If you aren't transporting a boat, a wakeboard, a kayak, canoe, or any other watercraft, you can pass right by a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) inspection station, such as the one just south of Flathead Lake at Ravalli.

If you do have a watercraft, stop! Montana will be operating several inspection stations again this season to try to keep aquatic invasive species (AIS) like zebra mussels and other species out of our state's premiere waterways.

How's it working? According to a news release from Montana FWP, over 123,000 inspections last year caught 61 mussel-fouled boats. Unfortunately, that's a new record, which indicates the problem nationwide is huge.

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By the way, if you drive on by without stopping, there's probably going to be a flashing light behind you as a FWP Warden comes after you and your boat. Last year, wardens issued 137 citations and 182 written warnings. That's not how you want to remember your trip to the lake or favorite fishing hole.

4 Rules to Remember If You Have a Boat in Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says:

  • All watercraft coming into Montana from out-of-state must be inspected before launching.
  • All watercraft traveling west (over the Continental Divide from eastern Montana to western Montana) must be inspected before launching in the waters of the Columbia River Basin.
  • Anyone transporting watercraft must stop at ALL open watercraft inspection stations they encounter - even if you already stopped at one earlier.
  • When you take your boat out of the water, ALWAYS drain, clean and dry (including fishing boots or other water gear) to help prevent AIS spread.

Stations are located throughout the state, including Dillon, Anaconda and Ravalli. There are still restrictions at Tiber Reservoir, but that is being evaluated.

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