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Whether you fish or float, take care of Montana’s fishing access sites

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News from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

MONTANA – Montana’s fishing access sites accommodate roughly 3.9 million visits from people every year. These visits happen on about 330 fishing access sites across the state that vary in size from less than one acre to several hundred acres.

These sites are owned and managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to give recreationists access to the state’s water resources. Funding for the acquisition, enhancement and maintenance of these sites is generated from fishing licenses sold to anglers. But a large portion of people who use the sites are non-anglers. The lower Madison River, for example, sees as many as 300,000 people annually who recreate on inner tubes and inflatable pool toys. Many of these floaters do not buy fishing licenses.

This cost imbalance creates significant challenges in maintaining places impacted by high use. Trash collection, latrine maintenance, infrastructure repairs and other costs quickly add up as more people come to these sites to enjoy the access and opportunity they provide.

Courtney Johnson enjoys kayaking the Madison River with her husband, Scott. They useplaces like Black’s Ford fishing access site to put in or take out of the river. Courtney said she sees why taking care of public lands and resources takes effort from management agencies as well as recreationists.

“I’ve seen people diving to go get their trash, and I just love that I see that effort,” she said. “It’s a family place. It’s great for college kids. It’s lots of people out here, and we all have to do our part.”

So whether you fish or float, here’s how you can help keep Montana’s fishing access sites open and enjoyable for everyone.

—  Pack it in, pack it out. Part of being prepared to recreate on the water means bringing the equipment you need and making sure to take it all home with you when your adventure is


—  Respect all facilities. FWP pays for the acquisition, construction and maintenance of facilities at fishing access sites with angler-contributed funds. Help keep these facilities in good shape by throwing trash in the dumpsters, if provided, or disposing of trash at home. Latrines with trash in them may have to be closed, causing an inconvenience for all users. Stay on designated roads and don’t trespass on private property.

—  Park politely. Park only in designated areas without blocking in other vehicles. Use boat trailer parking spaces only if you are towing a trailer.

—  Be courteous to all users. A little patience and preparation go a long way toward a smooth launch and takeout for everyone. Prepare your watercraft for launch before approaching the boat ramp, then spend as little time as possible on or near the ramp so others can use it.

—  If you see a crime, report it. 1-800-TIP-MONT (847-6668) is Montana’s toll-free hotline for reporting crimes involving wildlife or state lands. Vandalism, theft and other crimes harm public resources. You can help put a stop to it.

—  Buy a fishing or conservation license. Even if you don’t fish, buying a license helps maintain and enhance these sites we all enjoy. It also goes toward conserving the wildlife you see while you’re on the water.

Following these practices when using fishing access sites not only makes for a better recreation experience, but it will also help keep these sites operating safely and sustainably, ensuring continued access to Montana’s water resources for years to come. For more information on taking care of fishing access sites, please see this video at 


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