How to Get a Montana Fishing License: The Complete Guide

As home to pristine rivers, lakes, and streams that offer world-class fly fishing, Montana requires anglers ages 12 and up to have a valid fishing license before casting a line in public waters. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to legally and successfully obtain a Montana fishing license.

Why You Need a Montana Fishing License

Montana’s abundant natural fisheries and thriving populations of trout, salmon, bass, pike, and more draw over 500,000 visiting anglers each year. To maintain these fisheries and fishing opportunities for years to come, the state requires all anglers over 12 to purchase appropriate fishing licenses that help fund conservation efforts.

Not having a valid license can lead to citations, confiscation of gear, and even misdemeanor charges. Don’t let that happen to you! Follow the guidelines here to make sure you are covered.

Who needs a Montana fishing license?

If you plan to fish public waters in Big Sky Country, you need a license if you are:

  • 12 years of age or older, resident or nonresident
  • Fishing for any species (trout, bass, pike, etc.).
  • Fishing with any legal gear (fly rod, spinning rod, cane pole, etc.).

The following groups are exempt from fishing license requirements:

  • Children under 12 years old
  • Disabled veterans when fishing at VA medical facilities
  • Participants at certain educational fishing events and clinics
  • Patients residing at state institutions
  • Blind residents are eligible for lifetime fishing license

So unless you fall under one of those categories, purchase a fishing license before wetting a line in Montana.

Types of Montana Fishing Licenses

Montana offers a variety of fishing license options for both residents and nonresidents. Key choices include:

Nonresident Fishing Licenses

Popular options for visitors to Montana include:

  • 1 day fishing license: $15
  • 2 day fishing license: $30
  • 5-day fishing license: $65
  • Season fishing license: $105

Other nonresident choices include youth, disabled, and military licenses. Visit the Montana FWP website for specifics.

Resident Fishing Licenses

For Montana residents, the main fishing licenses are:

  • 2 day fishing license: $16
  • Season fishing license: $26

Discounted licenses are available for seniors, disabled residents, and youth.

Combination Licenses

For anglers who also plan to hunt game species in Montana, combination fishing and hunting licenses provide an option to cover both activities on one license.

Specialty and Temporary Licenses

Along with regular fishing licenses, be aware that certain species, like sturgeon and bull trout, require special tags or endorsements. Some waters may also require a local permit. Read the regulations carefully!

Where To Buy a Montana Fishing License

Now that you know what type of Montana fishing license you need, here is where to actually purchase one:

  • Online convenient and fast license sales 24/7 through Montana Fish, Wildlife & Park’s automated licensing system.
  • Local vendors: Many fishing shops, hardware stores, outfitters, etc. sell licenses as authorized agents. Support small businesses while getting your license!
  • FWP offices: Purchase at any regional department office.

When buying online or from a vendor, you will generally receive a paper license to sign and carry with you while fishing. Make sure to have it on hand when on the water!

What a Montana Fishing License Costs

Montana fishing license fees help fund fisheries conservation efforts statewide. They are considered to be very reasonably priced compared to other destinations.

Resident license costs:

  • 2 days: $16
  • Season: $26

Nonresident license costs:

  • 1 day: $15
  • 2 days: $30
  • 5 days: $65
  • Season: $105

Discounts are available for seniors, disabled residents, and youth.

Check the Montana FWP license page for specific current rates. Also look into combination licenses, permits for specialty species, and local district special permits.

Understanding Montana Fishing Regulations

Before enjoying some of Montana’s world-famous fishing, be sure you understand and follow all fishing regulations for the waters you are accessing.

Regulations help maintain healthy fisheries and fishing opportunities into the future. Key elements anglers must follow include:

Limits and Legal Gear

  • Species and size limitations
  • Daily and possession limits
  • Legal fishing gear and number of rods
  • Definition of “foul-hooked” fish

Methods and Techniques

  • Hook and line fishing only on open public waters
  • Visible floating devices required for sub-surface gear
  • Restrictions on snagging fish

AIS Prevention

  • Cleaning watercraft between launches
  • Proper disposal of baitfish
  • Compliance with inspection stations

Checks and Special Permits

  • Sturgeon tags
  • Bull trout special permits
  • Some districts require special permits

Regulations can vary by water, so always consult the Montana Fishing Regulations Guide before wetting a line.

Key Takeaways: How to Get a Montana Fishing License

Ready for world-class fly fishing? Here are the key steps:

  • Determine if you need a license. Required for anglers 12 and up
  • Decide which type of license you need—nonresident or resident, season or day, etc.
  • Purchase online, from a vendor, or at the FWP office
  • Review regulations – Check rules for waters you’ll be fishing in.
  • Go fishing! Enjoy the beauty of Montana with peace of mind that you are legally licensed.

With your Montana fishing license in hand, millions of acres of pristine lakes, rivers, and streams await! Contact Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks with any other questions.

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