By Montana Grant

Posted: December 12, 2019

Sportsmen are pretty secretive about their honey holes and lucky places. I often get blamed for writing articles about how to catch a fish, where to fish, what baits work best, and how to clean and cook your catch.

It usually begins with, “Thanks for ruining the best Fishing!”, or “Its because of people like you that fishing sucks!”. Most of the comments are mean spirited but we all want the same thing.

Fisheries change. Weather, climate, disease, pressure, pollution, development, and so many other reasons are to blame. Many fish only live a few years to a decade at best. Fishermen also change, die off, move, and disappear.

It’s called “FISHING”! Lots of people fish but not so many “Catch”! How many times have you been on a lake smoking the fish, and never see anyone else get a bite? 95% of the fish are caught by 5% of the fishermen.

Some popular waters get slammed. The Madison River is a good example. This stressed river is just recovering from Whirling’s Disease and is getting pounded by outfitters and guides. These trained guides will catch more fish and impact the fishery. Even with Catch and Release, there is mortality, stress, crowds, and damage. Many of these fishermen are nonresidents.

Keeping legal limits is appropriate. Fish are a renewable resource. If the fishery is stocked, what is the problem? Fish are an organic and healthy food source to feed your family. I almost never keep trout when fishing Spring-Fall. Montana waters have some of the worst natural pollution in the country. Arsenic, lead, mercury, and other types of pollution cause most waters to have a Consumption Warning” placed upon them. Any river coming from Yellowstone Park is on the list. Geothermal features spew natural toxics that become stored in the fish’s body fats.

Ice season is when I keep fish. They end up on the ice to be perfectly stored. Rainbow trout and perch eat plankton in the lakes. Few toxins get passed through the food cycle from plankton. Stocked fish are even cleaner and healthier to eat than the “Natives”.

We may be sharing secret places, tips, tackle ideas, and skills but ultimately, a Fisherman must learn how to fish. Once we have more fishermen in our ranks, our voice becomes louder and stronger. We all vote for the right laws and rules, we support the agencies that manage and protect the fisheries, and we all make some new friends.

There won’t be any “Secret Spots” if a large population of sportsmen don’t organize together to keep our “spots” public. Only the wealthy will get to benefit after they post, buy up, legislate, and make fishing their “Secret and PRIVATE Spots!”

Sharing fishing is important. Teaching some rookies, kids, family or friends is ok. Also teach them the ethical and proper way to appreciate and respect the resource. After all, who wants to fish alone all the time? Who will take your picture and listen to your stories?

Tight Lines!

Montana Grant

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