Rain, high water hit sport fishing industry hard


MISSOULA, Mont. - One Missoula fly-fishing shop owner says heavy, continuous rain that makes the rivers rise quickly is trouble for business, because fish bite when the rivers are steady or dropping lower. That led to multiple tour cancellations just ahead of the peak of fishing season.

"We canceled nine boats today, eight boats yesterday. Eight the next day. That's just in the next three days. So far, we've probably lost $15,000 in the next three days," said John Hezer, the owner of Blackfoot River Outfitters.

Hezer said the first priority is customer safety. It's not just about the fish not biting, it's the fast moving water, which often carries debris, that caused cancellations as well. The rivers are dangerous and potentially deadly.

Matt Potter, the co-owner of King Fisher Fly Shop, said the impact of one day of rain like this will be felt for four to five days. The river and the fish will take days to go back to the levels they were at prior to the downpour.

Everyone from shop owners to shuttle drivers to local hotels and restaurants feel the financial impact of this weather.

Tourists are also feeling the effect. Guides say many of them changed their flights and headed home early, knowing that for the next few days they could not enjoy the rivers.