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Montana Panfish Fishing

All about fishing for sunfish in MT lakes and ponds.

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Panfish fishing in Colorado

Throughout the state of Montana you can find waters with populations of sunfish, including bluegill, green sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, rock bass, white bass and yellow perch.

One or more species of sunfish populate virtually all warm water streams, ponds and lakes throughout Montana, and around the world for that matter. They can survive in waters that provide their natural food source of minnows, insects, crustaceans and worms. Their competitive nature amongst themselves, for food, makes them relatively easy to catch.

Panfish Fishing Lakes In Montana

Panfish typically prefer water warmer than the typical Montana lakes and rivers, Despite that you can find one or more species of panfish in many of the major lakes in MT, including Ashley Lake, Bighorn Lake, Bull Lake, Canyon Ferry Lake, Flathead Lake, Fort Peck Lake, Fresno Reservoir, Hauser Lake, Holter Reservoir, Lake Frances, Lake Helena, Lake Koocanusa, Lower Saint Mary Lake, Nelson Reservoir, Noxon Reservoir, Placid Lake, Seeley Lake, Tiber Reservoir and Whitefish Lake. They are also common in private ponds as they are a major food source for larger predator fish.


The list of panfish is comprised of many fishes each called by a variety of names. The bluegill tops the list and is the most common.

The Montana state record bluegill sunfish was caught from Petersons Stock Dam, Castle Rock Lake gave up the state record for green sunfish, Milnor Lake was home to the state record pumpkinseed sunfish and the state record yellow perch came out of Ashley Lake.

Fishing for panfish in Montana



World record: 4 lbs 12 oz

MT State Record: 2 lbs 10 oz

Green Sunfish

Green sunfish

World record: 2.1 lbs

MT State Record: 0 lbs 13.5 oz

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Pumpkinseed sunfish

World record: 2 lbs 4 oz

MT State Record: 0 lbs 15.5 oz

Rock Bass

Rock bass

World record: 3.0 lbs

MT State Record: 1 lbs 5 oz

White Bass

White Bass

World record: 6.8 lbs

MT State Record: 2 lbs 13 oz

Yellow Perch

Yellow perch

World record: 4 lbs 3 oz

MT State Record: 2 lbs 6 oz

By clicking on the images and links above, you will be taken to a page offering more information about the selected species.

Panfish are prolific spawners and repopulate the waters as fast as they are harvested. A common problem with panfish fishing is that the waters are under-fished causing panfish to overpopulate. As a result they tend to stay small in size due to lack of food source.

Panfish fishing information for other states.


Learn the lifecycle of a panfish

There is a host of panfish anglers can pursue. Visit the panfish fishing page for details on many of these sunfish you might encounter in Montana fishing waters. The panfish fishing videos offer a first hand look a anglers catching panfish.

Contribute MT Sunfish Fishing Knowledge

If you have information, articles or photos relating to panfish fishing in Montana, which you would like to see published here, please submit them for consideration.

Best panfish fishing lakes in Montana!