We are getting a boatload of questions regarding fishing, guiding and fly shop operations under the Statewide “Stay at Home” order that went into effect early Saturday morning. Bottom line: you can go fishing, but you will be “unsupported”. No shops, shuttles, etc.
I will take unsupported fishing over no fishing at all any day of the week!
FISHING – OPEN
If you hear that “the rivers are closed in Montana”, that is incorrect. Fishing and other recreational activities are allowed, as long as participants adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. All of the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) Fishing Access Sites (FAS) on the Missouri River are open. I assume that means all FAS sites in the state are open.
FLY SHOPS – NOPE
Fly Shops are non-essential business’ and are closed statewide. This includes associated services like shuttles and rentals. Many shops that have an e-commerce outlet are still filling on-line orders, including Headhunters. This makes it pretty easy to keep stocked up on flies and terminal tackle if the current events drag on, but I would expect shipping to take a day longer than normal). You’re also supporting your local small business, which could be the difference in the months to come.
SHUTTLES – NOPE
Shuttle services are also “non-essential” business’ and are shut down. Frankly, most shuttle services I know of shut down long before Friday. You’ll need to be prepared to do your own shuttle if you plan on floating. In another dimension, I’d recommend going into the bar and finding a couple of locals to help you, but the bars and restaurants are closed as well. I see guys using mountain bikes, small motorbikes and walking. Lots of folks wade fishing.
GUIDED FISHING – NOPE
All guide services are non-essential, and are to be shut down. Some guides were planning on continuing their operations (not sure how they came to that conclusion), but over the weekend the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM) sought clarity from the State and received it. All guided fishing operations are non-essential and cannot operate.
FOOD & GAS – YES
There are currently 2 business’ running that most visitors would need. The Wolf Creek Store in Wolf Creek provided fuel and limited groceries, and the 468 Market (formerly Tim’s Market) in Cascade which also provides fuel and a much more extensive grocery selection.
BE PREPARED & SOCIAL DISTANCE
So, if you decide to come out and fish the Missouri River, be prepared with camping gear (Including firewood), groceries, a shuttle system if you plan on floating, and all of the tackle you need. Make sure you have spare rod.
Also, remember that you are visiting a community that has no cases of COVID-19 that I know of. Be respectful, keep you distance, and use disinfecting wipes liberally. This isn especially true at the boat ramps, grocery market and other places where encountering others is inevitable.