Best Fishing Lakes in Glacier National Park

What are best fishing lakes in Glacier National Park, you ask? How about the best rivers or streams? Easy peasy…. Not. Here’s why.

No place typifies the Montana fishing experience more than Glacier National Park, with more than one million acres of land (over 90 percent wilderness), 2,865 miles of water in 531 streams, 762 lakes (only 131 of which have actual names), and twenty-four species of fish, eighteen of which are native.

While Glacier National Park is viewed by many as the most attractive member of the National Park system in the lower forty-eight states, it’s not often referred to as a fishing hotspot, in part because of its wilderness nature and the fact that fishing gets overshadowed by the park’s (shrinking) glaciers, mountains, valleys, and wildlife.

So, is there good fishing in Glacier National Park? The answer depends on where you go and when and what you fish for, and how much time you have to spend fishing Glacier National Park. If you can traverse dirt roads and reach backcountry waters it can be quite good. Rainbow and cutthroat trout are the mainstays, but bull trout, lake trout, grayling, kokanee, whitefish, and other species exist.

Glacier features pristine waters that are born in mountain snowmelt and grow from unnamed trickles to celebrated rivers, streams, and lakes. Some of the rivers, and especially the Flathead and Missouri, are renowned for their trout fishing. Yet the many lakes, though stunning, get less attention, and it would be fruitless to suggest what the best fishing lakes in Glacier National Park are unless you knew where and when you’d be visiting and how capable you were of reaching some of the more remote waters.

The National Park Service provides general information about fishing Glacier National Park, and you’d be well advised to learn about restrictions, closed waters, boating permits, invasive species concerns, and more in preparation for any visit. The Glacier National Park website is a trove of good information, and one of the best of a national park that I’ve seen.

Advice for Visiting Glacier


Consider getting a guide

Get a guide if you’re not an expert angler and a seasoned backcountry angler/visitor.


Be safe

Understand that you’re in the wilderness and in bear country, and all of the precautions that such entails.


Consider the time of the year

No matter where you fish in Montana, time of year and weather play a major role in success. Huge runoffs in late spring to midsummer can affect where and how to fish.


It might be busy

Be prepared for human company. Visitation at Glacier has significantly increased. This may be wilderness, but you won’t be alone.


Get a Fishing License

While there is no fishing license requirement for Glacier National Park, you should get a Montana fishing license anyway to support conservation efforts in the state and in case you’ll fish elsewhere outside of Glacier.


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Ken Schultz

Ken Schultz

Ken Schultz was a longtime staff writer for Field & Stream magazine and is the former Fishing Editor of ESPNoutdoors.com. He’s written and photographed nineteen books on sportfishing topics, plus an annual fishing tips calendar., and his writing has appeared on various websites for nearly two decades. His author website is kenschultz.com.