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Trout Fishing In Montana

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Guide to fishing for rainbow, cutthroat, brook, brown, golden and lake trout in local lakes and streams.

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Brown Trout

Montana is renowned for its exceptional trout fishing opportunities, offering anglers the chance to pursue a variety of trout species in its lakes and rivers. The purpose of this page is to share basic information about trout fishing and identify trout fishing waters in the state. The state boasts several trout species, including rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout, and lake trout.

Rainbow trout are perhaps the most iconic trout species in Montana. They are found in many rivers, streams, and lakes throughout the state, providing thrilling angling experiences. Some of the best rivers for rainbow trout fishing include the Yellowstone River, Madison River, Gallatin River, and Bighorn River. These waterways offer both wild and stocked populations of rainbow trout, with trophy-sized specimens available for those who seek a challenge.

Brown trout are another prized species in Montana, known for their elusive nature and impressive size. Montana's rivers and streams, particularly the Madison River, Missouri River, and Big Hole River, offer exceptional brown trout fisheries. These fish are known for their voracious feeding habits and can be caught using a variety of techniques, including nymphing, dry fly fishing, and streamer fishing.

Cutthroat trout hold a special place in Montana's fishing heritage. The state is home to various subspecies of cutthroat trout, including Yellowstone cutthroat, Westslope cutthroat, and the iconic native Montana cutthroat. Anglers can find cutthroat trout in both rivers and lakes, with some of the best fishing opportunities in waters such as the Yellowstone River, Clark Fork River, and Flathead Lake. These trout exhibit stunning colors and provide an exciting challenge for anglers.

Lake trout grow big, and are plentiful in many of Montana's lakes. Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in the western United States, offers opportunities to catch lake trout, as well as rainbow trout and cutthroat trout. Georgetown Lake and Hebgen Lake are also renowned trout fisheries, known for their trophy-sized fish and breathtaking scenery.

The state of Montana keeps records of exceptional trout caught by anglers, highlighting the impressive fish that roam its waters. The current state records include giant trout such as a 37-pound lake trout, a 34-pound brown trout, and a 30-pound rainbow trout, showcasing the immense potential for trophy-sized catches.

Whether you're fishing in Montana's rivers, streams, or lakes, the state's trout fisheries provide a haven for anglers seeking unforgettable experiences. From the thrill of catching wild trout in pristine mountain rivers to the pursuit of trophy-sized trout in scenic lakes, Montana's trout fishing offers a world-class angling adventure for all who visit.

Trout Waters

Bowman Lake, MT

With its clean cold water, Montana is a prime haven for trout. They grow big and healthy in all types of waters throughout the state. Virtually all rivers and streams in MT contain one or more species of trout and they are found in private ponds and small lakes as well. Most trout species can be taken while ice fishing. Most of the major lakes in the state sport a healthy population of trout. These lakes include Ashley Lake, Bull Lake, Canyon Ferry Lake, Clark Canyon Reservoir, Deadmans Basin Reservoir, Earthquake Lake, Flathead Lake, Fort Peck Lake, Fresno Reservoir, Georgetown Lake, Gibson Reservoir, Hauser Lake, Hebgen Lake, Holter Reservoir, Hungry Horse Reservoir, Lake Elwell, Lake Frances, Lake Helena, Lake Koocanusa, Lower Saint Mary Lake, McDonald Lake, Noxon Reservoir, Placid Lake, Seeley Lake, Swan Lake, Tiber Reservoir, Whitefish Lake and Willow Creek Reservoir.

Fishing Boats For Rent In Montana

Trout Species In The State

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout

World record: 42 lbs 2 oz

State Record: 33.1 lbs

Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat trout

World record: 41 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 16.0 lbs

Brook Trout

Brook trout

World record: 14 lbs 8 oz

State Record: 9.06 lbs

Brown Trout

Brown trout

World record: 40 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 29.0 lbs

Lake Trout

Lake trout

World record: 72 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 42.69 lbs

Golden Trout

Golden trout

World record: 11 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 5.43 lbs

Click the images and links above for species details.

Select the best trout lures and baits

Trout spinners, crankbaits and jerkbaits work well for shallow, reasonably active fish. Salmon eggs, worms and prepared baits will work at virtually all depths.

Montana State Record Trout

The state record rainbow trout was caught from the Kootenai River.

The state record cutthroat trout was taken out of Red Eagle Lake.

The state record brook trout was taken from Lower Two Medicine Lake.

The state record brown trout came from Wade Lake.

The state record lake trout was caught in Flathead Lake.

The state record golden trout was caught in Cave Lake.

Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks has a program for stocking trout and other fish. Visit their website to get details on trout stocking in Montana.

Watch trout fishing videos to see trout anglers in action.

Additional trout fishing information

The 5 primary trouts are the rainbow, brook, brown, cutthroat and lake trout. Browns are considered the most difficult to catch and brookies are the easiest. Pure cold water is key to survival of the trouts.

Trout Conservation
Trout Unlimited


Trout locations and info, by state.

AK Trout Fishing AL Trout Fishing AR Trout Fishing AZ Trout Fishing CA Trout Fishing CO Trout Fishing CT Trout Fishing DE Trout Fishing GA Trout Fishing HI Trout Fishing IA Trout Fishing ID Trout Fishing
IL Trout Fishing IN Trout Fishing KS Trout Fishing KY Trout Fishing MA Trout Fishing MD Trout Fishing ME Trout Fishing MI Trout Fishing MN Trout Fishing MO Trout Fishing MS Trout Fishing MT Trout Fishing
NC Trout Fishing ND Trout Fishing NE Trout Fishing NH Trout Fishing NJ Trout Fishing NM Trout Fishing NV Trout Fishing NY Trout Fishing OH Trout Fishing OK Trout Fishing OR Trout Fishing PA Trout Fishing
RI Trout Fishing SC Trout Fishing SD Trout Fishing TN Trout Fishing TX Trout Fishing UT Trout Fishing VA Trout Fishing VT Trout Fishing WA Trout Fishing WI Trout Fishing WV Trout Fishing WY Trout Fishing

The habits of trout.

Trout are considered some of the most difficult fish to fool. Once you locate Montana waters with a population of trout, the challenge becomes identifying trout flies and lures that will trigger strikes. Visit the trout fishing page to learn more about the habitat each of the trouts prefer.