With Montana’s first ever free fishing Father’s Day Weekend set for this weekend, Gov. Brian Schweitzer and the state’s top fish and wildlife official recently took the “Clean Angling Pledge” and urged all dads to follow suit to help stop the spread of aquatic nuisance species.
Managed by the Montana-based Invasive Species Action Network, the Clean Angling Pledge is a simple, effective way to remind anglers of the important role they play in the battle to keep “aquatic hitchhikers” from gaining a foothold in Montana’s waters.
“Anglers who take the pledge promise to ‘inspect, clean and dry’ their equipment after each use,” said Joe Maurier, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. “It’s easy and it’s a good reminder that every angler can help protect Montana’s world renowned fisheries from damaging aquatic hitchhikers.”
Aquatic Hitchhikers are non-native, harmful aquatic plants, animals or microscopic organisms-everything from zebra mussels to whirling disease-that are easily transported from water to water via popular recreational activities like fishing and boating. The cost of invasive species damages in the U.S. amounts to more than $100 billion each year.
“Montana’s best defense against invasive species is to inspect, clean, and dry boats, trailers, and fishing gear after each use,” Gov. Schweitzer said.
The Clean Angling Pledge asks Montanans and visitors to:
• Inspect-After leaving a lake or stream, inspect your boat, engine, trailer, anchor, waders, boots, and other fishing and boating gear for mud, water, and vegetation that could carry aquatic invasive species.
• Clean-Completely remove all mud, water, and vegetation you find. Boaters should use a pressurized power sprayer, found at most do-it-yourself car washes. The hot water helps kill organisms and the pressure removes mud and vegetation. No need to use soap or chemicals.
• Dry-Aquatic invaders can survive only in water and wet areas. By draining and drying your boat and fishing gear thoroughly, you will kill most invasive species. The longer you keep your boat, trailer, waders and other gear outside in the hot sun between trips, the better.
Bob Wiltshire, executive director of the Invasive Species Action Network, said he’s pleased Montana leaders are helping to promote the Clean Angling Pledge.
“Montana has some of the best fishing in the world and we’re pleased that Gov. Schweitzer and Director Maurier took the time to take the Clean Angling Pledge,” Wiltshire said. “It’s pretty clear they recognize the importance of taking personal responsibility for protecting our waters.”
Pledge sponsors include the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Montana FWP, Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, Federation of Fly Fishers, National Wildlife Federation, Montana Trout Unlimited, Montana Trout, Walleyes Unlimited of Montana, Walleyes Forever, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana, and Whirling Disease Foundation.
To take the pledge, visit cleanangling.org. For more information visit FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov. Click “Inspect. Clean. Dry.”
Montana’s free fishing promotion is set for Father’s Day weekend, June 18-19. The new promotion was approved by the Montana Legislature and recently signed into law by Gov. Brian Schweitzer. It allows anyone to fish without a fishing license on June 18 and June 19, all other fishing rules and regulations apply.
Ron Aasheim, 406-444-4038, or visit the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov