When I first heard the rumor I didn’t pay any attention to it but today I find out it is true. The Montana Dept. of Fish,Wildlife, & Parks is proposing opening the fly fishing section of the Big Hole River to bait fishing. Not only that but they propose to eliminate the slot limit on what you can keep. What they are saying is that there are too many big brown and rainbow trout and the grayling cannot compete and wind up as lunch. The problem with the decline of the grayling is not the brown or rainbow trout but the lack of water.

This proposal already has the tentative approval of the commission which means it’s pretty much a done deal. How ever you have until Sept. 14th to comment on it. You can see the proposed regs. online at fwp.mt.gov uder the fishing category. The public may comment via e-mail at fwpfsh@mt.gov and please let em know what you think.
This river is one of the finest in the country for trout fishing and now the bureacrats are saying we outa do something about that and get rid of some of these pesky trout.
As it is now the bait fisherman still have about 100 miles of the river to fish.
I would like to hear lots of comments on this one and send your thoughts to the state fish people who I personally think have been drinking their bath water again.


  1. Bait fishing has been around alot longer than flys getting tied.Enjoy fisherman.

  2. I also feel that these regulation changes are a bad thing for the Big Hole. Do you have some email addresses that we could send our concerns to?

  3. True, true, bait fishing has been around alot longer. The only problem I have with bait fishing is the mortality rate is very high. When a fish swallows the hook with a worm and it’s embedded at the base of the tongue or in the gills it’s a goner unless the line is cut and the hook is left in place to dissolve in time.

    Comments concerning these reg changes can be e-mailed to fwpfsh@mt.gov

  4. If it is really to provide opportunities for bait fishermen, then I guess I can’t complain. Although I ceased bait fishing 25 years ago, I have to respect the rights of those that bait fish. I just hope that the purpose is not ultimately to reduce and/or eliminate fishing on the Big Hole altogether.

  5. Paul Neibergs

    The real killer here — and I mean that literally — is the removal of slot limits. Also, there is more than enough river open to bait fishing. Preserving a section of the river for flyfishing not only provides for a unique experience, it has been shown time and again to increase fish populations. But of course that is why the FWP apparently wants to remove slot limits and allow bait fishing– to kill trout on one of the great trout streams of the world, which I simply couldn’t believe even the government would propose until I read the regulations with my own eyes. This proposal is also a slap in the face to the fisherman, shops and guides who have participated in the “cooperative” efforts to manage the Big Hole. Based on this year’s events, what “cooperation” apparently means is that agriculatural users can continue to drain the river almost dry and install illegal diversions, and the FWP’s response is to enact closures based solely on flow (not temp, which is the critical variable) and to take ten steps back on use management. Can you imagine something like this being proposed on the Upper Madison? No. The FWP clearly has no respect for the people who make their living guiding on the Big Hole(and with all due respect to bait fishers, you are not part of that equation), or for the fisherman who call it their “home” waters, wherever they may come from.

    This business about the grayling is a red herring, so to speak. The primary issue is flow levels. I have an e-mail in with the Big Hole Foundation to find out where their position is. if their position is that this is a good thing, then they can forget about further contributions from me. I’ll give them their book back to; it would make me sick to look at it if the foundation is in favor of reverting to maximum kill regulations. If that is the case (and I fear it is because I did not see any warnings or alerts on their website), it is ironic that a big birthday bash is being planned for George Grant on September 18. I have got to think George would be opposed, although I could be wrong.

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