Glacier-Waterton National Park

Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park
Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park (Paul Souders/Digital Vision/Getty)

Fishing at Glacier is a challenge. Which doesn't it mean it can't be fun. But it's going to test every ounce of your technical skill. And bring along a can of beans; don't assume you're going to catch your supper.

Fish in the park include cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden trout, eastern brook trout, arctic grayling, and kokanee salmon. One rare native species, the bull trout, must be immediately released if caught. At one time many of the lakes and some of the streams were stocked. This is no longer the case. Even exotic breeds are naturalized.

Lake fishing tends to be better than stream fishing. Some of the best lakes are Elizabeth, Ellen Wilson, Grace, Hidden, and Isabel. Cosley, Francis, Mokowanis, Oldman, and Red Eagle are also worth a try.

Most streams in Glacier are swift-running and very cold, even in summer. Be careful when near these streams and watch your footing at all times. Midvale Creek is arguably the best stream for fishing, with people reporting good luck at Lower McDonald, North Fork Flathead, Red Eagle Creek, and Two Medicine Creek.

A Montana state fishing license is not required within the parkwith some important exceptions. Ask for a copy of the park fishing regulations. Catch and release is recommended when backpacking. This avoids odors associated with cooking and problems of skin and bone 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. Pack out bones and other remains. Do not bury or burn entrails, as they attract bears.


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