Montana

10 Fishing Charters

Montana Fishing Charters

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Top Fishing Charters in Montana


Montana fishing trips are great for anglers of all skill levels. There is year-round fishing here, and with 26 rivers, 30 large lakes, hundreds of small lakes, and countless tributaries, it’s no wonder that many Trout rivers in Montana have been awarded the acclaimed blue-ribbon status.

The Treasure State earned its nickname for the undisturbed waters, mountain ranges, and species of both native and non-native fish that call these waters home. In the mountain lakes, you can find both Golden Trout and Arctic Grayling. In fact, this is one of the few states where you can find Arctic Grayling, making it quite prestigious.

Fishing Spots

The geography of Montana offers a diversity for fishing rarely seen in one state. In some rivers, you can find both warmwater and coldwater species. This provides a lot of excitement and fun for anglers who head up to this northern state. Choose to go fishing the lakes in Montana, or spend your vacation fly fishing

Northern Region

There are a lot of lakes and rivers to choose from in the northern parts of Montana. As well as the major ones mentioned below, you can also fish at Kootenai River, Lake Elwell, Fresno Reservoir, Koocanusa, Mary Ronan, McGregor Lake, Swan Lake, and Whitefish Lake, among others. Up north, mountains and forests mix seamlessly with towns and resorts, making it a great spot for a fishing vacation.

Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake is huge – the shoreline itself covers 185 miles. Top catches include Kokanee Salmon, Yellow Perch, Mountain Whitefish, and Lake Trout. A whopping 40 lb Trout has been recorded from this lake. For Salmon, head toward Big Arm and Elmo Bay, whereas for Trout you’ll want to head toward Skidoo Bay and in the Angel area.

Swan Lake

Swan Lake is a great example of where warmwater and coldwater species can meet in one body of water. This deep lake is 10 miles long, and holds Cutthroat Trout, Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Mountain Whitefish, Northern Pike, and Yellow Perch.

Missouri River

A magnificent blue-ribbon Trout fisher runs from Holter Dam to Cascade. These 90 miles are heavily fished, and are notorious for their large Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout. Past Cascade you’ll find more Walleye than Trout, and further still you’ll catch Yellow perch, Channel Catfish, Burbot, and Sauger.

Canyon Ferry Lake

Unlike other isolated lakes in this area, Canyon Ferry Lake is just 15 miles from Helena, making it popular with locals – you’ll see them out and about during the warm weather. It’s a huge lake too, over 35 miles long. That’s plenty of space for Rainbow Trout, Yellow Perch, Smallmouth Bass, Mountain Whitefish, Northern Pike, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, and Walleye.

Eastern Region

The eastern side of Montana is known for more warmwater species, such as Walleye, Catfish, and Smallmouth Bass.

Fort Peck Reservoir

Running for 130 miles, this reservoir is a great spot for Walleye, as well as 40 other species of fish. These include Channel Catfish, Northern Pike, Crappie, Smallmouth Bass, Lake Trout, Sauger, and Yellow perch. A trip here will get you off the beaten path and in record-breaking waters.

Bighorn River

Another top spot for big Brown and Rainbow Trout is Bighorn River. You need to keep an eye on where you are, as this river runs through the Crow Indian Reservation, which anglers aren’t permitted to fish. There’s plenty of space where you are allowed to fish, however – 461 miles of river in fact! It’s still best to fish with a guide who knows where the fishing borders are.

Southern Region

As the saying goes, it’s quality, not quantity, and this really encapsulates fishing in the south of Montana. The lakes here are great for fly fishing, and many freeze over and can be used for ice fishing in the winter.

The Yellowstone River

Flowing from Yellowstone National Park, this is the longest free-flowing river in the US, running over 670 miles and winding its way through three states (Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming.) There are plenty of tributaries to fish too, such as Shields, Boulder, and Stillwater River. There are some deep sections along the river, especially up to Yankee Jim Canyon, great for Rainbow, Cutthroat, and Brown Trout. After the “big bend” at Livingstone, the river becomes better suited for fly fishing for Trout. Past Billings, expect to see warmwater species such as Walleye, Paddlefish, Sauger, Catfish, Burbot, and Northern Pike.

Clark Canyon Reservoir

This 5,000 acre reservoir is heavily stocked each year with large and aggressive Rainbow Trout. It’s known for its excellent Trout. These waters are also excellent for fly fishing. You can reach this reservoir just off of Interstate 15.

