By Montana Grant

Posted: March 23, 2023


Fish don’t talk but fishermen certainly talk a lot about fish. Fishery agencies also use fishy vocabulary that is often misunderstood or unfamiliar.

Here are some Fish Vocabulary that anglers need to know. 

Daily Limit     There is actually no limit to how much fun you can have when fishing. You are limited to a certain number of fish on the stringer each day. Many anglers miss the second have of this called the possession limit. This is how many fish are allowed in the freezer. This also relates to fish that are canned, smoked, jerked, or stored. It is usually twice the daily limit. More than that is a violation. Eating a daily limit does not allow the angler to catch another limit the same day.

Drainage    This does not relate to an open wound or leaky boat. It refers to all the waters that form a watershed of ponds, streams, and rivers.

Gaff    This may sound funny to some but it relates to a sharp hook on a long pole used to hook a fish and drag them into the boat. No catch and release when the Gaff is out.

Game Fish     Fish don’t play games, but they are considered Game fish when they are managed, regulated, and controlled for sportfishing. They cannot be used commercially.

Mainstem     This sounds more like a gardening term but refers to the main drainage in a watershed. This is the primary river that tributaries flow into.

Setline    Back in the day we called these Bush Bobs. Baited lines were tied to trees or anchors, then allowed to fish alone. Where set lines re allowed, you must mark each with the angler’s name, phone, and license number. These lines are banned in western fishing district of Montana.

Snagging    This technique is banned for many sports fish. It means that fish are hooked purposefully, without using bait. Fish are snagged anywhere in the body. They are not taking the hook/bait voluntarily. Some fish like Paddlefish are caught legally in this fashion. Most sportfish must be taken with lures, flies, or bait. Spearing of fish is also regulated.

Wanton Waste      Catching a fish, killing it, and not using it for human consumption is a violation. The carcass must be disposed of appropriately. This means burying it, or placing it out of sight, under the water, or where it will not attract wildlife or spread diseases.

Sportsman    Tis is a man or woman that follows the rules, limits, and legality of the sport. They are ethical and honest. Their example is followed by others.

If you talk the talk, walk the walk!

Montana Grant

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