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Montana Fish & Wildlife is proposing an implementation of a permit system for the Madison river beginning next summer (2023) including Bear Trap Canyon. Bear Trap is a prized section of white water in SW Montana which runs year round due to dam control. This is my go to river from July-October because it's a consistent class I-IV run through a beautiful wilderness canyon. In my experience, this section of the Madison regulates itself. The rapids are big enough to keep most fisherman and novices away and its seclusion paired with the long shuttle times deem it to be a full day excursion. The most boats I've ever seen on the river is 10 or less. During the summer, dam managers often release water during the morning hours and cut the flow around mid day which gives a window for a fun mid-summer, high water run if you time it right. The implementation of a permitting system will ruin this prized section of white water. It takes away our ability to choose when we want to run the river (during the daily dam releases) and won't allow for last minute trips when an unexpected dam release occurs.

The proposal can be found here, but the TL;DR is:
  • 21 groups per day, 4 of those are designated for commercial use.
  • 1 launch window every 30 minutes
  • groups no larger than 16 people

More information can be found here. There are several public meetings taking place throughout September with the first being in Bozeman at 6PM on 9/6. I plan on attending at least one of these meetings and inputting my opposition to this proposal through their public comment page.

FWP sites crowding at the put in as one of the reasons for permit implementation. In my experience (20 trips/season) I have NEVER seen more than 1 other party on the put in and most people have been quick and respectful. Please join me in writing to FWP your opposition to this proposal, especially Montana boaters or anyone who plans to boat MT in the future. This is only the beginning, if this permit implementation is successful, it's only a matter of time before they start looking at other rivers to restrict. Keep public waterways public.
 

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I just ran it for my first time mid-May with @Wallrat. It’s a gem. Didn’t see another group.

I’ll comment for sure.

permitting is necessary when an area gets loved to death..but I don’t see it being anywhere near that.

they need permits on the booze and tube float below it!!!
 

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Seems to me like that is about the ONLY section that doesn’t need permits implemented. I grew up fishing the Madison and can no longer stand it up there. Everything upstream of Ennis, and downstream of Bear Trap resembles bumper boats at Six Flags.
 

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It’s the fishing guides who are mad about the Madison I think. My co workers husband is one of two fishing guides liscenced to run bear trap. They put in below double and they walk kitchen. So unless the raft guides are pushing it’s the fishing guides on the upper cause not a lot of guides use beartrap at least in a boat ? It’s a bad junk show I agree and we all remember when no one was there or even cared all that much about fishing. I think the fishing costume and the fisherman is more valuable in Montana now than any other deal? If and when they make our rivers a Draw permit it will really change things. I will say that people in general are hammering these rivers and I’ve seen many locals ruining shit too so some fancy Nancy fisherman and his money will get upset and get what they want long before a whitewater guy? Don’t you think? I mean how many guys are running whitewater that own in the club? How many go fishing? Lol
 

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It’s the fishing guides who are mad about the Madison I think. My co workers husband is one of two fishing guides liscenced to run bear trap. They put in below double and they walk kitchen. So unless the raft guides are pushing it’s the fishing guides on the upper cause not a lot of guides use beartrap at least in a boat ? It’s a bad junk show I agree and we all remember when no one was there or even cared all that much about fishing. I think the fishing costume and the fisherman is more valuable in Montana now than any other deal? If and when they make our rivers a Draw permit it will really change things. I will say that people in general are hammering these rivers and I’ve seen many locals ruining shit too so some fancy Nancy fisherman and his money will get upset and get what they want long before a whitewater guy? Don’t you think? I mean how many guys are running whitewater that own in the club? How many go fishing? Lol
“Fishing costume”!!!
Nailed it! I tell my kids these guys have purchased their identity.
 

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Ever since the movie “A Realtor Runs Through It” everyone wants to be Brad Pitt and own a slice of riverside heaven.
For sure. Though, it seems in the past ten years things have really gotten out of hand. Most of the stretches I grew up on are no longer useable. I have shifted my opinion to favor more permitting and drastically limiting commercial permits. While it means I get to float what I want less, it also means that when I float, say the South Fork of the Snake, I won’t be spending the first hour in camp cleaning up multiple fire rings, trash, and human waste. These fisheries used to be fantastic, but are rapidly turning into a three ring circus.

I am not super familiar with Bear Trap, but it seems like that stretch is the least used stretch of the Madison. I’d be curious to know the reasoning for this move, and would need More information before I reached out with an opinion.
 

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It’s my opinion that there’s a serious lack of enforcement in most places, whether a river is permitted or not

More people can and do use our rivers…it’s generally a small number who ruin things for everyone else
100%.
There is certainly a small number who vandalise, for lack of better terms, but there is a large number of outfitters (speaking to fishing rather than white water) who work under the guise of conservation, that put as many fishermen as they possibly can on the water. This extraordinary pressure is wrecking western fisheries.
 

