Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 5. Fishing Offenses

Fishing Offenses

87-6-501. Fishing offenses. (1) Except when specifically authorized by law or by commission rule, a person may not:

(a) fish by any means other than by hook and single line or single rod, in hand or within immediate control. This does not prevent:

(i) fishing from a boat or the shore on a lake or reservoir by hook and two lines or two rods, in hand or within immediate control, in accordance with rules that the commission adopts;

(ii) the snagging of paddlefish, chinook salmon, and kokanee (sockeye salmon) when the commission declares an open season when paddlefish, chinook salmon, and kokanee (sockeye salmon) may be taken by snagging;

(iii) the taking of paddlefish, channel catfish, and nongame fish with longbow and arrow under rules and regulations that the commission adopts;

(iv) the use of landing net or gaff to land a game fish after the game fish has been hooked as specified in this subsection (1)(a);

(v) the taking of minnows other than game fish variety by the use or aid of a net not to exceed 12 feet in length and 4 feet in width in waters designated by the commission;

(vi) the taking of whitefish by nets or traps in the Kootenai River and in its tributary streams within 1 mile of the Kootenai River under the rules and regulations that the commission adopts;

(vii) the taking of any game fish through a hole in ice with an unattended line or rod as long as the angler is in the vicinity and within visual contact of the line or rod; or

(viii) the taking of salmon and lake trout in Fort Peck reservoir by spear or gig from December through March under rules and regulations that the commission adopts.

(b) unlawfully use any fishing rod and line, fishing lines, spear, gig, or barbed fork;

(c) take or catch fish using fishtraps, grabhooks, spears, gigs, or other similar means for catching fish;

(d) use any gun or trap or other device to entrap, catch, capture, or take or to attempt to entrap, catch, capture, or take any game fish;

(e) have in the person's possession or under the person's control a seine, net, or other similar device for capturing fish. A seine or net found in a vehicle, at the camp, or on the premises of a person is prima facie evidence that the seine, net, or similar device belongs to the person or persons occupying the camp or premises. This subsection (1)(e) does not apply to:

(i) a license holder for a private fish pond who is licensed to sell fish and eggs under 87-4-603;

(ii) a person with an unexpired seine or net license;

(iii) the use, by any person, of a landing net in connection with or in addition to a pole, line, and hooks in fishing for game fish; or

(iv) the possession of traps, seines, or nets when found in the vicinity of any waters in which the commission has designated that traps, seines, or nets may be used for the taking of nongame fish or game fish.

(f) take or catch fish with a hook baited with any poisonous substance or using any poisonous substance, including fish berries;

(g) use archery equipment prohibited by rule of the commission to fish; or

(h) use any carbide, lime, giant powder, dynamite, or other explosive compounds or any corrosive or narcotic poison or other deleterious substance or have any of the enumerated items in the person's possession within 100 feet of any stream where fish are found for the purpose of catching, stunning, or killing fish. This subsection (1)(h) does not apply to anyone authorized by the department to conduct lake or stream surveys or to control undesirable or overpopulated species of fish.

(2) The possession of a fishing rod and line, spear, gig, or barbed fork on the banks or shores of a stream or lake is prima facie evidence that the person or persons in whose possession these implements are found were using the implements to fish.

(3) A person convicted of a violation of this section shall be fined not less than $50 or more than $1,000 or be imprisoned in the county detention center for not more than 6 months, or both. In addition, the person, upon conviction or forfeiture of bond or bail, may be subject to forfeiture of any current hunting, fishing, or trapping license issued by this state and the privilege to hunt, fish, or trap in this state or to use state lands, as defined in 77-1-101, for recreational purposes for a period of time set by the court.

(4) A violation of this section may also result in an order to pay restitution pursuant to 87-6-905 and 87-6-906.

History: En. Sec. 45, Ch. 258, L. 2011.