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Montana Fishing Licenses

Montana fishing licenses are required for anglers interested in participating in the sport via the many state-sanctioned fishing areas. Before attempting to take your first catch, there are some Montana fishing license regulations you should make yourself aware of which are set forth by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department (FWP). The type of Montana fishing license you choose will depend on whether you are fishing for sport or for profit. Commercial fishermen, professionals who sell their catch, are subject to more stringent application requirements than are recreational anglers. Additional distinctions between licenses involve your own Montana residency status. Resident fishing licenses come at a reduced fee in comparison with non resident fishing licenses. To establish your residential status with the Montana FWP, you will need to provide proof of residency in the form of a valid Montana driver’s license, a state-issued photo ID or some other form of official correspondence with your Montana address on it. There are a few different methods for buying a fishing license in Montana, including visiting an FWP office, an official license provider or getting a fishing license online through the License Application System that is available on the state agency’s website. Commercial fishing license applications must be submitted in person. For more information on how to get a fishing license in Montana, read the sections below. Getting a fishing license is a process that starts with a choice between the two main types of licenses offered:

  • Recreational fishing licenses
  • Commercial fishing licenses


New Montana Fishing Licenses

Getting a recreational fishing license in Montana requires the submission of a fishing license application either in person or online through the license application system on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website. Prior to submitting your fishing permit application, gather the necessary fee amount as well as documents proving your residency and identity. Nonresidents of Montana can still apply for a fishing license, though the fee for their license will be a bit higher than it is for Montana residents.

The validity periods of Montana fishing permits vary depending on which license to fish you buy. Montana fishing license options include: two-day fishing licenses, 10-day fishing licenses and seasonal fishing licenses.

In most cases, anglers are required to purchase both a conservation license as well as a fishing license, combining both fees. Resident senior citizens who are 62 years old or older need only purchase the conservation license, as the fishing credential is included.

Additional options include free licenses for Montana residents with permanent disabilities (must still purchase conservation license), as well as reduced-rate licenses for blind Montana residents.

Children ages 14 and younger do not need to buy a fishing license, though Montana resident children between 12 and 14 years old must purchase a conservation license. In this case, the fishing license is included with the conservation license purchase.

Concerning where anglers are allowed to fish, the Montana FWP has set the following seasonal guidelines for state waters: the western district is open every third Saturday of the month while the central district is open for fishing all year round, unless otherwise stated. The eastern district of the state is also open for fishing all year long.

Montana fishing licenses must be carried on your person at all times while fishing in state waters. If you are stopped by authorities and cannot provide sufficient licensure, you may be penalized with fines. So ensure that you are properly licensed before heading out to fish.

Montana Commercial Fishing Licenses

While recreational fishing licenses are required for Montana residents to fish for sport, commercial fishing licenses are required for other anglers who sell their catch to the public for profit. You must apply for an MT commercial fishing permit in order to legally sell your product to the public. There are a few types of commercial fishing licenses available in Montana, depending on the primary type of fishing you will be doing. Options include:

  • Fishing ponds: license to sell live fish from a fish pond by the pond’s owner.
  • Hook and line whitefish: license to catch whitefish commercially in Montana’s public waters.
  • Private fish ponds: license to own and control a private fish pond.

Fees for commercial fishing licenses in Montana vary depending on the license type. Once the commercial fishing license application has been completed, submit it to a local FWP office in person, along with the required fee. Upon approval, you will be issued your Montana fishing permit.

Fishing Frequently Asked Questions

Oftentimes you can buy a fishing license through your state’s fishing department website. You will most likely need to create an account on the webpage and have a printer nearby to finalize your transaction. Make sure to also have a valid credit card on hand, as no other form of payment is accepted by state departments online. Take note that, as proof of your residency, you may be required to enter your driver’s license number.
In a general sense, a good number of states offer the following types of fishing licenses: a regular fishing license and a commercial fishing license. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to get a saltwater license to fish, if you are by coastal waters. In addition to these permits, you may be required to buy a fishing stamp, depending on the specific type of fish species you intend to catch.
A regular fishing permit is often valid for the period of a full year. However, you may also have the option to obtain a license to fish that is good for 24 hours or 72 hours, for example. In some instances, a weekly fishing license or a lifetime license may also be available. Lifetime licenses to fish are the most suitable option for those anglers who intend to fish for the duration of their lives. Keep in mind that if you would like to continue fishing after the expiration date of your current licensure, you will be required to get a new permit to fish.
The fees related to a state fishing license may vary, depending on a few factors. But senior residents and military veterans can usually get a fishing license that is free of charge, as long as they can present official documentation that supports their residency or military service. Resident licenses to fish are often more affordable than nonresident licenses. The most costly licenses are for those who would like to get lifetime credentials.
In the event that you have lost your fishing license or it was stolen, the most common way to obtain a duplicate is through your state’s fishing department. You may be required to make an in-person visit to a nearby office or to contact a licensed agent directly. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to order a fishing permit replacement online. But, to be sure, it is important that you double check with your state department first, as you may also need to bring in certain documentation, such as your driver’s license or ID card.
This site is privately owned and is neither affiliated with, nor endorsed by, nor operated by a government agency.