Angler Harassment in Montana

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by silvercreek, May 25, 2012.

  1. silvercreek Active Member

    Posts: 363
    Ratings: +214 / 0
    "The evidence that Mitchell Slough is part of the river is considerable. Surveys conducted in 1872 show the slough as part of the river. In fact, much of what we now call Mitchell Slough may have been the main stem of the Bitterroot River, according to those surveys. "

    Siebel filed for a 310 permit to work on Mitchell Slough. 310 permits are only required to work on a natural stream bed so his filing for this permit is a de facto acknowledgement that Mitchell Slough is a natural stream.

    Springs in the lower part of Mitchell Slough add water flow. By adding more water, the total flow become more than the amount of water diverted so Mitchell Slough becomes a stream.

    "Siebel himself acknowledged the slough was part of the Bitterroot River in water rights applications he filed in the 1980s, designating his point of diversion as a spring creek that was a tributary of the Bitterroot River. "

    http://www.hcn.org/wotr/16996

    The Montana Supreme Court and the decision was unanimous. None of the justices thougt that this was a ditch.

    "The court said the 16-mile-long slough roughly follows the historical course of a waterway mapped 130 years ago, and therefore is subject to public access and required permitting, as are other natural waterways."

    http://www.montanawildlife.com/news/MitchellSlough.htm
  2. freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Posts: 4,138
    Edgewood, WA
    Ratings: +791 / 1
    I'll bet Huey Lewis is fit to be tied :D
  3. triploidjunkie Active Member

    Posts: 2,393
    Grand Coulee, WA
    Ratings: +1,337 / 0
    You're really huey lewis aren't you..... aren't you? I believe in stream access. The high water mark rule should stand anywhere that public fish wander.
  4. bennysbuddy the sultan of swing

    Posts: 2,359
    m-ville
    Ratings: +736 / 0
    I guess I don't see what the problem is,I thought it was nice of those land barons to provide automatic sprinklers to keep the anglers from getting heat stroke and also keeps the trails from becomeing dusty on those hot days of summer.
  5. ribka Active Member

    Posts: 1,433
    E WA
    Ratings: +169 / 0
    next time I am fishing in Montana I am going to go poop on Huey Lewis' hood of his car like an OWS protestor.

    X2 on high water mark
    freestoneangler likes this.
  6. dryflylarry "Chasing Riseforms"

    Posts: 4,102
    Near the Fjord
    Ratings: +569 / 0
    What's so hard about breaking the pipe, turning the sprinkler heads the opposite direction, unscrewing them and throwing them off yonder?
    constructeur likes this.
  7. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,791
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,722 / 0
    Some of these sprinklers are on wheels and are about a 1/4 of a mile in length.

    If you want to bitch about a short length of the Bitteroot. How about all the property Ted Turner owns along/on the Ruby River.

    But with all the water in Montana, why worry about a little bit.
  8. JesseC Active Member

    Posts: 1,996
    seattle, wa
    Ratings: +773 / 0
    Sounds like a great place for a summer WFF meetup.
  9. Circle Spey Travis Wallace

    Posts: 18
    Lyle, WA
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    Here is my thoughts on mitchell slough, having lived less than one mile from it for several years and working for one of those "jerk" land owners. The slough is an amazing fishery with larger than average trout in it, of course they weren't there until the land owners went in there and dredged all the silt out(no permits required) and put in some trees along it that the fish moved in there. It has now been deemed a river channel so the current land owners need to except what has happened and move on, but I can see why they would be a little upset about the whole thing. Montana stream laws say that you can access any thing up to usual high water mark, the interesting thing is that the slough does not rise within the channel during spring run off because the flow is controlled by a head gate. If you do fish it have fun and what ever you do don't step on dry land.
  10. tkww Member

    Posts: 467
    WA
    Ratings: +69 / 2
    OOC, why did they dredge it? Irrigation? And they're still getting that water, yes?
  11. Circle Spey Travis Wallace

    Posts: 18
    Lyle, WA
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    They did it to improve the the habitat within the channel so that they could have a place to fish on there respective property. I only state the things that I did to point out that there are always two sides to every coin. If they had not put the work into the slough that they did it wouldn't be an issue because no one would want to fish it. The one land owner that I know really well tried to get the state to do some improvements but they were told that it was a ditch and would not do stream restoration. This has been a highly debated topic and I am not looking to change anyone opinion, I just want to let people no that there is more to it than it seams. I have accessed the slough both through private access and after the rules changed so I am not going to say that people should not fish it. I am just trying to give people and understanding of what has happened and to tread lightly.
    Brian Miller and Bill Aubrey like this.
  12. Derek Young 2011 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Of The Year

    Posts: 2,702
    Snoqualmie, WA
    Ratings: +887 / 1
    I had some old guy give me the riot act in the parking lot of a grocery store in Helena last Monday. Made some off-hand joke about stupid Washingtonian's, blah blah blah. After I'd dropped $$ on supplies and gas in his "home" town, he shouldn't have jack to say. For those who don't respect the landowners rights in this thread, and talk of destroying sprinklers, etc - that's the quickest way to NO access. Please respect private landowner rights and use common sense.
  13. Codioos Active Member

    Posts: 471
    Spokane
    Ratings: +105 / 0
    United we stand..., right?
  14. silvercreek Active Member

    Posts: 363
    Ratings: +214 / 0
    Here is a letter from an old timer about Mitchell Slough. It is apparent that the head gate to Mitchell Slough was put in BEFORE the Montana Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act of 1975 (301 permit law). The ability of anyone to divert and manage water from a public river passing through their land was the reason for the Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act. If that law were in effect, who knows if the ranchers could have done the original work.

