HELENA — It’s never a bad time to go fishing. It's also never a bad time to double-check Fish Wildlife and Park’s fishing regulations online before you hit the water.
The amount and size of the walleye you can take from parts of the Missouri River changed a little bit on April 1, and you won’t find them in the printed regulations.
That change reduces walleye limits down to 10 daily, 20 in possession and only one walleye daily over 15" in length for the Missouri River from Tosten Dam to Canyon Ferry Reservoir and Hauser Reservoir.
“Folks would like to see more fish in the 14"-to-18" range and our management plan," said Helena area FWP Fisheries Biologist Adam Strainer. "Which dictates how we manage those bodies of water, have sort of a cookbook in place where when the populations reach certain abundance goals we can take management authority and make changes."
This time around those changes are aimed at getting anglers some bigger fish for the fryer.
"There are fewer fish in the 15"-to-20" age class right now," added Strainer. "So, by putting only one fish over 15-inches in the regulation, we’re hoping to push harvest down to those smaller fish and eventually reduce the numbers as such that we can grow larger fish more quickly.”
FWP says it also continues to promote a healthy and diverse water body.
"In this reservoir system we manage as a quality multi-species fishery," continued Strainer. "And to do that we have to manage three species, yellow perch, rainbow trout, and walleye simultaneously to achieve that balance. And putting a regulation like this in place allows us to keep the predator in the system at bay, while allowing the forage to thrive and the trout to thrive as well."
If you forget to double-check FWP’s website before getting out on the water, there are bright orange signs posted at fishing sites across the area with the new regulations.