Dangerous intermittent ice on the Smith River has prompted Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission to close the river to floating effective immediately. Wade fishing on the river remains open.
"Floaters and others tell us that the Smith River is ice-covered and impassable in several 50 to 300 yard stretches, including the Indian Springs Boat Camp area below Camp Baker," said Roger Semler, FWP Region 4 parks manager in Great Falls. "For the public's safety we have closed the river until conditions improve."
The FWP Commission authorized the agency to reopen the river to floating when it is ice-free. FWP will announce the reopening in a press release and on its web site at fwp.mt.gov .
The Smith River is a unique 59-mile river corridor. Permits are required to float the river between Camp Baker and Eden Bridge.
Semler said the float season on the Smith officially begins April 1. About 60 people holding permits to float between April 1 and April 15 will be personally contacted by FWP and informed that the river is closed until further notice. Semler said the agency will attempt to match permit holders with alternative float dates.
"There will be some disappointment certainly, but safety is the first concern," he said.
All floaters may call the Smith River Reservation Line at 406-454-5861 between 8 a.m. and noon, Monday through Friday, to cancel or schedule floats on dates that remain available.
For more on the Smith River go to the FWP web page under Parks and Recreation and use the search words Smith River.