Heads Up-Madison River Coup

mikemac1

Active Member
For all of you that appreciate the world-class Montana trout fishing on the Madison River, beware that efforts to effectively privatize sections of the river are still being promoted by local landowners via the Madison River Foundation. The latest manifestation of that is a Montana FWP online survey seeking public input on potential new regulations for the river. The premise of the survey that at a high % of 2016 survey respondents thought the fishing experience on the Madison was poor because of overcrowding was very biased and most non-Madison River stakeholders during meeting last year contested its conclusions.

One only has to read the current survey to see that there is a big push to limit access and restrict commercial outfitting on the river all to the benefit of local land owners who want to restrict access to their pieces of the river. The alternatives in the survey have been heavily influenced by the Madison River Foundation which is clearly a mouth piece for local landowners.

The MT FWP has not updated their site yet with the scoping announcement but the link to the current survey is below. I would encourage anyone interested in protecting public access to the Madison river for all types of anglers do some research and way in on this matter with MT FWP.


https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RDWKFXW
 

silvercreek

Active Member
Here's a counter perspective.

I have fished the Madison River since the 1970s and fish it very year. That is over 40 years on this river. I remember how $3 Bridge got it's name because you put $3 in an envelope for a day's parking.

Over the 40 years I have gotten to know the landowners and have access through their properties to fish the Madison. Because of this, I have gotten to know the landowners problems with trespassing and bad behavior by certain guides and some flyfishers. The landowners I know have no problem with guides or fishers who access the river legally by walking up or downstream LEGALLY OR by entering by float boat legally and floating down.

I personally know of a guide service that bought a lot in a housing development and used it to so his guides could access the upper Madison. The bylaws of the development prohibited commercial usage such as guiding. The development sued and won and the guiding service sold the lot.

I know of housing developments that have hired people to monitor trespassing.

Landowners DO have legitimate complaints. So when you fish the Madison, be mindful of the high water mark. When the river bank is steep or rocky, do not walk up through private property or up on the lawns. Stay legal and don't access private roads, park and then cross the private property.
 
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Mark Moore

Just a Member
Here's a counter perspective.

I have fished the Madison River since the 1970s and fish it very year. That is over 40 years on this river. I remember how $3 Bridge got it's name because you put $3 in an envelope for a day's parking.

Over the 40 years I have gotten to know the landowners and have access through their properties to fish the Madison. Because of this, I have gotten to know the landowners problems with trespassing and bad behavior by certain guides and some flyfishers. The landowners I know have no problem with guides or fishers who access the river legally by walking up or downstream LEGALLY OR by entering by float boat legally and floating down.

I personally know of a guide service that bought a lot in a housing development and used it to so his guides could access the upper Madison. The bylaws of the development prohibited commercial usage such as guiding. The development sued and won and the guiding service sold the lot.

I know of housing developments that have hired people to monitor trespassing.

Landowners DO have legitimate complaints. So when you fish the Madison, be mindful of the high water mark. When the river bank is steep or rocky, do not walk up through private property or up on the lawns. Stay legal and don't access private roads, park and then cross the private property.
I believe this is the experience of virtually every river that is bordered by private property. Unfortunately we live in an era where people believe they are entitled to others property and therefore have no respect for it. The law which establishes an angler's access to any given river also protects the private property rights of the people who own the land it flows through. It seems, however, the only rights many anglers want to acknowledge are theirs. This, in my opinion, is a societal problem not a river access problem and if people aren't careful we will end up with a river beat system similar to those in Europe.

While I affirm public access to public water, it is not hard to understand the frustration of people who have achieved the American ideal of private property ownership and have to stand by, powerless to prevent the abuse of people who have neither paid for the property of bear the cost of maintaining it. It is, sadly, a consequence of our culture's inexorable slide toward collectivism.
 
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Rob Allen

Active Member
I believe this is the experience of virtually every river that is bordered by private property. Unfortunately we live in an era where people believe they are entitled to others property and therefore have no respect for it. The law which establishes an angler's access to any given river also protects the private property rights of the people who own the land it flows through. It seems, however, the only rights many anglers want to acknowledge are theirs. This, in my opinion, is a societal problem not a river access problem and if people aren't careful we will end up with a river beat system similar to those in Europe.

While I affirm public access to public water, it is not hard to understand the frustration of people who have achieved the American ideal of private property ownership and have to stand by, powerless to prevent the abuse of people who have neither paid for the property of bear the cost of maintaining it. It is, sadly, a consequence of our culture's inexorable slide toward collectivism.

Land under all navigable waters up to the normal high water mark cannot be private property. It is land held in trust by the states for public use.
Unless a state has laws like Montana it's laws are illegal.
 

Nick Clayton

Active Member
Here's a counter perspective.

I have fished the Madison River since the 1970s and fish it very year. That is over 40 years on this river. I remember how $3 Bridge got it's name because you put $3 in an envelope for a day's parking.

Over the 40 years I have gotten to know the landowners and have access through their properties to fish the Madison. Because of this, I have gotten to know the landowners problems with trespassing and bad behavior by certain guides and some flyfishers. The landowners I know have no problem with guides or fishers who access the river legally by walking up or downstream LEGALLY OR by entering by float boat legally and floating down.

