Fishing Regulations in Montana

Anglers who wish to take advantage of Montana’s natural wonders and abundant fisheries must be aware of and adhere to certain fishing regulations. Obtaining a fishing license is the first step, and other statewide regulations are discussed further down this page.




If you’re looking for a fishing spot in the state of Montana, you can choose from one of the fishing districts that have been designated by the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission.

The Western, Central, and Eastern Fishing Districts are the three most important regions. The Continental Divide divides the Western District from the Central District, and various roads serve as a border between the Central and Eastern Districts. The Western District is divided from the Central District by the Continental Divide, and the Central and Eastern Districts by various roads.

It is necessary to look up the site to see if it is listed as an exception because some areas have specific regulations that are different from the standard ones.


Special license

While both residents and non-residents are eligible to obtain a fishing license, a special license or permit is required for certain methods and species.

Paddlefishing is only permitted if you have purchased a paddlefish tag from the appropriate authority. If you decide to go bull trout fishing, there are no fees to pay, but you will need to fill out a bull trout catch card. Lake Koocanusa, Hungry Horse Reservoir, and the South Fork Flathead River are the only places where bull trout fishing is permitted, and these are the only places where it is permitted.

Other special permits (such as a tribal permit) may be required for fishing on Indian reservations, such as those on the Flathead and Fort Peck reservations.


Western District regulations

When fishing on open water, anglers are permitted to use a single line with two hooks, according to district regulations. A lake or reservoir allows you to use two lines with two hooks each, which is ideal.

The same rules apply to ice fishing as they do for other types of fishing. 144 square inches or 12 inches in diameter is the maximum size of the hole that can be made through the ice in this situation.

The daily bag and possession limit for brook trout is 20 fish per person, per day. When fishing on lakes and reservoirs for several other trout species besides bull trout, the daily possession limit is five per person for all bodies of water (lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and streams). When fishing on lakes and reservoirs, the daily possession limit is double the daily amount. Cutthroat trout have the smallest harvest limit, with a daily limit of three fish, while lake trout have the highest harvest limit, with a daily limit of ten fish (20 daily, 40 in possession).

Fishermen in the Western District can fish for trout and salmon in running waters beginning on the third Saturday in May and continuing until the 30th of November. Lakes and reservoirs are accessible throughout the year.

Anglers who choose the Central district as their fishing destination will be able to take advantage of the same regulations that were mentioned above.


Eastern District regulations

Western and eastern districts have a few significant differences in terms of their regulatory regulations, but these differences are minor. One of them has to do with the number of lines and hooks that can be used in running water when fishing. In the rivers and streams of this district, anglers are permitted to use up to 6 lines with a total of 6 hooks per line.

Another significant change in the regulations allows anglers to use a total of six lines with two hooks each when ice fishing, which is a significant improvement. Furthermore, there is no restriction on the size of the hole that you can drill in the ice.

Distinct from the Western District, the daily limit and possession of trout fish are different in the Eastern District. The daily possession limit for brook trout is ten, and the limit for lake trout has been reduced to three.

Generally speaking, the fishing season is open all year long, but there are some exceptions. Medicine Lake, the Missouri River, and Fort Peck Reservoir are just a few of the waterbodies that have specific regulations regarding fishing methods and seasons, among other things.

Besides bass, burbot, crappie, northern pike, paddlefish, salmon, and even sturgeon fishing are available in the state of Montana for a variety of other game fish species.

However, you can harvest up to 5 shovelnose sturgeon per day in the Eastern District if you capture them in the Western District. Sturgeon captured in the Western District must be released right away.