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I really dislike seeing and hearing about the politics of fishing on the Bitterroot River.

The latest fiasco is Fish, Wildlife and Parks yielding its position on regulating the river for commercial travel.

We are nearing the end of the comment period when FWP will consider changing the new regulations that they have made allowing more commercial fishing on the stretches that they previously had designated as one float only.

If the regulations are amended then they will not be amendable again for at least five years. When will the taking and giving going to stop so that we can get to some agreeable understanding that the Bitterroot should be a fishing friendly river as well as a resource enjoyed by all who live here and visit here. What I object to most is the attitude wade fishermen have about seeing all of the fishing rafts and the guides objecting being limited and not have all the freedom they want to float whenever and wherever they want.

FWP made the regulations for the West Fork and Upper River and they should stick to them until a fair amount of time passes and we can gauge whether the regulations are good or need to be changed. I don’t believe that enough time has passed to have any kind of data or judgment whether the regulations are working or not.

The river ice is beginning to break up and more open water is available for fishermen to catch their March fish. Weather conditions are improving every week and by the end of March we should have a completely ice-free river.

If you try to fish this weekend don’t be fooled by the open water and ice along the bank. The shelf ice will be pretty thin and you might find yourself in the water when you don’t want to be.

A temperature in the 40s doesn’t mean the Skwala’s will be out. We need a little warmer temperature and some higher water temperatures.

I believe that we should see a good Skwala hatch going by March 25th and should continue well into early May. A cool spring will elongate the hatch but if we get too warm runoff will surely hurt the clarity of the river and slow down the fishing. It won’t slow down the hatch but the fish will only be able to see very few feet and will not move to the feeding lanes quite so easily.

During this runoff time the best bet will be to use a Skwala nymph to attract the fish.

If you haven’t picked up a new fishing license be sure to do so. Your old license expired February 28th and the new one will be the only one that counts.

While it seems like the cost of fishing licenses goes up every year it is one of the most inexpensive costs for entertainment. There are a lot of reasons to learn about fishing but the main reason is entertainment.

Get out and enjoy the Bitterroot when you have the chance.

Good Fishing,

Bill Bean.

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