Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is proposing fishing regulations for 2004-2007 that will be easier to read and to remember. As many as 16 pages may be cut from the new regulations and more information will be grouped by fishing district, so it is easier for anglers to find. Comments on the proposed regulations will be taken until Sept. 15.
“We’re also suggesting that the fishing regulations be revised every four years instead of every two,” said Karen Zackheim, FWP Fisheries Division bureau chief. “The changes will simplify both the regulations and the regulation-setting process.
Exceptions to the general regulations have been dropped for more than 40 lakes and streams in the state, and the bait, hook/line and ice-fishing regulations in all districts are clarified and presented in a standard format.
Zackheim said other changes in the general regulations include a fee increase for a paddlefish tag from $2.50 to $5 for residents and from $7.50 to $15 for non-residents, and standard daily and possession limits for some species including: burbot, tiger muskie and whitefish.
· revise the standard daily and possession limit for bass and move cutthroat trout out of the combined trout limit.
· allow some limited fishing for bull trout on Hungry Horse Reservoir, Lake Koocanusa and the South Fork of the Flathead River.
· create some new trophy trout lake fisheries.
· eliminate a number of exceptions that are no longer necessary.
In the Central Fishing District the proposed regulations:
· delete special exceptions for about 12 lakes so that standard limits apply.
· extend the winter whitefish season to the entire Big Hole River to simplify the regulations.
· allow anglers 14 and younger to keep one fish on about seven waters that are otherwise catch-and-release.
· make May 15 the standard late-season opener on numerous lakes in southwestern Montana.
· eliminate use of maggots for winter whitefish fishing on the Smith River and extend the combined trout exception upstream to Camp Baker.
· reorganize the trout and salmon limits.
· add walleye and whitefish to the list of species that may be taken with spears by persons swimming or submerged.
· increase the list of ponds where nongame fish, except carp, goldfish, sunfish, bullheads (catfish family), and rainbow smelt may be trapped/seined and used for bait.
· delete numerous early season closures that are no longer needed.
· close the Yellowstone River downstream from its confluence with the Bighorn River to snagging for anything but paddlefish.
The tentative fishing regulations may be obtained from FWP license providers and on the FWP web site at www.fwp.state.mt.us under Fishing. Comments can be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org , or contact the local FWP Fisheries Manager.
The final fishing regulations will be adopted at the Oct. 9 meeting of the FWP Commission.