Glacier National Park
Backcountry Lakes & Fishing

Mt. Gould in Glacier Park

Backcountry Lakes & Fishing

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The backcountry fishing in Glacier National Park can range from excellent to mediocre at best. The reason for this wide change in the quality of the backcountry fishing is simple - these high mountain lakes lack the fertility and nutrients to spawn large fish. Some lakes, due to this, are completely fishless. Other lakes will have tons of starving little fish that will gulp in your finger if given half the chance.

Yet, some of the backcountry lakes (defined as the lakes where hiking is required to reach them), can provide splendid fishing. And, of course, even if the fishing is just so-so, who cares? After all, the backcountry lakes in Glacier National Park all have one thing in common - and that is incredible scenery in a splendid and unspoiled environment.

Reaching some of the backcountry lakes in Glacier National Park can require quite a bit of effort on the park of the angler. Other lakes are just a simple hour walk or less to reach. As such, before picking out a lake on a map and blindly heading out, make sure you know how much vertical you will be gaining, how long the hike is, and the type of terrain the trail passes through. If you're out of shape or will be carrying a float tube, venturing up to Trout Lake may not be the best of ideas.

If you've never hiked in Glacier Park before, visit our Hiking Glacier National Park section, for detailed information about good hiking practices in the park.

Backcountry Lakes of Glacier National Park

The links below lead to detailed pages that describe the backcountry lakes of Glacier Park that are covered on this site. If you want information about the larger "front country lakes"...or those lakes that you can DRIVE too, visit the Glacier Park Lakes section.

Overview of Fishing Regulations for Glacier National Park

Photo Use Guidelines

When fishing in Glacier National Park, a fishing license is NOT required, provided all your fishing is done within the park itself. A Montana fishing license will be required if you plan on fishing in any of the rivers that form the southern and western borders of the park. General park fishing season is from the third Saturday in May, through November 30, with some exceptions.

While keeping fish is highly discouraged in the park, it is also not illegal. Here are the general fishing limits for Glacier National Park. Be sure to check the latest park fishing regulations for additional regulations:

Daily catch and possession limits will not exceed five (5) fish, including no more than: two (2) cutthroat trout, five (5) burbot (ling), five (5) northern pike, five (5) whitefish, five (5) kokanee salmon, five (5) brook trout, five (5) grayling, five (5) rainbow trout, five (5) lake trout (mackinaw).

Fishing for bull trout is prohibited and any bull trout incidentally caught must be immediately released.

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 released, except when closed for spawning.

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. Why? Keeping fish parts lying around is a wonderful way to invite a Grizzly Bear to dinner!

Overall, Glacier National Park lacks some of the finer backcountry fishing that is found in places such as Yellowstone National Park. However, a few gems do exist, all of which require some effort to reach. For anglers willing to spend the time to get there, they can experience the beauty of fishing a pristine and quite mountain lake while catching fish too.

Hiking Gear & Equipment Guide for Glacier National Park

Hiking Socks : Guide to Getting the Right Sock for Hiking
Rain Jackets : What kind of rain jacket to get for hiking...and why
Trekking Poles : Why you should use a Hiking Staff when hiking

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