Montana Nonresident Fishing License 2024: Complete Guide with Fees, Regulations & How to Buy

If you’re planning a fishing trip to Montana in 2024, it’s essential to understand the requirements and regulations for obtaining a nonresident fishing license. Montana is renowned for its pristine rivers, lakes, and streams, offering anglers an opportunity to catch a variety of fish species, including trout, bass, and walleye. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Montana nonresident fishing licenses, including who needs one, the types of licenses available, fees, how to purchase, and important regulations to follow.

Who Needs a Montana Nonresident Fishing License?

All anglers aged 12 and older who are not residents of Montana must obtain a nonresident fishing license to fish in the state’s waters. A nonresident is defined as someone who has not lived in Montana for at least 180 consecutive days immediately prior to purchasing a license. This requirement applies to all types of fishing, including fly fishing, spin fishing, and ice fishing.

There are a few exceptions to this rule:

  • Children under the age of 12 can fish without a license but must be accompanied by an adult with a valid fishing license.
  • Anglers who are enrolled as full-time students at a Montana college or university can purchase a resident fishing license, provided they can prove their student status.

Types of Montana Nonresident Fishing Licenses and Fees

Montana offers several types of nonresident fishing licenses to accommodate different needs and budgets. Here are the main options for 2024:

License TypeFee
2-Day Fishing License$50
10-Day Fishing License$80
Season Fishing License (valid from March 1 to February 28)$110

In addition to these standard licenses, Montana also offers special licenses for specific groups:

  • Nonresident Youth Fishing License (ages 12-17): $10 for a season license
  • Nonresident Disabled Fishing License: $110 for a season license (requires proof of disability)
  • Nonresident Native American Fishing License: $110 for a season license (requires proof of tribal membership)

It’s important to note that these fees are subject to change, so always check the official Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website for the most up-to-date information.

How to Purchase a Montana Nonresident Fishing License

There are several convenient ways to purchase your Montana nonresident fishing license:

  1. Online: Visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website and follow the prompts to purchase your license online. You’ll need to provide personal information, such as your name, address, and date of birth, and pay with a credit card. Once your purchase is complete, you can print out a temporary license to use until your official license arrives in the mail.
  2. By Phone: Call the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks licensing office at 406-444-2950 to purchase your license over the phone. You’ll need to provide the same information as you would for an online purchase.
  3. In Person: Visit any Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks office or authorized license provider (such as sporting goods stores or fly shops) to purchase your license in person. You’ll need to provide a valid photo ID and pay with cash, check, or credit card.

Regardless of how you choose to purchase your license, make sure to carry it with you at all times while fishing, as conservation officers may ask to see it.

Montana Fishing Regulations for Nonresidents

In addition to obtaining a valid fishing license, nonresident anglers must also follow Montana’s fishing regulations to ensure the sustainability of fish populations and maintain the quality of the state’s waters. Here are some key regulations to keep in mind:

  • Daily Limits: Montana has specific daily limits for each fish species, which vary by water body. For example, the daily limit for trout is usually 5 fish per day, with some exceptions. Always check the Montana Fishing Regulations for the most up-to-date information on daily limits for the water body you plan to fish.
  • Possession Limits: Possession limits refer to the maximum number of fish you can have in your possession at any given time, including in the field, in transit, or at home. In Montana, the possession limit is typically twice the daily limit for most species.
  • Catch and Release: Some water bodies in Montana have catch-and-release regulations, meaning you must release all fish caught back into the water unharmed. When practicing catch and release, use barbless hooks and handle fish carefully to minimize stress and injury.
  • Bait Restrictions: In certain waters, the use of live bait or scented lures is prohibited to prevent the spread of invasive species and protect native fish populations. Always check the regulations for the specific water body you plan to fish.
  • Stream Access: Montana has a unique stream access law that allows anglers to access rivers and streams from public access points, even if they flow through private property. However, anglers must stay within the ordinary high-water marks and cannot cross private property to access a stream without permission.

Exceptions: When You Don’t Need a Montana Nonresident Fishing License

There are a few situations where you may not need a Montana nonresident fishing license:

  • Free Fishing Days: Montana typically offers a few “free fishing days” each year, during which anyone can fish without a license. These dates vary from year to year, so check the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website for the most up-to-date information.
  • Private Ponds: If you’re fishing in a private pond that is not connected to any other water body and is entirely on private property, you may not need a fishing license. However, it’s always best to check with the property owner to ensure you have permission to fish.
  • Tribal Waters: If you’re fishing on tribal waters within a reservation, you may need to obtain a separate tribal fishing license instead of a Montana nonresident license. Contact the specific tribal fish and wildlife department for more information.

Conclusion

Obtaining a Montana nonresident fishing license is a straightforward process that allows anglers from outside the state to enjoy some of the best fishing opportunities in the country. By understanding the different types of licenses available, fees, purchasing options, and regulations, you can ensure a safe, legal, and enjoyable fishing experience in Montana’s beautiful waters.

Remember to always check the official Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website for the most up-to-date information on licenses, fees, and regulations, as they are subject to change from year to year. With a valid license and a respect for Montana’s fishing regulations and natural resources, you’ll be well on your way to an unforgettable angling adventure in Big Sky Country.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I buy a paper license?

Paper licenses can be purchased in person at local vendors including sporting goods stores, hardware stores, large retailers like Walmart, fly fishing shops, etc.

Can I fish without a license on tribal reservations?

Tribal lands may have special fishing rules and permits. Contact the specific reservation headquarters for regulations before fishing those waters.

What if I lose my license?

Licenses can be reprinted from your online account. Be sure to save or take a photo of your license for backup.

Are there combination hunting/fishing licenses?

Yes, nonresident combination licenses that include fishing, hunting, and bird licenses can be purchased. See combination license options and fees.

Where does the license revenue go?

License revenue supports fisheries management and maintenance of fishing access sites across Montana.

Do I need a separate license to fish on Montana’s Indian reservations?

Yes, if you plan to fish on tribal waters within a reservation, you may need to obtain a separate tribal fishing license instead of a Montana nonresident license. Contact the specific tribal fish and wildlife department for more information on licensing requirements and regulations.

Can I fish with live bait in Montana?

The use of live bait is allowed in some Montana waters but prohibited in others to prevent the spread of invasive species and protect native fish populations. Always check the regulations for the specific water body you plan to fish to determine if live bait is permitted.

What are the possession limits for nonresident anglers in Montana?

Possession limits vary by fish species and water body, but they are typically twice the daily limit. For example, if the daily limit for trout is 5 fish, the possession limit would be 10 fish. Always check the Montana Fishing Regulations for the most up-to-date information on possession limits.

Can I use my Montana nonresident fishing license in Yellowstone National Park?

No, a Montana nonresident fishing license is not valid in Yellowstone National Park. To fish in the park, you’ll need to obtain a separate Yellowstone National Park fishing permit, which is available at ranger stations and visitor centers within the park.

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