Anglers need to be aware of the laws regarding the transport of live fish, which varies by fishing district.
In the Western District—west of the Continental Divide—transport of any live fish is illegal.
In the Central Fishing District—the central third of Montana—live bait fish, which includes many but not all nongame fish, may be transported live to and from a select list of waters where the use of live bait is allowed. The live transport of angler-caught fish is illegal within the Central District and on the roads that constitute the boundary between the Central and Eastern Fishing Districts.
In the Eastern Fishing District—the eastern third of Montana—the transport of live bait fish is allowed. Unique to the Eastern District is the part of the law which permits the transport of live game fish that have been legally caught, anywhere within the boundaries of the district, but not on the roadways that separate the Eastern and Central Districts.
At least nine trailered boats checked recently at Montana's roadside watercraft inspection stations were found to be transporting at total of 58 live game fish. It is illegal to transport live fish in Montana's Western and Central Fishing Districts. The boats were inspected in the Western District at Coram, Ronan and Thompson Falls; in the Central District at Wolf Creek; and on the roadway between the Central and Eastern Districts at Hardin.
Rather than illegally transporting caught fish in live wells, FWP urges anglers to store their catch in coolers and place the fish on ice to keep them fresh on the way home.
The penalty for illegally transporting live fish in Montana is a maximum of $1,000, six months in jail time and forfeiture of hunting and fishing licenses.
For more information about Montana fishing regulations and Montana's fishing districts pick up a copy of Montana's Fishing Regulations at any FWP office and from most licenses providers.