Springtime, felt ban, Madison River plan & more

After several airlines, hours looking through a vehicle windshield, weeks staying in hotels and AirB&B’s, and eating good food with good company, we have buttoned up the trade shows for 2018. Thanks to all who stopped by our booth at each show, and good seeing several clients/friends while on the road.
Get comfortable and grab a beverage as we have a lot of important information in this newsletter that may affect you and your trip to Montana and Yellowstone National Park.
Signs of springtime are in the Big Sky state!
When I see the arrival of sandhill cranes, this can only mean one thing, springtime! Look closely at the above picture and you will see a sandhill crane in flight. Now is the time to be in Montana. The winter ice build up on rivers has disappeared, and the lakes and reservoirs are either free of ice or soon to be! The time from now until we see the muddy water of the run-off is a fantastic opportunity to fish dry flies on both our freestone and tail-water rivers. As our waters start to warm up, this will trigger insects like Blue Winged Olives, March Browns, Skwallas, and Caddis to emerge. These fish will have had little to no pressure all winter long and they are hungry! We have already had guide trips on the Madison, Gallatin and Missouri Rivers; all are in great shape and fishing well! Read the full fishing report at the end of this newsletter.
FELT SOLE WADER & BOOT BAN IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Effective starting this fishing season, which gets underway on Saturday May 26th, 2018 in YNP.
Felt Sole Ban
Boating Season
  • Boats will be allowed to enter park waters from 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 26, until 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 4.
  • All watercraft are required to have a boat permit and a Yellowstone AIS inspection before launching in the park. Watercraft include, but are not limited to, power boats, sail boats, canoes, kayaks, and angler float tubes. Permits and inspections are available seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at various locations in the park.
  • If a boat does not pass the AIS inspection, it will not be allowed to enter park waters.
  • Instituting a boating season guarantees the park will have staff to provide timely boat inspections.
Take action. Ensure that you don’t transport AIS to Yellowstone and that your watercraft will be permitted to launch:
  • Clean all plants, animals, mud, sand, and other debris from your boat, anchor, boots, and equipment. Use high-pressure, hot (120-140F) water if possible.
  • Drain all water from your boat including the motor, bilge, livewell, and other compartments before you arrive. Leave drain plugs out during transport. Do not dump water or organisms from one water body into another.
  • Dry all compartments and equipment in the sun for five days.
Watch a video that demonstrates this process.
Snowpack
The Madison River’s Future
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is proposing a recreation management plan and administrative rules for the Madison River. Although we do not agree with everything on the proposal, we do agree that there needs to be some management plan put in place during peak season. Please read for yourself.
FWP PROPOSES MADISON RIVER RECREATION PLAN
F&W COMMISSION TO HEAR INITIAL PROPOSAL AT NEXT MEETING
(BOZEMAN, Mont.)—Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is proposing a recreation management plan and administrative rules for the Madison River. The proposal is set to be presented at the next meeting of the Fish and Wildlife Commission as a first step in addressing increasing concerns about crowding and social conflict on the river.
At its April 19 meeting, the Commission will not be deciding on the proposal, only whether to allow the Department to seek public input on the proposal as a start to the process.
The proposed plan addresses the Madison River in southwest Montana from the outlet of Quake Lake to its confluence with the Jefferson River near Three Forks.
It is intended to improve the recreational experience for all users by reducing crowding and social conflicts. As such, it is strictly a recreation management plan, not a resource management plan.
The proposed plan comes as a response to years of public input in the form of surveys, scoping meetings, and informal comments indicating a decline in the user experience on the Madison. Specifically, users expressed concern about crowding both on the river and at access points, the level of commercial outfitting and the impact of the increasing numbers of visitors to the Madison.
The Department’s data also shows that overall recreational use on the Madison continues to increase with angling pressure increasing approximately 15-percent every two years. With that, reported commercial use is up 72-percent from 2008.
Therefore, the Department began developing a recreation plan and convened a citizen advisory committee in 2012 which included individuals representing fishing outfitters, landowners, anglers and local business owners.
FWP’s proposal combines many of the recommendations made by that Madison River Citizen Advisory Committee and that of FWP staff.
