Permits for Immensely Popular River Will be More Montana-Friendly
It is celebrated for its spectacular scenery, remote location and excellent fishing.
It is indeed one of Montana’s most sought-after outdoor recreation experiences. And while it requires a permit, the state's residents might be getting a better chance of obtaining one than in years past.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks tells us that floaters hoping for a Smith River permit can now apply through February 15.Talk to anyone who has experienced the 59-mile section of river between between Camp Baker and Eden Bridge and you will likely get nothing but rave reviews.
WHAT APPLICANTS SHOULD KNOW
Of particular interest to Montana residents who have faced the challenges of competing for a permit: Starting in 2024, the number of permits available for nonresidents may not exceed 10 percent of the available permits. This new law was passed as part of a House Bill 2023 Legislative Session.
Parties of up to 15 people can float with one permit. A person applying for a Smith River permit must be a minimum of 12 years of age at the time they submit their permit application.
PARTY POOPER PACKING
Montana FWP staff will remove pit toilets at the float-in campsites along the Smith River during the spring of 2024. All float parties will be required to pack out their human waste from the Smith River corridor. This requirement is essential to keep the corridor pristine now and for decades to come. These new pack-out system rules were just recently passed by the Montana Parks Board.
And that policy means floaters will need to pack portable toilet systems. You can see what is and what is not FWP-approved here.
BUY A BONUS POINT - 5 BEATS 50
2024 is the first year applicants can buy a Smith River Permit "bonus point." A bonus point purchase gives you an extra chance in the permit drawing. And if your bonus point doesn't do the trick this year, it stays in the drawing for upcoming years.
Montana residents can purchase a bonus point for $5. Nonresidents can purchase a bonus point for $50. The bonus point is applied to your application the year it is purchased. More on bonus points here.
It is a lot of hoops to float through, but with such high demand, it's understandable when it comes to such a precious Montana jewel. Good luck in your permit pursuits. To apply now, you can visit the FWP online licensing page.
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