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Fishing Licenses Fees

What Do I Need to Fish in Montana?




Prevention Pass

16 & Older

License Fee

Total Cost


No license required. Must observe all limits and regulations.

Resident 12 - 15


No Fee

$5.00 for

2 consecutive calendar days


$10.50 for season


Resident 16 - 17,

62 and older



$5.00 for

2 consecutive calendar days


$10.50 for season


Resident Disabled18-61



$10.50 for season


Resident 18-61



$5.00 for

2 consecutive calendar days


$21.00 for season




No Fee

$14.00 for

1 calendar day


$56.00 for

5 consecutive calendar days


$100.00 for season


Nonresident 16 and older



$14.00 for

1 calendar day


$56.00 for

5 consecutive calendar days


$100.00 for season


Nonresident Motorized Vessel Prevention Pass

$30 per vessel good through Dec. 31 of each year

Nonresident Non-Motorized Vessel Prevention Pass

$10 per vessel good through Dec. 31 of each year

Resident Sportsman and Nonresident Combination Licenses include a Season Fishing License.

Obtain a License

A valid Fishing License (see license requirements table above) is required for all types of fishing on state waters. To fish in Montana, most anglers needa Conservation License and a Fishing License, and also an AIS Prevention Pass, see table above. You must have your Fishing License in yourpossession while fishing. A license on your smart phone is acceptable.

A Conservation License is needed before you can buy any fishing or hunting license. Conservation License applicants are required to provide the lastfour digits of their social security number in addition to the information usually requested. A valid driver’s license or a valid photo ID is required topurchase a license.

A Fishing License allows a person to fish for and possess any fish or aquatic invertebrate authorized by the state’s fishing regulations. It isnontransferable and nonrefundable. The license enables one to fish from March 1 through the end of February of the following year.

The AIS Prevention Pass is required for all individuals who fish in Montana. This program initiated by the 2017 Montana Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Steve Bullock helps fund the fight against aquatic invasive species in Montana.

Resident Licenses: To qualify for a resident license, a person must meet the criteria set out in MCA 87-2-102 and 202. To be a legal resident eligible topurchase a resident Fishing License, you must have physically been living in Montana for at least 180 consecutive days (six months) immediatelybefore purchasing any resident license; you must file Montana state income tax returns as a resident, if you are required to file; you must haveregistered your vehicles in Montana; if you are registered to vote, you must be registered in Montana; and you may not possess or apply for any resident hunting, fishing or trapping privileges in another state or country. At the time of purchase, a person must present a valid Montana driver’slicense, a valid Montana driver’s examiner’s identification card, or a tribal identification card. If unsure of your residency status, contact a regionalFWP office.

Paddlefish: All anglers must purchase a paddlefish tag to fish for paddlefish. To purchase a tag, all anglers must have a valid Conservation License, anAIS Prevention Pass and a Fishing License. Limit of one paddlefish tag (one fish) per person: Resident - $6.50 each Nonresident - $15 each

Paddlefish harvest only tags will be available via lottery draw ($5 drawing fee) for the Upper Missouri River paddlefish season (White Tag) only.Anglers need to apply individually or as a party (up to five people) before 5p.m. March 23, 2023. See page 77 for specifics on the Upper Missouripaddlefish drawing.

Bull Trout: Hungry Horse Reservoir, Lake Koocanusa and part of the South Fork Flathead River are open for a regulated and experimental bull troutangling season. When fishing for bull trout each angler must have in possession a valid bull trout Catch Card for the specific water he/she isfishing. Anglers may select only one of the following areas: A) Lake Koocanusa, or B) Hungry Horse Reservoir and South Fork Flathead River. SwanLake is open to angling for bull trout without a special permit but no harvest is allowed. All other waters are closed to intentional angling for bull trout year around.

Catch Cards are free of charge and are available at the FWP Region 1 office in Kalispell and at the U.S. Forest Service Spotted Bear RangerStation. Applications for a catch card are available at the FWP Region 1 office or online at fwp. Completed applications must be presented at the regional headquarters or mailed to FWP bull trout Permit, 490 North Meridian, Kalispell MT 59901.

