A Statement from Montana Wild

Recently many have seen a statement by Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks about Montana Wild’s involvement in both fly fishing for bull trout and commercially filming in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

There are many, many issues that could be addressed regarding this case to give a better understanding of the actual circumstances, but the length and complexity is better suited for a different platform. Below is a short and honest history of the allegations against us.

The story begins when we planned a trip in 2013 to make a fly fishing film about bull trout in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, specifically on the South Fork of the Flathead River. This is the only waterway that you can legally fish for bull trout in the State of Montana and the regulations are clear on this point. To fish legally in this area you need to acquire a bull trout catch card from FWP. All three of us had legal catch cards in our possession during the trip.

Prior to the trip, we spoke multiple times with the Film Commissioner at the Montana Film Office about whether we would need a permit for our film. We were advised that a special permit would not be necessary for our production. This was our first year filming as a business and naively believed that the Film Office was the best source for this guidance. We later found out that the advice we were given was not true to the law.   Since this case began we’ve worked closely with the Forest Service to make sure all of our past films are properly accounted for and all filming since then has been properly permitted.

Months before we set foot in the Bob Marshall, we asked advice from many individuals including local fly shop owners, outfitters and past guides about where to fish during our trip. Not once were we ever told that fishing for bull trout in the tributaries was illegal. During our trip we filmed the vast majority of our time on the water with the intent of showing the film publically as we have over the past several years in cooperation with the best brands and anglers in fishing. In our minds we did everything legally during this trip. Later when we were approached by FWP, we found out differently as they told us the tributaries are closed to bull trout fishing. We simply did not know that their interpretation of the regulations defined the fishery that way. In our mind, the tributaries were located in an area of the drainage that was open to bull trout fishing. In fact, the regulations in 2014 that address this fishery were specifically altered to clarify the points on which we were misunderstood. After those regulations were changed, The Drake Magazine published an article called “Chasing Natives” in their Fall 2014 issue. The last paragraph has a sentence that says, “The river and its tributaries are one of the few places in Montana where it’s legal to target bull trout…” Apparently we aren’t the only ones who have had difficulty in correctly understanding these regulations.

bull trout, regulations, montana, wild

bull trout, the drake, magazine, montana, wild, fwp

This article was published after our trip in 2013.

Montana Wild exists as a business and a passion because we love to inspire others to enjoy Montana’s best fisheries and most wild places. Each and every fish handled during the filming of this project was carefully released to see another day. Many elements go into the netting of a bull trout in the backcountry. FWP allows you to photograph your catch, which is mentioned in their Bull Trout Regulations.  They also ask you to document the length of each bull trout as part of the catch card process. We believe some of our practices could have been handled better during this trip with what we now know, but we believe FWP misrepresented this part of their case in their press release about our handling practices. Never was a fish out of water for more than a few breaths and then back into the net quickly. We feel strongly that we had no negative effects on the fishery and we never intentionally released a fish to replay it for the camera. That practice would violate the fish-handling ethos we hold dear.

After much work on this case over many months, we believed it was the best course of action to settle our case. On every point we have a counter point. But we are filmmakers and not lawyers—we feel more comfortable behind a lens than in a courthouse. While we feel that a court case could have been advantageous to our position, we wanted to begin our next feature film and continue to follow our careers and passion as filmmakers. In the end, several lessons have been gained by this experience. We wholeheartedly understand that passion projects like fishing for bull trout can lead to unintended consequences and we never had any intent on breaking any laws during this trip. That honest mistake is on Montana Wild and we assume full responsibility.

We are sorry if we’ve disappointed any of our supporters and we are excited to put this behind us. Our hope is that a look at our body of work and actions will speak louder about our intent and values as outdoorsman than a simple and honest mistake.

Zack and Travis Boughton

Montana Wild

9 replies
  1. Eli
    Eli says:

    This is unfortunate to hear. They take things ridiculously out of proportion. Glad you guys could be the bigger men though! FISH ON! (:

    Reply
  2. Michael R Sanders
    Michael R Sanders says:

    Zach and Travis I admire the way you handled this. Telling the truth and admitting fault is no longer viewed as a character quality these days but I’m glad you two are humble enough to admit you could have done some things differently. That is a testament to your upbringing. Keep pushing and chasing your dreams. You inspire more people than you know even in ways you may not have imagined.

    Reply
  3. Jared
    Jared says:

    You guys are great at what you do and I can tell by watching you films you have the up most respect for the animals you harvest and catch. I beleive the regulations on bull trout in the Bob Marshall are ridiculous and are way to vague. I hope the hunting and fishing communities of Montana still will follow and admire the work you guys do, I’m sure you will have a lot of hate from the Missoula liberals but keep your heads up. You guys are too good at what you do to! Keep up the good work and don’t let this get you down.

    Jared

    Reply
  4. Leo
    Leo says:

    Good to see you guys telling your side of the story, admitting your mistake and getting back to what you enjoy most: filmmaking. Good call on your approach. The legal proceedings would have taken so much time and energy – not worth it. Fish on.

    Reply
  5. Fuck poachers
    Fuck poachers says:

    Your saying that regulations changed between 2013 and 2014….. And your saying it’s unclear? You guy are more dumb then you act. If you are going to be using Montana outdoors it’s on YOU to know the regulations. Your just poaching ass mother fuckers who should have lost your right for ever. Go back to Idaho where it’s cool to fuck with bull trout for several minutes then put it back in with the hook in for more shots. You guys straight up suck. I hope you lose your business your friends and your dignity because you guy are terrible people. This will be deleted so it will be continuley posted hopefully you have an IT guy to help out. 🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕🖕 go fuck yourselves!

    Reply

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