Fishing Requirements in Montana

Age Requirements

  • 0-11: No license required. Must observe all limits and regulations.
  • Resident 12-15: $4.00 for a 2-day license, $10.50 for the season.
  • Resident 16-17, 62 and older: $11.00 for a 2-day license, $10.50 for the season.
  • Resident Disabled 18-61: $20.50 for the season.
  • Resident 18-61: $15.00 for a 2-day license, $21.00 for the season.
  • Nonresident 12-15: $24.00 for a 1-day license, $110.00 for the season.
  • Nonresident 16 and older: $31.50 for a 1-day license, $117.50 for the season.

Conservation License

  • Required for Residents: Fees vary based on age and residency status.
  • Nonresidents: Fees vary based on age.

AIS Prevention Pass

  • Nonresident Motorized Vessel: $30 per vessel, valid until Dec. 31.
  • Nonresident Non-Motorized Vessel: $10 per vessel, valid until Dec. 31.

Total Cost

  • Varies: Depending on age, residency, and duration of the license.
  • Resident Sportsman and Nonresident Combination Licenses: Include a Season Fishing License.

How to Obtain a Fishing License in Montana

To fish in Montana, anglers must obtain the necessary licenses and passes. Here's what you need to know:

Fishing License Requirements

  1. Fishing License: All anglers must have a valid Fishing License in their possession while fishing. This license is nontransferable and nonrefundable.

  2. Conservation License: Required before purchasing any fishing or hunting license. Applicants must provide the last four digits of their social security number and a valid driver’s license or photo ID.

  3. AIS Prevention Pass: Mandatory for all individuals fishing in Montana. Funds from this pass support the fight against aquatic invasive species.

Residency Criteria

  • To qualify for a resident license, individuals must meet specific criteria outlined in the Montana Code. This includes residing in Montana for at least 180 consecutive days, filing state income tax returns as a resident, registering vehicles in Montana, and more.

Additional Permits

  • Paddlefish Tag: Required for fishing for paddlefish. Available for purchase with a valid Conservation License, AIS Prevention Pass, and Fishing License.

  • Bull Trout Catch Card: Mandatory for fishing for bull trout in certain areas. Available for free at designated offices.

Free Fishing Weekends

  • Mother’s Day and Father’s Day weekends (May 13-14 and June 17-18, 2023) allow fishing without a license, except for paddlefish and bull trout fishing.

Special Considerations

  • Montana Resident With Disability: Special licenses available for permanently and substantially disabled residents.

  • Veterans Administration Patients: Free permits for patients residing at VA hospitals and state institutions.

  • Legion of Valor: Allows fishing for residents and nonresidents with a membership card.

  • Education Exemptions: Free exemptions for qualified educational events and fishing clinics.

  • Purple Heart Recipients: Residents and nonresidents awarded a Purple Heart can fish and hunt with a Conservation License.

Statewide Permit Requirements in Montana

When fishing in Montana, certain permits and licenses are required, along with adherence to specific regulations. Here's what you need to know:

Access to State School Trust Lands

  • Conservation License: Provides access to legally accessible State School Trust Lands for fishing and hunting.

  • State Lands Recreational Use Permit: Required for recreational activities like hiking and birdwatching on these lands. Not covered by the Conservation License.

Camping and Travel Regulations

  • Camping: Outside designated campgrounds, there's a two-day camping limit.

  • Motorized Travel: Only permitted on public or designated roads.

  • Fire Regulations: Open fires are prohibited except in designated campground fire pits; contained mechanical heat sources are allowed.

Aquatic Invertebrates and Mussels

  • Crayfish Harvest: Requires a valid Fishing License and may be taken in traps no larger than specified dimensions.

  • Mussel Harvest: Prohibited in certain fishing districts, allowed for personal use in others.

Commercial Collection and Fishing

  • Bait Fish Seining License: Required for commercial harvest, with a fee per year. Specific regulations apply to non-game bait fish harvesting and transportation.

  • Whitefish Fishing Permits: Required for commercial collection and sale. Different permits apply to hook and line fishing versus net/seine fishing.

Fishing Contests and Special Permits

  • Fishing Contests: Require a permit from FWP. Contact local offices for information and application.

  • Hoop Net Fishing Permit: Needed for using hoop nets, available only in the Eastern Fishing District.

Additional Permit Requirements

  • Import Permits for Fish: Necessary to import live fish into Montana.

  • Indian Reservations and Tribal Lands: Special rules and permits may apply, depending on the jurisdiction.

Off–Highway Vehicles (OHVs)

  • Residents: OHVs must be registered and display current off-highway decals. Additional permits are required for designated roads and trails.

  • Nonresidents: OHVs registered in another state must purchase a nonresident permit to operate in Montana.

Private Fish Ponds

  • License Requirements: A license from FWP is needed to stock private fish ponds with lawfully purchased fish. Fishing on licensed, privately stocked ponds doesn't require a Fishing License.

Unattended Fishing Devices

  • Identification Requirement: Any unattended fishing device must have the angler's name and phone number or an individual identifying number issued by the department attached to it.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.