Would you pay fee for access to private Blue Ribbon river?

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rfong

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If there were an opportunity to gain access to private 1 mile of a Blue Ribbon fishery in Montana, would you pay a fee for it? How much would you pay?
 

hatidua

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No.

There are still (for now) plenty of great stretches of public water in the United States, including Montana, that are chock-full of big trout.
 

jds108

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I'd say it's entirely dependent on the fee and what that fee gets a person... It's not as if this is a new never-done-before concept.
 

trev

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No.

But I am curious if in Mt. a person can hold exclusive title to the water in a stream? or if it just access control through land ownership?
 

dillon

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In Montana it is legal to float or wade a river that flows through private property. If on foot one must stay below the high water mark. A person can access a stream from a public bridge, then wade the river where it borders private property. A fee could be charged to walk through private property to access a river. However, you might not have the river to yourself if boaters are floating through or there is a bridge in the vicinity. Personally, I wouldn’t pay for walk in access unless it was a beautiful spring creek with good hatches and trophy fish, was unfloatable and otherwise inaccessible on foot. I used to fish a stream on a ranch for $15 a day that is now owned by Ted Turner. Huey Lewis also owns a ranch on infamous Mitchell Slough. A know a young man that waded in to fish there, but Huey didn’t like it very much. The landowners can make things difficult. I personally don’t think it’s worth the trouble to fish some of these places.
 

rfong

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Why do you ask? Do you own land on a river in Montana?
I do own property on the Big Hole River in Montana. You have correctly posted the MT regulations for public access to streams. There are two public access points where I am located but they are about 10 miles apart. I am in the middle so it would be a difficult wade if even physically possible to get down or up to my property.

During the summer, I see a cluster of guide boats come down river between 10am to noon. The public launch ramp is 3-4 miles upstream.

However, depending on the hatch, that morning window is not always the best time to fish this section of the river. After lunch to evening, the river can turn on and be fantastic fishing with absolutely no one around to enjoy it, except me. This happens everyday.

I see this as an opportunity to fish prime water when a fisherman does not want to engage a guide or pay for a float or be content with just fishing the public access areas. It is access to private land to get to a portion of the river than sees very few anglers for 80% of the day.

So, I'm interested in seeing if there is a market, especially for out of state anglers, to spend their time on a private access site for a fee.
 

dillon

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SweetandSalt and I would be happy to fish the evening rise when in the area and tell you what it’s worth. Seriously though, you could contact one of the local fly shops and see if they are interested in selling access. I’m sure they could tell if it’s a worthwhile venture.
 

sweetandsalt

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What section of the Big Hole are you on? This is a river with a good bit of public access and though justifiably famous and a beautiful valley, I do not regard it as "Blue Ribbon" water for the most part. Hatches are not great and in decline and the trout size is average. Also much of the river is riffle/run with only occasional distinct character. I actually am fine paying a reasonable fee for access to uniquely special and exclusive water like a fecund spring creek on a ranch...not so much for a popular well known river with boat traffic.
 

iv_wjb

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I do own property on the Big Hole River in Montana. You have correctly posted the MT regulations for public access to streams. There are two public access points where I am located but they are about 10 miles apart. I am in the middle so it would be a difficult wade if even physically possible to get down or up to my property.

During the summer, I see a cluster of guide boats come down river between 10am to noon. The public launch ramp is 3-4 miles upstream.

However, depending on the hatch, that morning window is not always the best time to fish this section of the river. After lunch to evening, the river can turn on and be fantastic fishing with absolutely no one around to enjoy it, except me. This happens everyday.

I see this as an opportunity to fish prime water when a fisherman does not want to engage a guide or pay for a float or be content with just fishing the public access areas. It is access to private land to get to a portion of the river than sees very few anglers for 80% of the day.

