2017 is about to become two months old in a few days and the official day of spring is less than a month away. You might be tired of winter and ready for spring, but first thing’s first, as March 1st brings with it a couple of deadlines that anglers and boaters need to be aware of. For anglers, the last day of February is the end to last year’s fishing license. While you are at your favorite sporting goods store getting your fishing license renewed for 2017. Also, make sure that you also buy the necessary elk and deer licenses so you can fill out your big game application that is due March 15th.
Boaters also have a once in every three years validation sticker that expires at the end of February. Owners of motorboats, sailboats or personal watercraft need to get new, free 2017-2020 validation decals for their watercraft soon. The current blue decals expire Feb. 28.
Boaters who have permanently registered their boats, sailboats or personal water craft (PWC) must still obtain two free boat validation decals every three years at FWP regional and area offices, or by going to the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov; click BoatValidation Decals. If you just bought a new boat during one of the recent boat shows, for example, then the county treasurer’s office will provide the first set of validation decals when the watercraft is registered.
Downrigger Dale, Berny Croy and I will be heading to Helena this weekend for their Great Rockies Sport Show at the fairgrounds. When we broadcast the Montana Outdoor Radio Show on location from the Capitol City this Saturday from 6-8am, we will have as our guest the FWP Hatchery Bureau Eileen Ryce who was involved among other things with drafting the proposed amendments to rules that outline new regulations needed in the battle to contain, detect and prevent the risk of spreading invasive mussels and other aquatic invasive species to other state waters. In case you missed it invasive mussel larvae were detected for the first time in Montana in October 2016 in Tiber Reservoir – and “suspect” detections turned up in Canyon Ferry Reservoir, which is just south of Helena, as well as the Missouri River below Toston Dam, and the Milk River located in the northern part of the state. Canyon Ferry, a popular fishing and recreational lake, is home to many angling hours during the year as anglers come from nearby towns to fish for both trout and walleye primarily from spring till fall and ice fish for perch in the winter.
Last week, new FWP Director Martha Williams said she would be the point person for the Legislature in the fight against aquatic invasive species after asking a subcommittee to approve $11.5 million in expenditures over the next two years to fund the battle. Comments on the proposed rule amendments that outline new regulations are due by March 17 and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org A public hearing on the proposed rule amendments is scheduled for March 14 in Helena at FWP Headquarters, 1420 E. 6th Ave. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m.
The wolf trapping season is also coming to an end February 28th. As of last Sunday trappers harvested 78 wolves and hunters have harvested another 149. The wolf hunting season ends March 15th