46.5891° N, 112.0391° W
Helena, Montana
Fish Helena Montana Guide

Be prepared to fish Montana in any season. Visit Helena’s guide to waterway access, license information, and special reports for anglers. Helena, Montana, has something for every fishing adventure. An abundance of fishing access anglers must be ready for the lakes, creeks, and rivers. From fly-fishing to ice fishing, Helena offers year round opportunities.

Visit Helena wants to help anglers prepare for a Montana trip with the most up-to-date guide to fishing in our waterways this season. Keep up-to-date with any closures, special announcements, and tips monthly or as needed throughout the year. Get your rod, waders, and boat prepped for a fishing adventure in Helena, Montana!

The content provided is in partnership with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

Section 1. Notices and Announcements
Section 2. Fishing License Information
Section 3. How To Prepare for a Montana Fishing Trip

Fish, Wildlife, and Park News
Missouri River
Notices and Announcements

The best part of the adventure is preparing for the ever-changing weather and conditions. Anglers must be prepared for changing elements from water flows on the river, winds on the lakes, and sunshine to thunderstorms. In this section, you can find the latest resources for closures, water table resources, and fishing restrictions on our waterways. If you are looking for immediate information, call the Helena Visitor Center.

For the most updated waterway access visit Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks News & Updates.

7.25.2023 Update:

The following rivers in Montana are on Hoot Owl Restrictions: Beaverhead River, Big Hole River, Bitterroot River, Jefferson River, Lower Madison River, Ruby River, and Sun River.

6.27.2023 Update

Sections of the Yellowstone River 420.5 to 424 are closed due to emergency. Further details will be released.

Looking for weather updates in the surrounding Helena area, check the latest NOAA forecast and waterflows from USGS.

When fishing and boating in Montana it is always important to remember to clean, drain, and dry your boat and fishing gear after you leave a body of water. Boaters must also remember that they MUST stop at all open inspection stations. This will help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species that can be detrimental for our waterways leading to diminished recreational fishing opportunities. Large economic impacts for communities and potential wildlife and public health problems. Learn more at

Image: Eliza Wiley Independent Record – From left Kailen Goins, 10, fishes from the Montana Wild fishing pier on the southwest end of Spring Meadow Lake State Park while his sister watches on.


Full Season

Resident: $21

Youth 12- 17 Resident Cost: $10.50

Senior 62+ Resident Cost: $10.50

Non-Resident Cost: $100

Short Term Resident License (2 Consecutive Day)

Resident: $5

Youth 12 -17 Resident Cost: $5

Senior 62+ Resident Cost: $5

1-Day Non-Resident License:

Non-Resident Cost: $14

Buy A License
Fly Fishing Alpine Lakes

What to Bring

  • A copy of Montana fishing regulations can be found at most sporting goods stores or online at
  • A valid fishing license is required for anyone 12 years and older for all types of fishing on state waters. You can buy a fishing license in most sporting goods stores or online (see Fishing License Information, above).
  • Download the MyFWP app and access your fishing license on your phone. Instructions on how to do this can be found at
  • Always bring extra layers that dry quickly and/or materials that keep you warm. Extra socks, a synthetic sweater, a warm jacket, a winter hat, and gloves can be necessities in the spring months.
  • In the heat of summer, you’ll be able to wet-wade in most Montana waters. On colder days, waders will help keep you warm and dry. Bring expedition-weight long underwear, wading pants, or leggings to wear under your waders. Wading boots or sturdy shoes that can get wet (we suggest non-felt soles to prevent the transport of invasive aquatic species).
  • Sunscreen, a brimmed hat, and a long-sleeved shirt to keep the sun off. A pair of polarized sunglasses will help you see into the water. When using sunscreen or bug repellant, remember to keep these away from other equipment—especially your fly line!
  • Plenty of water, snacks, toilet paper (and a trash bag for containing used toilet paper and other waste), waterproof bags or Ziplocs, and a battery charger for your electronics.
  • Pack a camera or phone to snap pictures of your catch before releasing it back to its home water. Don’t forget to post it on social media, or else it didn’t happen! Tag @visithelenamt
  • Be careful not to handle fish while wearing gloves. Gloves can remove the coating of slime which helps to guard fish from disease and contaminants. Always handle fish with clean, wet, bare hands.

Know Where to Go – Can be hard to Choose!

Helena is a jewel when it comes to fishing. With so many fishing opportunities within a stone’s throw of Helena, the city makes a perfect base camp for exploring fishing opportunities all over southwest Montana.

The Missouri River and its lakes (Canyon Ferry, Hauser, and Holter), the Blackfoot River (think A River Runs Through It), Seeley Lake and the Clearwater, the Clark Fork, Jefferson, and Madison Rivers, and numerous mountain lakes and streams are all close to Helena. You can catch anything from small brookies to large rainbows and browns, cutthroat and grayling, and even pike and walleye in some of the larger lakes.

One of the best resources for planning your fishing trip is the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Fishing Access. Download the Fishing Access Sites Guide in PDF format, or you can use an interactive map to explore fishing accesses in a particular geographic location.

Know Before You Go Fishing

  • Be sure to check the fishing seasons before planning a fishing trip on a particular waterway—some rivers are open year-round, while others are closed to fishing part of the year.
  • Some waterways will fish better than others, depending on stream flow conditions. High flows can cause murky conditions and slow fishing. Stream flows for major waterways in Montana can be found on the USGS website.
  • Weather conditions in Montana can change quickly. Summer mornings are generally calm, with thunderstorms brewing more often in the afternoon. You may also notice that Montana anglers try not to say the “W” word (Wind)!
  • Guided trips will run rain or shine, and outfitters typically have a suggested list of items clients should bring along.
  • Fly shops are good sources of information. Staff at fly shops can generally tell you which flies to use, and how to tie up your rig, and can recommend put-in and take-out locations for floating.
  • Always make sure you know the latest fire restrictions if you visit during the summer and plan on building a campfire, and use common sense if conditions are hot and dry. Check the weather for possible red flag warnings.

Slow Down and Enjoy!

Last but not least, be sure to allow yourself enough time to do some relaxing in this amazing part of Montana that Helenans call their home. Allow time to take in the big sky sunsets, listen to the sounds of the forest and rivers, and relax and tell stories around the campfire!

This section was co-developed with Montana Casting Co. a local fly-fishing manufacturing company in Helena, Montana. Gear up and buy local!

Get Your Gear!
Brown Trout with Montana Casting Co.
Circular black and white logo "Montana Casting Co." with fish.
Heart of Fly Fishing Country
Explore. Plan. Enjoy