Montana Standard…12/15/2020

Madison Plan Falls Short.

A milestone has been achieved on the Madison with passage of a new plan. But it doesn’t really appear that the changes will have much of an impact on the overcrowding and nothing will be implemented until 2022.

The chairman of the FWP commission made the statement that this was “a landmark step for the river and for the people and businesses who depend on it for their livelihood and enjoyment.”

What about the fishery? It is supposed to be the responsibility of FWP commission to evaluate and manage the resource so future generations will be able to enjoy our national treasures.

We already know that the numbers of large rainbow and brown trout in the upper Madison River has declined below 20-year averages, and fisheries biologists are unsure why. Maybe it relates to the fact that the commission opened the river to year-around fishing in 2016 and as such, the spawning times for both rainbow and brown trout are interfered with by large numbers of anglers. This issue was not discussed as the final plan was accepted.

Trout are under the protective custody of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and in many cases FWP is an effective ally of trout. It seems more and more that the commission is making decisions that are primarily in the interest of human society rather than doing what is best for the trout.

I believe the majority of Montana anglers would support restricting our rivers and streams during spawning times to help insure a healthy fishery for future generations.

Thankfully, a plan will finally be in place to monitor the overcrowding of the Madison. Unfortunately in terms of protecting and ensuring the quality of the fishery, “It’s a day late and a dollar short”.

Paul Siddoway, Butte