Home Fishing Tips & Advice How to Get a Fishing License in Montana

How to Get a Fishing License in Montana

Residents and nonresidents can get a fishing license in Montana from the state department of fish, wildlife and parks. Montana Fish, Wildlife ; Parks is the regulatory state agency issuing fishing licenses directly, both online and offline, and indirectly through a network of providers. These fishing license providers are mostly private businesses including stores that have been authorized by the state department. These providers may have either or both online and offline application processes. There are scores of such providers.

A list of these authorized fishing license providers is available on the official website of Montana Fish, Wildlife ; Parks. 

Fishing Licenses in Montana

Every state in the country has the right to legislate and lay down the statutory requirements for fishing licenses. Montana is one of the few states that mandate multiple licenses for fishing. Both residents and nonresidents must apply for a fishing license and pay the relevant fee. In addition to this, a conservation license must be obtained. Along with the fishing license and conservation license, all residents and nonresidents aged sixteen and older must get an Angler AIS Prevention Pass. ‘AIS’ is an acronym for aquatic invasive species. To sum it up, most residents and nonresidents will need all three licenses, or permits: fishing license, conservation license, and the prevention pass.

Fishing License Fees in Montana

There is an array of fees for fishing licenses in Montana, depending on status of residency, age, duration or validity, type and purpose of fishing, and also the species of fish an applicant intends to catch. Let us first simplify the fishing license fees in Montana as per the broad strokes, or larger general categories as defined by the department of fish, wildlife and parks. 

The largest category is of residents aged eighteen to sixty one, as per the bracket determined by the state of Montana. Residents in this age bracket must pay $8 for a conservation license, $2 for the prevention pass, and $5 for a fishing license that is valid for two consecutive days. The total sum to be paid is $15, for two consecutive days of fishing. If such a resident wants a seasonal fishing license, then the fee is $21. Hence, the total is $31. A fishing license for one season is valid from the 1st of March of a given year to the end of February (28th or 29th) of the following year.

Residents aged twelve to seventeen, and sixty two or older, and those who are disabled, shall pay $4 for the conservation license, $2 for the prevention pass (only for those aged sixteen and older), and $5 for a fishing license valid for two consecutive days. The total sum payable is $11. The fishing license for a season for residents in these age brackets, or disabled, is $10.50. The total payable amount is $16.50.

Residents aged a few months up to eleven years do not need a fishing license. These resident children are also exempt from the conservation license and prevention pass. However, all such children should be accompanied by adults. If it is only the child partaking in fishing, then no license is necessary. If the adult or an accompanying minor aged above eleven is also engaging in the activity, then requisite fishing licenses must be obtained.

The exemption for children aged up to eleven years is also applicable for nonresidents. Any nonresident aged twelve and older should pay $10 for the conservation license, $7.50 for the prevention pass, and $25 for a fishing license with validity for two consecutive days. The total sum payable is $42.50. The fishing license fee for ten consecutive days for nonresidents is $56. Hence, the total sum payable is $73.50. A fishing license for the entire season costs $86 for residents, and the total amount is $103.50 for all three permits.

Definitions of Resident and Nonresident in Montana 

In Montana, citizens who have been living in the state for a hundred and eighty consecutive days prior to applying for a fishing license are considered as residents. Anyone who does not qualify as per this criterion is a nonresident. There are exceptions, such as active and retired members of the armed forces.

There are other influencing criteria as well. For a citizen to qualify as a resident, the applicant must be paying state income tax, one must not have a resident fishing license or similar licenses in another state, their permanent residency should be in the state and this should be provable with valid photo identification. Residents should also provide the last four digits of their social security number during the application process.

Special Fishing Licenses in Montana

Montana has stringent regulations pertaining to certain species of fish. These necessitate special fishing licenses, and this rule is applicable for both residents and nonresidents. Residents who intend to catch paddlefish must pay a fee of $6.50. This is per person and for only one paddlefish. There is a limit of one paddlefish per person. Nonresidents must pay $15 for each paddlefish they catch. This is also a fee per person. There are designated fishing spots where residents and nonresidents may catch paddlefish.

Likewise, there is a bull trout catch card for residents and nonresidents. This enables applicants to fish for the species at designated waters. There is a free fishing weekend, usually marking Father’s Day. During this weekend in June, residents and nonresidents can fish in the public waters of Montana without any license, but all must continue to comply with every other rule. Residents and nonresidents should follow the local regulations, adhere to the guidelines for the season, restrict their catches to bag limits, and should have the special license for paddle fish or the bull trout catch card for these two species.

Montana has some of the steepest fines for those fishing without a license, and anyone who may flout one or more regulations of the state. Residents and nonresidents should read these regulations while applying for the conservation license, prevention pass, and fishing license in Montana.