Angling in Montana

Montana’s Wild Trout Heritage

Beginning in 1974, Montana ended trout stocking programs in fisheries suitable for sustained natural reproduction. Since then, we’ve created a world-renowned legacy of wild and native trout management that brings anglers to our state from across the globe. Nearly all of Montana’s famous trout rivers are wild fisheries with stream-born and wily trout. Natural reproduction by wild and native trout is an indicator of clean, cold, complex, and connected rivers and ecosystems that benefit all water users, public health, and wildlife. They are the cornerstone of Montana’s robust, growing, and sustainable outdoor recreation economy. Above all they are at the heart our rich hunting and fishing heritage. We believe science-based management is essential for maintaining and improving our fisheries and that sound angling ethics are vital to retaining these resources.

Our wild and native trout species are symbols of thousands of generations of indigenous culture, as well as our relatively modern rural and self-reliant way of life. Thus, they deserve our care and protection. So many have enjoyed our abundant wild trout fisheries for so long, we often forget that the wonderful fishing opportunities in the Treasure State didn’t happen by accident. They’re the result of years of habitat improvement, successful stream restoration projects, and coordinated, science-based fisheries management. If we don’t continue to cultivate this precious resource with sound biology and tailored regulations that protect trout populations, we risk losing a piece of Montana’s outdoor heritage. Whether you live here in Montana, or visit us from afar, we hope you’ll respect and protect our wild and native fisheries so they can continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.

Angling Responsibly in Montana

Our summers continue to get longer, hotter, and drier here under the Big Sky. Fire seasons now frequently last into mid-fall and snow-melt runoff and peak snow pack are moving earlier into the spring as the climate warms. Trout are cold-water species and prolonged periods of low and warm flows can be detrimental to wild fish populations, especially if they are subjected to poor catch-and-release fishing practices. Fortunately, the angling public is likely more educated on the impacts of low, warm water than ever before. We appreciate many recreational anglers, outfitters, and guides who monitor water temperatures and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks fishing regulations and Hoot Owl restrictions. Remember, when Hoot Owl is in place, don’t fish from 2pm until midnight. We’ve created some easy rules for you to follow in the graphic below. Let all do our part to conserve, protect, and restore these amazing fish for the future.

Learn to use a stream thermometer

Instructional video with Outreach Coordinator Bill Pfeiffer

A word on fishing etiquette…

Most of us look forward to our time on the water as a chance to relax, catch a few trout, and get back in touch with the natural world. However, many more of people are attempting to use the same places and solitude is becoming harder and harder to come by. At MTU, we focus on science-based solutions to conserve, protect, and restore our angling opportunities and clean water. Our business is trout, not people. Still, we think that all anglers should follow the Golden Rule when sharing the stream. It’s easy: don’t do things you wouldn’t want other people to do to you. If you’re floating, give wading anglers space. If you arrive at your spot and someone is already fishing, consider going to another if its available, or ask nicely if the other person would mind sharing the water. Some of our best friendships have started with casual conversations on the river. Whenever you’re in the Great Outdoors, be respectful of others and remember having fun should always be the main goal. Tight lines!