Skip to main content

How the Government Shutdown Affects Your Fishing

How the Government Shutdown Affects Your Fishing
Flat Creek, the phenomenal cutthroat trout fishery in the National Elk Refuge near Jackson, Wyoming, is only open to fishing three months of the year. Here. a park ranger locks a gate to the refuge after the government shutdown forced the closure of all federally operated recreation sites. Rob Parkins photo

At 12:01 A.M. Oct. 1, the U.S. Federal Government shut down due to an inability of the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate to agree on a fiscal plan for 2014. In the big picture, the government shutdown will stop 800,000 Americans from getting paid and could cost the economy about $1 billion a week.

But while many federal employees may have unpaid "vacation days" and free time to go fishing, they should focus on state-run access sites, as many of the nation's best public fishing areas are closed. While the beaches and rivers are technically open to fishing, access roads and parking areas may be gated and locked.

"We're seeing a number of fisheries that are being directly affected by these closures," said Jim Klug, president of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. "Angler access to boat ramps, recreational areas, federal lands, and of course all National Parks are a huge issue. These closureswhich prevent people from actually getting out on the waterdirectly impact retailers and fly shop sales. Guides and outfitters that operate on any types of federal lands or waters are obviously taking a hit. And all of this continues to trickle down to also affect manufacturers. From guides to fly shops to manufacturers, I would say that a large portion of our industry is definitely affected by Congress's inability to get its act together. "

Here's a list of some of the high-profile areas that are affected by the closure:

(Do you know of a fishing area that is closed due the the shutdown? Email the specifics to and we'll add them to this list.)

On Montana's Bighorn River, the Park Service has confirmed they will close Afterbay and Three Mile access sites and barricade the roads into those sites.

Yellowstone National Parkthe nation's #1 fly fishing is closed. The gates are locked and the fantastic fall fishing on the upper Madison, Firehole, upper Yellowstone, and other rivers is largely inaccessible.

All hunting and fishing at Lees Ferry in Marble Canyon, Arizona has been closed. The road has been barricaded off to all vehicles and DPS guards on sight. Its funny or maybe not, that it is taking more money to fundthis shutdown at Lees Ferry Road than when it is open to the public because there is never someone manning the gate to the road. Unfortunately for us, we have turned away an abundant amount of fisherman. We have cancelled at least 21 guided fishing trips in three days. On average, we are loosing about $10,000 per day between our lodge, restaurant and fishing.Kaila Bruner, Lees Ferry Anglers/Cliff Dwellers Lodge

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado is closed. Bill Frangos

 The Cape Cod National Seashore is closed to all beach access. Tom Keer

Olympic National Park and access to the rivers that run through it are closed. Patrick Wood

Headhunters Fly Shop is reporting that the Holter Dam Boat Ramp on the Missouri River and the campground on the Missouri River are closed. It is likely that all BLM sites nationwide will follow suit.Joshua Bergan

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution is reporting that the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Areas will close Oct. 2, 2013. This will effect 16 NRAs along 48 miles of the river popular with trout fishermen , runners, walkers, and cyclists. Jones Bridge Park maintained by the county is open as usual.Gerry Korzi


The Canaveral National Seashore near Titusville Florida is closed. The tarpon and redfish there are now off limits. Bill Radecky
According to the CEO and president of TU, the shutdown is also affecting Trout Unlimited, its membership, and its conservation efforts. Here's the email he sent oct. 1:
Trout Unlimited is disappointed by the federal government shutdown because it undercuts fall fishing opportunities that are economically vital to communities bordering national parks and monuments. The shutdown also threatens to hamstring vital conservation efforts nationwide. For the first time in 17 years, our federal agency partners are not allowed to go to work with us, and the gates leading to some of the world's best fisheries are locked. Trout Unlimited strongly urges Congress to restore government funding as soon as possible.

Adverse impacts to TU are immediate. Many of TU's science and restoration experts are prepared to attend this week's Wild Trout Symposium in Yellowstone National Park, which is almost certain to be cancelled because the park is closed. Going on its 40th year, the symposium is a conference held every three years to bring together the best international experts on wild trout science and restoration techniques. This event is just the kind of activity that makes federal, state and local agencies, as well as their non-profit partners, more efficient at investing public and private resources in science and restoration. Thousands of dollars are lost, as are opportunities to improve trout conservation and make fishing better all across America.

Incredible fisheries will be off limits due to the closure of national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other federal facilities, at a time when they are most productive for anglers. Thousands of anglers were hoping to finish their fishing season chasing brown trout on Yellowstone's famed Firehole River or cutthroats in the scenic Lamar Valley. Others were setting out to pursue the brightly colored brook trout of Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountain national parks. Many of these anglers have campsites reserved, flights booked and hotels reserved that revolve around access to these national parks. Lands owned by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will see many campgrounds closed, even barred shut when possible. To those planning on visiting these areas, and to the communities that depend on the tourism dollars anglers generate, Congress' inability to act is ruining vacations and literally taking money from merchants at a time when it's needed most.

In Colorado's Front Range communities, TU is coordinating with federal partners to help recover from severe flooding. While emergency personnel are still on the job, many of those federal partners have been forced to stop working during a critical time for affected Coloradans.

TU's 150,000 members and volunteers, who selflessly donate almost 700,000 hours to conservation every year, understand that getting trout and salmon streams protected, reconnected and restored requires working together with partners and allowing common sense to prevail. As we cooperate with local, state and federal governments, landowners and industry representatives every day, we hope that Congress can do likewise and restore funding for these vital operations. This government shutdown is a stark reminder that our nations parks and monuments have a very real economic value to Americans from coast to coast, and that the government's role in managing those lands on behalf of all Americans cannot be underestimated. TU hopes this reminder will spur Congress to act and provide the funding to sustain the traditions treasured by the nearly 40 million Americans who hunt and fish. 

Big Horn Fishing
Afterbay access site on the Bighorn river is operated by the National Park Service as is the 3-MIle Access downstream. Both are closed due to the government shutdown.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Fly Fisherman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Fly Fisherman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Fly Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Fly Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now