Madison River task force delays decision on trade guide limits


BOZEMAN – The Madison River tops the list of ultimate destinations for fly fishing enthusiasts. Thus, they flock to the river in numbers, according to some, simply too high.

With an impending deadline, the Madison River Task Forcewhich is drawing up controversial limits on commercial guidance, decided on Thursday evening March 24 to postpone major decisions for at least a month.

“We don’t want one more day in high season. The outfitting community has spoken,” said task force member John Sampson at the group’s meeting on Thursday evening.

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Madison River Work Group meeting, Thursday, March 24, 2022.

A limit on the maximum number of guided trips was supposed to start in 2022 but was pushed back to January 2023. The working group is now trying to come up with rules to govern those limits. It leads to division.

At least six members strongly suggest that they are in favor of maintaining the one-year limits already agreed upon. Others prefer to allow more permits in the spring and fall. They say it would allow new guiding businesses to gain a foothold. Opponents say it would endanger fish during spawning and low water seasons.

“At the end of the day, I think we’re here to protect, support and sustain the resource well into the future,” said committee member Mike Bias.

Another fishing guide added: “Don’t move the goal posts. Because it’s gonna totally screw us up when we go out in front of the audience and say, now we want to shut you up. Well, you can’t close yourself. So don’t move the goal posts.

And that’s why even if you’re not a guide, you might want to care about this decision.

fishing on madison.jpg

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“It is widely recognized that the amount of traffic, and it’s not just on the Madison River, it’s on the rivers of Montana, the amount of recreational and commercial traffic is becoming unsustainable,” said Zack Brown. , member of the committee. “It hurts people’s experience and it has to degrade the resource at some point.”

Which means that after restrictions are imposed on guides, restrictions on other users are likely to swarm you. But first, a decision must be made.

madison river.jpg

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The Madison River

“We want a plan, and I want to see an evaluation period after that with options for adaptations that would include our public comments and other river users,” a guide said at the meeting.

The working group unanimously agreed to allow guides to buy and sell permits. But the group only has until June 1 to get a recommendation from the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The working group will meet again on April 28.


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