Most Common Fishing and Boating Violations

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CHEYENNE-Warmer summer months triggers an increase in fishing and boating activity in Wyoming, and with that increase in summer activities also come an increase in fishing and boating violations.

According to the Game and Fish, the vast majority of boaters and anglers are obeying Wyoming laws, but there are a number of violations that are increasingly common from year to year. Some of the violations are undoubtedly due to ignorance of the laws, but many are simply due to participants not putting forth the effort to comply with the rules and regulations.

Every year the top fishing violation is failure to buy a license. Wyoming licenses expire with the calendar year and are required of persons 14 years of age and older. Anglers who purchase annual licenses also need a conservation stamp. No stamp is required for holders of daily licenses.

Overlimit of fish is another common violation. Anglers need to pay close attention to the limit for the water where they will be fishing. Creel limits for trout on a number of waters were changed from the 6 fish limit of previous years and anglers are advised to consult the regulations for the water where they are planning to fish.

Along the same line of creel limits are limitations restricting the size of fish that can be kept. For trout, the general creel limit allows six fish, of which only one can exceed 20 inches, but that is not true for all waters.

If the water has a differing creel and size restriction it will be detailed in the exceptions sections in the fishing regulations for each drainage area. Trout are not the only species with size restrictions. There are also size restrictions on tiger musky and northern pike and some waters have restrictions on bass. Anglers should be aware that when length limits apply, the whole body of the fish excluding gills and entrails shall remain intact while in transit or in the field. If length limits do not apply a piece of skin large enough to allow species identification (at least one inch square) shall remain on the filet.

Another common violation is false oath when nonresidents purchase resident licenses without satisfying the state residency requirement. Wyoming law requires persons to be domiciled in Wyoming for one year without claiming residency elsewhere for that period before qualifying for resident hunting or fishing licenses. Questions on residency can be directed to any Game and Fish office or department enforcement personnel.

Similar to not buying a fishing license, one of the more common boating violations is failure to register boats. Wyoming law requires that all craft that are propelled with motors, including electric motors, must be registered. Canoes, rowboats, rafts, float tubes etc. without motors need not be registered. But if a motor is attached, then registration is in order.

With summer holidays coming up in the next few weeks, boaters need to take special care to avoid the boating under the influence (BUI) violation. Not drinking and driving not only applies to our highways but to waters as well. Game and Fish enforcement officer Jon Stephens says BUI violations are most common around the popular July 4th weekend. “Fines for BUI are substantial and can result in possible jail time and loss of boating privileges,” Stephens said. “But more significantly, boaters who are drinking not only jeopardize their own personal safety but also the safety of others.”

Not having proper safety equipment aboard is another violation. This includes an approved life jacket for every member on board and appropriate safety equipment. A new requirement this year requires the wearing of an approved life jacket (personal flotation device) for youth 12 years old or under.

Stephens emphasizes that the various fishing and boating regulations are not there to impact enjoyment of the out of doors, but are in place to protect and enhance the resource for the enjoyment of anglers and the safety of all who use Wyoming’s waters. Boating and fishing regulations are covered in detail in the fishing and watercraft regulations pamphlets.

(contact: Al Langston (307) 777-4540)