How much does a Montana Fishing License Cost?

A few weekends ago I decided to take my son fishing. Thinking about what I needed to take, I knew I had the fishing gear (besides bait) but I didn’t have a fishing license.

So I started “googling” the cost of a fishing license and how to obtain one.  From there I started to look into the cost of a license, rules, and regulations.

Montana does require a valid fishing license for all types of fishing on its waterways.

So, how much does a Montana fishing license cost? Like many other states, Montana has varying prices for each of the different kinds of licenses depending on types of fishing. Pricing is relatively cheap, $15 for two consecutive days, or $20.50 for an annual license (March through to February).

There are many different types of licenses and regulations that vary for each state. It’s important to keep an eye out on the regulations. They do seem to change from time to time.

If you want to know more about the cost of each license, where and how you can purchase one in Montana, keep reading below.

Cost of Fishing Licenses in Montana

If you under 15 years old you do not require a fishing license.  15 years and above you will need to hold a fishing license.

Anglers will require two licenses, one being a Conservation License and the other a Fishing license.

The license enables one to fish from March 1 through the end of February of the following year.

Annual Sport Fishing Licenses 

Tile Fee
Age 0-11 – No License, Must Observe All Limits and Laws No Fee
12-17, 62 and older, or disabled
$15 for two days
$20.50 for a whole season
Resident Sportsman licenses include a season fishing license.
$15 for two days
$31 for a whole season
12 and older
$56 for two days
$111 for a whole season

License for Montana residents with a disability

Like other states, Montana does provide discounts to disabled residents. These licenses are not available to non-residents.

Title Fee
A resident with a disability $20.50
Lifetime license for the blind $12

Paddlefish Tag

Title Fee
Resident $37-42
Non Resident $126-131

Can I buy a Montana Fish License online?

Fishing licenses can be purchased online from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Alternatively, there are license providers who can sell licenses. Click this link for a list of providers

You can purchase a license through Walmart.  Check out this article detailing how to buy a license from Walmart

To purchase a license from Walmart, you must provide your name, residence address, residency status, (DMV ID, passport, green card, military ID, etc.), date of birth, height, weight, hair color, and eye color.

Processing is immediate, you will receive your fishing license online, which can be printed. The official laminated version will be posted in the mail and should receive within 30 days.

Montana Fishing Regulations 

There are several regulations for fishing the waters of Montana. Here are a few important regulations. There are other important regulations including catch size and limit depending on the specie.

Fishing in Montana you are required to hold a valid fishing license if you are over 15 years old and above.

Rivers and Streams

All fish be taken by angling 1 line with no more than two hooks. The rod or line must be attended and in the angler’s immediate control.

Lakes and Reservoirs

All fish to be taken by angling 2 lines with 2 hooks per line, with or without a rod. The rod or line must be attended and in the angler’s immediate control.

Ice Fishing

All fish to be taken by angling 2 lines with 2 hooks per line, with or without a rod. The rod or line must be attended and in the angler’s immediate control.

In waters not open to spearing, the maximum size hole that may be used for ice fishing is 144 square inches or 12 inches in diameter.

There is no size limit for a hole used for fishing with a spear


Game fish, including Yellow Perch, may not be used as bait except as
authorized below under Dead Bait.

Possession of live fish or use of live fish as bait is prohibited in the Western
Fishing District.

It is unlawful to release live bait of any kind into Montana waters; do not
empty any live bait containers at your fishing site.

Spears and bows count as lines for purposes of determining line limits.

All unattended fishing devices (crayfish traps, minnow traps, fish traps, set lines, etc.) must have the angler’s name and phone number or name and ALS# attached.

If you have any questions or concerns about the rules and regulations for fishing check out the Montana government website for regulations.

Is fishing at night allowed in Montana

Fishing is allowed at all hours during open fishing seasons unless otherwise specified in District Exceptions to Standard Regulations.

General Fishing Regulations 

Being a great angler involves treating fish and the environment respectfully.

Below are some general fishing regulations and tips that apply to any waterway regardless of where you are fishing.

Taking care of fish 

Handle fish as little as possible and only with wet hands. This reduces the removal of fish slime, which protects the fish from infection and aids in swimming.

When holding a fish that has teeth, use a gripping tool to support the front of the fish, and use the other hand under the belly to evenly support the fish’s weight.

Carefully remove the hook if possible. If the fish is gut-hooked or especially large or agitated, cut the line as close to the hook as you can while the fish is still in the water.

Reduce handling by using a dehooking tool. Dehooking tools allow anglers to quickly release their catch while minimizing injuries and handling time.

You should never hold a fish by its jaw, gills or eyes.

Releasing Fish

Always release your fish headfirst into the water. This allows water to be forced through the mouth and over the gills, essentially giving it a “breath of fresh air.”

Using proper gear 

Use tackle that is appropriate for the size and type of fish. For example, light gear can result in a fish dying of exhaustion or stress soon after its release.

A knotless, rubber-coated landing net is ideal when handling a fish since it supports the fish’s body weight.

Stay with your lines, so as you catch a fish you can retrieve it as soon as possible, minimizing stress and injury to the fish.

Disposing of you fish

It’s important to get into the practice to immediately kill the fish you intend on keeping. Many anglers keep the fish in a bucket of water. This causes a slow death to the fish as the water slowly runs out of oxygen.

  1. Dispatch them with a quick blow to the head.
  2. Place the dead fish in an esky or iced areas, out of sunlight.

Practice sustainable fishing practices 

We all have a responsibility to look after our fisheries resources, both for the environment and future fishing generations.

Keep up to date on the fishing regulations. They do change from time to time.

Carefully release undersized or unwanted fish back into the water.

Respect native sites, culture, and values

If you catch noxious species, remember not to return them to the water. Humanely dispose of them,

Always seek permission when entering private property.

Pass on your knowledge and promote sustainable fishing practices.

Important that we leave to protect and restore the environment. Dispose of fishing lines, excess bait, hooks by placing it in bins.

Fish to Catch in Montana

Montana has a large diverse range of fish species. The availability of these fish may depend on seasonality. There are around 85 different species, below is a non-exhaustive list of some of the species found in the freshwaters of Montana.

  • Bull trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch
  • Mountain Whitefish
  • Arctic Grayling
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Trout
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Sauger
  • Northern Pikeminnow
  • Sturgeon
  • White Sucker
  • Burbot
  • Lakewhite fish
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Lake Chub
  • Longnose sucker
  • Chinook Salmon
  • GoldenEye

Final Thoughts 

Fishing in America is one of the most popular sports. For good reason. It can be challenging catching a large fish, it can take patience and there is the enjoyment of being outside in nature.

Going fishing is an inexpensive and fun way to spend time, either by yourself or with friends or family.

Leave a Comment