A Letter from a Concerned Bass Angler on Proposed Regulations
By angelamontana

Posted: June 7, 2019


As we discussed on the phone, I am concerned with the regulations proposed by FWP concerning Bass in the Western part of Montana.

Currently we have amazing Bass fishing in some of the waters in this region. I believe that if the current proposals are approved it will hurt much of those established bass fisheries. Below is the current proposal taken directly from the scoping survey.

Current Regulation: 

Bass: 5 daily and 10 in possession, no size limit.

  • Third Saturday in May through June 30: 1 daily and in possession, must be over 22 inches.  
  • Proposed New Regulations
  • Largemouth bass: 5 daily and in possession, only 1 greater than 12 inches. Third Saturday in May through June 30: 1 daily and in possession, must be over 22 inches. 
  • Smallmouth bass: 15 daily, no possession limit, no size limit.  

FWP’s reason for the proposed changes : Smallmouth bass have been illegally introduced throughout western Montana over the past several years (18 confirmed illegal introductions in the western fishing district) and can outcompete native fish and other game fish for limited resources. Largemouth bass populations are more habitat limited and have not shown as extensive negative fishery impacts as smallmouth bass. A 12-inch size restriction for largemouth bass is expected to allow harvest of younger fish while allowing opportunity to harvest a memorable largemouth bass. Waivers of length restrictions for fishing contests for bass will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Waterbodies managed for both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass will continue to be managed for both species and will continue special regulations to maintain those fisheries.  

For the following waterbodies the regulations for bass will stay the same: 

  • Blanchard Lake (managed for largemouth bass)
  • Cabinet Gorge Reservoir (managed for largemouth and smallmouth bass) 
  • Frenchtown Pond (managed for largemouth bass) 
  • Horseshoe Lake near Ferndale (managed for smallmouth bass) 
  • Noxon Rapids Reservoir (managed for largemouth and smallmouth bass) 
  • Placid Lake (illegal bass introduction) 
  • Upsata Lake (illegal bass introduction) 
  • Seeley Lake (illegal bass introduction) 

It is my opinion the splitting the Smallmouth and largemouth will be detrimental to our fisheries. What will have a larger impact is the liberal limits on Smallmouth and the ability for the large spawning females to be kept during the spawning season. I urge all of your audience to consider taking the scoping survey, it is an important way for them to have their voice heard and protect our incredible Bass fishing in the Western District of Montana!   Here is the link to FWP to give your comment:


Thank you for your time.

Stacy Ratliff

Florence, Montana  

(feature photo via Bass Strike Tackle)
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