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Preliminary Proposals For 2025-2026 Fishing Regulations Available For Review

HELENA – If you’re interested in providing input on how Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is crafting fishing regulations for the next two years, now is your chance. FWP is taking public comment and asking for ideas on initial proposals for the 2025-2026 Fishing Regulations.  

The initial 64 proposals are online now and available for review and comment. Just go to   

FWP is also looking for ideas for regulation changes that aren’t captured in these initial proposals. To answer questions and get feedback on fishing regulations, FWP is hosting public meetings around the state. Staff will use the input to refine the regulation proposals that will go before the Fish and Wildlife Commission in October. The fishing regulations proposals that will be considered by commission will be available for public comment in August. The commission will adopt, amend or reject the proposals at its October meeting.   

Montana’s fishing regulations are split into three districts – west, central and east. Each district has standard regulations. Many of the proposals remove exceptions to district standards that are no longer biologically relevant. Others are intended to increase fishing opportunity, enhance conservation efforts for some species, reduce confusion or improve enforceability. All regulation changes are based on criteria or objectives outlined in the Statewide Fisheries Management Plan.  

Specific statewide proposals include improving definitions of different types of hooks and adjusting regulations for cleaning and transporting fish.  

In the Western Fishing District, proposals include adjusting northern pike possession limits, adjusting bag limits on the Blackfoot River and many tributaries, implementing gear restrictions on the Kootenai River below Libby Dam, and removing a lake trout slot limit on Whitefish Lake.  

In the Central Fishing District, proposals include allowing spearing for northern pike on Hauser and Holter reservoirs, removing spearing for burbot at Tiber Reservoir and Lake Frances, removing exceptions for walleye in the Missouri River from Toston to Canyon Ferry and reducing walleye bag limits from Holter Dam to Black Eagle Dam.  

For the Eastern Fishing District, proposals include clarification of paddlefish regulations because of the new fish bypass channel at Intake, the addition of a tag for paddlefish snagging opportunities in the Missouri River below Fort Peck Dam, regulations to conserve shortnose gar, and conservative crappie limits on Tongue River Reservoir. 

Fishing regulations are now under a process like hunting regulations, going through a comprehensive public review every two years. Fishing regulations are printed during odd numbered years.    

 The meeting schedule is as follows:     

  • Region 1: March 19, 6 p.m., Kalispell, 490 North Meridian Road   

  • Region 2: April 10, 6:30 p.m., Missoula, 201 Spurgin Road   

  • Region 3: March 28, 6 p.m., Bozeman, 1400 South 19th St.   

  • Region 4: April 4, 6 p.m., Great Falls, 4600 Giant Springs Road   

  • Region 5: March 14, 6:30 p.m., Billings, 2300 Lake Elmo Drive   

  • Region 6: March 13, 6 p.m., Glasgow, 1 Airport Road   

  • Region 7: March 21, 6:30 p.m., Miles City, 352 I-94 Business Loop    

FWP will be collecting comments through April 26. The department will also host at least one virtual meeting during this comment period.

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