MILES CITY, Mont. — As temperatures drop ice fishing opportunities begin and anglers run to grab their gear. Please be reminded that live bait fish cannot legally be transported across state lines, into or out of Montana (Montana ARM 12.7.201(5)). Minnows must be purchased or collected within the eastern fishing district or approved waters in the central fishing district of Montana. This can make using them more difficult to those living in one state and fishing just across the border in Montana. The reason the regulation was put into place was to protect valuable fisheries and the experiences they provide.
“The regulation is in place in order to reduce the risk of spreading vectors, spreading aquatic invasive species (AIS) or illegal fish introduction which could threaten the established population,” says Mike Backes, Region 7 Fisheries Manager. The AIS of highest current concern are zebra/quagga mussels, Asian carp, VHS and aquatic noxious weeds, e.g., Eurasian Watermilfoil. Prevention is the key management tool. Unfortunately when AIS or illegal fish introduction is established, eradication is costly and often impossible. “Most anglers recognize should a fishery be contaminated in any of these ways, we would see a quick, drastic change or be witness to a slow, demise of the current fishery. Either way, the balance would be thrown off and change would be inevitable. For example, in areas where Eurasian Watermilfoil has been confirmed, additional bait collection and transportation restrictions have been established. “I don’t believe any angler wants to see their resource affected in these ways, whether by decreased angler opportunity from biological changes or additional regulations.”
For more information on regulations please go to http://fwp.mt.gov/fishing/regulations/ or call Region Seven Headquarters at 406-234-0900.
(Report by Montana FWP; Cover photo: publicdomainpictures.net)