Heads Up-Madison River Coup

Thrasybulus

Crush all c-hawks
I understand your concern better now. Agree that public access on this section should not be restricted, boat angling included.

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.
 

Rob Allen

Active Member
I don't find the Madison to be crowded but i only wade fish it and i don't insist on staying out all day. Fish caddis early, then breakfast, a little bit of PMD just before the crowd arrives. Take a break,, fish some less obvious water for salmonflies. Then evening caddis in another spot then back to camp, only crowds i see are a little bit during the PMD time with. The only real issues between 11 and 3
 

Hem

Active Member
This has NOTHING to do with controlling access.
It has everything to do with controlling numbers.
I have fished this river for 38 years.
I dont care if my time fishing the Madison becomes limited. I dont care if out of state guides are limited. I dont care if in state guides(Ennis) are limited. I dont care if non resident fisherman are limited. I dont care if the Bros cry like little trust fund babies.
I dont care that the biologists claim the fishery is sustaining itself.
The bottom line is there are too many people. The fish are not happy.
Call it what you want,call me whatever you want.
F-ing selfish.
 

Jim Darden

Active Member
if you restrict the ability to float the river you will deny access to the water in many areas, the Ruby is a good example. Montana is one of the few states where you can walk the river up to the high water mark. I hope they don't get like Colorado where they violate Federal law and say the landowner owns the water and the river.
 

kpb

Member
if you restrict the ability to float the river you will deny access to the water in many areas, the Ruby is a good example. Montana is one of the few states where you can walk the river up to the high water mark. I hope they don't get like Colorado where they violate Federal law and say the landowner owns the water and the river.
In Colorado the general view of the law (or laws) is that the landowner does not own the water but does own the land under the water. You can float through private property but can't touch the river bottom or river banks (includes anchoring, tying off to shore, wading).
 

Jeremy Floyd

Veðrfölnir
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.
rob, you better make sure that river is on the list before you speak.
 

Triggw

Active Member
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.
That helps. Thanks for the background. I can see that proposals like "Alternative 2D: Walk/wade sections. This would create sections that prohibit use of a boat to gain access to fishing." would effectively exclude the public from river access since it's not feasible to wade up/down the river itself very far.

I've only fished that part of the Madison one time--just above Lyon Bridge. Once I got away from the ramp, I didn't see another fisherman. (Although I also didn't find a lot of fishable water in that stretch.) This was a week day in August, and while I could see other section had more anglers, it didn't look all that crowded. (Of course I'm from Colorado, and I guess we're used to it.)
 

Triggw

Active Member
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.
You can still get arrested and fined. If you want to take on the state law, you better have pockets deep enough to take it all the way to the Supreme Court.
 

Rock Creek Fan

Active Member
The state of Montana, tourism bureaus, advertising companies, resorts, guides, etc. are spending a lot of money to bring in out-of-state people and their money. The tourism industry brings in ~$4 billion a year and that supports about 50,000 local jobs.

I think Montana's Fish and Wildlife department does an excellent job managing the fishing and hunting resources - especially with the budgets they operate on. I have not read anywhere, yet, where the Madison drainage is in trouble resource (fish) wise. Yes, the Madison is the highest fished river (population-wise) in Montana. It has doubled in the last decade or so. But fishing still remains great.

Maybe they should start promoting other lessor known rivers to fish. YIKES! That could be to the detriment of those rivers a number of us fish (no hot-spotting here).

Almost every year the number of tourists and the money they spend increases. IMHO they have brought the issue of crowding upon themselves. But that is their business model so I do not see it changing anytime soon.
 

Jim Travers

Active Member
You gotta be ready to be ready to be bangin' in the post goin' hard in the paint if you're lookin' to be fishin' these type waters.
 

Jim Travers

Active Member
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.
When I was comin' up through The Program, there was a certain stretch o' river where guys were known to be sneakin' through those yards at night, straight up in people's properties and side yards and whatnot. Then sleep in the brushes till dawn to be accessed up. Then compete all day with those fish. Then sneak back out next night to those cars
 

Rob Allen

Active Member
rob, you better make sure that river is on the list before you speak.

Well. Any list a state developes is irrelevant.

If it's navigable in deed it's navigable in law.

For example the Wind river in Washington is very small yet it was used by loggers to move logs to the Columbia. By federal law that makes it navigable for title purpose and thus is SUPPOSED to be held in trust for public use, just like any other public roadway.

But state laws in.most cases are illegal snd likely to remain that way indefinitely.
 

MT_Flyfisher

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
I have been a member of the Madison River Foundation for the past few years, although not a very active member I must say. However, from the limited knowledge that I have - most of which has been in the form of emails I’ve received during the past year or so (multitudes of lengthy emails from many different people and organizations) I am of a different opinion from what you say, that “efforts to effectively privatize sections of the river are still being promoted by local landowners via the Madison River Foundation”.

If you have more current information to explain your opinion, other than a survey by Montana’s FWP, which is separate from the Madison River Foundation, I‘d be interested in hearing it.

I am aware that a year or so ago (I loose track of time) some board members of the Madison River Foundation attempted to take a stand on Madison River access/restriction issues. As you might expect, opinions on that subject varied significantly between the different stakeholders/interested parties, which included the many outfitters and guides, local business owners and land owners, etc. that operate in or near the Madison River Valley. The debates on this issue were very heated and emotional, from what I understand, and resulted in resignations of one or more Madison River Foundation board members, some financial support of the Foundation being withdrawn by area businesses, etc.

As a result of these debates, it was my understanding that the Madison River Foundation had some reshuffling of its board members and is no longer directly participating in river access issues, but are instead concentrating on its core objectives, namely to ”Protect, Promote and Enhance“ the Madison River.

I don’t think, for example if you look on the Foundation’s webpage that you’ll find any references to “privatize sections of the river” as you say, and if you’ll look on their Facebook page all that you‘ll see are projects, like the $3 Bridge Riparian Improvement Project, completed this past year, that are directly related to improving, not restricting, access to the river.

However, notwithstanding any of the above, in my own opinion let’s face it, there are just too many guides and too many fishermen using, and some of whom are abusing, the river at certain times of the year. No matter what is ultimately concluded, some of us will be unhappy. However, I’d much rather give up my rights of floating or fishing a specific part of the river, on a certain day of the week, if it meant I wouldn’t be surrounded by a 100 other fishermen when I was able to fish there. Personally, I’d rather fish in solitude and catch a fish or two, than be surrounded by many others and catch a dozen or two (a couple of which are likely to be idiot anglers).

John

p.s. Although I have fished the Madison a few times each year over the past several decades, it has not been as frequent as my time on the Yellowstone River has been. And, I almost always prefer to fish when and/or where there are the fewest fishermen. For example, I’ve been fishing the lower Madison early in the season when it‘s normally uncrowded, or I’ve floated and fished in the evening, when the fishing is at it’s best and most guides are off the river.
 

Latest posts

Top