Called a buddy for a bighorn report this afternoon on the ditch over by Hardin...he reminded me that its a ditch until I need it. Got me thinking about my philosophy on the topic of my characterization of glorified irrigation ditches. I guess that sounds negative, but I don't really associate the good or bad of a fishery based on it's categorical classification of an irrigation ditch. Honestly, I love ditches too, but they are what they are and sometimes they get a whole lot of glory so they become, in my head...a glorified irrigation ditch much like spring creeks have become "hallowed" waters of the west.
What makes a ditch a ditch and what do I consider a ditch to be? Well, any river technically is a ditch in my head. An irrigation ditch is a river, or stream, that comes out of dam that is there to store water for irrigation purposes.
So, given that classification, the Beaverhead is certainly a ditch and it's commonly called the "Glory Ditch." From there, I don't really know the entire purpose of the other tail waters in the area, but some portion of the reservoir level management has to do with storage for irrigation. So, the Ruby, Missouri, Bighorn, Madison, Sun, Marias, Willow Creek, Tongue, Kootenai, and whatever else I've left out are all irrigation ditches in one form or another. Sure, they also have power generating purposes, some more important for irrigation storage than others.
Now, what makes a ditch more than just a ditch and therefore qualifies as a glorified irrigation ditch? Do people hoot and holler over the fishin'? Do folks write on and on about how a ditch has particularly changed their life? Does the ditch receive oodles of praise and hype? If yes, than it is a glorified irrigation ditch which doesn't necessarily mean anything negative in my mind. Form there I have to say that the MO, Beav, Madison, and Horn are certainly glorified irrigation ditches.
With the exception of the Madison, the rest of the glorified irrigation ditches in reference here all produce a lot of fish, gobs actually. Each of them has been written about in length and one only needs to google love for the ditches of the west to find testimony after testimony of life changing experiences on these fabled ditches.
Glory comes with a price, namely hootin' and hollerin', weeds, and a high proportion of wild trout missing their mandibles. Acceptance of those realities is part of coming to terms with the reality that a ditch is a ditch. It doesn't mean that fishing is any easier or that guiding on them is any easier, it just means that they are ditches.
I lived for time on ditches of glory for years. I still do from time to time. It is nice to know that the ditches are there when I need them as I always need sometime on a ditch. I dont' think anything less of folks that live or work on ditches as it's all fishing whether its on a ditch, lake, or freestone stream. Fishing is just fishing and sometimes "the moment" is when the indicator bobbles, when a fish leaps, the take of a wee dry, jokes shared among friends, the row out at the end of the day, or that quiet time during the day when everything just seems right with the world. That can happen just as well and often on a ditch, so I'm all for glorified irrigation ditches and look forward to ditching it up next week.