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

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rfong

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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.


I build my house 20 years ago at this site and have spent at least 100 days every year fishing it. I have seen cycles of hatches over that time. Mother Nature has her own way of timing hatches and they are not dependent on our fishing dates.

Last summer there was a blizzard hatch of Trico’s that obscured the far river bank, 100 feet away. I had to wear goggles and a buff to avoid from having a lunch of Trico’s. The fish were going off like popcorn.

The size of the fish has been very consistent and always produces quite a number of over 20” Browns and Rainbows each season. In fact, several years ago, the Montana state record Brown was caught here.

I have seen Extra Jumbo sized Browns in the water, but have not had the skill or luck to hook into one.

I am friends with most of the locals, shops and outfitters on the river. However, I wanted a wider range of opinions from folks outside of MT before I consider offering this opportunity to the shops.

You have heard those phrases like, “The grass is always greener on…” or “The fish are on the other bank.” Well, this is the other pasture and you can wade to both banks.
 

Walter1023

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Not at all......as long as there is public access to wade an area without infringing on a property owner's land rights I'll make a long trek and walk to water I want to fish....and not go beyond the high water mark. If it refers to nonsensical legal theories of property rights where the land owner supposedly owns the bottom of the river and you cannot wade- I would still not pay but would vote for any politician of any party that either wanted to void these land rights or impose some kind of special river bottom taxation that made you wish you didn't own the river bottom.
 

silver creek

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Here's my spring creek in Montana. This is where I go for privacy. Not a fly fisher to be seen.

Looking Upstream



Looking Across



Looking Downstream



My friend fishing the creek



 

100954

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With me, “it depends”. If the fee is more than the Paradise Valley spring creeks, then “no”. If it’s less, then, “maybe”. Also, it would depend on how many other rods are permitted. I have rented a private cabin on the the Big Hole before and the wading on that stretch was very difficult.
 

rangerrich99

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I have and would again. How much would depend on many factors, such as quality of the fishing, dry fly capability, drive time to get there, average number of other fishers/day, access fee, camping possibilities, etc.

Taking a local water as an example, my fishing buddies and i have long thought that Chevelon Canyon Lake should be a pay to play reservoir to try and limit the fishing pressure of this otherwise excellent fishery. We've come to the conclusion that it should be $25/day and another $10/day for camping. An additional $15 for trolling motor boats. We think it's likely that most of the smash-and-grab type fishermen would find that fee schedule just too onerous and leave our monster brown trout factory alone.

Or take the Green River below Fontenelle Dam, my annual July fishing holiday trip. I already spend over $1000 in gas, food, beer, licenses, etc. for a week's fishing. Paying another $20-$25 a day would be like tipping. Not a big deal, and if $25/day kept a significant number of the goofy "look at me flopping split-shot nymph rigs from a drift boat," crowd off the water, that'd be just fine.
 

silver creek

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Truth be told, we are spoiled compared to Europe and Great Britain where much of the water is totally private. We are blessed that, with a few exceptions, the majority of the lakes and rivers are held in the public trust. There are a few states in which the landowner also "owns" the river bottom and can keep out wading fisher persons but most states allow wading through private property. My own state of Wisconsin does as does Montana.

So there is no need to pay to fish.
 

hatidua

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I should have clarified my initial post. A certain portion of my aversion to pay-to-fish is rooted in the abhorrence of how elitist some fly fishing can become. We already have eclipsed the $1,000 mark for fly rods (disclaimer: yes, I own them), a $600 reel is commonplace (yes, I have those too), are we soon to see tweed jackets and assigned beats along streams like in the UK?

Sure, charge for your section of stream, some will undoubtedly pay whatever you ask simply to have the bragging rights of having fished "spot X" while they sip their 25yr Macallan over dinner at the local lodge. As someone who has been fortunate enough to earn a living shooting photos for the fly fishing industry for the past several decades I am not a fan of how snooty things are. While I have frequent access to "private water", the best fish I've caught/photographed/seen in the world have been in public rivers where anyone can show up and give it a whirl.

Again, go for it. You will absolutely have customers.
 

mandotrout

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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.
As I said, I might pay for access for an evening on the Big Hole, depending on where it is. In this case, I would probably just walk down from the state highway bridge upstream. I've walked within the high water mark for miles on the Big Hole before; a lot farther than this. I could also just get in from the BLM land just across the river. I think if you are going to charge for access across private land to public water in Montana, you need to be in a really hard to reach location.
 

justahack

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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?
Nope. Sorry. There are plenty others though.
 

Flyfisher for men

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i have long thought that Chevelon Canyon Lake should be a pay to play reservoir to try and limit the fishing pressure of this otherwise excellent fishery... $25/day and another $10/day for camping. An additional $15 for trolling motor boats... [M]ost of the smash-and-grab type fishermen would find that fee schedule just too onerous and leave our monster brown trout factory alone...

if $25/day kept a significant number of the goofy "look at me flopping split-shot nymph rigs from a drift boat," crowd off the water, that'd be just fine.
My concern is fairness to the poor man. Regulation should at least try to help those who lack resources to gain access to them, or at the very least place as few restrictions on the disadvantaged as possible. They have fewer options to begin with.

A strategy on these lines, would be a limited number of daily permits to restrict the number of fishermen on a given day at Chevelon Canyon. Then it wouldn't matter if you have fancy fly gear or a cane pole.

What I say isn't the only concern by any means, but it is one that should be part of our thinking as a matter of justice.


As for the OP's question, I would be unlikely to pay anything at all unless i was paying for a campsite, renting a cabin, etc.
 

MichaelCPA

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... 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....
Think of your friends here on this board. I am an ex-French chef, and will cook and bring wine.
 

rfong

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Think of your friends here on this board. I am an ex-French chef, and will cook and bring wine.
I was gong to build a Gazebo observation deck overlooking one of the honey holes. Perfect place for dinner. Plus you can see and hear the fish splash and slurp. I'll let you know when I finish it. But I don't know when I can get up there. Got a report from a neighbor today, 30 degrees, river is frozen solid but starting to break up downstream. I'm putting Bobsled runners on my Clackacraft.
 

bonefish41

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I am mainly salt so my comments are minimalist regarding that Montana river or for that matter all western trout habitats. However, my first trout experience was early 50ies with a rudimentary tenkara... a bluegill cane pole with 5 feet or so of mono and red worms or crawlers in a creek about 5 to 8 feet wide somewhere north of Wilkes Barre where my uncle lived. Next was upper Little Manistee first with night crawlers and fly rod then streamers and wet flies that was to me in me naive youth inefficient whereas night crawlers were efficient sub-surface. But then the Lodge owner's wife showed me a dry fly Royal Coachman and how to cast, book with dollar bill in my arm pit. From then on through grad school I fished that river with dry flies the last two years with cane, a Wes Jordan 8' 7wt two piece and eschewed the nighttime HEX. Trout(not Steelhead) fishing for me is solitude and dry flies and wading. I would pay for that but it would have to be remarkable. I would not pay, in my solitude, for zoo parade...drift boats...yaks...aluminum hatches...I do not lodge salt fish and I would not lodge trout fish ...I'll pay allot for the "steak" the water and fish ambiance...not the "sizzle" the lodge and food...if I'm paying for food it's silver service, crystal, white table and fine Chablis, Claret, Auslese(maybe Trockenbeerenausle if I have any loot left) all presented by old gray haired in tux...no jeans and flip flops. However, for the last 20 years I prefer fishing to "silver service"
But there are those who would pay for the Big Hole one mile and the lux. So turn your paradise into a commercial enterprise and reap the benefits as do many owners of big, blue water, billfish boats...
 
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