Big Hole River

Surrounded by mountains and flowing for 150 miles is another blue-ribbon Trout river. The Big Hole River offers great fishing for Arctic Grayling in the upper mountain tributaries. Here you’ll also find Brook and Cutthroat Trout. Lower down you’ll find Rainbow and Brown Trout. If you’re fly fishing, head over during the hatch of spring salmonfly in June for an excellent trip.

Other top fisheries in southern Montana include Georgetown Lake, Gallatin River, Beaverhead River, Jefferson River, and Ruby River.

Western Region

The film “A River Runs Through It” made the Blackfoot River in western Montana famous. It has since had illegally stocked Northern Pike put into it, and sees a lot of tourists. Although you might want to swing by here, avid anglers will want to continue on.

Rock Creek

This 50-mile-long creek is a tributary of Clark Fork River, but is vastly different. With a blue-ribbon status, Rock Creek will see you reeling in Brook, Bull, Brown, Rainbow, and Cutthroat Trout. Head over in June to catch the salmonfly hatch.

Montana Fishing Tips

  • The snow run-off is very important in Montana, and vastly changes the water levels of rivers and lakes. During the run-off season, use stronger leads for best results. Check with your guide about areas affected.

  • Good colors to use for lures when ice fishing are black, silver, pink, gold, and orange. Anglers can only have two lines in the water at once when ice fishing in Montana.

  • Vertical jigging is a popular technique in Montana. Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, and minnows work well as bait. In Montana, it’s illegal to use Trout, Salmon, or Whitefish as bait.

Need to Know

The weather can reach highs of 86°F and lows of 15°F. Dress for the weather and you’ll be able to fish year-round comfortably.

Ask your guide about Hoot Owl regulations – these will prevent fishing on some rivers after 2:00 p.m.

Regulations

You will need a license when fishing in Montana. Depending on where you choose to fish will change the price of your license. Keep your license on you at all times. On most waters, you’ll also need a Conservation License.

Check with your guide if you need an additional Bull Trout Catch Card or a Paddlefish tag.

It’s time to book a fishing trip in Montana for the adventure of your life. You’ll come back time and time again, captivated by the natural beauty and bountiful lakes and rivers.

Montana
Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 4.86
Based on 23651 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

January

This can be the coldest month, with temperatures as low as 15°F. Don’t let that deter you, join in an ice fishing derby, they’re held across the state!

February

Join the Sportsmen’s Compass National Ice Fishing Contest, held in all legal waters. On land, watch the dog sled race in Whitefish.

March

This is the last month for many ice fishing derbies. Temperatures can reach highs of 47.6°F, so head to northern Montana if you’re craving colder weather.

April

This is a great month for Rainbow Trout, as they begin to spawn. Salmonfly nymphs hatch now, perfect for fly anglers.

May

May is a great month for catching Trout, and you’ll be happy to know there’s not too much fishing pressure across Montana. This is usually the last month for snow run-off.

June

A salmonfly hatch is a delicious meal for Trout, who come to the surface to feast. Anglers will have an easy time fishing in June.

July

This is peak fishing time, so arrive early to get the good spots. Join in the Women's Fishing Tournament at Fort Peck.

August

Fishing is still great across the board. Celebrate “Huckleberry Days” in Whitefish, a festival featuring food, a huge art show, and lots of events.

September

Join in the North American Indian Alliance Powwow – an annual celebration, with dancing, food, and music. There’s another hatch in September, making this a great fly fishing month.

October

Brown Trout will begin to get ready to spawn. Use streamers when fly fishing for best results.

November

As it gets colder, the fish get less active. Head out between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., when the waters are warmest.

December

Spend December ice fishing the lakes for Trout, or head into town for Christmas celebrations.

