Proposals have been submitted, and it will be up to Montana officials to decide if there should be greater restrictions.

According to a source representing the interests of Trout Unlimited, “the Madison River is the most heavily fished wild trout river in the world!” Developing rules and a plan to protect this amazing fishery is in “uncharted waters.” Montana officials were presented two petitions Thursday related to new regulations for the Madison. The proposals will influence how a public process would be implemented.

FOAM, the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana and the George Grant Chapter of Trout Unlimited were scheduled to make their cases. According to their figures, last year the number of commercial trips increased 13% to nearly 14,000 guided trips. This year, the numbers are even higher. FOAM is asking the commission to remove restrictions. Allow boat fishing between Quake Lake and Lyons Bridge; cap the number of commercial trips at the current levels; avoid “rest rotation” schedules for at least 3 more years and “flex trips”, or additional guide trips on the Madison. This means that if other rivers are closed or impacted, they can use the Madison as an alternative. They also want any recreational user to have a “no cost, no limit stamp”.

Trout Unlimited also submitted a proposal. They want a cap on guided trips at the 2019 numbers. Seasonal rest/rotation sections of the river are also requested. They are looking at Saturdays and Sundays between June 15th and Sept. 30th. The petition also wants a” no cost, no limit” stamp to be required.

This process has been going on for a few years. Obviously, the Covid-19 pandemic has  increased the pressure on the Madison and many other fisheries in Montana.