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Smile For The Camera

While fishing Mitchell Slough in the Bitterroot valley recently, brothers Scott and Patrick Godown, were fined $185 each for trespassing into the Union Ditch. They believed they were on the slough, but as shown by videotape they had strayed. The brothers just wanted to fish the slough to see what all the fuss was about. They were harassed along the way as they tried to fish by security employees of the Tucker Crossing Ranch which is owned by Charles Schwab. The security folks videotaped their every move. They were trying to abide by the Montana Stream Access Law and stay withing the “Ordinary Highwater Marks” but evidently wandered into the Union Ditch which is privately owned.

Last November, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that Mitchell Slough is public water and is open to recreation. That just never sat well with

Image from Montana Wildlife Federation

Image from Montana Wildlife Federation

the wealthy landowners along the slough who thought they had their own private fishing reserve and didn’t take to having the great unwashed fishing in their front yard. The landowners tried, during the legislative session earlier this year, to push changes to the Stream Access Law that would have exempted the Mitchell and many other Montana streams from the the law. Since that didn’t work, they have done everything they can to harass legal fishermen including having their flunkies throw rocks at people.

The brothers Godown said “Most people won’t want to go fishing where they are being videotaped and their every move is being documented”, but then, I’m sure that’s just the point. They noted that the fishing was pretty good, they have learned their lesson, paid their dues and they will be back fishing the slough. I think we can all learn something from those boys. Just make sure that you put on your Sunday best when you go to fish Mitchell Slough, be polite and follow the rules. It can’t be long before the videos show up on YouTube.

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One Response

  1. I will put the videos on you tube that i get from the land owners and the renta cops that they hired to run us off, they are real tough guys from up on the bank when they know we cant get out of the water… Its a joke down there, they keep putting up fence accross the stream so we cant get through, but nobody does anything about it, not yet anyway… stay tuned!!!

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