 

Montana Fishing Calendar

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Just watch out for the rising temperatures in August. The Flathead River was amazing!
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Just watch out for the rising temperatures in August. The Flathead River was amazing!
Doug  S.
Doug S. Knoxville, TN
YES, by all means. This is an absolutely beautiful River to enjoy a trip on. There are no water traps that might endanger you or a loved one. Ricks expert guiding will provide an exceptional experience long to be remembered!
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
YES, by all means. This is an absolutely beautiful River to enjoy a trip on. There are no water traps that might endanger you or a loved one. Ricks expert guiding will provide an exceptional experience long to be remembered!
Ter  H.
Ter H. Dillon, Montana

Wild Montana Anglers
Wild Montana Anglers
Fishing charter in Columbia Falls
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 6 reviews
Will did an amazing job for my wife and myself. We are beginners to fly fishing and he taught us everything we needed to know and gave us many opportunities to catch fish. Great experience and can’t wait to go back again!
Blane  H.
Blane H. Midland, TX
River Knight Outfitters
River Knight Outfitters
Fishing charter in Wolf Creek
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 8 reviews
I fished the Missouri River with Rick and had an amazing time. He put me on a lot of fish and big fish. He's He's great guy and a good instructor. I am already planning a return trip.
Craig  S.
Craig S. Bozeman, Montana
River Knight Outfitters
River Knight Outfitters
Fishing charter in Wolf Creek
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 8 reviews
the fishing was tough but excellent. both Rick and Steve were knew the river like the back of their hand. They also had full knowledge of the insect life. Both were helpful and enthusiastic I could not recommend them more
Scott  G.
Scott G. Emigrant, Montana
River Knight Outfitters
River Knight Outfitters
Fishing charter in Wolf Creek
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 8 reviews
Absolutely the best guided trip I have ever been on we caught 40+18 to 20 inch rainbows and browns cannot recommend him highly enough
Louie  K.
Louie K. United States
River Knight Outfitters
River Knight Outfitters
Fishing charter in Wolf Creek
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 8 reviews
Rick Knight is a great guide,,,very courteous and passionate about his job,,Highly recommend,,
Roger  P.
Roger P. Philipsburg, Montana
River Knight Outfitters II
River Knight Outfitters II
Fishing charter in Wolf Creek
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 1 reviews
Great experience. Mark was very accommodating and personable. Fun trip catching trout! Will definitely fish with this guide service again.
Russ  I.
Russ I. Scottsdale, AZ
River Knight Outfitters
River Knight Outfitters
Fishing charter in Wolf Creek
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 8 reviews
It was a beautiful sunny morning and my guide Rick Knight had me on the fish, strong, acrobatic, bright and beautiful Rainbows, 18 to 24". What a privilege, and challenge to land these fish. I have been fly fishing for many years, this was one of the best days on the water I've had. This trip had it all including, a great lunch, great conversation, wrapped in beautiful scenery! These guys are the best!
Karl  K.
Karl K. Dillon, Montana
Wild Montana Anglers
Wild Montana Anglers
Fishing charter in Columbia Falls
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 6 reviews
Great day on the water! 15 1/2” right as soon as we got on the water! Lots of hits. Great experience!
Jason  W.
Jason W. Gray, GA
Fishtales Outfitting
Fishtales Outfitting
Fishing charter in Sheridan
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 6 reviews
Great day on the Big Hole with Troy. Great fishing, great company, and lunch to boot! Excellent overall.
Darryl  P.
Darryl P. Ennis, MT

FAQs about Fishing Charters in Montana

To give you an idea of how much a fishing trip in Montana costs, the average price for a 4 hour private trip is $455, while an 8 hour private trip will cost you $604. These prices are based on trips booked on our site recently.

Prices will vary depending on trip length, fishing technique, as well as the type and size of the boat you booked. However, to give you an indication, the average boat size in Montana is 15 ft and the most common vessel type is a Drift boat.

According to customer reviews, River Knight Outfitters II, River Knight Outfitters, and River Knight Outfitters III are some of the most popular fishing charters in Montana. Full list of top fishing charters in Montana.

River Knight Outfitters II, River Knight Outfitters, and River Knight Outfitters III all received great reviews from families who booked fishing trips in Montana.

The best way to experience fishing in Montana is to book a private charter with a licensed fishing guide. See the full list of charters available for online booking here: List of fishing charters in Montana.

The most popular fish species you can target are Rainbow Trout (Steelhead), Brown Trout, and Cutthroat Trout. Top fishing techniques include fly fishing, drift fishing, and light tackle. River fishing, lake fishing, and inshore fishing are commonly offered by local guides.

Spend December ice fishing the lakes for Trout, or head into town for Christmas celebrations.   Check availability for local fishing charters in Montana.