By Montana Grant

Posted: July 10, 2021

Tubing Time is Now! With temps in the high nineties, and 3 digits not uncommon, getting wet is a Montana tradition.

Now I know that some folks hate crowded rivers of Tubers. Tubes, and Tubers, come in all colors, sizes, and flotillas. There is nothing Racist in the Tuber world. The only Race might be who gets to the takeout first.

Tubers do have an image problem. They hog up the parking and access facilities. Many Tubers leave a trail of sunk beer cans, bottles, and trash. I never see a Tuber show up on Trout Unlimited stream cleanup days. Parking lots are full of patch repair trash, duct tape rolls, and trash of the day strewn about with the bottle caps, suntan containers, and discarded towels, hats, and water bottles. It is the same story at most of the Fishing Access sites. Tubers do not pay for the care, maintenance, and development of the state’s fishing access sites. They should pay an access fee. Other Sportsmen are footing the bill. Tubers rarely use a shuttle service which means twice the number of cars parked. It is time to clean up your act! Despite these fixable problems, Tubers are just doing what Montanans have always done.

Native peoples often made Bull Boats out of buffalo hides spread across bent across willow frame. Dugout canoes allowed smooth travels for Lewis and Clark. Canoes, rafts, or whatever would float allowed Montanan’s access to a new area, fishing hole, or just a quick dip.

Rivers mean life in Montana. No water means no pathways, no crops, no fish, and no fun. We all need to protect, respect, and celebrate our rivers and waters.

Most Montanans don’t have Air Conditioning. Ceiling fans are more common. Maybe a window mounted unit, but AC is like having a pair of Skis in the desert, until you need them. The recent Thermal Dome that has settled over Montana and the Northwest is a perfect example.

Fishing for trout has been Hoot Owled on many of our wonderful Blue Ribbon Trout streams. Fishing is restricted or limited. What was once freezing cold is now comfortably. Who does not like a refreshing dip in some Montana water?

Tubing is an artform. The basic tuber gets their tube from a tire store and fills it up with air. They make sure to put a cap on the air stem. You do not want to get scratched or deflate. You can tell a Tubers ego by the size of their tube. Size matters in the Tubers world. Little tubes do not get bragging rights.

Some Tubes become party islands. Individuals hook up like a pod of floating caddis, while others just get the biggest Tube they can find and inflate their egos!

Some Tubers use canoes, kayaks, or small row boats. Fancy floaters use the fishing drift boat. These central Floats are where the cooler and snacks are kept. Lines from and to the tubers allow a quick refill or go with the flow opportunity.

Tubing is not a year around event. Tubing lasts just a few months in the summer, when Mother Nature reminds us of who is in charge.

Tubers live here too! The waters of Montana belong to everyone. Teaching children the importance of water and nature is a good idea. The memory of a refreshing float re-energizes us all. We ALL need to protect, maintain, and celebrate our Montana waterways, and go with the flow together.

Time to take a tube and relax on a gliding, cool, Montana waterway.

Montana Grant

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