Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is now in the process of soliciting public comments on several fishing regulation issues that have arisen while considering possible fishing regulation changes for the 1998-99 biennium.
Proposed changes in regulations, based on the public comments received, will be submitted to the FWP Commission for adoption as tentative regulations in September. Comments will be sought on all proposed regulations one last time before they are adoptedas final 1998-99 fishing regulations in November.
The Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission began adopting fishing regulations on a biennial (two-year) basis in 1986. The intent of such a regulation-setting system is to minimize changes in regulations, reduce frustration among anglers and give the fishing public more time to take part in the process.
Among the issues on which public comment is being sought are:
1) The possibility of establishing a new statewide "residence possession limit of 10 fish forall species under Limit A (rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, golden trout, lake trout and grayling) to standardize the number of trout and other salmonid fish that may be possessed at an anglers legal residence. Recent instances of confusion among anglers concerning possession limits, particularly at anglers residences, have prompted an examination of the possession limit issue.
2) A proposal to standardize the walleye and northern pike limits in the Central and Eastern fishing districts to 5 fish daily and 10 in possession for walleye and 10 fish daily and 10 fish in possession for northern pike.
3) A suggestion to require all owners of ice shelters used on public waters in Montana to identify their shelters with their name, address and telephone number, to have a door which can be readily opened from the outside for inspection by an enforcement officer and to keep the immediate area around their shelters clean of litter. At present, regulations for only a few waters in the state require owner identification. In the past, some ice shelters left on the ice during the spring thaw have become a nuisance due to litter or a boating hazard when not removed in a timely manner. Current regulations require owners to remove ice shelters before ice-out each spring. The proposed identification requirement would help FWP better enforce the existing regulation by identifying ice shelter owners.
4) A proposal to remove lake trout from under "Limit A in Western and Central fishing district regulations to simplify regulations and to allow for increased harvest of greatly increasing lake trout populations without the need for enacting special regulations. The daily and possession limit, with some exceptions, would be 10 lake trout on all waters.
5) A proposal to require all crayfish and minnow traps to be marked with tags showing the owners name and address and to increase current limitations on trap size to allow for use of traps that are most commonly available in stores.
In addition to these statewide issues, fisheries managers in the individual FWP regions will be soliciting comments on issues regarding fishing on specific waters within their regions. For information, please contact your nearest FWP office.
Copies of a complete issues summary are available from the Fisheries Division, Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 1420 E. Sixth Ave., PO Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701. Written comments on the issues should be sent to the same address by June 6, 1997.