Fishing in Montana: Your Guide to Resident License Fees and Requirements

Fishing is one of Montana’s most beloved pastimes, offering residents the chance to enjoy the state’s stunning natural beauty while reeling in impressive catches. However, before you can cast your line in Montana’s pristine waters, it’s important to understand the state’s fishing license requirements and fees.

As an expert on Montana fishing regulations, I’m here to break down all the key information residents need to know to legally fish in the Treasure State. While the various license types and associated costs can seem confusing at first, this comprehensive guide will provide the solution, ensuring you have the knowledge to confidently and responsibly enjoy Montana’s incredible fishing opportunities.

Montana Fishing License Basics

valid fishing license is required for anyone 12 years of age or older to fish in Montana’s waters. This license allows you to fish for and possess any fish or aquatic invertebrate authorized by Montana’s fishing regulations. It’s important to note that licenses are nontransferable and nonrefundable.

Most resident anglers will need to obtain two key licenses:

  1. Conservation License: This base license is a prerequisite for purchasing the fishing license. Prices vary based on age, with discounts available for youth and seniors.
  2. Fishing License: The fishing license is available as a full-season license (valid from March 1 through the end of February the following year) or a short-term 2-day license.

In addition to these two primary licenses, all anglers are required to purchase an Angler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass (AISPP). This program, initiated by the Montana Legislature in 2017, helps fund the state’s efforts to combat aquatic invasive species and protect Montana’s waterways.

Resident License Fees

Montana offers several fishing license options tailored to meet the needs of resident anglers of all ages. Here’s a breakdown of the key license fees for the 2023 season:

Conservation License:

  • Resident (ages 12-61): $8
  • Youth (ages 12-17): $4
  • Senior (ages 62+): $4
  • Resident with a Disability: $8

Fishing License:

  • Full Season (March 1 – end of February):
    • Resident (ages 12-61): $21
    • Youth (ages 12-17): $10.50
    • Senior (ages 62+): $10.50
  • 2-Day License:
    • Resident (all ages): $5

Angler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass (AISPP):

  • Resident: $2
  • Resident with a Disability: $2

It’s worth noting that Montana also offers a Resident Sportsman License, which includes a full-season fishing license along with general deer and elk hunting licenses. This comprehensive package is a cost-effective option for residents who enjoy both fishing and hunting.

Special Licenses and Exemptions

Montana provides several special licenses and exemptions to accommodate anglers with unique circumstances:

  • Visually impaired residents can purchase a lifetime fishing license for just $10. This license, available through Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), requires medical certification.
  • Free fishing permits are available for residents of VA hospitals and certain state institutions (excluding the state penitentiary). These permits can be obtained on-site at the respective facilities.
  • Educational fishing events and clinics may qualify for license exemptions. These events must be educational in nature, teaching participants about fish identification, regulations, ethics, techniques, and water safety. They must be conducted under the guidance of an FWP employee or certified instructor and cannot be part of a for-profit activity.
  • Montana residents who have been awarded a Purple Heart can fish with just a Conservation License, providing well-deserved recognition for their service and sacrifice.

Where to Buy a Montana Fishing License

Obtaining your Montana fishing license is a simple and convenient process, with several options available:

  1. Online through the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website: This is the quickest and easiest method, allowing you to purchase and print your license from the comfort of your own home.
  2. In-person at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks license providers throughout the state: FWP has an extensive network of authorized license vendors, making it easy to purchase your license at a location near you.
  3. At local fly shops and sporting goods stores: Many of these businesses are also authorized license providers, offering the added benefit of expert advice and gear recommendations.

When purchasing your license, be prepared to provide identification and proof of residency, such as a Montana driver’s license or tribal identification card. Licenses are valid from March 1 through the end of February the following year, so it’s best to purchase your license early in the season to maximize your fishing opportunities.


Fishing in Montana is an experience like no other, offering the chance to connect with nature, challenge yourself, and create lasting memories with family and friends. By understanding the state’s fishing license requirements and fees, you can ensure that you’re properly licensed and contributing to the conservation of Montana’s incredible fisheries.

As a recap, most resident anglers will need a Conservation License, Fishing License, and Angler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass to legally fish in Montana waters. Special licenses and exemptions are available for certain groups, such as visually impaired residents and Purple Heart recipients. Licenses can be easily purchased online, at FWP license providers, or at local fly shops and sporting goods stores.

It’s crucial to follow all Montana fishing regulations to protect the state’s fish populations and aquatic habitats. By practicing responsible angling, we can help ensure that Montana’s world-class fisheries remain healthy and productive for generations to come.

So what are you waiting for? Get licensed, grab your gear, and head out to experience the unparalleled fishing opportunities Montana has to offer. From the mighty rivers to the serene mountain lakes, there’s no shortage of incredible places to wet a line in Big Sky Country. Tight lines and happy fishing!

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