Heads Up-Madison River Coup

silvercreek

Active Member
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.
Actually the guides generally follow the rules. As in some very rare cases, I personally have had guides crowd me but more often I have had regular anglers crowd me. I think this is a numbers game in that there are more regular anglers than guided anglers so I would expect more crowding by regular anglers. I've had a couple of regular anglers crowd me out by one stepping in upstream and the other downstream of me and then "pinching" in on me. But this is RARE. Most anglers respect personal space.

As to your second issue of homes along the banks of the Madison River, new construction has to have a set back. I think it is 300 ft. So there will be no more homes "on the banks" of the Madison River in Madison County.

The upper Madison River from Quake Lake to one of the bridges (I forget which one, but it is past $3 Bridge) is wade fishing only. So float anglers cannot fish from the boat. They have to put in on a bank and get out to wade fish. So every fly fisher is on an equal footing.

The access rules are very specific. If anglers followed the rules, it would do a lot toward maintaining access.

I actually own my piece of heaven on a spring creek in Montana. We get anglers who access it legally and I have no problem with that. I have a neighbor who rents out his home in the summer to anglers. I've even met a fly fisher from Scotland one year. Another year, I met a couple of fly fishers who were from a neighboring town in my home state.

This is where I go when I want to fish by myself:





As you can see below, only my fishing buddy and I have the water to ourselves.

 
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Old Man

Just an Old Man
The first sentence of this thread says it all. The word Montana should of been enough. When there is water running down hill in the form of what I call skinny water there should be fish in them. Why do they all seem to run to the Madison to fish. Between the border and the Madison there are many more rivers that you cross. I know they all have fish in them as I have seen them. So what is the draw on the Madison. I myself don't see it. Maybe it's that very large rivers intimidate me. I'm more at home on smaller Skinny water. Where I can see the bottom and are easy to wade. And there are many of these kinds of Skinny water here to fish. I could go on and on on this subject but why. Most have their hearts set on Fishing the Madison. Why, I have no idea.
 

Old406Kid

Active Member
The first sentence of this thread says it all. The word Montana should of been enough. When there is water running down hill in the form of what I call skinny water there should be fish in them. Why do they all seem to run to the Madison to fish. Between the border and the Madison there are many more rivers that you cross. I know they all have fish in them as I have seen them. So what is the draw on the Madison. I myself don't see it. Maybe it's that very large rivers intimidate me. I'm more at home on smaller Skinny water. Where I can see the bottom and are easy to wade. And there are many of these kinds of Skinny water here to fish. I could go on and on on this subject but why. Most have their hearts set on Fishing the Madison. Why, I have no idea.
Jim, I'd venture to guess there's been more written about the Madison over the years than any other river in the state.
Also it's proximity to Yellowstone Park naturally brings alot of visitors to the area.

That said, I agree with you about other waters but I'm glad many of them stay concentrated on the Madison for my own selfish reasons.
 

JE

Active Member
I worked a couple of summers in Yellowstone NP 25 years ago. I fished below quake lake, Slide Inn, $3 bridge, etc. only a handful of times. It seemed too crowded back then and I could find solitude and what I deemed better fishing on other streams within close proximity. I went back for a day a few years ago for the first time since working in the park and it really felt like I was fishing a super sized version of Rocky Ford. Parking lots overflowing - competitive spot vibe on the river. Fishing was fine, bugs and rising fish. I left after a couple of hours.

From my not really sentimental viewpoint, I kind of felt like this stretch of the Madison with its hordes of fishers was beneficial to other more fragile fisheries nearby. Keep people concentrated in this productive Mecca and away from lesser known streams.
 

Hem

Active Member
Alot of valid points and perspectives from regular in state people and the occasional visitors. Call my previous post a rant and somewhat based on emotion. Apologies extended but I still defend my position. At issue is over crowding and how it affects the experience. Sure, plenty of ways to avoid the crowds but that still doesnt indicate there isn't overcrowding. Regulation may inhibit usage but it doesnt eliminate or diminish the amount of accessible water.
I personally feel that the walk in areas should be boat free. There is 60 miles of river , of which the majority is only fishable by boat. Unfortunately the river is mostly flanked by private property thereby making another walk in area difficult,further reason to regulate that which exists.
My MAIN concern is not how crowding effects our experience on the river but more how intense usage effects the day to day habits of the trout themselves. This aspect is over looked imo. Sure, the biologists state the fishery is sustaining itself and there is no harm inflicted by users. I have my doubts. You cant convince me that fish repeatedly caught and released each year dont suffer as a result. I've seen the jaws of fish with worn grooves from repeated hooking, especially older fish. I wonder what the mortality rate is from mishandling? It drives me bonkers to drive along the river and see a boat every 100 yds. This constant barrage of anglers has to be disruptive, forcing fish from resting along shallow shorelines to surviving in the swifter center of the river. Aren't we truly , and selfishly, putting our satisfaction in front of the well being of the fish we cherish?
Call it all speculation. I know that ultimately it boils down to revenue across the board...tourism income for the state, livlihoods of many both direct and indirect. Even biologists who walk the line wanting to keep their jobs.
Nobody likes to be regulated, but sometimes its necessary. For the good of the river we all must sacrifice. I hope that some resolution is reached , it's a complicated task in our ever growing world.
 

