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Officials adopt new fishing regulations for the upcoming year

A fisherman hooks a big one on the Clark Fork River.
Josh Burnham
A fisherman hooks a big one on the Clark Fork River.

Montana’s Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted new fishing regulations for the coming year. Some of the new rules are designed to aid research efforts into a historic trout decline in southwest Montana.

While the commission adopted 43 total rule changes covering the entire state, the bulk of the discussion centered on just two. They’ll regulate the types of lures and hooks anglers will be able to use on stretches of the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers.

Justin Gude, who leads research efforts for Fish Wildlife and Parks, told commisers these regulations would aid the department’s study of fish mortality in the Jefferson Basin.

“The different rivers will have different gear restrictions. And it will allow us to quantify the relative effects of each of those regulations on adult mortality,” Gude said.

The department is working with Montana State University on a five-year study of a trout decline in the region that has driven populations to historic lows.

Mike Bias, the executive director of the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana, said the new rule changes had the backing of the state's commercial fishing industry.

“These regulation changes are science based, they incorporate a study design component that’s critical,” Bias said.

The commissioners unanimously approved the new regulations, which go into effect in 2024.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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