Walleye Fishing In Montana
Guide To Walleye, Sauger & Saugeye
Montana offers exciting opportunities for walleye fishing, as well as its close relatives, sauger and saugeye. These predatory fish are known for their excellent table fare and provide anglers with thrilling battles. While walleye populations are not as abundant in Montana as in some other states, there are still lakes and rivers where these species can be targeted.
Fort Peck Reservoir is one of the top destinations for walleye fishing in Montana. This sprawling reservoir provides ample habitat for walleye, and anglers can find success trolling with crankbaits or using live bait rigs near drop-offs and underwater structures. Fort Peck Reservoir has produced impressive walleye catches over the years, and it is not uncommon to find trophy-sized fish in these waters.
Other lakes in Montana known for walleye fishing include Canyon Ferry Reservoir, Tiber Reservoir, and Fresno Reservoir. These water bodies offer opportunities to target walleye using a variety of techniques, including jigging, trolling, and casting. Anglers often focus their efforts near points, submerged humps, and areas with underwater structure where walleye tend to congregate.
Sauger, a close relative of walleye, can also be found in some of Montana's rivers, particularly the Missouri River. These fish have similar feeding habits and can be caught using similar techniques as walleye. While not as common as walleye, sauger provide an exciting alternative for anglers seeking a different fishing experience.
Saugeye, a hybrid species resulting from the crossbreeding of walleye and sauger, can also be found in some Montana waters. These fish exhibit characteristics of both parent species and can offer anglers an intriguing challenge. Some lakes and reservoirs, such as Tongue River Reservoir, have been stocked with saugeye to provide additional fishing opportunities.
Montana's state records for walleye, sauger, and saugeye showcase the potential for exceptional catches. The current state record for walleye stands at around 17 pounds, while the record for sauger is over 8 pounds. The state record for saugeye is over 15 pounds, anglers have the opportunity to target these hybrid fish and potentially set new records.
Montana's walleye, sauger, and saugeye fisheries provide anglers with diverse opportunities to pursue these popular gamefish. From the expansive reservoirs to the meandering rivers, these species offer thrilling angling experiences and the chance to catch a trophy-sized fish. It's important for anglers to familiarize themselves with specific fishing regulations and obtain the necessary licenses before targeting walleye, sauger, or saugeye in Montana's waters.
Walleye, Sauger & Saugeye Lakes
Walleye fishing is limited to a handful of lakes and some of the rivers associated with them. The lakes with healthy populations of walleye include Fort Peck Lake, Fresno Reservoir, Holter Reservoir, Hauser Lake, Lake Elwell-Tiber Reservoir, Lake Frances, Lake Helena, Nelson Reservoir, Noxon Reservoir and Tongue River Reservoir.
World record: 25 lbs 0 oz
State Record: 17.75 lbs
World record: 17 lbs 7 oz
State Record: 8.805 lbs
World record: 15 lbs 6 oz
State Record: 15.66 lbs
Click the images and links above for species details.
Top lures for walleye in Montana
Jigs with a variety of trailers and bait work well in virtually any depth water. When walleyes are shallow, spinnerbaits, small crankbaits and rip baits are the often very productive. As they move deeper, spoons are ideal for active walleye. Jigs and ice jigs are very productive when ice fishing. Understanding the seasonal movements of walleyes improves your odds of selecting the right lures for conditions on local waters.
Montana State Walleye, Sauger & Saugeye Records
The state record walleye was caught out of Tiber Reservoir.
The state record sauger came from Fort Peck Reservoir.
The state record saugeye was taken out of Fort Peck Reservoir.
Fishing For Walleye
This toothy fish will eat virtually anything it can catch and get in its mouth. They prefer small fish and will eat crustaceans, worms and insects. They tend to be somewhat wary and prefer the safety of deeper darker water. Trolling for walleye with deep diving crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinners and live bait provides a way to cover vast areas and locate concentrations of fish. Use of planer boards allows anglers to cover water out both sides of the boat while trolling. Try fishing for walleye from sundown to midnight, particularly during the heat of summer.
Walleye spawn in spring and when they have the option will choose to migrate from the lake up into feeder streams to spawn. If this option is not available they seek out shallow bars or shoals with clean bottom surfaces near deep water.
Fishing For Sauger
Closely related to the walleye and similar in appearance, sauger are generally smaller than walleye, reaching 4 to 5 pounds (or more) and up to about 20 inches. Often found in muddier rivers, it thrives in larger, silty lakes. They spawn in the shallows at night, without creating or guarding specific nests.
Fishing For Saugeye
This hybrid is created by mating sauger with walleye. The walleye influence allows the hybrids to grow larger than sauger, often to sizes equaling walleye. Saugeye tend to survive best in turbid/silty water and are caught in the same general areas and habitat populated by walleye and sauger.
Watch this video for walleye tips and tactics.
Walleye prefer moderately deep lakes with gravel, rock or sandy bottoms. It is found primarily in cold water lakes but has proven to survive in warmer impoundments. It is prized for its great tasting filets. Click here to learn all about walleye fishing.
Montana walleye spawn in spring and when they have the option will choose to migrate from the lake up into feeder streams to spawn. If this option is not available they seek out shallow bars or shoals with clean bottom surfaces near deep water.
Also find information about walleye, sauger or saugeye fishing in these states.
Learn the migration patterns of walleye
Walleye become active in spring and begin the spawning process in medium-depth water. As summer arrives they move to deeper, cooler water. In fall walleye migrate into shallower water again and feed aggressively preparing for their move to deeper water where they will spend winter.