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Thursday, May 17, 2012
The issue of public access to Mitchell Slough is a controversial one. The Mitchell Slough was ruled to be a natural stream in 2008. As such, public access is allowed on the slough under the Montana stream access law. While access is limited, there are a few public accesses to the slough. In April, I went to the slough to fish with a friend. It was my first time on the slough. It was a different experience. Barbed wire draped across the stream every eighth of a mile. Security cameras lined the banks.
As we progressed upstream, a particularly impressive security camera was set up just upstream of some barbed wire. The moment we came into range of the security camera, sprinklers turned on. These sprinklers were set up about a foot to two feet away from the bank of the slough. The sprinklers pointed towards the slough and only rotated 180 degrees. They were set up to spray the slough and it's occupants. There was no gap in the sprinklers. It seemed quite apparent that the sprinklers were set up to deter fisherman from fishing the Mitchell Slough. We couldn't avoid being sprayed if we wanted to stay within the high water mark. The sprinklers lined the banks for the next 1/4 mile.
I cannot stress this enough. The sprinklers watered water.
After we moved upstream and beyond the quarter mile long sprinkler system, it turned off. We fished upstream and when we were done, we started to walk back downstream towards the property. As we approached the property, the sprinklers turned on again.
After consulting several sources, it was their opinion that the use of the sprinklers constituted angler harassment. I called the FWP to report the potential harassment. The state office referred me to the Region's Game Warden Lou Royce. I contacted Mr. Royce. I have not received any information from Mr. Royce since my contact with him last week. Updates to follow.