Free Fishing Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Weekends

May 13-14 and June 17-18, 2023.

By Montana law, each year on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day weekends any person (resident or nonresident) may fish for any fish within this state without obtaining a Fishing License as long as they abide by the seasons, restrictions, and bag limits listed in these Fishing Regulations. The twoexceptions to this are paddlefish and bull trout fishing, both of which require the purchase of a Conservation, Fishing, and AIS PreventionLicenses. Fishing for paddlefish also requires a paddlefish tag. A catch card is required to fish for bull trout.

Montana Resident With Disability: Montana FWP seeks to ensure that its programs, services and activities are accessible to persons with disabilities.Montana FWP provides many representative recreational opportunities. To learn more or to request modifications or accommodations relative to a disability,contact FWP at 406-444-2449.

  • Resident Person With a Disability must purchase a Conservation License - $8, an AIS Prevention Pass - $2 and a Fishing License - $10.50. Toqualify a person must be permanently and substantially disabled. Applications are available on the FWP website however, they can only becertified at a regional FWP office or by mail.
  • Lifetime Fishing License for the Blind - $10 plus an annual $2 AIS Prevention Pass. Visit the FWP website for an application.

Veterans Administration Patients: Permits are available for patients residing at VA hospitals and residents of state institutions, except the state penitentiary. These free permits are available on-site at the VA hospital or state institution. Contact Enforcement at 406-444-2452.

Legion of Valor: A Conservation License allows both residents and nonresidents, regardless of age, to fish. Legion of Valor membership card required to qualify. Available only at FWP offices.

Care Facility: The manager or director of an eligible facility licensed in Montana may apply for permission to take supervised residents fishing during activities approved by the facility. Licensed facilities include long-term care, personal care, home for persons with developmental disabilitiesand home for persons with severe disabilities. Contact Enforcement 406-444-2452.

Education Exemptions: Free Fishing License exemptions are available for qualified educational events and fishing clinics. For information on these free educational exemptions, call 406-444-9943.

Purple Heart: Residents who have been awarded a Purple Heart, regardless of age, may fish and hunt upland game birds with a ConservationLicense issued by the Department.

  • Nonresidents who have been awarded a Purple Heart, regardless of age, may fish and hunt upland game birds with a Conservation License issued by theDepartment during expeditions arranged by a nonprofit organization that uses fishing and hunting as part of rehabilitation.
  • Verification of Purple Heart and DD 214 Form required to qualify. Residents only available at FWP offices. Nonresidents only available at FWPHeadquarters in Helena.

Other Statewide Permit Requirements

State School Trust Lands: Your Conservation License provides anglers, hunters, and trappers access to legally accessible State School Trust Lands forfishing and hunting. Other recreational activities such as hiking and bird watching still require the $10 State Lands Recreational Use Permit. Theseactivities cannot, by federal statute, be covered by the Conservation License. Additional information regarding the rules, regulations, and restrictions governing these activities is available from FWP or contact DNRC at 406-444-2074.

  • On lands outside designated campgrounds there is a two-day camping limit.
  • Motorized travel is only allowed on public roads or on designated roads.
  • No open fires are allowed except in designated campground fire pits. Contained mechanical heat sources are allowed.

Aquatic Invertebrates - Crayfish/Mussels: A valid Fishing License is required to harvest crayfish for personal use (see “License/PermitRequirements” for specific license requirements). Crayfish may be taken in traps no larger than 24x12x12 inches. Freshwater mussel harvest orpossession is prohibited in the Western and Central Fishing Districts. Mussels may be harvested for personal use in the Eastern Fishing District only.No Fishing License is required to harvest mussels.

