Harbinger of the Summer To Come - Montana

El_Coremino

New Member
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.
I'm new this forum, so sorry if I'm talking out of turn.

I'm a little confused because you say they reached an unpassable bank and had to get onto private property to navigate around it, and that was your beef. But the link you provided states this is legal and appropriate: "Since the Montana stream access law applies to most rivers and streams that flow through private property, many rivers have various man-made and natural obstructions. A floater or angler who encounters these obstructions may climb above the high water mark, if necessary, to avoid these obstructions in the least intrusive way possible (some landowners don’t like it, but it says – explicitly – that you can do this in the statute.)."

Could you clarify? Maybe im just not reading your description right?

I'll be fishing one day in Montana this summer as I pass through, and I'd like to be on the up and up everywhere I fish and not piss anybody off.
 

Robert Engleheart

Robert
WFF Premium
On a trip to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia I was amazed at the number of times we parked on the side of the road in front of owners house and walked across their lawn (on the sides of) to access the river where sometimes there would be a bench or chairs or in one case, a ghillie hut with a little stove and pictures of fish caught or written on a board. Several landowners came out and chatted on our return to cars, asking about the fishing or remarking that someone before us had done well, or not. Some didn’t fish themselves. One other remarkable fact was that in 8 days fishing I saw one piece of litter; no leader, nothing whatsoever except the one empty water bottle on which my guide erupted in a string of curse words.
Something to be said for Canadian politeness and general friendliness. The only rudeness expressed was when someone didn’t respect the rules in one instance where a fellow with Maine plates tried to jump in from the opposite bank and lowhole two anglers on the otherside. They gave him an earful and proceeded to ask what he thought he would land with the 16” net he was carrying.
 

Mike.Cline

Bozeman, Montana
I'm new this forum, so sorry if I'm talking out of turn.

I'm a little confused because you say they reached an unpassable bank and had to get onto private property to navigate around it, and that was your beef. But the link you provided states this is legal and appropriate: "Since the Montana stream access law applies to most rivers and streams that flow through private property, many rivers have various man-made and natural obstructions. A floater or angler who encounters these obstructions may climb above the high water mark, if necessary, to avoid these obstructions in the least intrusive way possible (some landowners don’t like it, but it says – explicitly – that you can do this in the statute.)."

Could you clarify? Maybe im just not reading your description right?

I'll be fishing one day in Montana this summer as I pass through, and I'd like to be on the up and up everywhere I fish and not piss anybody off.

Indeed, if while you are wading or walking below the high water mark and encounter an obstacle such as a downed tree or fence into the water, you can temporarily enter private property to bypass the obstacle. 300 yards of high natural riverbank would be an extremely liberal interpretation of an obstacle you could bypass. In this case, this group never attempted to access the river below the high water mark. They just entered private property inside the fence line and walked up river to a point (at least 3/4 of a mile before they ever dropped down to the river). In fact when I encountered them, they were setting up a picnic well above the high water mark on private land.

Of course what might be considered an obstacle is open to interpretation. But when the river is essentially un wadeable, un crossable or there is no dry land between the water and the bank for 100s of yards calling that a obstacle that you could just bypass by trespassing would be stretch.

On the particular river whence I showed the image of the orange post and no-trespassing sign, the West Bank from that point up stream is essentially impassible for at least 1/2 mile and the river at that point is not really crossable at normal flows. Arguing that you could trespass for 1/2 mile to avoid that West Bank would not hold water with the landowner who aggressively monitors access to the river. Hope this helps.
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
Jim,
No doubt Montana is cleaner. It also has a lot less people.
Unfortunately, there is litter everywhere.
There is just less of it in Montana.
It sucks wherever it is.
SF
I was fishing the Sultan one winter day and from the place I was parked at to the river was at least 200' There was paper and cans strung out for for the entire length to the river. There was enough shit scattered about to fill a dump truck.
 

JACKspASS

Active Member
I was fishing the Sultan one winter day and from the place I was parked at to the river was at least 200' There was paper and cans strung out for for the entire length to the river. There was enough shit scattered about to fill a dump truck.

Trout Farm access?
 

Rorem

New Member
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.
 

Rorem

New Member
Gee, Mike, I expect that was tedious. Very few people want to confront someone--or be confronted --when on the water. The problem is that encounters can
 

Rorem

New Member
Come on Rorem, I know this internet stuff can be difficult, but two posts in, and you still haven't completed a thought . . . Tell us what's on your mind; spit it out.
Trying to spit it out, but my thumbs are too big for my phone, and the blue "post reply" button is too easy to hit. But stay tuned!
 

Rorem

New Member
Come on Rorem, I know this internet stuff can be difficult, but two posts in, and you still haven't completed a thought . . . Tell us what's on your mind; spit it out.
Trying to spit it out, but my thumbs are too big for my phone, and the blue "post reply" button is too easy to hit. But I'll just cut to the chase. It's not doing any good to start in with all this local/non-local BS if you really want to get your message across. I can hear Mike's frustration in his original post, but when you start preaching about locals educating all the stupid folks from other states, you sound like a self-righteous prick and your message gets buried. Then all the non-residents start talking about how many years they've fished in Montana, which matters about as much as the $3 rubber dicks mentioned earlier. Truth be told, we're all feckin' idiots at some point, such as when we can't write a complete message without accidentally posting it mid-paragraph. If you want to teach instead of preach, you'll need to get past your frustration and take the time to sit down and be cordial. But that's not easy to do. Maybe you should avoid confrontations on the water and just call it in if you're that concerned (or pissed off that the place you planned to fish was usurped by trespassers). Everyone wants to get away from the crowds, but that's going to be increasingly difficult if the fishing is good. Have a look at Mike Lawson's blog entry about crowded rivers if you have a chance. I'll post the link if my thumbs cooperate and I figure out this internet thing.
https://www.henrysforkanglers.com/fishing-info/blog/fishing-with-company
Got a link?
 

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