Montana Fishing License (2024): Types, Costs and How To Buy

Montana boasts some of the world’s best fly fishing for trout as well as strict licensing requirements. See here for full info on which license to get.

Montana is arguably the best state in the US to fly fish for trout.

Famous rivers including the Madison River, Yellowstone River, Missouri River, and Bighorn River offer superb trout angling and are part of fly fishing folklore.

From high mountain lakes and streams to the big prairie rivers, fishing in Montana is spectacular.

But it is important if you are considering fishing in Montana to get the right fishing license before starting your fishing trip.

In this article, we explain how to work out which license you need, where to buy it, and how much it will cost (and what discounts apply).

Read on for all the details on Montana fishing licenses in one convenient and easy-to-understand article.

Who Needs a Fishing License in Montana?

Anyone aged 12 or older is required to possess a valid fishing license in Montana to engage in recreational fishing. This allows individuals to engage in fishing and have custody of any fish or water-dwelling invertebrates as permitted by the state’s fishing rules. The permit is nontransferable and nonrefundable.

Montana Fishing License Age

Children can fish without needing a Montana fishing license up until age 12 when a fishing license is required. There are discounted prices that apply to younger anglers, which we have summarized in the tables below.

See here to find out how this age limit stacks up against all other states.

How Much is a Montana Fishing License?

In simple terms, Montana fishing licenses for a season cost $21 for residents and $100 for non-residents. 

There, however, is a range of different price points for anglers of different ages and situations, so check out the tables and explanations below for the full picture.

Anglers must also purchase a conservation pass to access state lands to fish for a cost of $8 for residents and $10 for non-residents along with an Angler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass (AISPP) at a cost of $2 for residents and $7.50 for non-residents.

More details can be found on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website’s license fees page: https://fwp.mt.gov/buyandapply/fishinglicenses

See here for more info on the cost of fishing licenses in all 50 states of the US.

Montana Fly Fishing Yellowstone River
Montana Fly Fishing in the Yellowstone River

Who Is Exempt From Needing a Fishing License in Montana?

Anyone 11 years old or younger is not required to have a fishing license, including a Conservation or AIS Prevention Pass. Youth anglers (11 or younger) must still observe all limits and regulations.

Montana Fishing License Cost and Types

To legally fish in Montana, most anglers will need two types of fishing licenses: a Fishing License and a Conservation License. Another type of pass called the Angler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass (AISPP)  is also required for anyone fishing in Montana.

  • Conservation License – needed before you can buy any fishing or hunting license.
  • Fishing License – allows a person to fish for and possess any fish or aquatic invertebrate authorized by the state’s fishing regulations. This can either be:
    • Full Season – valid from March 1 to the end of February the following year.
    • Short-term – good for 2 consecutive days or 10 consecutive days.
  • AIS Prevention Pass (AISPP) – required for all individuals who fish in Montana. This program helps fund the fight against aquatic invasive species in Montana.

Resident Fishing License

Montana residents are eligible for reduced-cost fishing licenses. To qualify as a resident and obtain a resident license, one must have lived in Montana for at least 180 consecutive days immediately before applying for the license. Residency requires a Montana driver’s license or other proof of residence.

License TypeConservation LicenseAngler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass (AISPP)License FeeTotal Cost
Resident (12-15)

$4.00No Fee$5.00 for 2 consecutive calendar days$9.00
$10.50 for season$14.50
Resident (16-17, 62 and older)$4.00$2.00$5.00 for 2 consecutive calendar days$11.00
$10.50 for season$16.50
Resident (18-61)$8.00$2.00$5.00 for 2 consecutive calendar days$15.00
$21.00 for season$31.00
Resident Disabled (18-61)$8.00$2.00$10.50 for season$20.50
Resident Sportsman and Nonresident Combination Licenses include a Season Fishing License.
Montana Fly Fishing 1
Montana Fly Fishing with the Rockies in the background

Non-Resident Fishing License

Non-residents, including out-of-state and foreign visitors, can also obtain fishing licenses. These licenses are generally higher in cost compared to resident licenses.