Commercial Collection of Aquatic Invertebrates and Mussels: Persons wishing to collect aquatic invertebrates (such as leeches and aquatic insects) for sale or commercial distribution should contact their regional FWP office for information. In accordance with the Administrative Rules ofMontana, Section 12.2.501, it is unlawful to take or possess freshwater mussels or their shells for sale or commercial distribution. Commercial FishingLicenses

Bait Fish Seining: Commercial Harvest, $10 Fee

  • Contact regional FWP offices for a Bait Fish Seining License and a list of waters open to commercial seining: $10 fee per year.
  • A Bait Fish Seining License is required:
    • For persons 15 years of age or older to seine for or trap and transport bait fish for commercial purposes in Montana;
    • For any person who seines or traps for or has in his/her possession more than 24 dozen non-game bait fish.
  • Non-game bait fish (fathead minnow, flathead chub, western silvery minnow, plains minnow, emerald shiner, longnose dace, lake chub, creekchub, longnose sucker, and white sucker) may be harvested commercially and transported in accordance with Administrative Rules ofMontana (ARM) Section 12.7.201-12.7.206. See pages 87-88 for live bait fish identification. Live bait fish or leeches may not be imported into Montana for commercial or otherpurposes unless authorized by FWP. Bait fish may not be exported without FWP authorization. Call 406-452-6181 or go online at more information.

Commercial Whitefish Fishing: A permit is required to sell whitefish.

  • Hook and Line Permits: Whitefish may be taken by hook and line for sale in the following waters-Flathead Lake north of the Flathead Reservation boundary, Flathead River north of Flathead Lake, Fisher River, Kootenai River, and Whitefish Lake.
  • Net/Seine Permits: Whitefish may be taken from the Kootenai River and tributaries (within one mile of the Kootenai River). Application required; fee is $200 plus a $1,000 bond per year.

Fishing Contests: A permit from FWP is required for most fishing contests. Contact your local FWP office for information and an application or download an application from the FWP website.

Hoop Net Fishing Permit: A permit is required to use hoop nets. Permits are only available in the Eastern Fishing District. Contact FWP offices inBillings, Glasgow or Miles City for information.

Import Permits for Fish: A permit is required to import live fish into Montana. Contact the FWP Fish Health Lab in Great Falls at 406-452-6181or download an application from the FWP website.

Indian Reservations and Tribal Lands: Certain waters on Indian reservations and tribal lands may have special rules and permits. Specific information should be obtained from Reservation headquarters.

  • The State of Montana and Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes have entered into a cooperative agreement on the Flathead Reservation. Atribal permit is required to fish on waters within the exterior boundary of the reservation. Call tribal headquarters at 406-675-2700 forinformation.
  • The State of Montana and the Fort Peck Tribes have entered into a cooperative agreement on the Fort Peck Reservation. A tribal permit is required to fish on waters within the exterior boundary of the reservation. Call tribal headquarters at 406-768-5305 for information.
  • A State of Montana Fishing License is required to fish on the Bighorn River inside the boundaries of the Crow Reservation. A tribal permit isnot required. National Parks: Certain waters within National Parks have special rules. Specific information may be obtained from the parkheadquarters. For Glacier National Park, call 406-888-7800 and for Yellowstone National Park, call 307-344-7381.

Off–Highway Vehicles (OHVs): ResidentsOHVs (ATV, UTV, dirtbike) must be registered and display a current off-highway decal to be used for off-road recreation on public lands (trails, frozen lakes, reservoirs) and a two year $20 Resident Trail Pass for use on designated roads and trails. To be used onroads (county, state highways, etc.), an OHV must have a license plate and street-legal modifications. Register your OHV with the county Treasurer.Nonresidents OHVs registered in another state must purchase a nonresident permit to operate (anywhere) in Montana. Permits are good forone calendar year, cost $35 and can be purchased from local vendors ( or online at Contact Montana State Parks OHV Program at 406-444-3750 with questions.

Private Fish Ponds – License Requirements, $10 application fee: A person who owns or lawfully controls a private fish or ornamental pondmay obtain a license from FWP to stock the pond with fish. Only lawfully purchased fish may be planted. Contact your local FWP office for moreinformation and an application or download the application from the FWP website. No Fishing License is required to fish on licensed, privatelystocked fish ponds. Fishing License requirements apply to all other ponds and/or waters on private land.

Koi and Goldfish Ponds: must be registered with FWP. Registration forms are available online at or from allFWP offices. There is no fee for registering a pond.

Unattended Fishing Devices: Any unattended fishing device (crayfish traps, minnow traps, fish traps, setlines, etc.) must have the angler’s nameand phone number or an individual identifying number issued by the department attached to it.