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I am indebted to subscriber Ralph J. Gaudio for filing a thoughtful rebuttal to John Holt’s article last month on the crowding problem along the Bighorn’s "Upper 13." Gaudio points out that the lower section of the Bighorn (which Holt recommends anglers visit if they want to avoid the crowds) has water quality problems in some areas, especially below Rotten Grass Creek, due to irrigation practices. He says one should definitely check on water quality before attempting to float this stretch.

Gaudio goes on to agree that crowding is a problem on the Bighorn, but he sees a deeper problem behind the growing angler dissatisfaction with the "Upper 13." He says many prominent fishing writers have simply overstated what the river has to offer in other publications, creating "unrealistic expectations" of the water. "Don’t get me wrong," Gaudio writes, "The Bighorn is a quality fishery. A 16 inch average size fish is nothing to sneeze at. It’s just not the five pound fish everyone has been writing about. So, let’s be realistic in what we tell people about rivers and let’s get something done about the irrigation problems on the lower river."

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