So, I'm interested in seeing if there is a market, especially for out of state anglers, to spend their time on a private access site for a fee.
I would pay for a day on that water. Next time I’m in Montana, I’ll PM you for details.
 

sparsegraystubble

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There is a market for anything of value such as good fishing. But the questions are many especially as in the price, how you administer control access and behavior, liability, do you need insurance, how you get the word out, and many other questions that come up when charging a fee for access.

Are there top quality public accesses in your area that are free? I know of several ranches close to Laramie where the landowner leases trespass rights to individuals or groups. Or you can charge more in total by charging for day access. But the price you will get will depend on how many people you allow on in a given day.

I might take advantage of that deal if passing through, Partially because I have had my share of pounding the shore from the bow of a drift boat. I prefer to park my car, sit on the bumper, get rigged up and walk to the water and start fishing. I want to wade and walk rather than fish from a boat.

I have paid for stream access. And I have been taken onto private water by hosts and guides who either own the land or have paid a trespass fee. I also have paid both daily and season long access fees to fish tribal waters on Indian reservations, It never bothered me to pay for reasonable access.

That said, some landowners become real jerks once they start charging for access. They jump the prices with little or no notice. They start resenting the people who fish that water with guides or other legal access (say your neighbors up and down stream have friends fishing who legally wade into your water). And they make it as obnoxious as possible for those other anglers who aren’t crossing their palms with silver.

I’ve even seen places where some landowners have illegally run a wire across the river to make it dangerous for boats drifting through. That usually is on less heavily fished water than yours.

It might be worth your while to talk to landowners who are already doing this to learn the hazards and pitfalls. I think the simplest way to do it would be to find someone or several people who want to lease all trespass rights, But that won’t bring in anywhere near as much money as charging for day access with all that entails.

Good luck,

Don
 

trev

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So, I'm interested in seeing if there is a market, especially for out of state anglers, to spend their time on a private access site for a fee.
This is a little different than the original question, in my mind, what you want to know is will people will pay for private access to public water and public fish on a well advertised stream. The answer is a Yes, they do in many places, and some will at your location.
As stated by others, how much they will pay will depend on what they get, if you provide lodging and meals and have easy access that can be almost drive up, you can probably get a good price; however if it is a "park here and walk a mile" thing with no amenities it becomes less attractive to most. How many fish per mile are estimated?
I would also want to know mean river flow in that section, any springs or feeders.
 

falcon53

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I fish a stream in PA on private property. They have almost a mile of stream that is not stocked and holds no hatchery fish. A camp owns the property and I gained access by just asking. They are great people and bring in urban youth to enjoy the outdoors. I only fish there maybe two times in the Spring and always give them a 35.00 donation. the fishing isn't great but I usually catch 4 or 5 nice browns. They never asked for a donation but I appreciate their generosity. So yes I sometimes pay to fish.
 

silver creek

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If there were an opportunity to gain access to private 1 mile of a Blue Ribbon fishery in Montana, would you pay a fee for it? How much would you pay?
There already are. Depuy's, Armstrong's Spring Creek and Nelson's Spring Creeks. Fees are below.

They are always booked up.

DePuy Spring Creek >> Yellowstone Angler

DePuy Spring Creek L.L.C. - DePuy Spring Creek, L.L.C.

Armstrong Spring Creek

Welcome to Nelson’s Spring Creek – World Famous Fly Fishing Destination
 

mandotrout

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I paid to fish DePuy Spring Creek once. It made me feel kinda dirty;) But the Paradise Valley spring creeks are different than your situation. They have access completely locked up. They are truly private. I might pay somebody for an evening on the Big Hole, depending on where it is and the price. If it's only a mile of shoreline, you would have to limit numbers pretty severely, in my opinion. Also, you might make enemies with your neighbors since in Montana the people who pay you for access could then wade up and downstream where your neighbors own the banks.

I'll also add, that if you start a pay to fish enterprise on public water in Montana, you are probably guaranteeing that everybody who floats the river will be stopping on your stretch and pounding it hard, just on principle.
 
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