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fisherman wearing waders

A fly fisherman wearing waders stands in  the river. 

The issue of regulations on the Bitterroot received another publication this week in a local newspaper.

The opinion of one-wade fishermen is thrown forward and I am sensitive, as are other wade fishermen, to his plight. The decision of wade versus row is something that the Bitterroot has been plagued with since rafts began to float down the river with fishermen after World War II. Rafts became popular to the public when manufactures began to produce them in quantity and offer them for sale.

It appears that the recommendations of the Bitterroot River Recreation Advisory Committee did not satisfy this fisherman’s desire to have a peaceful fishing experience and the regulations would probably not satisfy other fishermen who live by the river and want to be able to wander somewhere close to their abode and throw a line in the water without seeing boats and other watercraft float by while they are fishing.

What is the answer? There is none. No regulations or lack of regulations is going to satisfy all of the fishermen who populate our river. Maybe the answer is to leave it alone and let it be as it has been and let the people who don’t like the conditions finding another place to fish or wade in and endure the occasional boat that floats by to interrupt the serenity of the river.

An interesting sideline in the article referred to people who used to fish for sustenance and caught enough fish to feed the whole family if they could. Maybe the river could support this kind of fishing in the past but I doubt it. If we able to persist today with this type of fishing, the fish population would be damaged and there would be no fishing worthwhile. It is good that some regulations were placed on the Bitterroot and fish populations are able to sustain themselves in a fashion.

Since there are no actions that will satisfy us all, let’s just do the best we can and fish as often as possible and stop complaining about the conditions. Luckily Rock Creek is very close to us and if we want to go wading and not see a boat during the day after July 1st we can easily pop over the ridge. Maybe this is the answer. No boat fishing after July 1. I don’t think that would satisfy everyone either.

Fishing right now is at a premium. Water conditions continue to be great with levels stable due to cold nights and little rain. Snowmelt is on schedule and we saw the river rise a little this past week. Painted Rocks water levels continue to rise and it won’t be long before water becomes to come over the spillway. The West Fork and East Fork have been producing some nice fish on dry flies so it would be a good idea to head there for the weekend.

Tributaries are still closed but scheduled to open shortly. These will be a good bet in the coming weeks before high water.

Good Fishing.

Bill Bean

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