License TypeConservation LicenseAngler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass (AISPP)License FeeTotal Cost
Nonresident (12-15)

$10.00No Fee$14.00 for 1 calendar day$24.00
$56.00 for 5 consecutive calendar days$66.00
$100.00 for season$110.00
Nonresident (16 and older)$10.00$7.50$14.00 for1 calendar day$31.50
$56.00 for5 consecutive calendar days$73.50
$100.00 for season$117.50
Nonresident Motorized Vessel Prevention Pass$30 per vessel good through Dec. 31 of each year
Nonresident Non-Motorized Vessel Prevention Pass$10 per vessel good through Dec. 31 of each year

Who Can Purchase Discounted Montana Fishing Licenses?

Certain individuals are eligible for discounted fishing licenses in Montana. This includes veterans, disabled persons, and students. Each category has specific eligibility criteria, often requiring documentation to prove eligibility. These discounts make fishing more accessible and enjoyable for a wider range of people.

See here for more info on:

Special Fishing Licenses in Montana

Montana caters to different needs with special licenses. These specialized licenses enhance fishing experiences, making Montana’s diverse fishing opportunities accessible to a broader audience.

License TypeConservation LicenseAngler Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass (AISPP)License FeeTotal Cost
Montana Resident with a Disability Conservation License(must be permanently and substantially disabled).$8.00$2.00$10.50$20.50
Resident Lifetime Fishing License for the Blind(requires medical certification)No Fee$2.00$10.00$12.00
**Legion of Valor /Purple Heart(both residents and non residents, regardless of age)$8.00No FeeNo Fee$8.00
Veterans Administration PatientsPermits are available for patients residing at VA Hospitals and residents of State institutions, except the State penitentiary. These free permits are available on-site at the VA Hospital or State Institution. Contact 406-444-2452 for more information.
Care FacilityManagers/directors of eligible Montana facilities can apply to take supervised residents fishing as approved by the facility. Eligible facilities include long-term care, personal care, and homes for persons with developmental/severe disabilities. For details, call 406-444-2452.
Education ExemptionsFree Fishing License exemptions are available for qualified educational events and fishing clinics. For applications and details, contact (406) 444-9943.

**Legion of Valor – redeemable only by going into a FWP office. Legion of Valor membership card must be presented for verification.

**Purple Heart – residents can only obtain this special license at FWP offices. Nonresidents were only available at FWP Headquarters in Helena.

Montana Fly Fishing
Montana Fly Fishing: Clean water, clear air, and big trout

Where Can I Buy a Montana Fishing Licence?

Obtaining a Montana fishing license is convenient through various channels:

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Offices

A Montana fishing license can be purchased in person at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks offices across the state. These offices provide personalized assistance and information on local fishing regulations. Check the official website for a list of office locations.

Online

The most convenient method is buying a Montana fishing license online through the official website. The online platform offers a user-friendly interface, allowing anglers to select the appropriate license type, pay securely, and receive a printable license.

Walmart and other Retail Outlets

Numerous retail outlets, including Walmart, hardware stores, local tackle shops, and fly fishing stores, are authorized to sell fishing licenses. This widespread availability ensures easy access for anglers across the state. Check the license retailer list for participating outlets.

What Happens With Montana Fishing License Fees?

The fees collected from fishing licenses are crucial for supporting Montana’s fishery management and conservation efforts. These funds contribute to habitat restoration, fish stocking programs, and maintaining fishing access sites.

Does Montana Have Reciprocal License Arrangements With Neighboring States?

Licensed anglers from neighboring states – Idaho (license info), North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming – can fish in Montana’s waters within 10 miles of its borders if they adhere to Montana fishing regulations. This is allowed when a reciprocal agreement exists, granting similar privileges to Montana license holders in the bordering state’s waters.

Source: https://law.justia.com/codes/montana/2022/title-87/chapter-2/part-10/section-87-2-1001/

Does Montana Offer Lifetime Fishing Licenses?

Lifetime fishing licenses are exclusively available to legally blind residents. A Montana resident who is blind can acquire a lifetime fishing license for a nominal fee of $10. The application for this license is accessible through FWP and requires medical certification. A valid Conservation License is not a prerequisite for this license.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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