The plan as it’s proposed includes:
  • Establishing a cap on the number of commercial outfitters at 2016-2017 levels;
  • Restricting commercial use based on the reach of river, and 2016-17 levels of use;
  • Designating one reach of the river every day for non-commercial use (the rotating closed sections include reaches from Quake Lake to Greycliff Fishing Access Site);
  • Prohibiting any commercial use from Greycliff Fishing Access Site to the to the Jefferson River to preserve the primitive nature of this unique reach;
  • Prohibiting the use of any vessel or float tube to gain access for angling in the two walk/wade sections to help eliminate conflicts between boats and wade anglers;
  • Prohibiting the use of glass containers on the river.
As with similar plans, the Fish and Wildlife Commission would review the rules governing recreational use on the Madison River every five years.
“The objectives of this plan echo the Department’s Vision for the future in protecting the value of this iconic resource and quality of experience for all,” said Region Three Supervisor Mark Deleray.
Deleray stressed that staff went to great lengths to consider the effect the proposal would have on all the interest groups and wants to hear from them all in the process.
Regional Fisheries Manager Travis Horton said, “In putting this proposal together, we wanted to hear from and incorporate diverse voices of interest and we will continue to do that as proposal moves forward. FWP believes this is a balanced first step to addressing recreational concerns on the Madison.”
Fish and Wildlife Commissioners will listen to a presentation on the proposed plan at their April 19 meeting to determine whether to allow FWP staff to start a public input process.
Where we stand on this proposal
While the majority of these proposals will help with the overcrowding during peak season, I have grave concerns for the points that close off the two walk-and-wade sections of the Madison River. Not only would this increase the volume of anglers and boats in the rest of the river leading to even more overcrowding, but this would also be creating private stretches of river in a state that prides itself and thrives on its public recreational water & land. This only favors land owners along those stretches and will create future problems with trespassing to access these areas without the use of a boat.
The FWP meeting is this Thursday. I will keep you up to date if the proposal passes to the next step of public input.
Yellowstone River by the numbers
Like we promised, here are the data on number of fish per mile post Proliferative Kidney Disease (PKD) in 2016 on the Yellowstone River outside of Yellowstone National Park. These numbers were taken in the Paradise Valley from the Dan Bailey fishing access site to the Loch Leven fishing access site, which is approximately 5 miles in length. This data is from 1981 to 2017 and includes, Rainbows, Browns, Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout (YCT) and Mountain Whitefish (MWF). We do have the full report if any of you are interested. The full report includes numbers near Corwin Springs, Springdale Montana, Columbus Montana, and Laurel Montana.
Fishing Report
Gallatin River Rainbow
Blue Winged Olives by the handfuls on the Madison River!
The Madison River is fishing very well from the “lower” Madsion, near Bozeman all the way up to the Yellowstone National Park boundary line. Blue Winged Olives (bwo’s) and midges are the game right now if you are looking to fish a dry fly. Nymph fishing has been very productive with black stone fly nymphs, red midge larvaes, san juan worms in a variety of colors and sizes, and bwo nymphs and emergers. The streamer game is low and slow, almost at a dead drift, using olive or tan sculpin patterns.
The Gallatin River near Bozeman has been really nice with little to no angler pressure, however the further south you head towards Big Sky there seems to be more anglers. The water conditions are in fantastic shape; historically these conditions will hold on for a couple more weeks. Midge fishing has been best with black a Palamino Midge, and red midge larvae. Some black girdle bug/stone fly nymphs and red san juans have been working well too. The dry fly bite has been hit or miss depending on the day. Nymphing seems to be the best option to bring fish to the net on the Gallatin.
The Missouri River, in both the drift boat and jet boat sections, is fishing great and will continue to fish well through our runoff months of late May and early June. The water temps are still very cold, reaching highs in the high 30’s to low 40’s, making most of the fishing a midge game. Nymphing with scud patterns in the orange colors and black midge larvae have been best, however we are catching some fish on bwo nymphs so it wont be long before we start seeing blue wings emerging.
Thank you for staying connected with us on current conditions, reports and news!
A view from the drift boat as we float through the walk and wade only section of the Madison River.