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Buy & Apply Special Use River Permits

Permits and Special Restrictions are in place on some of the rivers in Montana as a way to protect the recreational experience and the river resources.

Smith River

A permit is required to float the Smith River due to its status as a Montana State Park. Please visit the Smith River page for complete details on the application process and permit lottery.

Upper and West Fork Bitterroot River

A permit is required for commercial fishing and floating on the West Fork of the Bitterroot and a portion of the upper Bitterroot (Hannon Memorial FAS to Wally Crawford FAS). Permitted outfitters will be limited to two launches in each section of the upper river and West Fork. Each section will also have a non-commercial day. There is no permit required of the general recreating public but there are special angling and boating restrictions that apply to nonresidents and commercial outfitters.

Call (406) 542-5564 for more information.

NOTE — Floating of any kind is prohibited on Fridays in Section 1 from July 1-September 15 and in all sections there is a non-commercial day from June 1- September 15. The sections and their rules are as follows:

Map of Sections 1-4: Upper Bitterroot River and West Fork Bitterroot River26 KB

Section 1: Painted Rocks Dam to Applebury Site (11 miles) — Floating of any kind (commercial and non-commercial) is prohibited on Fridays from July 1-September 15.

Section 2: Applebury Site to Trapper Creek Job Corps Site (8 miles) — Float outfitting prohibited on Saturdays.

Section 3: Trapper Creek Job Corps Site to Hannon Memorial Site (8 miles) — Float outfitting prohibited on Sundays.

Section 4: Hannon Memorial Site to Wally Crawford Site (9 miles) — Float outfitting prohibited on Mondays.

Blackfoot River

Visit the Blackfoot River Recreation more information.

Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork River

A permit is required to conduct commercial use on the Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork River. Please contact the FWP Region 2 office in Missoula for more information (406) 542-5562.

Beaverhead River

The Beaverhead River is one of Montana's premier brown trout fishing rivers, producing more large trout, particularly brown trout, than any other river in the state. The Beaverhead River begins at Clark Canyon Dam, near Dillon, and flows for 80 miles to the confluence with the Jefferson River. The scenic Big Hole River winds and rushes in every imaginable configuration through high alpine valleys, steep-walled canyons, and broad agricultural plains. Its long journey twists and turns through and by the McCartney, Pioneer, Pintler, Ruby, Tobacco Root, and Highland Mountains until the eventual confluence with the Ruby and the Beaverhead in Twin Bridges, the headwaters of the Jefferson River.

To manage recreational use on these two important rivers, rules defining recreational use and outfitter restrictions were adopted in June 2005. The Fish & Wildlife Commission will review the rules within five years of that date.

From the third Saturday in May through Labor Day, recreational use rules and restrictions are in effect on the Beaverhead River (from Clark Canyon Dam to its mouth) and on the Big Hole River (from its headwaters to Notch Bottom Fishing Access Site). Please familiarize yourself with these rules.

Big Hole River

The Beaverhead River is one of Montana's premier brown trout fishing rivers, producing more large trout, particularly brown trout, than any other river in the state. The Beaverhead River begins at Clark Canyon Dam, near Dillon, and flows for 80 miles to the confluence with the Jefferson River. The scenic Big Hole River winds and rushes in every imaginable configuration through high alpine valleys, steep-walled canyons, and broad agricultural plains. Its long journey twists and turns through and by the McCartney, Pioneer, Pintler, Ruby, Tobacco Root, and Highland Mountains until the eventual confluence with the Ruby and the Beaverhead in Twin Bridges, the headwaters of the Jefferson River.

To manage recreational use on these two important rivers, rules defining recreational use and outfitter restrictions were adopted in June 2005. The Fish & Wildlife Commission will review the rules within five years of that date.

From the third Saturday in May through Labor Day, recreational use rules and restrictions are in effect on the Beaverhead River (from Clark Canyon Dam to its mouth) and on the Big Hole River (from its headwaters to Notch Bottom Fishing Access Site). Please familiarize yourself with these rules.

Madison River

In a collaborative effort, FWP and the BLM will require Special Recreation Permits on the Madison River beginning in 2008. Special Recreation Permits are authorizations that allow for commercial, competitive, and organized group recreational use of public lands and related waters.

The Madison River Special Recreation Permit ("SRP" or "permit") Operations Manual provides a comprehensive view of the SRP and has been presented to the public for comment. Intended primarily for agency use, the Operations Manual includes implementation policies and procedures that provide guidance to agency staff responsible for administering the SRP program. It is a working document that will be amended over time to reflect changes in the program.

For more information, please contact the Madison River Recreation Manager. Refer to the Madison River Citizen Advisory Committee page for additional related information.