River watchdog still casting an eye

Fisheries biologist Wayne Hadley’s eyes narrowed observing the approach of two 30-something men toting spinning rods. Treble-hooked lures dangled.

Hadley held a fly rod. I stood with him that mid-summer evening along the banks of the upper Clark Fork River. His sizable territory as a biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks included the river, its tributaries and much more.

One of the spin fishermen spoke.

“You guys have any bug dope?” he asked. “The mosquitoes are terrible.”

Hadley reached into his fishing vest.

“I’ve got some for whiners and complainers,” he said.

Hadley’s quip confused the man, whose face betrayed wariness: Am I being insulted or teased?

The man accepted the insect repellent.

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“So, you guys are fly fishermen?”

“Yep, we’re sportsmen,” Hadley replied.

In this file photo from 2005, when Wayne Hadley retired as a fisheries biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Hadley sits on a bank of the upper Clark Fork River. 

Tom Bauer, Missoulian

At the time, Wayne Hadley was no fly fishing snob. But he felt a fiduciary duty

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