With changes approved just a month ago, some western Montana anglers are bound to get caught off guard.

There will be signs posted and presumably some leniency in the early stages. But with warmer weather comes more fishing pressure and a greater need to know.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wants to remind anglers of new fishing regulations that are taking effect for the Swan River this month. The Montana Wildlife Commission approved fishing regulation changes on the Swan River at its April 17 meeting.

MORE CATCH AND RELEASE, LESS BITE TO THE HOOK

The commission approved changing the catch-and-release requirements on the Swan River to include rainbow trout. Previously, only cutthroat trout were catch-and-release.

Another change in regulations affects the area from Piper Creek Bridge downstream to Swan Lake, where anglers can now only use single-pointed hooks. Treble hooks and double hooks are prohibited on this stretch. Anglers may remove treble or double hooks from the lure and replace them with a single hook, or the shanks may be cut off the other hook points to leave a single hook. Lures with multiple hook attachments may still be used, but any treble hook must be replaced by a single hook.

"OFFICIAL" OPENING DAY

There is an abundance of fishing year-round in Montana. But we still have an opening day for other bodies of water. Fishing officially opens on most rivers and streams on the third Saturday in May, which makes this year's opener Saturday,  May 18. That is also when the new Swan River regulations go into effect. Since the 2024 fishing regulations booklet was already printed when the commission approved the Swan River amendment, signs are being posted at popular access sites along the river to inform anglers of the recent change.

If the Swan is one of your go-to spots, don't be surprised if there is a little more game warden activity in the early stages of the new catch-and-release and hook regulations. If you'd like to become more familiar with all Montana fishing regs, check out the FWP Fishing Regulations page of their website.

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