Clearer Guidance on Guiding, A Start to Runoff and Brief River Report 5/4/2020…

Clearer Guidance on Guiding, A Start to Runoff and Brief River Report 5/4/2020…

Clearer Guidance on Guiding, A Start to Runoff and Brief River Report 5/4/2020…

Hebgen Dam 1040cfs

Old Kirby Place 1400cfs

Varney Bridge 1600 cfs

Lower Madison 2310cfs

So we got a little more information on guiding and outfitting as restrictions begin to loosen and some of begin to go back to work. As of now the 14 day quarantine stands for both non resident and resident travelers entering the state of Montana and reads as follows.

Self-Quarantine for Persons Arriving in Montana:

  • Any person coming to Montana from another state or country for a non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. If a person will be present in Montana for fewer than 14 days, that person must self-quarantine for the duration of the visit.
  • Any person who has already arrived in Montana from another state or country for a non-work- related purpose before the date of this Directive must immediately self-quarantine for the remainder of a 14-day period beginning on the date of their arrival in Montana, or until their departure from Montana—whichever is sooner.
  • The Montana Department of Commerce will advise persons listing hotels, rental properties, or other short-term rentals in Montana—including but not limited to listings on such services as Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, and related services—to include notice of the mandatory quarantine for travelers from another state or country.
  • These quarantine restrictions do not apply in the following circumstances: to persons traveling through Montana enroute to another destination; or to public health, public safety, or healthcare workers.
  • These quarantine restrictions shall apply to Montana residents and non-residents alike.
  • In addition to these restrictions, persons required to self-quarantine under this Directive shall also comply with the requirements of all other Executive Orders and Directives issued by me. This Directive shall not be construed as limiting the effect of any previously issued Directive or Executive Order.

This will obviously limit the number of people coming to Montana and our potential to guide because of it. So far this seems to be based own the honor system as I don’t know that anyone is enforcing this. This part of the Directive is to last until the “End of the Emergency” so it is not clear when this will or should be lifted.

On to some of the new guidance for guides. The original wording for opening guiding and outfitting back up was very vague and just said to follow guidelines. That is why I would say that I had some of the open ended ideas about how to do what we do safely and I appreciate peoples fed back and comments on that. Although I could not find the specific new wording in the directives for reopening it was discussed with the Governors office and should be posted or added soon. The new wording is copied and pasted below.


Operations that require close personal contact for an extended period result in exposing guides and customers to greater levels of risk.  These situations require additional safety and health precautions.

  • Screen customers prior to trip for symptoms of fever, shortness of breath or a cough.  Customers that have any of these symptoms must be rescheduled.
  • Confirm customers from out-of-state have met the 14-day quarantine requirement.  Customers who have traveled to Montana from out -of-state must have completed the 14-day quarantine requirement before hunting and fishing on public lands.
  • It is recommended that, when practical, guides and customers utilize face masks.
  • It is recommended the guide and customer (customer may be defined as an individual, or a group that is in the same family or traveling group) should be 6 feet away from others.  Customer, as defined as group, may also be accommodated in the same vehicle, vessel, or lodge setting.
  • It is recommended to provide for 6 feet of physical distancing between unrelated customers, defined as individual, family group, or travel group. This may require:
    • A reduction in capacity;
    • A reduction of seating in vessel, vehicle, or lodge settings; or
    • Systems that reduce the amount of contact time between customers.”

So it sounds like the responsibility of confirming if a person has completed quarantine is on the outfitter? Did I just read that wrong or mis interpret that. Our organizing bodies have suggested that we have folks sign an affidavit that they attest to having completed quarantine and that at least puts some responsibility on the persons traveling to Montana. Obviously this all still comes down to both the outfitter(us) and the clients(you) making good judgment calls regarding work and trying to get out to go fishing. So it still comes down to individual risk tolerance and the outfitters ability to asses if someone is telling the truth. Maybe we didn’t get clearer guidance after all. Seems as though we are all going to filling out more legal paperwork this summer.

Although this definition does clarify the two anglers in a boat question. Seems as though if two anglers quarantined together or separately, even though not technically from the same household for the practical purpose of quarantine they are. That makes some sense to me. It was also the path we where going down with the same thought experiment shortly after we got clearance to guide.

It still seems to boil down to whether or not the Outfitter believes the customers declaration of self quarantine during this period and feels safe about taking that person or persons fishing.

Runoff? Maybe. Just a little taste of it over the weekend. With a warm week finishing with some rain we began to see some of the first push of low level snow melt move into the rivers over the weekend. A little bump in volume and a bit of turbidity in the water. Still 3 to 3 1/2 feet of visibility in Ennis on the Madison River. That is still enough vis to have fish rise for dries when the hatches are going. If you’ve been around me for any time you’ve probably heard this but I’m going say it again. Up to a point its mostly rising water volume and flow that hampers fishing more than the actual color or tint of the water. when it gets to chocolate milk color and sounds like sand paper being drug across the bottom of the boat that point is mute. Until then watch the flow charts at USGS to see flows. Until it is too warm to stop we will see very good windows for fishing conditions during the early stages of runoff. Cool weather will be followed by a drop in flow and some clearing. If you can see your feet in ankle to calf deep water there is plenty of vis for trout to eat.

River Report: Green, falling water conditions, look for rising water following several days of warm weather and the reverse for cool weather. Starting to see lots more bugs including the Mothers Day caddis hatch. Matt over at Trouts N’ At Outfitters and I took an exploratory float and saw more March Browns than in previous days, Blue Winged Olives and more Caddis. Of course we fished dries, and it wasn’t pretty. I think I got one. Thats not to say that the fishing sucks. It is just that if you are going do something very particular just know that it might work as well. Same goes for all fishing. Starting to see some flashing in riffles which means fish are moving into feed on the new insect activity. This is all good news for the fly fishing angler. Bugs of choice, Purple Haze 10-16, CDC Princes12-16, soft hackled PTs, skwalla stone dries 8-12, small rubber legged stone nymphs 8-12, zebra midges 14-18, caddis pupa( I still like LaFontaine’s), Peacock caddis dry for Mothers day.

It looks Madison River Fishing Co doors are open so you can head in for a license if need one and some current bug choices. Many small shops have gone without customers for some time lately so don’t forget to swing in and get some bugs, a hat, hell maybe even a new rod to help support the small shops all over Montana that we all love.

Stay Frosty and as always…Keep your tip up!

Thanks for tuning in.

Brian Rosenebrg

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