By Montana Grant

Posted: July 23, 2020


Montana waterways are offering a perfect way to cool off, social distance, and become one with the water. Weekends in Montana mean crowded rivers. The rivers nearest towns have full parking lots, busy shuttlers, and crowded beaches.

Decades ago, folks floated in Jon Boats, Canoes, and row boats. I remember drifting the Bighorn in the first actual drift boats. Many of us still own those old floaters. My canoe is a perfect today as 50 plus years ago.

The fleet of floaters has changed with the times. When the water is warm and safe, anything that floats is launched. Rubber rafts are extremely popular and come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. Even inflatables shaped like animals, giant round rafts, or basic truck tire tubes are abundant during the Rubber Hatch. Paddle Boards, kayaks, and Ducky’s have also become popular floating crafts. When I drifted the Yellowstone last Sunday, I saw more floaters in just a few hours than I can ever remember.

Shuttle plans vary. Some folks manage their own shuttles which means at least 2 vehicles and double parking. Others pay for a shuttle between fishing access points. This fee can vary from $10 to $120 plus for longer shuttles such as on the Smith River. Rarely do you see hitch hiking, bikes, or scooters making shuttle pick up runs.

The other day I was checking out the access sites along the Gallatin River. Every site that I visited, on the East and West Gallatin was full. A few fishermen were around but most of the cars were full of swimmers. Herds of folks were beached in the water. Lawn chairs, balls, umbrellas, coolers. I was surprised at how popular some waters were. The West and East Gallatin have major flows of treated sewage water from Big Sky and Bozeman. Just saying. Yellowstone Park waters are full of geothermal toxins such as mercury, arsenic, Sulphur, and other natural pollutants. Even the rivers in Yellowstone Park, near the hot springs, were flooded with soakers.

In a climate of sanitation and cleanliness, consider the areas you swim. Untreated, natural waters can carry Beaver Fever, bacteria, and tons of other Cooties. Swallowing the water can be an issue. Beer and alcohol will not prevent infections. Agricultural chemicals, animal wastes, and nasty dead things help bacteria and harmful bacteria breed.

Float Free but Float Smart!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, float to www.montanagrantfishing.com.