Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Montana FWP Seeking Input On Madison River Recreation Management

A brown trout swims near the surface of the water.
Bugeater/FLICKR (CC-by-2.0)
The Madison River is one of the most productive fisheries in Montana for brown trout (image above), rainbow trout and mountain whitefish.


The public comment period closes Monday, Jan. 6 at midnight, on proposals to address crowding and conflicts on the iconic Madison River in southwest Montana.

World-renowned as a fly-fishing destination and the economic driver of Ennis, the Madison River that flows from Yellowstone National Park and into the Missouri River near Three Forks has seen a drastic increase in anglers and recreational floaters.

Fishing on the upper river between Quake Lake and Ennis Lake has more than tripled in the past 20 years, according to officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Around 40 percent of commercial and non-commercial anglers in 2016 felt there was an unacceptable level of crowding at boat ramps and on the river.

Currently there are no limits or caps on the number of outfitters on the river or the number of trips they take, provided they have a permit, but that could change as the Fish and Wildlife Commission wraps up its scoping process.

FWP’s online survey, which closes Monday, allows people to rate management proposals. Some of them include capping the total number of outfitters, restricting boat launches to certain times of the day and limiting the number of non-commercial anglers from out-of-state. No management is also an option.

Written comments can also be sent to

The scoping process began in November at the direction of the Fish and Wildlife Commission after it heard petitions from several interest groups proposing solutions to recreation management.

The commission denied all three petitions but directed department staff to insert the options proposed within the petitions into a scoping process.

Once the scoping process is complete, the department will consider the survey results and draft a proposed rule, which is slated to go before the commission in February. The commission will then choose whether or not to put the proposed rule out for public comment.