Spring Fishing Here – Get Your License First!

Happy New Year!

Okay, I really didn’t oversleep for two months and just realized that it’s now 2010. And, no, I didn’t sleep through the Chinese New Year, either.

This New Year, however, is one of the most important dates on the outdoor calendar. It’s the beginning of a new fishing and hunting license year in Montana. Every year, on March 1, our licenses for the previous year expire and before we head out to a favorite fishing hole, liquid or frozen, we need to go on-line or stop at a local license vendor and get a new license.

Here’s a short review of Montana’s fishing license requirements.

First, children under age 12 don’t need any license at all. Youths, age 12 to 14, need only a Conservation License ($8). People age 15 to 61 need both a Conservation License and a Fishing License, which could include a two-day license for $5, a full season license for $18, or a special $8 season license for youth ages 15 – 17. Resident Sportsman and Youth Sportsman licenses also include a season fishing license. For residents age 62 and older, all that’s required is that $8 Conservation License, which also covers upland bird hunting, as well.

For nonresidents age 14 and younger, no license is required if they are accompanied by an adult holding a valid Montana fishing license, though any fish kept counts toward the license holder’s daily and possession limits. Nonresidents age 15 and older will need a Conservation License ($10) and a fishing license for two days ($15), ten days ($43.50) or full season for $60.

That Conservation License is, of course, the gateway to all those fishing and hunting licenses and/or special permits as we progress through the coming months. It’s a valuable piece of paper.

There are some special license deals for free or at a reduced rate for Montana residents with a disability, VA Hospital patients, Legion of Honor members (resident or nonresident), care facility residents, and Purple Heart awardees. For more information, check with any FWP office or with license vendors, or online at http://fwp.mt.gov.

While the calendar says it’s still winter, spring is definitely coming, as we can see every evening when the sun keeps shining a minute or two later. Tulips should be popping up in sheltered spots about now, though they’ll likely have to survive a lot more snow and cold weather before they send up flower buds. Daylight Saving Time will begin on Sunday, March 14, and suddenly those evenings will be light for an extra hour.

This, for many, is also the season for tying flies and getting ready for a new season of flyfishing. It’s a fun and relaxing activity on weekend afternoons.

On that note, if you haven’t already seen other publicity, the George Grant Chapter of Trout Unlimited is currently sponsoring flytying workshops on Wednesday evenings at the HPER building at Montana Tech, starting around 6 p.m. It’s an informal gathering, with local flytyers demonstrating how to tie some of their favorite flies. TU has flytying equipment available, or you’re welcome to bring your own tools and materials. Incidentally, on the evening of March 10, I’ll be the featured flytyer, demonstrating how to tie soft-hackle wet flies.

Currently, the TU chapter, working with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters agency, is conducting a beginning flyfishing class for some of their Bigs and Littles, repeating a program they did a year ago.

These are both continuing outreach efforts of the TU chapter to get more people involved with positive outdoor activities such as flyfishing—and to sneakily get some more people indoctrinated with some conservation ethics. Make no mistake—I heartily endorse this strategy. One of the most important things we can do is to get more young people involved with outdoor activities such as fishing, as those younger people are the future of conservation and responsible stewardship of our environment.

And that’s a lead-in to another sign of spring; the annual fundraising dinner of the George Grant Chapter of Trout Unlimited. It’s scheduled, appropriately, on the evening of the first day of spring, March 20, at the Star Lanes community room.

Alas, another early sign of spring is tax returns. I think I’ll go fishing.