The upper Madison River's new 2016 regulations have seen some press, but there are other major under-the-radar changes coming to Montana's fishing regulations in 2016. The biggest of which is that, as of March 1, small streams in the Central District will remain open year round! According to Montana FWP Fisheries Management Bureau Chief Joel Tohtz: "It is likely a favorite small stream may now be open year round. Some seasonal closures (the new exceptions) will remain, but many more small streams will be open than closed in the past."
Granted many small streams will be frozen over and others will remain closed, but this is pretty fantastic news, in theory. Hopefully it won't be detrimental to spawning rainbows and cutthroat as they often get busy at this time, but most anglers are already cognizant of walking on redds and pulling fish off of them.
"One point we do want to emphasize is that, although we are excited to offer anglers every opportunity we can, the responsibility for ethical conservation of these resources remains," Tohtz said via e-mail. "Everyone (not just FWP) has an important role in all of that. Care and common sense still go a long way in Montana."
The upper Madison will be open year round from Yellowstone National Park to Ennis Lake, starting March 1, 2016. Currently, it closes from March 1 to the third Saturday in May. Some other harvest and allowed-bait rule changes will also occur with this update that won't apply to catch-and-release fly anglers.
Go fish (on March 1)!