Montana Fishing Season: Discover the Perfect Time to Cast Your Line!

When does fishing season start in Montana?


Montana is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts, offering breathtaking landscapes and an abundance of fish species. If you’re planning a fishing trip to this beautiful state, it’s essential to know when the fishing season starts. In this blog post, we’ll provide all the information you need so that you can plan your visit accordingly.

Fishing Season Dates

The fishing season in Montana varies depending on the region and the type of fish you want to catch. Here are some key dates to keep in mind:

River Fishing

– Western Region: The general trout season typically begins around Memorial Day weekend (late May) and extends until November 30th.
– Central Region: For rivers like the Missouri and Madison, the general trout season usually opens earlier than other areas – around mid-March or early April.
– Eastern Region: Rivers such as Yellowstone and Bighorn often open their trout seasons starting on March 1st.

It’s important to note that specific regulations may apply, including catch limits or certain stretches where special restrictions exist. Always check local regulations before heading out.

Lake Fishing

For lake fishing enthusiasts, different rules apply compared to river angling:

– General Lake Trout Season: Most lakes across Montana follow a similar schedule with their opening day set for Memorial Day weekend (late May). However, always consult local resources or websites for any location-specific variations.
– Ice Fishing: During winter months when lakes freeze over sufficiently thickly for safe access, ice anglers can enjoy pursuing various cold-water species like trout or perch from December through February.

To ensure an enjoyable experience while adhering to conservation efforts, familiarize yourself with regional rules concerning size limits or slot restrictions on particular lakes.

Purchasing Licenses

Before casting your line in Montana’s waters, it’s crucial to obtain the necessary fishing licenses. The state offers both resident and non-resident options, each with their own pricing structures.

Resident Licenses

If you are a Montana resident planning to fish recreationally within the state, you’ll need to purchase a resident fishing license. Yearly licenses cover most seasons from March 1st through February 28th of the following year. Additionally, shorter duration licenses are available for individuals who want to fish for limited periods.

Non-Resident Licenses

Non-residents wishing to enjoy Montana’s fishing opportunities must acquire a non-resident fishing license. Similar to resident licenses, these can be bought for varying durations ranging from two days up to an entire season.

To purchase your license conveniently, visit the official website of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks or authorized vendors throughout the state.

Fishing Regulations

To preserve natural resources and maintain sustainable fisheries in Montana, specific regulations apply statewide:

– Bag Limits: Every angler must adhere to defined catch limits per day for various species.
– Size Restrictions: Certain lakes or rivers may have size restrictions on particular fish species.
– Catch-and-release Policies: In some areas or during certain times of year (such as early spring), anglers may be required or encouraged only to practice catch-and-release methods.

It is essential always to review current regulations before embarking on your trip as they can change over time due to factors like population dynamics or environmental concerns.

Tips for Fishing Season in Montana

Here are some handy tips that will enhance your fishing experience during the season:

1. Research Your Destination: Learn about local rivers and lakes where you plan on fishing; this will help you gain insights into productive techniques and bait choices.
2. Dress Accordingly: Montanan weather can be unpredictable, so come prepared with layered clothing and rain gear.
3. Pack Adequate Supplies: Bring a variety of tackle, extra line, hooks, and other essential fishing gear to adapt to various conditions.
4. Stay Informed: Check local fishing reports or consult with experienced anglers for recent updates on water conditions or successful techniques.
5. Practice Leave No Trace: Respect nature by packing out all your trash and leaving the environment as you found it.


Montana’s fishing season offers an abundance of opportunities for anglers seeking adventure in scenic landscapes. Remember to check specific dates based on the region and type of fishing you wish to engage in before planning your trip. By purchasing the appropriate licenses and adhering to regulations, you’ll ensure a memorable experience while helping preserve Montana’s incredible fisheries for generations to come. Happy angling!