Our Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is asking for public feedback to handle crowding and conflict on the Madison River. The issue is much more broad-based than simply the Bozeman-area fisheries, as Montanans need a comprehensive solution. Many fishermen from Bozeman who feel pressured out of their home waters are venturing to Helena areas to fish and thereby adding pressure here. I feel that the problem is based on too many commercial guides allowed. A recent Cabela’s catalog sent throughout the United States offers fly-fishing on the Missouri for $1,000 per day, so this billion-dollar company is adding nationwide pressure on our fisheries. This reduces the wilderness fishing experience for Montanans to something similar to a Disneyland promotion. The April 2019 disaster on Holter Lake was a desperate Bozeman-area fishing guide who brought a Missouri state client to his death to fish in a blizzard.
FWP is responsible for allowing this excessive commercial overcrowding, reducing the Montana experience to a cash equation. One can hunt in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and see some commercial guides with their clients, where the number of hunting guide companies is strictly regulated to maintain a fine balance, allowing Montana hunters the ability to enjoy the wild hunt without being crowded out by commercial interests. As it is now, the Missouri River is crowded by guide companies, with ever-increasing pressure from saturated areas like Bozeman. It is time to get a handle on this problem statewide, unless we turn our majestic Montana into just another Cabela’s Disneyland style commercial destination. The well-funded lobbyists for the guide industry are now working hard to buy our rivers. May FWP resist the organized pressure and reduce the number of these companies, to keep the experience from being forever destroyed.