    "some of the farmers along the slough went up to where it came out of the river and dammed it off. Later on Strange decided to irrigate some ground near where the channel come out so, they removed the dirt dam and put in a concrete headgate so he could irrigate. This headgate was put in something like 50 years ago."

    http://www.bitterrootstar.com/2011/06/15/poor-old-mitchell-slough/

    The very reason for the Preservation Act of 1975 was to prevent just the type of unregulated modification of Montana's Rivers and Streams. So while it is true that the ranchers did not need approval at the time they diverted the water flow with a headgate, it is also true that those times are now over and now they need 301 permits to work on Mitchell Slough.

    That is why the Bitterroot Conservation District issued the 301 permits which meant that both the conservation district and landowners along Mitchell Slough recognized that the slough was public. However the conservation district later wrongly declared it was private and this is why the Supreme Court gave then a slap down.

    "at the time, they had under consideration a controversial request for a 310 permit from a wealthy landowner to divert water from the slough to create private fish and waterfowl ponds for the use of himself and his friends. Not long afterward, the BCD declared that Mitchell Slough was “not a natural perennial flowing stream”. This unilateral declaration, in part, set off the firestorm that eventually led to the Supreme Court ruling."

    http://willfishforwork.com/2012/02/03/310-permits-mitchell-slough-headgates-muddy-water/

    http://buttonvalley.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/conservation-conundrum/
  15. Chris Bellows The Thought Train

    Posts: 1,711
    The Salt
    Ratings: +870 / 0
    I think it is great that landowners made improvements to the stream, but makIng improvements does not give one the right to try to steal public water and harass anglers. What's really too bad is that law enforcement is apparently doing nothing to protect citizens from a "class" of people who think that having money makes them above the law.
  16. freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Posts: 4,138
    Edgewood, WA
    Ratings: +791 / 1
    We'll fuck with Teddy's sprinklers in due time :D.
  17. Circle Spey Travis Wallace

    Posts: 18
    Lyle, WA
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    For those of you who have not spent much time on the Bitterroot River every spring the river has a very large run off and can move over a hundred yards in any given direction, the only reason that the slough still had water was because the irrigation district would dredge the river to create a channel just to get the water to the head gate. The other thing to keep in mind is that when most of the current owners purchased there land it was considered and irrigation ditch. I am by no means condoning sprinklers pointed towards fisherman or the threats that have been given. I am just saying that we shouldn't pass judgment on them an maybe have a little understanding and respect their land above high water. As mentioned earlier the water does not usually rise above the channel and it would be unfortunate for someone to read about the slough go fish it and get hit with a trespassing ticket for stepping on the grass.
  18. Chris Bellows The Thought Train

    Posts: 1,711
    The Salt
    Ratings: +870 / 0
    i have yet to hear of any real disrespect or trespassing, only petty actions by landowners who feel that they own public waterways.

    this landowner, by his actions, is attempting to harass anglers off public land and steal this public land for his own use. there is no other side to the story. the law is the law.

    i understand not wanting trespassers and slob anglers on your property, but trying to deny access to land that by law is not yours is indefensible.
  19. triploidjunkie Active Member

    Posts: 2,393
    Grand Coulee, WA
    Ratings: +1,337 / 0
    Exactly. And even though the landowners made improved
    exactly . Even if they made improvement to the stream bed the fish that move up out of the bitteroot don't belong to just the landowners. I could see the landowners point if it was separate and stocked by the landowners themselves. But anyone that would take the time and money to be such a prick to people who are within their rights..... well, I have a hard time seeing that point of view.
  20. Trustfunder Active Member

    Posts: 177
    rock creek
    Ratings: +71 / 0
    Don't think the issue here is fishermen disrespecting private land ownership, it's landowners lack of respect to allow fisherman to adequately fish a public watery way as defined by Montana Supreme Court. I believe that a person who puts on waders, boots, vests etc.. and walks a few hundred yards or more probably isn't going down there to drink beer, trash the place and listen to loud music just to offend landowners.

    If you let one case slide by, then this opens up an avalanche of potential cases on Montana's rivers where the 15 feet above the high water mark/access issues will be in jeapordy. Also the new law that was passed a few years back, if the bridge over a waterway is public funded/maintained, then the landowner must allow access to that waterway. Once met a landowner on a stretch of river as we were about to put our raft in over his fence, he pulled up and told us the gate was on the other side of the river you guys a perfectly fine to launch there... he knew the laws regarding fishing in MT. This is what I call a real MT landowner and he deserves our respect, not the Kardashians of the Bitterroot.