Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blackfoot Restrictions Proposed

It was only a matter of time, I suppose. FWP has proposed a draft management plan for the Blackfoot. I think some restrictions are overdue, but the question is are these the right ones?

Chet Crowser tells the Missoulian:

"We're trying to manage for larger volumes closer to Missoula, and as you go upriver, provide opportunities for lower volumes of use," Crowser said. "Some areas would look much like they do now, with tubing and all that continuing from Whitaker Bridge down to town. From Harry Morgan down to Russell Gates, that's where we've talked about a proposed permit system. That box-canyon section is tight, it's popular for fishing, and it's hard to pass in there."

Some folks I've talked to are flabbergasted that the lower river will still be left a tuber chaos zone. The tubers usually don't fish though. I definitely saw insane crowding on the Canyon when I did it this summer. I would estimate that there were 60 rigs at Harry Morgan when we put in and the river just isn't that big or wide through that reach. It was a zoo. I was trying to avoid 3 other boats and tie on a new fly for LaNette and accidentally dropped off that river wide shelf just before the canyon. I completely surprised the outfitter working the big swirly.

I'm wondering why they don't impose restrictions like those on the Big Hole, limiting outfitters to certain days, although we don't have as big an out-of-state angler issue as they do down there. At any rate, now's the time to speak up about the proposal. Don't be afraid to let the agency know how you feel. Check out one of the open houses or send them an email. You can read the plan here.

FWP will host two open houses to discuss the Blackfoot draft plan and environmental assessment. The public is invited to show up any time between 6 and 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19, at the Ovando School gymnasium and on Nov. 5 at the Holiday Inn in downtown Missoula. Comments may be submitted in writing at the open houses, via e-mail to, or online at Click "Blackfoot River Plan." Mail written comments to Blackfoot River Plan, Montana FWP, 3201 Spurgin Road, Missoula, MT 59804.