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For decades, downstream from Glendive, fishermen enjoyed some great fishing in the Intake irrigation channel from the head gate at the Yellowstone River and downstream for about a half a mile. For years, 10-fish limits of sauger could be easily caught from early spring until the end of June and beyond. No jet boat was required.

Fishermen just walked down the bank, and often by using three or four feet of line and a twister-tail, they would catch fish. People camping at the campground had about 100 yards to walk to some great fishing.

Once the Army Corps of Engineers started their new intake project things changed. The canal was changed and a new head gate was installed. The rumor spread that new screens were in place that prevented all fish from entering the canal from the Yellowstone River. Fishermen would never find out if the rumor was true, because the road to the canal was blocked with boulders and the entire area was full of no trespassing signs.

That wasn't the only change the corps made. Prior to their new construction there was a crude boat landing just upstream from the diversion dam on the head gate side. It was a great place to pull out a canoe, and people could drive their vehicle within about 10 yards of the landing. The corps eliminated that small landing. Now, people canoeing the Yellowstone from Glendive have a dangerous and arduous portage around the diversion dam.

I consider myself a conservationist, and I'm interested in the survival of the pallid sturgeon as much as anyone. However, when millions of taxpayer dollars are spent and it results in fewer places to fish and reduced public access, I have a problem with it.

Our elected officials and those running for office are quick to voice their undying support for public access. I only hope that whoever is elected has the moxie to demand that the Corps of Engineers consider public access for fisherman, hunters, and recreationalists as an integral part of all future construction projects at intake.

Lew Melby


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