last year's six-pound minimum. However, a five-pound brookie will qualify this year (last year's minimum was six).

NEW YORK: Catskill mountain spies say Beaver-kill, Willowemoc, Schoharie and other area streams won't be worth fishing until about May 1 due to run-off from heavy snowbanks still in woods. There are still two to four feet of snow in Adirondack headwaters and run-off may continue until May 15 in Ausable and other area trout streams. SO April 14.

TARPON: FLORIDA: Light-tackle expert Jerry Coughlan of Essex Fells, New Jersey, fished out of Islamorada last week with plug casting outfit and 15-pound test line, boated a 135-pound and a 110-pound tarpon after 20-minute battles with each. In same waters Frank Hendrickson of Southold, Long Island, landed 38-pound tarpon on fly rod outfit with 12-pound leader in 14 minutes. In general OF/G and improving as tarpon begin working up west coast.

TEXAS: Port Aransas charter boats located several schools of tarpon in between heavy winds last week, and pier fishermen have fair luck with small fish. OF, says spy.

BLACK BASS: FLORIDA: Lake Tarpon near Tarpon Springs producing frequent whoppers from deep water on live bait, including several fish in 12-pound class. In general FF throughout state but rain is still desperately needed.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Windy weather and muddy water hampered anglers in coastal waters last week but several Santee-Cooper fishermen reported easy limits of fish over four pounds (up to eight) on spoons and surface plugs fished in shallows near shore.

NORTH CAROLINA: Lewis Newman and Norman Howard of Maryville, Tennessee, set some kind of Fontana Lake record with string of 12 bass weighing over 50 pounds. Seven of the large-mouths weighed over five pounds and two weighed over seven. In fresh-water lakes, bays and rivers of northeastern Carolina FVG for largemouths with plugs and spoons fished near surface or at medium depth, and OG.

CALIFORNIA: Hottest spots for largemouth fishing are Anderson Reservoir in southern Santa Clara County and lower Colorado River reservoirs; still too early for surface plugs, says agent, but should be in order any day now.

ARIZONA: Best bet for big bass west of Mississippi River is probably Mohave Lake where seven, eight and nine pounders are reported in scads; brushy coves are best spots with salamander bait sure-fire fish-getter. Be sure to make weekend reservations for boats or cabins well in advance.

MISSOURI: Lake Wappapello C, L, FVG with medium deep plugs. Best fishing is in the Holiday landing area on Highway 67 near Greenville and OVG. Lake Norfork SD, VL, but FVG with live bait and deep-running plugs. No large bass were reported last week, but small and medium fish are abundant, and OG.

LOUISIANA: Fly rod fishermen are taking lots of bass to four pounds in the Calcasieu River on popping bugs. In the Lacassine Refuge, Ben Pugh of Iowa, Louisiana, landed a 5¾-pounder on a metal wiggler, and plug fishermen were getting fast action last week in Spring Bayou at Marksville. In general, OG.

TEXAS: Dizzy windstorms last week kept catches down in north and east Texas lakes, with spies at Texoma, Possum Kingdom and Whitney reporting FF/P and OP.

TENNESSEE: Last week's top bass catch was 9½-pound largemouth dredged from Center Hill Lake by Walker Barnes of Winchester, Kentucky, on a surface plug. Best smallmouth catch reported from Dale Hollow was 6¾-pounder landed by Porter Wilson of Shelbyville, Kentucky. In general reports from Dale Hollow, Center Hill and Kentucky lakes indicated that bass fishing this spring will be as good as last season or better.

STEELHEAD: BRITISH COLUMBIA: Fishing has slowed everywhere on Vancouver Island and lower mainland. Occasional fresh fish reported from Qualicums and Quinsam and Vancouver's north shore streams. Salmon River on Vancouver Island should produce some fair to good April fishing, but only hot prospect is Bella Coola River until summer runs begin to show in May.

IDAHO: At presstime Weiser River was getting murky but fishing was fair. On Snake River, some fishermen were getting fish at Swan Falls directly below the dam on south side; one of hottest spots is about 40 yards out from entrance to fish ladder, where current is tricky but experienced steelheaders are connecting with bait and red-and-white wobblers. FG at mouth of middle fork of Salmon and in Primitive Area; pilots flying into back-country fields are having trouble with deer on runways as Middle Fork herd is moving up river as snow melts. The following landing strips are open in Primitive Area on middle fork: Thomas Creek Landing Field, McCall's Ranch, Mahony Bar and Flying B. Strip at Taylor's Ranch on Big Creek is drying out but check local tower at Boise before flying in. Indian Creek and Sulphur Creek fields are still snowed in. In general OG for state as weather continues cool and run-off has not started.

STRIPED BASS: CALIFORNIA: North Winds subsided last week and delta started producing big fish again; San Joaquin River from Buoy Five to Santa Clara shoals was hottest spot. For big fish, best bets were Sacramento River at Isleton and Rio Vista Bridge, False River, Suisun Slough. Heaviest catch reported last week was 38-pounder caught by Lloyd Evans of Reno, Nevada, at mouth of Steamboat Slough near Isleton; OVG.

NEW JERSEY: In general surf fishing has been poor along Jersey Coast but Island Beach reports occasional flurries of fast action in surf; some fairly good trolling and still fishing in Toms River near town of Toms River.

BONEFISH: BAHAMA ISLANDS: Heaviest bone-fish reported last week weighed 10 pounds four ounces, was landed at Green Turtle Cay by John Cockcroft, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trout season is under way in some states, and in others fly fishermen are busily sorting tackle in anticipation of their own opening days. Among the latter, perhaps, is President Dwight D. Eisenhower, shown here in some rare informal photographs of the rare moments he enjoys in trout water. At left, his guide Don Cameron of Wilsons Mills helps the President pick the right fly, a Cameron creation tied with a chinchilla hackle, for Little Boy Falls on the Magalloway River in extreme northwest Maine. Next, a deft cast across a fast ripple produces that satisfying swirl and hard strike. Then, a few minutes later, a presidentially hooked square-tail is in the net. Reflected Cameron after his most famous client had departed: "...I never did feel strange with him."