Thursday, April 15, 2010

Beaverhead/Big Hole River Use Rules to Remain Essentially Unchanged

Awhile back FWP initiated use restrictions on the Beaverhead and Big Hole Rivers. In a nutshell the new rules restricted float outfitting and non-resident float fishing on one section each day of the week on the Big Hole and one section of the Beaverhead on Saturday and another on Sunday. In addition float outfitting was closed from Tash Bridge to Selway Bridge (thru Dillon). Also outfiitters were restricted to however many use days they owned based on previous years use. The rules are in effect from 3rd Saturday in May (Opening Day trout season) thru Labor Day.

The reason was to give residents a chance to escape the increasingly heavy guide boat traffic and to allow citizens the chance for a less chaotic overall river experience.

They came to be known as Citizens' Days and as you might already know or suspect among citizens a rousing success. I suppose there are outfitters and guides out there who are bent but I don't any. As for non-residents most of the complaints I've heard are more along the lines of discrimination abuse and less about the restrictions per se...

In Montana with most things concerning rivers and wildlife and such in due time there is a mandatory review period. FWP goes about the area holding town meetings where everyone is allowed to bitch and moan or rant and rave as the case maybe. In the end usually not much comes of it, the status quo is maintained and life goes on...Essentially as to River Use Rules that is what happened this time around but...

At the time nobody thought much about the lower two miles of the Beaverhead river coming under River Use restrictions. But depending who was doing the interpretation outfitters wanting to access the upper 7 miles of the Jefferson suddenly found themselves in a dilemma. Do I waste a Use Day for two miles of fishing or do I hope the right warden comes along, the one allows floating thru with clients as long as the rods are disassembled...In other words because not all wardens intrepreted the law the same way you just might get a ticket regardless. To avoid the hassle most outfitters simply stopped guiding on the upper Jeff.

Amid numerous complaints FWP is now considering exempting the lower two miles of the Beaverhead from the existing River Use Rules. In the overall scheme of things not such a big deal but I suppose for some yet another example of too many rules, too much hassle, too much government intervention...like hell man, all we wanna do is go fishin'.

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