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Best Fishing Lakes in Montana

Montana is a place right out of an angler’s dreams! It is full of crystal clear lakes and streams filled with trout. 

person fly fishing on a lake in montana

The Treasure State has many great lakes for fly fishing, offering a wide variety of species such as whitefish, rainbow trout, lake trout, bass, and pike. 

One of the most famous bodies of water in Montana is the Yellowstone River, which has its source in Yellowstone National Park. It is considered one of the world’s best blue-ribbon fisheries. 

a rainbow trout caught in a montana fishing lake

But no matter which body of water, you will find that Montana has outstanding fishing opportunities amidst beautiful scenery.

Read on to learn more about the best fishing lakes in Montana and what makes them great for a fishing outing.

Top 17 Montana Fishing Lakes

  1. Flathead Lake
  2. Georgetown Lake
  3. Hebgen Lake
  4. Browns Lake
  5. Canyon Ferry Lake
  6. Ennis Lake
  7. Fort Peck Lake
  8. Harrison Lake
  9. Holland Lake
  10. Holter Reservoir
  11. Lake Como
  12. Lake Elwell-Tiber Reservoir
  13. Lake Koocanusa
  14. McCormick Pond
  15. Seeley Lake
  16. Tongue River Reservoir
  17. Upsata Lake

Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake stretches across the mainline of the Flathead River and is the last remnant of a massive glacial ancient lake called Lake Missoula.

Flathead Lake

It has over 200 square miles of freshwater and 185 miles of shoreline. There are many recreational activities around the lake and 13 public access parks.

On the boundary of the southern half of the lake is a Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Flathead Reservation. 

Some of the many fish varieties you may find in this lake are pike, yellow perch, rainbow trout, lake trout, whitefish, bull trout, and kokanee salmon. 

Georgetown Lake

Georgetown Lake is set in the mountains and is 3,000 acres high. It’s a popular fishing destination and well-regarded for boating, camping, and windsurfing.

Georgetown Lake

The 17.36-mile shoreline is surrounded by the Flint Creek Range in the north and the Pintiers in the south. 

You will have access to four public boating ramps alongside lodgings, restaurants, a marina, and casinos. Come winter, Georgetown is an excellent spot for ice fishing and snowmobiling. 

The most popular fish to catch in Georgetown Lake are rainbow trout, brook trout, and sockeye salmon. 

Hebgen Lake

The man-made Hebgen Lake is some 15 miles long and four miles wide. It is considered the best still water fishing lake in Montana and benefits from being near Yellowstone National Park. 

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake occurred in 1959 near Hebgen Lake. You can learn more about it at a visitor center with interpretive programs in the Madison Canyon Earthquake Area, about 9.5 kilometers away from Hebgen Dam.

This lake is renowned for its population of brown trout and rainbow trout. There are Eurasian carp and brook trout.

Browns Lake

Browns Lake is a 549.9-acre lake located near the middle of the Blackfoot River watershed.

Browns Lake

It sits at an elevation of 4294 feet and is surrounded by mostly private ranchlands. The northeast corner of the land is state-owned and portions of the eastern shoreline are open to the public.

This lake permits camping with a seven-day limit. The marshy areas around the lake are a great spot for bird-watching.

The popular species of fish to catch here are brook trout, kokanee, longnose sucker, rainbow trout, and west slope cutthroat trout.

Canyon Ferry Lake

Montana’s third-largest body of water and a popular fishing spot is the Canyon Ferry Lake. This reservoir covers 25 miles and has 76 miles of shoreline.

Canyon Ferry Lake

Its proximity to Helena, Great Falls, and Butte make it a great place to visit. Canyon Ferry offers year-round fishing and convenient boat access at all of the campsites.

In addition, there is a sapphire mine, dining, entertainment, laundromat, beaches, cabins, and houseboats. 

The fish population features bluegill, brook and brown trout, burbot, carp, fathead minnows, flathead chub, and largemouth bass.

Ennis Lake

Ennis Lake is 2.6 miles long and has a maximum capacity of 42,053 acres. Since it is relatively shallow and the temperature of the water rises significantly in the summer, fish populations tend to decrease. 

Ennis Lake

Still, it’s a popular spot for recreational sports and fishing. Downstream, Bear Trap Canyon offers camping, boating, and white-water rafting. 

Here the fish population predominantly consists of rainbow and brown trout. It is better to fish around mid to late May until the muddy water from runoff flows into the reservoir. 

Fort Peck Lake

Fort Peck Lake is a reservoir in the eastern prairie region. It covers 134 miles and has a max depth of 220 feet.

Fort Peck Lake

It is the largest reservoir in Montana, with over 1,520 miles of shoreline, longer than the California coast. 

Surrounding the body of water is the Charles M. Russell (CMR) National Wildlife Refuge, which provides over a million acres of public land.

On it, you can partake in hiking, hunting, camping, bird-watching, and more. 

As one of the best places to fish in Montana, you will find walleye, paddlefish, northern pike, sauger, lake trout, chinook salmon, and smallmouth bass. 

Harrison Lake 

Harrison Lake is 40 acres and has an elevation of 5,687 feet. This lake is located in southwest Montana on the Blackfoot River.

Harrison Lake 

On the eastern end of the lake, there is the Harrison Lake Patrol Cabin which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Besides fishing, you can go boating, camping, and hunting. Tent and trailer sites are available with a seven-day limit.

There is also the option of hiking down into Willow Creek canyon for small stream fly fishing. 

The fish species found here are primarily rainbow trout and west slope cutthroat trout. 

