River Etiquette with Adventure Missoula
By angelamontana

Posted: August 6, 2019

Montana’s rivers are one of our best assets, and the number of people recreating on our rivers, along with the type of recreation, grows, we find we cross paths with other people more and more often.

Adventure Missoula has some tips on river etiquette that should help us all avoid conflict in the event this happens, whether we’re fishing, floating, tubing, boating, etc.:

Here is a list of river ethics and etiquette to follow so that we can all enjoy Montana’s great river resources and help protect the recreational experience and the resource.

Be READY
Be ready to float before you get on the ramp.
Organize gear and load boats before approaching the ramp.
Inflate and rig rafts away from the ramp.
Be aware of the space available at the launch area and use only what you need.
Rig and unrig fishing rods away from the ramp.
Once in the water, clear the launch area as soon as possible.
When taking out, leave

BE POLITE
Profanity and obnoxious behavior is inappropriate and offensive.
Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous—be responsible when drinking alcohol on and around the river.
Be discrete when changing clothing.
Keep dogs under control and on a leash.
Encounters and group size affect the river experience

COMMUNICATE
Be prepared for encounters with other river users.
Be friendly and communicate when encountering others on the river.
River crowding is often attributed to encounters with other floaters—keep your group size and number of watercraft to a minimum.
Using firearms in a river corridor can be hazardous and disturbing to others. During hunting season, remember that others may be using the river.
Give space to other river users and remember your river etiquette.

FISH and ANGLERS NEED SPACE
Give anglers wide berth to avoid floating through the area they are fishing.
If it is impossible to avoid floating through the area someone is fishing, politely explain your situation and apologize for the intrusion.
Attempt to keep out of sight of other boaters and anglers.
Don’t monopolize a fishing hole. Fish for awhile and move on.
Give anglers wide berth to avoid floating through the area they are fishing.

YIELD TO THE PEDESTRIAN
Non-motorized watercraft usually have the right-of-way over powerboats.
Non-motorized watercraft should yield the deeper channel to powerboats, which require a deeper channel to navigate safely.
Powerboats should use no-wake speeds when passing non-motorized watercraft and wade anglers.
Paddlers ‘surfing’ on a wave should yield to ‘through boaters.’

LEAVE NO TRACE
Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ river ethics.
Know river skills and carry the necessary equipment to minimize your impact.
Don’t leave your trash—Pack it in-Pack it out.
Use existing restrooms or pack out human waste and toilet paper with a portable toilet.
Avoid using the streambed as a pathway and instead—walk along the shoreline within the high water mark.
Observe wildlife from a distance.
Camp in designated campsites.
Do not build rock fire rings—use designated fire rings or a fire pan.
Always be mindful of fire danger and make sure campfires are dead out before leaving.
Respect private land along the river.
Know your rights and responsibilities under the Stream Access Law.
Stay below the ordinary high water mark.
Respect private property, don’t trespass.
Keep dogs on a leash and under control.
Respect ranchers’ needs for fencing, and learn how to use float gates and portage routes.
Leave gates as you find them.
Obtain permission before camping or recreating on private property.