- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission has rejected a petition by residents and anglers to restrict commercial floaters on a stretch of the Boulder River near Big Timber.

Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday against the proposal after Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said rainbow and brown trout populations are not being harmed. Chairman Dan Vermillion, a fishing guide, abstained from the vote.

The petitioners say more floaters have been on the river since 2011, even after water levels drop. They say that has led to conflicts between floaters and wade anglers and could endanger the fishery.

FWP fisheries bureau chief Bruce Rich says trout numbers are within the long-term range and their average size is increasing. He says agency officials have been meeting with interested groups to resolve the social conflicts.

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