FWP has decided to remove the new statewide fisheries plan from the commission vote in Oct. This should include the new regulations for the Upper Madison River but will it? Nobody knows.

I mean…this is not surprising. Nobody wants to be the bad guy. The outfitter use data for the Madison is pretty good. The non-outfitted data is not so good. I do question some of the fisheries data since it only includes 8 out of 53 miles of the Upper Madison. Who knows how many trout are really out there? Every fishing guide can tell you there are long, dead stretches of the river. Seriously dead. Green moss on the rocks showing up where I’ve never seen it before. Scorching hot summers. My big concern is people. Way too many people. Do we really want to accept this river crowding as the status quo? Folks are out there getting skunked but hey, “we love the Madison, we love Montana!” It’s been crowded for so long now we just accept it…it is what it is.

The Madison is a wild trout fishery. Why would you ever allow fishing during the crucial brown and rainbow trout spawning periods? This baffles me. It didn’t matter 20, 30, 40 years ago when there were few people around. It matters now…with people everywhere pounding on these fish 24/7 all year long. You even have anglers posting hero videos and group photos catching fish on the Madison in the dead of winter! C’mon folks. These trout are at their weakest and most vulnerable in the winter months. I used to fish the river in the winter. I don’t anymore. Give the river trout a break. Go ice fishing at Canyon Ferry.

Anyway, here is a letter to the editor from Paul Siddoway.

Letter to the Editor…Montana Standard, Butte, Mt 10/19/2022

Fishing regulations decision bumped

After congratulating the fisheries division biologists for developing an excellent plan for our rivers and streams based on trout abundance, FWP administrative officials decided to remove the new plan from the commission vote in October. There reasoning is that it should coincide with the new management plan which will be presented later in the year (or possibly delayed!). This is another example of how our system is plagued with procrastination. There has been plenty of time and information available to make an informed decision. The data presented by the fisheries biologists has been readily available and distributed since last spring. The majority of the public and conservation groups want an adaptive regulation plan based on trout abundance. If the numbers are down (currently at historic lows) then more restrictions, which includes spawning closures. An adequate and extensive public process has already occurred. What are we waiting for? It is clear that climate change is eroding critical habitat for wild trout populations and angling pressure is at an all time record high. I have now stopped counting the times delay has occurred across Region 3 (Southwest Montana) when it comes to sensitive issues regarding our fisheries. FWP Director Worsech said his efforts would be to improve getting things done in a timely fashion when his term began. Then to add fuel to the fire, it is FWP commissioner Pat Tabor (formerly president of Montana Outfitters Association} who said that not enough information was available to allow for a good decision to be made. He apparently doesn’t trust the detailed plans that our biologists thoughtfully put together this past year and presented on multiple occasions. The current system is plagued with procrastination and the inability to make decisions in a timely manner. For many of us that have no other agenda, except to help protect the resource for future generations, the process continues to be frustrating and discouraging. If wild fisheries cannot be protected into the future with decisions that are not popular across all user groups, then hatchery fish will soon return to our rivers and streams.

Paul Siddoway,