I personally know of a guide service that bought a lot in a housing development and used it to so his guides could access the upper Madison. The bylaws of the development prohibited commercial usage such as guiding. The development sued and won and the guiding service sold the lot.

I know of housing developments that have hired people to monitor trespassing.

Landowners DO have legitimate complaints. So when you fish the Madison, be mindful of the high water mark. When the river bank is steep or rocky, do not walk up through private property or up on the lawns. Stay legal and don't access private roads, park and then cross the private property.
Ok...but what is it the guides are doing that is so upsetting to the land owners? Besides breaking HOA agreement in the example you cited, what is it that the general guiding population is doing that is actually upsetting the local land owners?

I wonder what a survey would say about the over crowding of the river banks by the building and purchasing of more and more houses?

I know nothing of the Madison, am also just playing devils advocate. But I always get a bit of a strange feeling when the topic of privatizing water is brought up.
 

Triggw

Active Member
For all of you that appreciate the world-class Montana trout fishing on the Madison River, beware that efforts to effectively privatize sections of the river are still being promoted by local landowners via the Madison River Foundation.
I don't find anything in any of the proposals that amounts to anyone trying to "privatize" the river. (Or that the Madison River Foundation is a "mouthpiece for landowners.") They all seem like legitimate proposals designed to improve the experience for fishermen. It's easy to see why some would object to one or the other--especially commercial outfitters-- but your take on it seems over the top.
 

Buzzy

Active Member
If I'm not mistaken, Montana has restricted "commercial" (guide) access on some of the rivers in Montana. Again, if not mistaken, the Big Hole is restricted to the number of guide boats through some type of permit process. For me, after fishing the Big Hole with a Dillon area guide and really enjoying the fishing, the switch to the Missouri below Holter Dam was shocking. We certainly saw other anglers on the Big Hole, including guides, but nothing like the Black Friday shopping like crowds on the Missouri. Sorry for the drift on the OP's post. And for what its worth: despite the crowded conditions on the MO, the fishing was very good.
 

Rock Creek Fan

Active Member
Landowners DO have legitimate complaints. So when you fish the Madison, be mindful of the high water mark. When the river bank is steep or rocky, do not walk up through private property or up on the lawns. Stay legal and don't access private roads, park and then cross the private property.
Montana has some great laws protecting the land owner. For example, just because people have always used a certain access point to a river does not mean there is adverse possession. Access is controlled by the land owner no matter how long an access point has been used...

The damage to fences, gates, land, impact on livestock and game, etc. is a lot more than people realize. It is expensive to address the issues caused by people not respecting the land and property owner's rights.

How do I know this? I owned riverfront in MT. for a number of years and experienced the issues....
 

Thrasybulus

Crush all c-hawks
The Madison River has been popular and "crowded" in certain areas and during certain times of year for many decades. The guiding by boat traffic is now much higher than in the past though. The fishing was spectacular before whirling disease hit, the rainbows fought great. The insect hatches were incredible too. Camping or staying at a cabin near the river was the way to go, and a guide was an unnecessary luxury. Wade angling produced tons of trout. Hiking along the high water mark allows great access and all day fishing. In past years I had conversations with fly anglers from New Zealand and Australia, which made me appreciate the Madison even more. Conflicts with homeowners were rare for me, I had more issues with angry cows. The Ruby River is the one with the worst access issues.
 

Hem

Active Member
I don't find anything in any of the proposals that amounts to anyone trying to "privatize" the river. (Or that the Madison River Foundation is a "mouthpiece for landowners.") They all seem like legitimate proposals designed to improve the experience for fishermen. It's easy to see why some would object to one or the other--especially commercial outfitters-- but your take on it seems over the top.
My same interpretation. Survey has nothing to do with landowners. It has to do with overcrowding and how to manage it.
Since I dont float it I voted for every means to regulate floating and crowding.


.
 

Old Man

Just an Old Man
That is one river I try to stay away from. I fished it a few time but to me it is too much river for me. I just dislike rivers that big. That's also why I don't fish the Big Hole. To damn hard to figure out. I like a slow moving skinny water, and is easy to wade and you can see the bottom.
 

mikemac1

Active Member
I don't find anything in any of the proposals that amounts to anyone trying to "privatize" the river. (Or that the Madison River Foundation is a "mouthpiece for landowners.") They all seem like legitimate proposals designed to improve the experience for fishermen. It's easy to see why some would object to one or the other--especially commercial outfitters-- but your take on it seems over the top.
You had to be there. In 2016 the MRF board was taken over by landowners who hired an ED with the specific mission of advocating strict access restrictions for commercial outfitting and banning boats on both walk wade sections. If boats are banned for access to the walk wade sections, effectively ~14 miles of river will be privatized. Although I don’t access the upper walk wade section, there is only a tiny portion of the river at Valley Garden FAS where anglers can safely access the river. The great majority of this section of river from Ennis to Ennis lake is bordered by private land. There are two lodges on this section that seriously want no one other than their clients to access the river. The 2017 meetings held by the FWP ended in stalemate because the MRF ED wouldn’t budge on any proposal that didn’t severely restrict access to the river based on the landowners desires. I know dedicated/well respected members of the Ennis angling community that resigned their MRF board positions over the MRF position on this issue. 75% of the alternatives (the most restrictive) in the survey represent MRF positions, not the angling community. It is an issue that is seriously dividing the SW Montana angling community.
 

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