So…to answer the question I get a thousand times and day and sometimes in my sleep: “what are they gonna do about the river?” The answer is….NOTHING. There will be a cap on outfitted guide trips effective 2023, which will do zilch regarding crowding because it will not affect the non-guided public traffic. The cap on outfitted trips will probably grandfather in all commercial trips run through 2021…the highest use in the history of bobberdom on the Madison. So the guides will bitch and moan for about a beer or two. But the benjies won’t stop flowing. No way. The big winners are the fly fishing, lure chucking, bait fishing public. Come on down. The Madison is wide open. As it should be.
Everyone has a right to use public water…all of us. But the human invasion of Montana is like a swarm of locusts on a grain field…a flock of vultures on a carcass…a pack of wolves on a helpless lamb. Pick the bones clean.
It can’t go on. But it will. And there ain’t nothin’ you can do about it.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 12/28/2021:
Commission keeps status quo walk-wade rule on Madison River, dumps rest-and-rotation
- By Michael Wright Chronicle Staff Writer
- 16 hrs ago
Montana officials tweaked rules governing the upper Madison River on Monday, maintaining a longtime prohibition on fishing from boats in two areas and dumping a rule that would have kept guides off parts of the river on certain days.
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission voted unanimously to get rid of a rule change that would have allowed fishing from boats on a wade-only section of the upper Madison on summer weekends. The commission also voted 6-1 to repeal a so-called “rest-and-rotation” rule that would have barred guided fishing trips on weekends on two popular sections of the river south of Cameron.
The rules, which were to go into effect on Jan. 1, were part of a broader package the commission backed in 2020 to deal with crowding on the upper Madison, a world-renowned fly fishing destination and one of the busiest rivers in the state.
A work group formed to make recommendations to the commission suggested repealing the rules earlier this year, citing a lack of support and raising concerns about their impact.
Commissioner KC Walsh, who is also member of the work group, said the group committed to doing what it can to reduce traffic on the river, and that it would move ahead with work on capping commercial use of the river and developing controls on non-commercial use.
“I think everyone recognizes the traffic on the Madison River is at record highs,” Walsh said.
“… The commitment for the work group is to come up with solutions other than the ones we’re talking about this morning.”
The change to the walk-wade rules would have allowed anglers to fish from boats on Saturdays and Sundays from Raynolds Pass to Lyons Bridge from June 15 to Sept. 30.
That section has been off limits to fishing from boats for years, as has the stretch between Ennis Bridge and Ennis Lake. People could use boats to reach fishing spots under that rule, they just couldn’t fish from the boat. Many anglers wanted to see that rule continue, and the vote Monday repealed the change and restored the old rule.
The rest-and-rotation rule would have limited where guides and outfitters can take clients on Saturdays and Sundays from June 15 to Sept. 30. Guided trips would have been prohibited from Lyons Bridge to Palisades Day Use Area on Sundays and from Raynolds Pass to Lyons Bridge on Saturdays.
Walsh said he worried the rule would increase fishing pressure on other parts of the river. He said the vote doesn’t mean a version of the rule won’t be used later, just that the version the commission approved wouldn’t work.
“I don’t think that was the right solution,” Walsh said.
Commissioner Patrick Byorth voted against repealing the rest-and-rotation rule. Byorth, the only member of the panel who was on the commission when it OK’d the rules, said the idea was to test out the rules this year and tweak them if they didn’t work.
He added that it’s important for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to keep tabs on river use and monitor the effects of the rules.
Other rules meant to manage river use are still on the books. A cap on guided fishing trips is set to go into effect in 2023. It was originally slated for 2022, but the commission voted in June to delay it and give the work group time to figure out how to manage the cap.