Contrary to the old saying that “rules were made to be broken” it isn’t necessarily a good thing to break the rules. This is especially true when it comes to fishing and hunting. The local fish and game officer just might not accept the fact that you are an amateur and didn’t know the rules. Sure, he or she might let you off with a warning, but a $100 ticket for using the wrong kind of bait can turn a casual afternoon outing into a very bad experience.
Whether you are fishing or hunting, you need to know the rules. Each and every state’s fish and game or parks departments put out what is referred to as a “proclamation”. These may be clumped into one big magazine-style proclamation that has everything fishing by itself, or possibly fishing and hunting combined. Regardless of the output method, each and every state puts these out and makes them available at their local offices. This information can also be found online, but I recommend that you have these proclamations with you at all times to refer to from time to time. Sportsman’s Warehouse usually has the rules for the state the store is in available near the customer service desk.
Since we are in the midst of fishing season and free fishing day is this month, a bit more detail on the fishing side of things is relevant. You are going to want to read these proclamations/regulations from cover to cover, in full, the first time and then refer to it when visiting different bodies of water. Each and every body of water may have unique regulations. Examples of this are the type of bait or lures that may be used as well as the different types of fish that may be kept. If you are fishing for trout or salmon, you may be required to have a special stamp in addition to your license. You might be required to fish with artificial lures only. A section of river a mile long might be closed during certain dates, but below the Johnson Bridge it’s open. Each species of fish is going to have different daily catch limits as well as possession limits and this is very important information. A child of a certain age might not be required to have a license at all but can still catch and keep an entire limit of fish. Other states may allow this child to fish, but the fish caught fall onto the adults keep and possession limits.
These are just a handful of examples and the multitude of rules that are out there to possibly be broken. We don’t want to see anyone get cited because they are an amateur and didn’t read the regulations. Stop by your local fish and game office or pick up a set at Sportsman’s Warehouse on your way to the lake. “I didn’t know!” isn’t an acceptable excuse for most conservation officers. However, the majority of them are very willing to answer your questions and help make your outdoor experience an enjoyable one. So, ask all the questions before you are actually out there fishing. The piece of mind that you know the rules will make the trip much more enjoyable.