Well, THANKFULLY, the Madison River proposed regulations on Outfitters will not make it to a public comment period! Four of the MT FWP commissioners voted against the possible regulations yesterday in Helena after hearing from multiple Outfitters and reviewing the information that FWP had.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has not yet released any input on this decision and I'm not surprised. I don't think that the three individuals who came up with this plan are too happy with the results from yesterdays meeting. However, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle did write an informative article on the subject and hopefully we will hear more in the near future.
As I stated in a previous post, I was not and still am not in favor of most of the regulations in the proposed plan. The total commercial use from licensed Madison River Outfitters and Special Recreation Permit holders comprises of 13%-17% of total use. For the FWP to reduce the amount of commercial use so drastically doesn't make any sense at all. Yes, I agree that the river is seeing more use than in the past and yes, that is probably still going to increase in the future. However, there has got to be a better way to go about this than to restrict the sections or river that I as an Ennis, MT Fly Fishing Outfitter am allowed to float on any given day. Those proposed regulations would only increase the amount of crowding on the river. We only have 38 river miles on the Upper Madison River and to close off one of those sections would greatly increase the amount of commercial traffic on the other stretches. I understand that this plan may or may not have worked on the Big Hole River, but there is over 100 river miles to float over there so the amount of pressure can be alleviated.
Also, to think that MT FWP wanted to close off two entire stretches of river to all vessels is not Montana at all. One of, if not the best thing about Montana is our public access laws. If you don't allow a vessel to float through a navigable waterway, such as The Madison River, then that goes against our public rights. Those two stretches of river are large enough and have enough river where a boat that floats through can access a lot of water that someone only on foot cannot. So therefore, there is plenty of options for wade only anglers to still find water to fish and not be crowded out by commercial boats. We at FishWater Outfitters, often float the Ennis to the Lake stretch and I usually don't even stop around the Valley Garden access point. There are always people wade fishing in the general area near the access site so I continue to go further down the river where the wade fisherman doesn't want to go. This way I am not interfering with wade fisherman at all and I still have tons of great river to fish.
I do agree that The Madison River is getting more and more popular and the use is increasing, but to put all the blame on Outfitters and not even recognize that the majority of the use is from the public is absurd. I do understand that in the future something might need to be implemented but I think that FWP still needs to sit down and come up with a plan that actually helps the future of the river and continues to realize just how important the fishery is to South West Montana. Not sure when they will come back with another plan but I am interested to hear it and hopefully it will be better for everyone.
If you are visiting Charleston, SC for business, vacation or live near by and are interested in an inshore light tackle and fly fishing charter with FishWater Outfitters and Captain Braden Powell please click below to schedule your trip!
Also, if you are interested in fly fishing trips in Montana from the town of Ennis, don't forget that FishWater Outfitters and Ennis, MT fly fishing guides will be there from June to October fishing daily on The Madison River.
Whether in the beautiful Lowcountry Marsh surrounding Charleston, SC or floating down the Madison River in Ennis, MT, FishWater Outfitters and Captain Braden Powell will help you have a great day on the water and hopefully catch that fish of a lifetime!