Northwest Montana has most natural lakes within the state that lie outside of the mountains. The lakes found in this region range from small ponds to the largest freshwater lake west of the continental divide—Flathead Lake. All the lakes in this region offer a wealth of fishing opportunities for both cold-water species such as trout and warm-water species like bass.

Many lakes in this region are located quite close to large towns and resorts, allowing for excellent services and lodging—in rather stark contrast to many other Montana lakes and reservoirs. The lakes in this region are also very scenic, with thick forests and towering mountains flanking the lakeshore.

The lakes in Northwest Montana, particularly Flathead Lake, Swan Lake and Whitefish Lake, due to their scenic beauty and proximity to popular tourist attractions such as Glacier National Park, receive heavy use. Most pressure comes from pleasure boating and waterskiing, reducing any chances for finding solitude except in poor weather or in the off-season. Other lakes, such as the smaller Holland Lake and Ashley Lake, provide excellent fly fishing in a remote and scenic environment.

Despite their generally heavy use, the lakes in this region are well worth visiting for an angler on a Montana fly fishing trip. Many lakes have excellent trout fishing. And even if the trout aren’t biting—the scenic beauty of these lakes makes any day spent on the water a rewarding one.

If you plan to visit Northwest Montana and want to do some lake fishing but lack a motorized boat, don’t despair. Most inflatable fishing boats—particularly inflatable fishing kayaks—are ideal for fishing most Northwest Montana lakes. Unlike the lakes located in other parts of Montana, high winds generally aren’t a problem (usually). As such, an inflatable boat that’s easy to paddle is often all you need to fish the smaller to medium sized lakes of Northwest Montana.

Unlike many of the other lakes in Montana, several lakes in Northwest Montana are close to “major Montana cities,” if you want to use that word a bit loosely. The towns of Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Bigfork are all located close to many of the most popular lakes in Northwest Montana. Thus, services and lodging are abundant.

Montana Lakes