A week ago an angler in Eastern Montana apparently was successful in landing a new state record Muskie. The fish was caught out of Deadmans Basin north of Ryegate by Steven Salazar, of Harlowton.
As it turned out, the huge tiger muskie was disallowed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks because Salazar had failed to purchase a $5 Montana warm water fishing stamp.
Surprisingly, since the news of the fish came out I have had several people ask me what a $5 warm water stamp is all about. In 1999, the Montana legislature created the stamp with the revenue earmarked to support the Fort Peck Multi-species Fish Hatchery.
The purpose of the hatchery is to provide healthy warm water game fish to improve the warm water fishing opportunities in Montana with minimal impact on cold water fish populations.
Species that are to be propagated at the hatchery include largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger, black and white crappie, channel fish, yellow perch, northern pike, pallid sturgeon, paddlefish and tiger muskie.
It is not surprising that anglers in the Western part of the state are not fully aware of the stamp and its purpose. After all, when you buy your fishing license you often need to request to purchase the stamp or you can buy it later.
The key point to remember is that an angler needs to have the warm water stamp when he or she fishes a body of water that requires the stamp. Not every lake or reservoir in Montana requires the stamp. The lakes that you need the stamp are listed in each fishing district in the 2009 Montana Fishing Regulations.
In the Western District, which includes Region One and Two there are only 10 lakes where you will need a stamp and those lakes are listed on page 21 of the 2009 regulations. The further east you fish, the more lakes require the stamp with 16 in the Central District and 46 in the Eastern District.
If you are a lake angler, it’s not a bad idea to spend the $5 and buy the stamp because you never know when you might fish a body of water that requires it.
Lake fishing reports are good over at Helena. All three lakes Canyon Ferry, Hauser, and Holter Reservoir are producing nice catches of trout for trollers and lake shore anglers.
Spring Mack Days comes to a close this Sunday. The spring weather has cooperated over the past two weekends and the number of lake trout entered this year has easily topped the number of fish entered in last year’s event.
This Sunday, April 26, there will be a fish fry and the awards ceremony at Salish Point, behind the Kwataqnuk Resort in Polson. The fish fry begins at 4 p.m. with awards to start at 5 p.m.
Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy the food and company of fellow anglers. I will be emceeing the event. If you’re in the area, stop by and say hi.