By Montana Grant

Posted: June 24, 2018

Montana’s Blue-Ribbon trout fisheries are endangered! Our cherished and prized waters are TOO FULL of FISHERMEN, BOATERS, and FLOATERS!!! The Madison River is where the first major changes could take place.

The fish, facilities, and watersheds are being outfitted and loved to death. Like it or not, something needs to be done. Everyone has a voice, ideas, or suggestions to protect and preserve their natural resources. We ALL want to protect our freedom and access to our natural resources.

The MT. FWP has voted to come up with a plan that will do exactly that. Changes need to be supported by Biology, research, and fairness.

Our resources are being overused. If you don’t believe this, make a few day trips to the wonderful Madison River. First visit the river during the Salmon fly hatch, which will soon begin. Lyons Bridge downstream will have so many drift boats that you could walk across the river on them. Every access is over flowing with trucks and trailers. Convoys of guide rigs fill the roads from Idaho, Bozeman, and West Yellowstone. Last year there were over 179,000 recorded angler days on this river. That’s up 72% from 2008!

Still not impressed? Visit the Madison River from Warm Springs access to Black’s Ford. The Float Tube hatch fills the river. Some inflatable rafts hold a dozen swimmers. Trash, bottles, and cans clog the banks. Parking is non-existent as busloads of floaters are transported and shuttled along the river. The annual trash cleanup in the fall is amazing in volume. Most floaters are under the influence. The families that are enjoying this resource certainly do no need to witness the Flotilla of Fools.

Suggested solutions include capping the number of guide trips allowed. Barring guide trips on selected sections of rivers. Restricting, limiting, and managing swim/float trips are also on the list. The goal is to fairly protect and maintain quality wilderness and recreational experiences.

Changes need to be fair and effective. Naturally, the bottom line will settle around money. The fishing outfitters are incensed by any proposed changes. They feel that any restrictions would cost their industry money, only affect them, and not limit crowds.

 Hunters and fishermen end up being the Bad Guys but hey are also the primary groups that support and pay for our wild places. Float tubing swimmers and other recreational users pay little or nothing for complete access and overuse.

The process for change is underway. New rule proposals are being planned. These new rules could take affect by next summer. Make your opinions and voices heard.

Snooze and we all lose!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at www.montanagrantfishing.com.