Montana, known as “Big Sky Country,” offers some of the best fishing opportunities in the United States. From crystal-clear mountain lakes to vast prairie rivers, the state is a paradise for anglers. However, before you can cast your line, you need to obtain a valid fishing license. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about obtaining a Montana fishing license in 2024, including types of licenses, costs, purchasing methods, and state-specific regulations.

Who Needs a Fishing License?

In Montana, anyone aged 12 and older is required to have a fishing license to fish in state waters. This applies to both residents and non-residents. Children under 12 can fish without a license but must adhere to all fishing regulations.

Types of Fishing Licenses

Resident Licenses

  1. Base Fishing License:
  • Full Season: $21
  • 2-Day Short-Term: $5
  • Youth (12-17) Full Season: $10.50
  • Senior (62+) Full Season: $10.50
  • Resident with Disability Full Season: $10.50
  1. Conservation License:
  • Required before purchasing any fishing or hunting license.
  • Cost: $8 for adults, $4 for youth (12-17) and seniors (62+).
  1. Angler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass (AISPP):
  • Cost: $2

Non-Resident Licenses

  1. Base Fishing License:
  • Full Season: $100
  • 1-Day Short-Term: $14
  • 5-Day Short-Term: $56
  1. Conservation License:
  • Cost: $10
  1. Angler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass (AISPP):
  • Cost: $7.50

Special Licenses

  1. Resident with a Disability Conservation License:
  • Cost: $4
  • AISPP: $2
  • Fishing License: $10.50
  1. Lifetime Fishing License for the Blind:
  • Cost: $10 plus an annual $2 AISPP
  1. Veterans Administration Patients:
  • Free permits available for patients residing at VA Hospitals and state institutions (except the state penitentiary).
  1. Legion of Valor Members:
  • A Conservation License allows both residents and non-residents, regardless of age, to fish.

Costs and Fees

The cost of fishing licenses in Montana varies based on residency status, age, and the duration of the license. Here is a breakdown of the costs:

License TypeResident CostNon-Resident Cost
Conservation License$8 (Adults), $4 (Youth 12-17, Seniors 62+)$10
AIS Prevention Pass$2$7.50
Base Fishing License (Full Season)$21$100
Base Fishing License (2-Day)$5$14 (1-Day), $56 (5-Day)
Youth (12-17) Full Season$10.50N/A
Senior (62+) Full Season$10.50N/A
Resident with Disability Full Season$10.50N/A

Purchasing Methods


You can purchase your Montana fishing license online through the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) website. The process is straightforward, and you can print your license immediately after purchase.


Licenses can also be purchased at various licensed providers throughout the state, including fly shops, sporting goods stores, and FWP offices. It’s recommended to buy your license in advance, especially during peak fishing seasons.

Mobile App

Montana’s MyFWP app provides a convenient way to store and display your fishing licenses digitally. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices and allows you to access your licenses even without cellular service.

Required Documentation

When applying for a fishing license, you will need to provide:

  • A valid driver’s license or photo ID
  • The last four digits of your social security number
  • Proof of residency (for resident licenses)

License Validity Periods

Fishing licenses in Montana are valid from March 1 through the last day of February the following year. Short-term licenses are valid for the specified number of consecutive days from the date of purchase.

State-Specific Regulations

Montana has specific regulations that vary by water body and fish species. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with these regulations to ensure compliance. Key regulations include:

  • Catch and Release: Some rivers, like the Madison River, are strictly catch-and-release.
  • Fishing Methods: Certain fishing methods, such as the use of barbed hooks, may be restricted in specific areas.
  • Special Permits: Fishing for species like Paddlefish and Bull Trout requires additional permits.

Conservation Efforts

Fishing license fees in Montana support various conservation initiatives, including habitat restoration, fish population management, and public access to fishing areas. By purchasing a license, you contribute to the preservation of Montana’s rich fishing heritage.


Obtaining a fishing license in Montana is a straightforward process that ensures you can enjoy the state’s abundant fishing opportunities legally and responsibly. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, understanding the types of licenses, costs, and regulations will help you make the most of your fishing experience in Big Sky Country. Happy fishing!

For more detailed information and to purchase your license, visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website or download the MyFWP app.

Similar Posts