1. Smith River
The Smith River is one of the most amazing fishing spots in Montana… if you’re lucky enough to get there. Unlike other Montana rivers, anyone who wants to fish the Smith River needs a permit. Each February a drawing for permits is held. If you’re a lucky lottery winner, you’ll be catching brown and rainbow trout that average 14-16 inches long.
2. Yellowstone River
You could fish for decades and still not experience the full potential of the Yellowstone. The longest undammed river in the country is gorgeous, and the fly fishing is great.
3. Two Medicine Lakes
Two Medicine Lakes at Glacier National Park holds a nice variety of brook trout and rainbow trout. It’s open for fishing from November 15 to September 15, so you can try for your catch of the day almost anytime.
4. Lake McDonald
One of the most popular lakes in Glacier National Park also happens to be a great fishing spot. In the spring and early summer you’ll most likely catch lake trout using spinners and streamers. Though they’re a less common catch, you could also end up with a cutthroat.
5. Gallatin River
There’s an abundance of trout in this river, and the summer dry fly fishing is excellent. The Gallatin is great for beginners, especially from June through August.
6. Hyalite Reservoir
This is the place to go to try your hand at catching wild, native fish. You’ll find the Hyalite Reservoir about 19 miles south of Bozeman. But don’t get too attached to the fish you hook—it’s catch and release only.
7. Nelson Reservoir
Fort Peck is one of the most popular fishing spots in Eastern Montana, but there are some other great waters worth exploring. The Nelson Reservoir, which is close to Malta, is full of perch and walleye as well as some lesser known species.
8. Duck Lake
If you love rainbow trout, you’ll love Duck Lake. Located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation east of Glacier National Park, this spot draws anglers from across the country and from Canada.
9. Madison River
The Madison River is ideal for fly fishing, especially the stretch that runs from Quake Lake to Ennis. This area is called the “50 mile riffle,” and it’s nice and wide and shallow.
10. Bitterroot River
Not only is the Bitterroot River beautiful, but it’s one of America’s best trout streams.
11. Ashley Lake
In the 1980s, Ashley Lake yielded a state and world record hybrid rainbow-cutthroat trout. The Kalispell area lake remains a great place for fishing.
12. Bighorn River
This river holds an incredible 6,000 fish per mile, many of which are 20 inches of longer. The fishing is good all year long here, though the summer months are the best and the most popular.
Will you be doing any fishing this year? Where are your favorite Montana fishing spots?