Mark Moore

Just a Member
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.
I suspect that very well may have been the opinion expressed about the various rivers flowing into Puget Sound as recently as 20 years ago....and we all know how that worked out.
 

mikemac1

Active Member
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”. …...
John, I hope your take plays out, but in the last 3 years the MRF has not done much for its credibility on this issue. I am a life member and the ED hasn't answered one email or phone call that I sent to discuss this. Many of my fellow members got the same treatment. The original set of FWP recommended regulations in this affair were largely influenced by the MRF but got quashed by the FWP commission because they were promulgated without public input. I wish I could find the MRF response to that decision. They were extremely upset their wishes weren't allowed to become law. The MRF does good work, but after the last three years I am extremely skeptical about their position here. Lots of things go on outside their website and facebook page. They will tell you the fishery is in jeopardy if nothing changes--many people disagree. They will tell you that wading anglers are disturbed by boats--indeed, wading anglers fishing their private shoreline or lodge clients who have unfettered access across private land. I wade fish the Ennis-Ennis Lake section 15-20 days every season and I rarely see another angler or boat, let alone am disturbed by one.

In a bit of hypocrisy, the FWP changed regulations on the Ennis to Ennis Lake channels section several years ago. It used to open 3rd Saturday in May protect spawning rainbows from Ennis Lake. They changed it to open year round. I once asked why, if the FWP thinks the fishery is in jeopardy, would they open a section of the river during the rainbow spawn that had been closed for decades. In so many words, the answer was simple. It was too hard to enforce in the Spring and the lodge owners wanted a longer walk-in season for their clients.

This is one of those issues that will just have to play out in 2020. We will see where the MRF stands as things move forward.

Thanks for your thoughts. I just got off some water where access is unlimited--Mullet Key Bayou, Pinnelas County, FL.
 

mikemac1

Active Member
I'm more at home on smaller Skinny water. Where I can see the bottom and are easy to wade. And there are many of these kinds of Skinny water here to fish. I could go on and on on this subject but why. Most have their hearts set on Fishing the Madison. Why, I have no idea.
OMJ - A quick pic of some of the best "skinny water" in SW Montana. You'd love it, clear, cold and you can see the bottom.
 

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Old Man

Just an Old Man
OMJ - A quick pic of some of the best "skinny water" in SW Montana. You'd love it, clear, cold and you can see the bottom.
I already have my stream picked out. Fish to 16" with a 3 wt are lots of fun. Be them to be Brown's, RB's, or Cutthroat. With Rocky Mountain Whitefish thrown in. This skinny water is a short Stream. About 20 miles or more in length. Easy wading and a few deep holes. But since I don't wade anymore I'm still happy with it.

All it takes is a little exploring to find these little gems. And I do explore quite a bit.
 

JACKspASS

Active Member
The first sentence of this thread says it all. The word Montana should of been enough. When there is water running down hill in the form of what I call skinny water there should be fish in them. Why do they all seem to run to the Madison to fish. Between the border and the Madison there are many more rivers that you cross. I know they all have fish in them as I have seen them. So what is the draw on the Madison. I myself don't see it. Maybe it's that very large rivers intimidate me. I'm more at home on smaller Skinny water. Where I can see the bottom and are easy to wade. And there are many of these kinds of Skinny water here to fish. I could go on and on on this subject but why. Most have their hearts set on Fishing the Madison. Why, I have no idea.
OMJ, this skinny water you speak of, far removed from the mighty SkyMadisonish River needs an ambassador, a voice, to call in the masses, to spread out the love and joy to the smaller lesser known gems, whom have no voice. Does the Madisonkomish have a south fork?

This poorly written blurp is sponsored by Red Hook Brewing Co
 

Old Man

Just an Old Man
OMJ, this skinny water you speak of, far removed from the mighty SkyMadisonish River needs an ambassador, a voice, to call in the masses, to spread out the love and joy to the smaller lesser known gems, whom have no voice. Does the Madisonkomish have a south fork?

This poorly written blurp is sponsored by Red Hook Brewing Co
I used to name this little creek But I never saw anybody else there, so I shut up about it. I like to drive around and search places out. That's the fun in it. You would be surprised to what you can find by doing this. It has only one other feeder creek that I have found. I took a drive one day and I got off of paved roads in Dillon and got back on a paved road after driving 200 miles of dirt roads. Fished some small creeks and was surprised to the size of the fish I caught.

For me to go there is a 100 mile trip one way. So I don't venture that way to often. I have found a small creek not far from Butte. But when I ask about it in Butte I get a blank stare. Going to have to fish it this summer. No it's not Silver Bow or Blacktail.This runs the other way.
 

Shad

Active Member
Here's the litmus test:

Is the fishing still good on the Madison? If the answer is yes, that means the fish are not currently at risk. If the fish are not currently at risk, that means the ecosystem is healthy, and sport fishing is not putting it at risk.

That doesn't mean the landowners don't have problems with people being shitty, and I can understand why the bad behavior upsets them. Hell, it upsets me. I guess what I'm saying is that these associations should be more honest about the fact that they are tired of their property being abused and stop trying to present their position as concern for the environment. If they're in the right, they should be able to make their case without inventing problems.
 

Hem

Active Member
"Is the fishing still good on the Madison? If the answer is yes, that means the fish are not currently at risk. If the fish are not currently at risk, that means the ecosystem is healthy, and sport fishing is not putting it at risk."

It's all fine until it's not . The above comment is exactly the problem.....horse with blinders.
 

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