Montana fishing guide

Welcome to your key source for all fishing-related information in Montana. Discover not only the prime fishing spots but also learn about the diverse species inhabiting these waters. Stay informed about the latest fishing regulations and licensing requirements for fishing in Montana

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6 waterbodies
15 cities
34 fish

Lakes and reservoirs for fishing in Montana

Below are the largest and most popular lakes, reservoirs, and bays for fishing in Montana. Each Montana body of water includes information on fish species, analytics, and a map with fishing spots

Licenses for fishing in Montana

In Montana, fishing licenses are required for various activities, with specific fees for residents and non-residents. Special licenses are available for different age groups and circumstances.

For the most accurate and detailed information, it's best to visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website where you can also purchase a fishing license online.

License Type Resident Fee Non-Resident Fee
Conservation License $8.00 $10.00
Angler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass (AISPP) $2.00 $7.50
Base Fishing License (Full Season) $21.00 $100.00
Short-Term Resident License (2 Days) $5.00 -
1 Day Nonresident License - $14.00
Short-Term Nonresident License (5 Days) - $56.00


  • The Conservation License is required before you can buy any fishing or hunting license.
  • The Angler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass (AISPP) is also required for all individuals who fish in Montana.
  • There are different fee structures for youth (12-17), seniors (62+), and disabled residents.
  • Resident Sportsman and Nonresident Combination licenses include a season fishing license.

Fishing Regulations in Montana

Prohibited Gear and Fishing Methods
  • Use of explosives, poisons, or electrical devices for fishing is illegal.
  • Fishing with nets, traps, or seines is restricted and mostly limited to commercial use with permits.
  • Use of live fish as bait is prohibited in most waters to prevent the spread of invasive species.
  • Snagging fish is not allowed except in designated areas during specific seasons.
  • Spearing and bowfishing are permitted for certain species in specific waters.
Catch Limits
  • Trout: Daily limit varies by water body, typically 5 fish with size restrictions.
  • Walleye: Daily limit of 5, with size restrictions in some areas.
  • Bass (Largemouth and Smallmouth): Daily limit of 5, with size limits in specific areas.
  • Pike: Daily limit varies, often no limit to encourage removal in certain waters.
  • Perch, Bluegill, and other Panfish: Daily limit generally 25-50, depending on species and location.
  • Salmon and Steelhead: Limits vary by species and area, often 5 fish.
  • Catfish: Daily limit varies, generally no more than 5-10 fish.
  • Sturgeon: Catch-and-release only in most areas; check specific regulations.
  • Crappie: Daily limit typically 15, no size limit.
  • Arctic Grayling: Daily limit and size restrictions vary by water body.
Restrictions on Access to Water Bodies
  • Access to some waters may be restricted for environmental conservation or tribal rights.
  • Fishing on private property requires explicit permission from the landowner.
  • Designated wilderness areas and natural parks may have specific access rules.
  • No fishing zones enforced around certain infrastructures like dams and fish hatcheries.
  • Seasonal access restrictions in certain areas for fish spawning and habitat management.
Zones of Special Regulation
  • Catch-and-release areas for certain species, especially trout.
  • Special regulations in designated Blue Ribbon fisheries.
  • Areas with gear restrictions, such as artificial lures only or fly fishing zones.
  • Slot limits for certain species like bass in specific waters.
  • Trophy fisheries with enhanced size and bag limits in selected areas.
Protection of Rare Species
  • Fishing for endangered or threatened species is strictly prohibited.
  • Special regulations in habitats of rare or sensitive aquatic species.
  • Research fishing for rare species requires special permits.
  • Reporting accidental catches of rare species is necessary for conservation purposes.
  • Areas with significant ecological value may have additional fishing restrictions.
Seasonal Restrictions
  • Closed seasons for specific species during spawning or migration periods.
  • Ice fishing regulations, including shelter and gear restrictions, during winter months.
  • Seasonal closures in sensitive ecological areas for species protection and habitat restoration.
  • Temporary closures during environmental events or for population studies.
  • Special regulations for early and late fishing seasons in high-altitude lakes and rivers.

Most popular cities for fishing in Montana

The largest and most popular fishing cities in Montana. Cities in Montana include information on fishing, as well as a map with fishing spots. Explore the cities to know what fish are caught and in which bodies of water.