(1) All personnel acting under the jurisdiction of the Montana fish, wildlife, and parks commission shall comply with the policy established in this sub-chapter for planting fish in the state of Montana. The provisions contained herein supersede all previous provisions relating to fish planting.
(2) The annual fish distribution plan shall be reviewed and approved by the administrator and the chief of the bureau of management and research of the fisheries division, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Changes during the year may be made only with their written approval. Fish distribution is subject to an official order of the commission and the director.
(3) No state-raised fish shall be planted into any waters of the state where public access for fishing is denied. Fish shall not be placed in stream locations closer than one-half mile from portions of the stream where public access is denied. This restriction does not apply to state-owned access areas.
(4) Introduction of fish not indigenous to a particular drainage may be made only after careful study to ensure these fish will be beneficial to that area.
(5) The species and size most economical in terms of fishing quality or return to the creel shall be used in planting programs when possible.
(6) The planting of catchable-size trout (7 inches and longer) for immediate harvest is not considered resource management but a means of providing additional man-days of recreation. In addition to the rules for stream planning, the following general criteria must be met in order to plant or continue to plant a stream or lake with catchable-size trout:
(a) For each six fish planted there must be an average increase of at least one fisherman day on the water stocked. The statewide fishing pressure survey is a satisfactory means for making this determination.
(b) At least 40% of the planted fish must be creeled. Attainment of the requirement (a) above will satisfy this requirement until a creel census can be made.
(c) For a new plant to be made or an existing plant to be increased, anglers must have an average catch of less than one-half game fish per hour as determined by creel census. A "directed" warden creel census of at least 100 fisherman hours, by at least 15 different fishermen during the regular fishing season, will suffice for this determination.
(7) The periodic planting of fish for population manipulation, rather than immediate harvest, is a type of resource management. If such planting is to be continued in a water after a trial period, the following criteria shall be met:
(a) The planted fish after growing to a desirable size for harvest shall have measurably increased some segment of the fish population of the water planted. This is to avoid plants that merely replace wild fish.
(b) The planted fish shall comprise a significant portion of the harvest from that water.
(c) "Water" as used in (a) and (b) above includes a bay or other natural area of a lake or reservoir or a section of a stream.