Harbinger of the Summer To Come - Montana

Mike.Cline

Bozeman, Montana
I was trudging upstream to one of my favorite pools on the Yellowstone inaccessible except via boat when four folks sidled down the gravel bank with two dogs. How did they get there without trespassing? We were at least 3/4 of a mile from the road. The two couples, probably in their late twenties set up shop on the point of a small island and had a tough time controlling their barking dogs harassing the local geese population. As I fished up close to where they were, I beached the kayak and the two men approached me, both with fly rods in their hands. They were woefully unprepared to fish this big, cold river in shorts and sandals. I assumed they were going to ask for advice, but my inquiry cut them off short. First question, are you all local-No. Where are you from: Denver. Are you aware that you have been trespassing to get here? - No they were not. After a bit of a restrained rant on my part about not jeopardizing our generous Montana Stream Access laws by violating them, I heard the most bizarre explanation. “We stayed close to the high water mark” I explained the law to them in no uncertain terms. You stay “BELOW” the high water mark. In this case, that is physically impossible on foot for at least 300 yards of the bank we were on at today’s water level. At first they claimed to have stayed below the high water mark but quickly realized that I knew a bit more about this part of the river than they did. They had to have entered private, fenced land to access the portion of the river they were now at. In fact, the entrance to that land along the road is prominently signed with big orange plaques and post tops. No doubt about the “No Trespassing” aspect.

They were polite and a bit contrite about it and acknowledged their misunderstanding of the law. I gave them some directions to other parts of the river less than a couple of miles away where they could legally access a lot of river bank. As they left, they attempted to stay along the gravel bank below the high water mark as far downstream as possible but were ultimately forced onto private property as they encountered the high, unaccessible bank.

I suspect these types of encounters will be much more prevalent this summer as naive anglers invade SW Montana. Confronting such behavior is always tedious, but as one guide implored me several years ago, if we don’t confront violators (whether through naive behavior or intentional disregard) of Montana’s Stream Access Law, we potentially jeopardize the goodwill of private property owners. If you visit Montana to fish this summer—UNDERSTAND and ABIDE BY Montana’s Stream Access Law.
 
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MT_Flyfisher

Active Member
As few years back I encountered a guy and his wife who were sitting on the bank of the Yellowstone River in the Park eating a picnic lunch while their 2 teenage sons were fishing while wading in the river in shorts and sandals.

That section of the river was clearly posted with signs that said ”No Fishing and No Wading” as it was closed as trout spawning and nursery water. In fact, the guy and his wife were sitting right beneath one of those signs.

When I told them their boys were not supposed to be either wading or fishing there the wife said ”We saw those signs, but we didn’t know what they meant.”

It was about all I could do to keep myself from letting loose on her. Fortunately, her husband interjected ”Honey, let’s pack up our things. I think we need to leave.”

From all of my time of being in Montana and around the Yellowstone area, I’m convinced that either (a) 50% of the people in this world are total idiots, or (b) people tend to become stupider the farther they are from home.

p.s. the numbers may be even higher for people coming from Colorado or California.
 
Thanks for educating those people. I hope it sticks with them. It should go without saying, but it is the responsibility of all resident and nonresident visitors and outdoor users to educate themselves on the rules and laws of any land/waters they visit. Every State has plenty of available information available on the topic, even if someone only puts forth a minimum amount of effort to find it. It is in the printed regulations, presumably something a responsible license holder would familiarize themselves with (assuming they even had a license).
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
With all the free river access, I don't see why they all access private land. There are catchable fish all over Montana. I find all kinds of places here in Montana to fish. And I don't have to trespass to fish it. That reminds me that I better pick up a copy of the regs the next time I'm out and about. I think the reason I find all my spots is I try to stay away from all the idiots let loose here.
 

Canuck from Kansas

WFF Supporter
From all of my time of being in Montana and around the Yellowstone area, I’m convinced that either (a) 50% of the people in this world are total idiots, or (b) people tend to become stupider the farther they are from home.

p.s. the numbers may be even higher for people coming from Colorado or California.
Slightly off topic, but I visited Yellowstone 3 years ago and had to make the obligatory stop by Old Faithful. The wife and I were walking back to the parking lot, with a stream of folks going the other direction toward the geysers. As we got closer to the lot, a family were extracting themselves from their vehicle with Arkansas plates. The father looked across at me and yelled "whey tha wadda at?" I just turned and pointed in the direction of the stream of folks.

Upshot, I think it might be both (a) and (b), the stupid ones get even stupider the further they get from home.

cheers
 

smc

Active Member
Slightly off topic, but I visited Yellowstone 3 years ago and had to make the obligatory stop by Old Faithful. The wife and I were walking back to the parking lot, with a stream of folks going the other direction toward the geysers. As we got closer to the lot, a family were extracting themselves from their vehicle with Arkansas plates. The father looked across at me and yelled "whey tha wadda at?" I just turned and pointed in the direction of the stream of folks.

Upshot, I think it might be both (a) and (b), the stupid ones get even stupider the further they get from home.

cheers
One of my favorite songs. Coo Wadda. Coo Coo Wadda.

 

Cougar Zeke

Active Member
The James Cox Kennedy's and Huey Lewis' of the world drive me bonkers. They are scumbags.

But if I was a property owner and everyone was throwing their White Claw cans all over my property, I'd get sick of it pretty fast.

Thanks for taking the time to educate them Mike.
 

Northern

It's all good.
WFF Supporter
Doing a MT trip this Oct with my sibs and staying in a rental right on the Yellowstone, outside the park. My BIL specifically asked me to track down the water access rules so we don't trespass - so thanks for the link!
He's also concerned about getting harrassed for using a spinning rod (I'm the only fly fisher) even though he's perfectly willing to go single barbless. Is that likely?

We do strive not to be clueless ;)
 

creekx

Director of Stoke
As few years back I encountered a guy and his wife who were sitting on the bank of the Yellowstone River in the Park eating a picnic lunch while their 2 teenage sons were fishing while wading in the river in shorts and sandals.

That section of the river was clearly posted with signs that said ”No Fishing and No Wading” as it was closed as trout spawning and nursery water. In fact, the guy and his wife were sitting right beneath one of those signs.

When I told them their boys were not supposed to be either wading or fishing there the wife said ”We saw those signs, but we didn’t know what they meant.”

It was about all I could do to keep myself from letting loose on her. Fortunately, her husband interjected ”Honey, let’s pack up our things. I think we need to leave.”

From all of my time of being in Montana and around the Yellowstone area, I’m convinced that either (a) 50% of the people in this world are total idiots, or (b) people tend to become stupider the farther they are from home.

p.s. the numbers may be even higher for people coming from Colorado or California.

In the past few months two separate YouTube channels posted videos of their fishing trips to YNP last summer. Both were secretive about where they were fishing, but having fished the park for over 30 years I quickly figured out all of the spots - except one. Well, my buddy figured it out pretty quickly. They were fishing a permanently closed section of the Yellowstone! Silly me, I was only considering waters that were open to fishing.

So two unrelated parties fishing closed waters in YNP and posting photos and videos. One of the channels had only a couple very short clips and claimed to have lost the files from their SD card. I suspect they figured it out later, but still had to post the hero shots. They also operated a drone in YNP, which is incredible ballsy.

As we often see, the thirst for social media cred and likes makes people stupid and/or unethical.
 

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