By Montana Grant

Posted: May 11, 2023

Butte was once the wealthiest city in North America. It was also the capital of Montana. The “Treasure State” is named after the rich minerals found in Butte mines. Copper made plenty of cents and wire over the decades. Nickel and many other riches were also on the list of mined minerals. Just look at the Berkeley Pit to imagine how much rock was processed. The tunnels under Butte also go on for miles.

The wealth of Butte today is measured in its history and the unlimited outdoor wealth found within a few hours of Butte.

“Buttians” have a history of reaching their limits! No rocks were left unturned, trees were left uncut, waterways was left untouched, when searching for wealth. Deer, elk, and fish also fed the hungry population. The local timber and stone built their city. Modern construction, earthmoving, and digging equipment was born in Butte.

When the airport was added, more folks could come to visit the Blue-Collar city. They could also fly short hops to some remote fishing hot spots. Only a special few had the wealth, time, and ability to access remote areas for sport.

Montana fishing limits were pretty much like the Speed Limits once were, “Drive at a reasonable and Prudent speed.” Fish limits were to catch as many as you wanted!

The vintage photograph shows a limit draped on an aircraft. Trout adorned the plane, and we hope the plates of many hungry folks. Back in those days, there seemed to be an unlimited abundance of everything. Hunting was a year around chore. It was about harvesting food, not a trophy. It wasn’t until early in the 1900’s that fish limits were set at 25 fish per day per fisherman. The only fishing law in Yellowstone Park and Montana was that you were required to use a rod.

Many of the local rivers like the Clarks Fork, Basin Creek, and Bighole were polluted and unhealthy due to mine and lumbering waste. I guess taking a plane ride could get anglers to some healthier waters.

Most people do not realize that even today, any river leaving Yellowstone Park is polluted from mercury, arsenic, lead, and other toxins that occur naturally in the geothermal hot springs and geysers. Eating these trout and other fish is not healthy. Fish consumption warnings suggest less than 10 ounces of fish per meal, once a week.

Sadly, Montana is filling up with wealthy people that can afford helicopters, aircraft, and huge areas of the state. They can fly into public lands that are off limits to everyone else. Over half of our State Public Lands have blocked access due to major landowners that refuse access. Big Sky Country is becoming a big outdoor recreation mecca for just those that can afford to pay for the outfitter, guide, lease, or access fee.

We will never see airplanes covered with fish again.

Montana Grant

New Podcast!

Riley's Meats - Butte Wild Game Processing