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I actually love fishing sometimes but I like to walk lol. Funny all the money is on the big named stretches of river at just the right time for the “hatch” but I can see just few mellow people for miles where it’s no good and catch fish all day long lol. It’s silly that what was once subsistence living is a billion dollar industry. I tie a secret nymph garunteed to catch good fish from my dog Ruben’s fur lol. We all have to live together now I guess. My friend who’s a really good fisherman said they where closing fishing accesss on the Yellowstone last few weekends just because the traffic was spilling over onto private and people where doing dumb stuff. Sucky cause it’s where we live and we should be able to just go whenever and not hassle for a parking spot or a camp site. Wallrat suggested we all organize a clean up each year too. There’s a whole lot of human trash on the rivers now. Including whitewater stuff. Will be harder and harder as time goes on . People want to move here and when they do they want to be like the Roman’s and do the do. My buddy who owns the boat shop said he’s sold more boats in the last 3 years than tge previous years he’s been open. Just how it I guess. Cranky about the new school fisherman. If you wanna see em frown just row by and say , “ remember don’t wave it, cast it.” They don’t like that lol.
 

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The upper Madison is a complete zoo, but there is really no way that is ever going to change. It's one of those places that has been cursed by the reputation of as a fly fishing destination and its proximity to Yellowstone.

I didn't see much evidence that the lower (Bear Trap) was crowded at all. I saw way fewer people there than on the Clark Fork. I think the difficulty of the whitewater is likely to keep the hoards away.

Ironically, I was not impressed with the fishing on the river above Ennis. I catch way more and larger fish on my local backyard river, than I did fishing there.
 

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I actually love fishing sometimes but I like to walk lol. Funny all the money is on the big named stretches of river at just the right time for the “hatch” but I can see just few mellow people for miles where it’s no good and catch fish all day long lol. It’s silly that what was once subsistence living is a billion dollar industry. I tie a secret nymph garunteed to catch good fish from my dog Ruben’s fur lol. We all have to live together now I guess. My friend who’s a really good fisherman said they where closing fishing accesss on the Yellowstone last few weekends just because the traffic was spilling over onto private and people where doing dumb stuff. Sucky cause it’s where we live and we should be able to just go whenever and not hassle for a parking spot or a camp site. Wallrat suggested we all organize a clean up each year too. There’s a whole lot of human trash on the rivers now. Including whitewater stuff. Will be harder and harder as time goes on . People want to move here and when they do they want to be like the Roman’s and do the do. My buddy who owns the boat shop said he’s sold more boats in the last 3 years than tge previous years he’s been open. Just how it I guess. Cranky about the new school fisherman. If you wanna see em frown just row by and say , “ remember don’t wave it, cast it.” They don’t like that lol.
hit em up
Event Registration — FISH FOR GARBAGE
good people doing good things and expanding
im bummed not to be able to road trip to the Duetsches
i blame Redford for the river run thru its
and lifestylers vrs. lifers
once carp fishing gits played im goin to noodling
 

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The problem on the Madison is that the tubing company is now having all their clients drive out to the Madison. They’re all parking there and the tubing company just does the shuttle up and down the river. So it’s all these drunk yahoos that are taking up all the parking spots. A few years ago they would shuttle everyone out there from town, they no longer do that.
 

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That's dumb. I only ran it once but holy shit what a gem. Deep wilderness feel an hour from town. Kitchen sink is the real deal. Confused why they're worried about that stretch. Lower/upper mad, whole different story. Floated upper first week of march 2021 and waited longer to drop a boat in at the ramp than I do at pumphouse on a saturday in july.
 

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"Bear Trap is a prized section of white water as it is one of the few Class IV whitewater runs in our State. (We have numerous Class II-III runs and a lot of technical Class IV creeks but very little Class IV.)

In my experience, this section of the Madison regulates itself. The rapids are big enough to keep most fisherman and novices away and its seclusion paired with the long shuttle times deem it to be a full day excursion. I regularly see 2-3 boats per day while I'm on this section.

1. The Recommendation states that the limited launch
area can also result in congestion and social conflict when multiple float parties arrive simultaneously. I find this to be untrue. Unlike float boaters or fishermen, whitewater boaters tend not to be more social and less prone to conflict. We are a social group and tend to look out for the safety and well-being of others not even in our own party. Launch sites may be limited, but they are on most other whitewater rivers and we tend to cooperate and help get other parties onto the river so we can then have our turn. 1/2hr between groups is a good idea, but is not necessary by regulation. As noted before, this river tends to self-regulate.
2. If permitting is desired for further study, I'd advocate for a self-service Kiosk at the Powerhouse launch site and ask that boaters sign in with the number of people/boats in their party which will allow FWP and BLM to track user data.
3. Since neither FWP or BLM has established any benchmark data (the work group recommendations state that the Permit is recommended to gather use so it is assumed no data exists), a restrictive paid permit is not the best first step. The same information gathering permit as recommended for Non-Commercial Final Recommendations should also be implemented first. If benchmark data from this round then dictates that Social Conflict and Congestion exist at all, then a restrictive reservation float permit system may be implemented.
4. While the Beartrap Canyon whitewater flows through BLM wilderness, the put-in (Powerhouse) is not on on land managed by the BLM. Other than scouting the Kitchen Sink rapid and occasionally the White Horses rapid, VERY FEW whitewater floaters even step foot on BLM land until they reach the Warm Springs take-out. If a given number of people launch in a day, why is there no concern with whitewater boaters at the take-out? It's because there isn't social conflict from the whitewater boaters."

Sent today.
 
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