By Montana Grant

Posted: May 12, 2019

The Madison River Regulations Committee has failed to come up with solutions for the crowding and overfishing along this Blue-Ribbon trout stream. The reactions from many outfitters, guides, and businesses that benefit from the fishery seem to be happy with this outcome.

Fishermen come from all over the planet to trout fish this prolific and beautiful natural resource. The fish are native. This means that stocking is no longer an option. The trout that live in this river are ancestors of stocked DNA from decades of stocking. Over 17 strains of rainbows have been introduced into this fishery.

As a result of great protections, management, and regulations, the MT FWP has helped to create a wonderful public fishery. So, what’s the problem?

The Madison River is being loved to death! Trout are made up of many colors but the color that seems to be most important is GREEN! Money is driving the fishery. Outfitters, guides, shuttle drivers, private campgrounds, hotels, restaurants, bars, and recreational support businesses all rely on trout to make a buck. If you don’t believe this, visit the river during the Mid-June salmon Fly hatch. Drift boats are gunwale to gunwale, and access sites are full of trailers and rigs.

Prime trout fishing varies annually. In Montana the weather is always changing. In a normal season, Early May can mean Baetis hatches and the Mother’s Day Caddis. Once the snow melt begins, the river rises and can become off color. Usually around Mid-June, the salmon flies arrive along with flotillas of fly fishermen. This is when the Madison goes Mad!

The Madison gets pounded for maybe 5-6 months a year. If the flows get warm and low, July and August can be closed to fishing. Forget fishing the Lower Madison once the summer “Tuber” crowds take over the river. Hundreds of tubes, rafts, and swimmers flood the banks. So does their trash and traffic.

Local fishermen must find the time and space to fit into this cacophony of fishing and floating frenzy. After all, the public resource belongs to all of us. We ALL live in Montana to celebrate these wonderful resources.

So, what do we WANT and what does the river NEED?  The key is to have the resource in the first place. We need to address what the Science says. The most important issues are the needs of the river and fish. Without the resource, the fishing and “Green” that comes from it will dry up.

The FWP tried to get a public consensus to address the regulations and pressure. This plan failed. The “Green” money groups think the Science and others needs are “Brown”. Their needs are the priority and the rest are BS!  Some landowners want the rivers to themselves. They could only agree on excluding glass containers!

MT FWP has challenging decisions and regulations to make. Hopefully they will address the over crowding and pressure following the Science and data that supports it. Making choices that meet the Needs of the fishery are imperative.

Get MAD if they don’t!

Montana Grant

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