Blue-ribbon trout fishing, spectacular views and countless recreation opportunities - it’s no wonder the Madison River is attracting more and more people every year.
“The use on the river has increased, nobody is gonna argue that,” said John Way, owner of the Tackle Shop in Ennis.
Next week, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will hear from a number of stakeholders presenting their ideas of how to address the crowding.
One petition will come from the Madison River Foundation.
“FWP biologists have repeatedly stated that the fisheries are near a tipping point and will decline from overuse if we do not implement regulations now,” said Quincey Johnson, project and outreach coordinator at the Madison River Foundation.
“So, we want that plan that FWP developed back in April of 2018.”
But some are strongly against regulations, especially regulations that would limit commercial guides taking clients out on the river.
“What they’re really neglecting is the overall use. Guided fishing is really about 30% of the overall use on the Madison,” said Way.
One of the more controversial proposed regulations is to set aside sections of the river for wade fishing only.
“We believe all anglers should have access to the experience they want. And we feel that it’s important to wade anglers that they have a section of river where they can fish without a boat,” said Johnson.
Opponents say that’s a form of limiting public access.
Way acknowledges the crowds, but says fisheries area healthy, customers are happy and local businesses in Ennis are thriving.
“It’s the lifeblood of this town. Without them, this town would dry up and go away.”
“We’re by no means against business. We’re protecting the future of local business by protecting the fishery
The Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet at the FWP headquarters in Helena on Tuesday, November 12th at 8:15am.
Members of the public are welcome to attend.