Holland Lake

Holland Lake covers a wide expanse of 400 acres, offering great views of the Swan Range, and has a day-use area for recreational activity and a 41-site campground.

Holland Lake

The campground here is a great place to enjoy the Flathead National Forest. 

The campground is huge, and there are many activities available. For example, waterskiing, hiking, swimming, canoeing, and boating.

You can stay here for a maximum of 16 consecutive days. 

This is one of the best fishing lakes in Montane. Fishing here is ideal in the early spring and late fall with burgeoning populations of kokanee salmon, rainbow, and bull trout. Other wildlife includes grizzly and black bears. 

Holter Reservoir

Holter Lake is near Helena Mountain, in west-central Montana. It is 25 miles in length and is surrounded by a sparsely wooded area.

Holter Reservoir

The campgrounds on the shore of the lake are in excellent condition and there is a nearby prairie dog town and food services. 

This is a great spot for several recreational activities utilizing their three-site camping and day-use complex ( Log Gulch, Holter Lake, and Departure Point Recreation).

You’ll be able to go swimming, boating, riding, hiking, wildlife observation, and fishing. 

The fish species that mostly populate this lake are, rainbow trout, walleyes, perch, and kokanee salmon. 

Lake Como

Lake Como is about 80 acres and has a depth of 15 feet. It was constructed in the early 20th Century and is the source of irrigation into Bitterroot Valley in the late season.

Lake Como

The lake is surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of the mountains within Bitterroot National Forest. 

You can swim in the beach area or boat and fish across the lake. There are also hiking trails and opportunities to ride horses. The campgrounds are typically open from late May through early September. 

This lake is great for fishing for bluegills, or northern pike, walleye, and channel catfish. 

Lake Elwell-Tiber Reservoir

The Lake Elwell-Tiber Reservoir is a versatile recreational area, with over 178 miles of shoreline and a marina. There are many campground areas and five boat ramps. 

Lake Elwell-Tiber Reservoir

There are beautiful landmarks such as tipi rings, sandstone formations, and earthen dikes that stretch for more than three miles long.

These are some of the biggest examples of earthen dikes. The area around this reservoir offers great wildlife for hunting, and you can also birdwatch on the Marias River. 

There is excellent year-round fishing for species like walleye, sauger, northern pike, ling, native trout, and perch. 

Lake Koocanusa

Lake Koocanusa is a 90-mile lake perfect for fishing and boating. There are several recreational facilities nearby and hundreds of campsites for tents and recreational vehicles. 

Lake Koocanusa

The location offers overnight campsites, ball fields, a swimming beach, and a boat ramp. A short boat ride from there will take you to Yarnell Islands, where they have picnicking and camping facilities.

There are also tours of Libby Dam, which powers the reservoir in the summer months.

Among the many fish types here are burbot, kokanee, largemouth bass, mountain whitefish, northern pike, and brook trout. 

McCormick Pond

McCormick Park is in central Missoula, where there are many recreational activities and fun settings for families or people of all ages.

McCormick Pond

There are hiking trails and a small pond called Silver’s Lagoon that’s ideal for kids to try out fishing.

In addition, there are softball fields, a ropes course, a skate park, and soccer nets. You’ll also find plenty of room for your dogs to walk and play. 

Silver’s Lagoon is frequently stocked with trout and is open to children 14 and under and disabled adults. Catch and release is encouraged here, but kids are allowed to keep up to two fish a day. 

Seeley Lake

Seeley Lakes was formed by a glacier and is 1,025 acres. It is surrounded on either side by the Mission and Swan mountain ranges on Montana’s famous scenic Highway 83.

Seeley Lake

This is one of the six lakes in the Clearwater Valley. That concentration of water landmarks has led to the area picking up the moniker “Chain of Lakes”. 

During the warmer months, you can enjoy bird and wildlife viewing, camping, fishing, hiking, golfing, and canoeing.

There are three camping grounds with swimming facilities: Big Larch, River Point, and Seeley Lake.

This lake is popular for catching bass. Other types include kokanee salmon, perch, bull trout, whitefish, and bluegills. 

Tongue River Reservoir

The Tongue River Reservoir is a 12-mile-long reservoir located among red shale, the open prairies of Montana, and juniper canyons.

Tongue River Reservoir

There is beautiful wildlife here as well, among them are osprey, blue heron, deer, and antelope.

The lake offers the usual recreational activities, such as fishing, swimming, boating, and camping.

There are also day-use areas for picnicking, with locations including Campers Point and Sand Point.

The historical landmarks nearby are the Rosebud Battlefield State Park and Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument.

The fish species at this lake include walleye, crappie, bass, and northern pike. 

Upsata Lake

The Upsata Lake is at 90.8 acres and is at an elevation of 4,195.1 feet. This lake is located about four miles north of Montana Highway 200.

Upsata Lake

It is a state fishing access site in west-central Montana. While camping is allowed, there is a seven-day limit and only limited facilities. 

Although a small campground, it is a nice place to picnic on the grassy areas where there are picnic tables and fire pits available. 

The fish abundant at this lake are largemouth bass, northern pike, rainbow trout, and yellow perch. 

Final Thoughts

Montana is a state that is abundant with wildlife, recreational activities, and, of course, fish.

These are not only the best fishing lakes in Montana to cast your line, but have outstanding natural beauty and fun activities for the whole family. 

Each lake will offer different fish populations, so take a look at which types you’re looking to catch, and find out the body of water where they are most abundant.

You’re sure to find a lake that will meet your angling needs here in Montana, but if you find yourself down south in Alabama, you’ll have plenty of fishing options too.

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