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Fishing Ethics & Etiquette

River Recreation Ethics

The River Recreation Conflicts Group suggests some ways in which river recreationists can be considerate and mannerly to other users. Often an irresponsible act is exhibited in a river corridor, the person or persons at fault generally are unaware of the dissatisfaction they are causing others. Follow some basic guidelines to ensure a satisfying experience on Montana's waterways. Learn more

Choose Tackle to protect Waterbirds

Loons, swans, cranes, and other waterbirds can die from lead poisoning after swallowing lead fishing sinkers and jigs lost by anglers. Sinkers and jigs do not have to be made of lead. To help protect waterbirds from getting lead poisoning, anglers can use sinkers and jigs made from non-poisonous materials such as tin, bismuth, steel, and recycled glass.

What You Can Do

  • Ask your local sporting goods store to stock non-lead fishing tackle.
  • Use non-lead fishing weights.
  • Discard old lead sinkers and jigs properly.
  • Spread the word! Tell other anglers about the problem with lead and encourage them to switch to non-lead sinkers and jigs.

Help Prevent the Spread of Whirling Disease

Whirling disease is a bacterial parasite now found in many waters in Montana that causes deformities and increased mortality in trout.

  • Remove all mud and aquatic plants from your vehicle, boat, anchor, trailer and axles, waders, boots, and fishing gear before departing a fishing access site or boat dock;
  • Drain all water from your boat and equipment -- including coolers, buckets, and live wells -- before departing a fishing access site or boat dock;
  • Dry your boat and equipment between river trips.
  • It is unlawful to transport fish from one body of water to another;
  • It is unlawful to use parts of trout, salmon, or whitefish for bait,
  • Do not collect or use sculpins for bait.

Help Prevent Illegal Introductions

Illegal introductions cause serious problems. Fish like carp, yellow perch, suckers, shiners, sunfish, and even certain game fish can severely affect a sport fishery. So, when someone moves live fish from one body of water to another, the future of their fishing is at stake. [Learn more]

Prevent Aquatic Nuisance Species

Anglers need to be aware that aquatic diseases and nuisance species can easily spread from one water body to the other. Anglers, boaters and their equipment easily transport these pests. It takes only one mistake to infest a new area. [Learn more]