Today the National Park Service is engaged in fisheries research to
determine the extent of damage to native fish populations, and to explore
possible means for re-establishing native fishes in some waters where they
have been eliminated or replaced by hybrid populations. Paramount
importance is attached to the goal of ensuring the future survival of
Glacier National Park's unique native fishes for the benefit and enjoyment
of future generations.
The primary purpose of Glacier National Park is to
preserve natural ecosystems for their aesthetic, educational, cultural and
scientific values. Fishing is permitted when consistent with preservation
or restoration of natural aquatic environments, native fishes, and other
aquatic life. Objectives of the management of fish and aquatic
environments in the park are:
To encourage appreciation for, and interest in,
preservation of native fishes in natural, unspoiled aquatic habitats.
To insure that man’s use of native fishes will not
interfere with natural food chain relationships between aquatic organisms,
birds, mammals, and other animals.
To provide angling opportunities for wild fish in
a natural environment, as part of the visitor’s total park experience.
To maintain natural aquatic environments as they
would now exist if modern man had not interfered. It is realized that this
goal cannot be completely attained, but it will be approached as nearly as
possible. Fish are no longer stocked or planted in park waters.
To fulfill these objectives, certain regulations,
guidelines, and courtesies must be followed.
General park season is from the third Saturday
in May, through November 30, with some exceptions:
Waterton Lake season, catch and possession limits
are the same as set by Canada*
Lower Two Medicine Lake season, catch and
possession limits are set by the Blackfeet Nation.*
Lake McDonald and St. Mary Lake are open to lake
trout (mackinaw) fishing only from April 1 through December 31.
North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River, see
Boundary Rivers section.
*Regulations may change from year to year. Check
before fishing these waters.
Catch and Possession Limits
Daily catch and possession limits will
not exceed five (5) fish, including no more than: two (2) cutthroat trout,
two (2) burbot (ling), two (2) northern pike, two (2) mountain whitefish,
five (5) lake whitefish, five (5) kokanee salmon, five (5) brook trout,
five (5) grayling, five (5) rainbow trout, five (5) lake trout (mackinaw).
EXCEPTION: Fifteen (15) lake trout (mackinaw) are allowed in Kintla Lake;
Lake McDonald and Bowman Lakes have NO limit on lake trout. Lake McDonald
also has NO limit on lake whitefish.
Fishing for bull trout is prohibited and any bull
trout incidentally caught must be immediately released.
Catch and release fishing only:
Fish caught in Lower McDonald Creek (from the
Quarter Circle Bridge and upstream, extending into Lake McDonald for a
radius of 300 feet) must be handled carefully and released immediately to
the stream/lake. Only artificial flies or lures with a single hook may be
used in Lower McDonald Creek. No fish of any species may be in possession
at any time along this stream/lake.
Fish caught in Hidden Lake and outlet must be
releasted, except when closed for spawning.
Cutthroat trout caught on the North Fork of the
Flathead River must be released in accordance with state regulations.
Equipment and Bait
Fishing is allowed by hook and line only. The rod or line must be hand
held. The use of artificial lures and flies is strongly recommended. The
use of fish or fish parts, including non-preserved fish eggs, of any
species is prohibited. No bait, including insects and worms, may be
collected inside the park’s boundaries. Do not deposit fish eggs, roe,
food, or other substances in waters to attract fish. Fishing with nets,
seines, traps, drugs, or explosives is prohibited. Snagging fish in park
waters, or from park lands, is prohibited.
Artificial flies or lures with a single hook only: Lower McDonald Creek
(catch and release fishing only)
NOTE: The use of all lead associated with fishing
is prohibited. This includes weights, lures, jigs, line, etc. The only
exception is a fisherman who is using a "downrigger" may use cannon ball
lead weights of 2 to 10 pounds on the downrigger cable.
When cleaning fish,use garbage cans where available for entrail disposal.
When cleaning fish in the backcountry, puncture the air bladder, and throw
entrails into deep water at least 200 feet from the nearest campsite or
trail. Do not bury or burn entrails, as they will attract bears.
Consider "catch and release" fishing; otherwise, keep
only enough fish for a meal. Be a clean fisherman! Leave nothing
behind--except a few footprints.
The Middle Fork of the Flathead River is outside of the park, and a
Montana State fishing license is required. When fishing from the park
lands along the North Fork of the Flathead River, park catch and
possession limits, as well as other park fishing regulations are
applicable, with the exception of the state regulations pertaining to
The following areas are closed to fishing:
Kintla Creek between Kintla Lake and Upper Kintla
Upper Kintla Lake
Bowman Creek above Bowman Lake
Logging Creek between Logging Lake and Grace Lake
The following creeks are closed for their entire length:
Ole, Park, Muir, Coal, Nyack, and Fish Creeks. Hidden Lake and outlet
creek during cutthroat trout spawning.
The success of a fisherman depends on skill, lures used, weather
conditions, time of year, whether a boat is used or not, and the body of
water fished. The following are some helpful tips:
Waterfalls prevented fish from naturally reaching
many streams and lakes, If you are going to fish, check before making a
Fish usually feed in the early morning and
Lake trout (mackinaw) are in deep water during the
hot summer months, and are best caught by trolling.
Fish are on the bottom when the water is high and
murky. During this time they feed on materials dislodged from the bottom.
Lures that imitate insect larvae are most successful.
Later in the season, when streams are clear, flies
are better. The best fly fishing is when a fisherman can match a local
Fishing and Bears
Consider yourself lucky to see a black or grizzly bear. But remember...the
wilderness is their home. Please be a well-mannered guest. Bears are
usually shy; however, make no attempt to approach or startle them. They
have been known to attack without warning. When hiking make some noise to
alert them of your presence. Never offer food to bears and never get
between a sow and cub. As bears have an excellent sense of smell, it is
important to avoid the use of odorous food. Backcountry camping
regulations require that food, cooking utensils, and food containers be
suspended from the designated food hanging device at all times, except
mealtimes. If needed, when not in a designated campground, suspend food
and cooking utensils at least 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet from any
tree trunk. In the absence of trees, store food and cooking gear in
approved bear resistant food containers. Never leave food unattended.
Report all bear sightings to a ranger.