Fishing in Montana

Last updated on July 17th, 2021 at 03:26 pm. Originally published on July 12th, 2021

Fishing in Montana tops most anglers’ bucket lists. Cast your line on Flathead Lake or in the Paradise Valley — some of the prized destinations for anglers in Big Sky Country. While waiting for a trout to bite, catch a glimpse of the scenic mountains around you or Montana wildlife. Many of the Big Sky Country’s streams and rivers boast some of the finest trout fishing in the U.S. and perhaps the world. Fishing in Montana occurs throughout spring, summer, and fall, depending on your chosen fishing spot. Anyone aged 12 and older needs a fishing license to fish in Montana legally.

A fishing boat ambles down a river surrounded by verdant green forest.

Fishing Spots in Montana

Beaverhead River

Beaverhead River is one of Montana’s good fishing spots. Flowing 69 miles from Clark Canyon Reservoir in Dillon to its meeting point with the Big Hole River at Twin Bridges, the Beaverhead is deep, swift, and challenging to fish. Its best accessible through boats and renowned for brown trout and mountain whitefish.

Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone River teems with a huge trout population. This 692-mile-long river near communities such as Livingstone runs as the longest undammed waterway in the contiguous United States. The river has its source in Yellowstone National Park and meanders north out of Wyoming into Montana as one of the world’s best blue-ribbon fisheries. Rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout make up the majority of fish at this spot.

Big Hole River

A renowned and picturesque trout river, the Big Hole meanders 150 miles via the state’s southern region and tops the list of good fishing spots in Big Sky Country. With its gentle banks back-dropped by snowy peaks and sharp cliffs, the Big Hole is a must-visit destination for anglers searching for unmatched fishing and scenery. It creates the Jefferson River where it meets with the Beaverhead River near Twin Bridges. Upstream, the Big Hole runs through canyons and meadows, offering both float and wade fishing opportunities for brown, cutthroat, brook, and rainbow trout.

Hebgen Lake

If you are looking for where to fish trout in Montana, Hebgen Lake near Bozeman is the perfect destination for you. It offers an ideal summer and winter habitat for many big brown and rainbow trout that migrate from the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. Although it’s challenging to find an excellent shoreline to wade and walk, there are numerous access points where you can launch a boat.

Missouri River

The longest river in North America, the Missouri River, also called “Mo,” is a must-visit location during your RV fishing trip in Montana. Located 30 minutes west of Bozeman, the Missouri River offers trophy trout fishing, particularly for browns that migrate from the lake in October. Most anglers prefer fishing in the 35-mile-long stretch near Holter Dam. Walleye, sauger, smallmouth bass, carp, sunfish, catfish, and largemouth bass are some fish species you can land here.

Madison River

Fishing camping in Montana becomes fantastic when you cast your line in the Madison River. This 183-mile-long fishing spot offers an incredible diversity of water that teems with several trout species, including brown, cutthroat, rainbow, and brook. Its confluence with the Gallatin and Jefferson rivers near Three Forks create the Missouri River. Various sections of this river provide different scenery, hatches, and habitat requiring various fishing techniques, making it feel like a different spot from one location to another.

Hyalite Reservoir

If you want to try your luck at catching wild, indigenous fish, Hyalite Reservoir is the best place for you. Located just 19 miles south of Bozeman, this 206-acre reservoir teems with arctic grayling and cutthroat trout. However, it’s catch-and-release only, so don’t get attached to the fish you land. It’s a perfect place for an overnight trip and picnic with Hood Creek and Chisholm Campgrounds situated on the eastern shore.

Bighorn River

Located near Fort Smith, the Bighorn is one of the state’s most popular tailwater waterways. Here, you can catch a lot of rainbows and browns. The fish here like small flies such as sowbugs, scuds, and small mayfly patterns. It becomes too big to wade across in early summer and spring, so angling from a float tube or boat is usually the best.

Where to Fish in Montana

Bozeman is one of Montana’s best destinations for outdoor activities. The city has excellent cuisine, vibrant culture, and access to internationally renowned fly-fishing. Within a one-hour drive in the area, you will get to some of the finest trout fisheries in the western part of the country. Explore the countless spring creeks, still-water fisheries, and unnamed streams, and you will not have a shortage of opportunities for discovery and exploration. Whether you are a seasoned or beginner angler, Bozeman has something for you.

Camping and Fishing in Montana

Before you head out on your RV fishing trip in Montana, ensure you pack the right gear so that you can get the most out of your angling experience. Montana weather can change rapidly from a chilly morning to a sunny afternoon, so ensure that you have the proper clothing, including polarized sunglasses, a rain shell jacket, a hat, lightweight shirts and pants, and a small backpack, no matter the season. Of course, you need to carry fishing equipment, including lines, hooks, and bait, that will suit the type of fish you anticipate catching. Don’t forget your fishing license. Before you head out on your trip, check out our blog for all you need to know about fishing.

With an RV rental, your fishing trip will be a little more comfortable! After you’ve spent a long day fishing, grill up your catch right at your campsite. Then, retire inside to enjoy all the comforts of home on board your RV. Plan your perfect fishing getaway with an RV rental from RVshare.

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