An Ounce of Prevention

Can Keep Flathead Lake Free of Invasive Mussels

Protect the lake by following these simple Do-It-Yourself rules and guidelines:

If you are hauling a watercraft of any kind, motorized or nonmotorized you must stop. Here are the details:

If you suspect an infestation orsee a boat or trailer with mussels attached, this is what to do:

Zebra and Quagga Mussels Can Use Your Boat to Invade Additional Waters

Once a boat has been in infested waters, it could carry invasive mussels. These mussels can spread to new habitats on boats trailered by commercial haulers or the public. Zebra and quagga mussels attach to boats and aquatic plants carried by boats. These mussels also commonly attach to bait buckets and other aquatic recreational equipment. An adult female zebra mussel can release up to a million eggs in a year. Please take precautions outlined on this website to help reduce the chance that zebra or quagga mussels will spread from your boat or equipment to uninfested areas.

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Boaters, Anglers, Paddlers, and Seaplane Pilots

CLEAN.

Completely remove all mud, water, and vegetation before leaving the access area.

Inspect your boat, trailer, and all gear. Pay attention to crevices and hidden areas.

Remove all vegetation (by hand or sprayer).

Remove all mud (use a pressurized power sprayer, found at most do-it-yourself car washes).  The hot water kills organisms and the pressure removes mud and vegetation. No need to use chemicals or soap.

Dispose of debris in trash or on dry land away from water or ramp.

DRAIN. 

Drain all water from watercraft and equipment.

Drain or remove water from boat, bilge, live well, engine, internal compartments, and bait buckets by removing drain plugs before leaving the access area.

DRY. 

Aquatic invaders can survive only in water and wet areas.

Dry your watercraft and fishing equipment thoroughly; this will kill most invasive species.  The longer you keep your watercraft, trailer, waders, and other equipment outside in the hot sun between fishing trips, the better.

 

If You are Transporting a Watercraft

You Must Stop Watercraft Inspection Stations

It's the Law

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Inspections include an interview, boat inspection, and if needed, decontamination
with pressurized hot water of at least 140° F to remove and kill invasive species.



Inspection Requirements

2018 Watercraft Inspection Requirements Last year’s requirement for all boats to be inspected and certified before launching in Flathead Indian Reservation waterbodies is no longer in effect. For this boating season, both Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) are implementing a pilot project that requires all boats traveling into the Flathead Basin from any direction, be inspected by a watercraft inspection station prior to launching into any Flathead Basin waters.

Watercraft that are already within the Flathead Basin when the pilot project took effect on March 16th, 2018 do not require a new inspection. Only boats that leave the basin and launch in outside water bodies, must be inspected before launch once they return to the Flathead Basin.

CSKT in collaboration with FWP are operating mandatory watercraft inspection stations in Ravalli, and Elmo along Highway 28 to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Additionally, inspections can be arranged with CSKT at 406 6th Ave E in Polson Monday through Thursday, 7 am to 5 pm. Appointments can be made by calling (406) 675-2700 ext. 7200 to arrange a watercraft inspection appointment.

Inspections can also be obtained at Jesco Boats in Kalispell, Saturday and Sunday from 7 am to 7 pm or at FWP Kalispell Region 1 offices Monday through Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm.

Watercraft includes stand up paddleboards, kayaks, canoes and inflatables. The law applies to non-motorized watercraft owners and they will be ticketed if they drive by any open mandatory watercraft inspection station.

To ensure a speedy inspection, CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY your watercraft prior to arrival at a watercraft inspection station. At the inspection station inspectors will check to ensure live wells, anchors, bilges, engines and ballast tanks are clean and dry. “Boat owners need to open up live wells and take off boat covers at the inspection station” said Erik Hanson CSKT AIS coordinator.



CSKT Rules and Regs

CSKT AIS Boating and Watercraft Regulations Flathead Indian Reservation

Last year’s requirement for all boats to be inspected and certified before launching in Flathead Indian Reservation waterbodies is no longer in effect. For this boating season, both Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) are implementing a pilot project that requires all boats traveling into the Flathead Basin from any direction, be inspected by a watercraft inspection station prior to launching into any Flathead Basin waters.

Watercraft that are already within the Flathead Basin when the pilot project took effect on March 16th, 2018 do not require a new inspection. Only boats that leave the basin and launch in outside water bodies, must be inspected before launch once they return to the Flathead Basin.

CSKT in collaboration with FWP are operating mandatory watercraft inspection stations in Ravalli, and Elmo along Highway 28 to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Additionally, inspections can be arranged with CSKT at 406 6th Ave E in Polson Monday through Thursday, 7 am to 5 pm. Appointments can be made by calling (406) 675-2700 ext. 7200 to arrange a watercraft inspection appointment.

Inspections can also be obtained at Jesco Boats in Kalispell, Saturday and Sunday from 7 am to 7 pm or at FWP Kalispell Region 1 offices Monday through Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm.

Watercraft includes stand up paddleboards, kayaks, canoes and inflatables. The law applies to non-motorized watercraft owners and they will be ticketed if they drive by any open mandatory watercraft inspection station.

To ensure a speedy inspection, CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY your watercraft prior to arrival at a watercraft inspection station. At the inspection station inspectors will check to ensure live wells, anchors, bilges, engines and ballast tanks are clean and dry. “Boat owners need to open up live wells and take off boat covers at the inspection station” said Erik Hanson CSKT AIS coordinator.

State of Montana Rules and Regs

Summary of Montana AIS Laws

Watercraft Inspections
If you are carrying or towing any watercraft or water-based equipment (non-motorized and motorized), you MUST stop at all watercraft inspection stations you encounter in Montana.

Illegal Transportation and Release
It is illegal:

  • To transport AIS into or within Montana.
  • To transport live fish, even baitfish, into Montana. Leeches may be imported if purchased from an approved dealer and accompanied by a receipt.
  • To move live fish, aquatic plants, or invertebrates from one water body to another without FWP authorization.
  • To release live aquarium or bait fish into Montana waters.

Enforcement
You can be charged with a felony and fined up to $5000 if you knowingly or purposely attempt to introduce AIS into Montana waters.

You can be cited for driving past an inspections station if you are hauling or carrying a watercraft.

Different areas of the state have different fishing regulations, especially the transportation of live fish. Do not assume that regulations you follow in eastern Montana apply to central and western Montana. KNOW THE REGULATIONS before heading out to fish.

Commercial Watercraft Haulers
Commercial boat haulers and those towing oversize boats must contact the Fisheries Office with FWP at (406) 444-2449 prior to entry into Montana.

Download the Montana State Regulations

 

Check Station Locations

The CSKT Division of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation is now staffing a boaters check station in Ravalli. The hours of operation are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., seven days a week.

Statewide Map of Check Stations
(click the map to enlarge)

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Close-up of Reservation-area
(click the map to enlarge)

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Report a Suspected Aquatic Invasive Species

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