What could possibly be wrong with more opportunities to fish in Montana?

Well, maybe nothing. But Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has made it very easy to obtain permits, and the number of requests for them has become pretty staggering. Thus, a legislative subcommittee is going to cast a line into what might be troubled waters.


My friend Brett French, Outdoor Editor of the Billings Gazette, has put together a report on how popular private fish ponds have become on Montana properties. Brett tells us that Montana FWP processes on average 200 permits for new ponds and renewals every year. And if you have the amenity, why wouldn't you at this price?

Private pond licenses only cost $10, and they last for 10 years. While not all pond owners are looking to turn them into profit centers, private commercial ponds, which can sell the fish to anglers that catch them, are permitted at the same price, but do require annual inspections and renewals.

A state legislative subcommittee is now looking into the pond permitting system, and questioning whether FWP should raise the fees, if for no other reason than to cover their administrative costs.


The committee is also examining the regulations for private ponds. A huge fear is the  introduction of aquatic invasive species (AIS) into Montana. Just like mussel-fouled watercraft, unwanted species may be unknowingly coming into the state by way of fish stocking trucks.True, only authorized out of state facilities can be used, but some illegal sources have also been discovered. In fact, FWP authorities say the threat of importing invasive species may be higher from pond stocking than it is from contaminated boats.

While fishing and legislative subcommittees do not sound like a popular duo in the minds of most Montana anglers, it's become a significant enterprise in the state that might require that extra scrutiny. Find out more about what's being done by checking out Brett French's excellent story here.

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