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Fishing For Catfish In Montana For 2024

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Guide to fishing for channel catfish in MT.

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Catfish fishing in Montana

Montana may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about catfish fishing, but the state offers opportunities to target channel catfish in certain water bodies. The purpose of this page is to share basic information about catfish fishing and catfish waters in the state.

Catfish Fishing Video

2024 Catfish Fishing Options

Channel catfish are known for their strong fight, impressive size, and tasty fillets, making them a sought-after species among anglers.

One of the prime locations for channel catfish fishing in Montana is the Yellowstone River. This iconic river supports a healthy population of channel catfish, particularly in the lower sections. Anglers can target catfish using a variety of methods, including bottom fishing with cut bait, stink bait, or chicken liver. The river's deep holes, eddies, and undercut banks provide ideal habitats for channel catfish to ambush their prey and offer promising spots for anglers to land a trophy-sized catfish.

Other water bodies that provide opportunities for channel catfish fishing in Montana include the Missouri River, Fort Peck Reservoir, and Tongue River Reservoir. These reservoirs and rivers can produce good numbers of channel catfish, especially in areas with suitable habitat and food sources.

When planning a channel catfish fishing trip in Montana, it's important to check local fishing regulations and obtain the necessary licenses. Some waters may have specific rules regarding catfish fishing, such as size limits and catch-and-release requirements, to ensure the sustainability of the fishery.

Montana's channel catfish fishing season typically runs from late spring through fall, with the warmer months offering the most active feeding and aggressive strikes. Catfish tend to become more active during low-light conditions or in the evening, so early morning or late evening fishing can often be productive.

While catfish may not be the most commonly targeted species in Montana, anglers who seek the thrill of battling strong, hard-fighting fish and appreciate the delicious taste of catfish fillets can find rewarding experiences pursuing channel catfish in select locations across the state.

2024 Best Catfish Fishing Lakes In The State

Unlike southern states, catfish are not in the vast majority of fishing waters here in Montana. You can still catch catfish in MT, you're simply limited to the number of options. The major lakes with healthy populations of channel catfish include Ashley Lake, Fort Peck Lake, Nelson Reservoir and Tiber Reservoir. Some of the rivers, ponds and smaller lakes may also have catfish.

Fishing Boats For Rent In Montana

Catfish in Montana

Channel Catfish

Channel catfish

World record: 58 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 35.18 lbs

Click the images and links above for species details.

Best 2024 bait for catfish fishing in Montana

Choose from the top 5 all-time catfish baits and try them on local waters. Appealing to the keen sense of smell and taste could turn a so-so day into a memorable event.

Montana State Record Catfish

The state record channel catfish was caught from Colstrip Surge Pond.

Catfish fishing from the bank

There are many species of catfish and even more ways to catch them. Adults range in size from less than a pound to hundreds of pounds. Catfish are found in all types of water including ponds, streams, lakes and rivers throughout Montana. There are even species which spend a limited amount of time on dry land. Big giant catfish put up a very noble fight once hooked.

Most catfish are considered bottom feeders to one extent or another. They will generally eat anything that can get in their mouth. Their strongest sense is smell which they use to locate potential food sources. Capitalizing on this sense is the primary weapon in your search for these creatures. Aggressive catfish have been caught on most types of fast moving bass lures so don't under estimate their ability to catch live bait.

Additional catfishing information resources.

Catfish Conservation Group

U.S. Catfish Anglers Tournaments

Planet Catfish


Information for states with catfish.

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