Skip to main content
Go to search page

Buy and apply MENU

FWP online licensing system on a mobile phone

Buy & Apply Commercial Fish & Floating Permits

Commercial Fish Permits

Permits are necessary to possess and/or use various types of wildlife, both native species and exotic species. There are some species of exotic wildlife that may NOT be possessed as personal pets. Learn the difference between controlled, noncontrolled, and prohibited species to be clear on which species you may possess.

No species of wildlife may be released into the wild without specific authorization from the department.

Fishing Ponds

Commercial Fishing Ponds

A Commercial Fish Pond License entitles the holder to sell live fish or gametes within Montana. In addition to the license in order to sell live fish or gametes the applicant must obtain an annual Fish Health Certificate from FWP. An annual report of all fish/gamete transactions is required annually along with a $500 Corporate Surety Bond.

Fees

There is a $10.00 application fee and annual renewal fee. There is also an annual $500 Corporate Surety Bond.

Commercial Fish Pond Laws

Fish Ponds, Seining, and Commerical Taking of Aquatic Fish Food Organisms—MCA 87-4-603 to 87-4-607

Commercial Fish Pond License Application

Import Permit Application

All importations of live fish or fish eggs for introduction into any private or public pond, stream, lake, or other water in Montana, or fish transported through Montana, must be accompanied by a permit issued by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Private Fish Ponds Application

A person who owns or lawfully controls a private fish pond may obtain a license from FWP to stock the pond with fish. 

Only lawfully purchased fish may be planted. Approved fish hatcheries (commercial fish ponds) for purchasing fish for private ponds:

 

Registration of Koi or Goldfish Ponds

Koi and goldfish are controlled exotic fish species that can be legally kept indoors in an aquarium or outdoors in ponds that meet certain criteria. Such ponds must be registered with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. For stocking of other fish species in ponds please contact your local FWP office.

Private Ponds License Search

Search for existing private pond licenses by name, business name, or license number.

No fishing license is required to fish on licensed, privately stocked fish ponds. Fishing license requirements apply to all other ponds and/or waters on private land.

Fees

The license application fee for a private or non-commercial fish pond is $10.

Fish Pond Laws

Stream Permitting

If you are planning to do work on or near a waterway in Montana, one or several permits may be required. Refer to the Stream Permitting page from the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation (DNRC) for information about permits, guidelines, and maps.

Bait Seining

Commercial Bait Fish Seining and Sale of Bait Fish

Contact regional FWP offices for a Bait Fish Seining License and a list of waters open to commercial seining: $10 fee.

A bait fish seining license is required:

  • For persons 15 years of age and older to seine for and transport bait fish for commercial purposes in Montana;
  • For any person who seines for and has in his/her possession more than 24 dozen nongame bait fish.

Nongame bait fish (except carp, goldfish and rainbow smelt) may be harvested commercially and transported in accordance with Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM) Section 12.7.201-12.7.204. Live bait fish or leeches may not be imported into Montana for commercial or other purposes unless authorized by FWP. Bait fish may not be exported without FWP authorization. Call 406-452-6181 or go online at fwp.mt.gov for more information.

Whitefish

Special Floating Permits

Permits and Special Restrictions are in place on some of the rivers in Montana as a way to protect the recreational experience and the river resources.

Smith River

A permit is required to float the Smith River due to its status as a Montana State Park. Please visit the Smith River page for complete details on the application process and permit lottery.

Upper and West Fork Bitterroot River

A permit is required for commercial fishing and floating on the West Fork of the Bitterroot and a portion of the upper Bitterroot (Hannon Memorial FAS to Wally Crawford FAS). Permitted outfitters will be limited to two launches in each section of the upper river and West Fork. Each section will also have a non-commercial day. There is no permit required of the general recreating public but there are special angling and boating restrictions that apply to nonresidents and commercial outfitters.

Call (406) 542-5564 for more information.

NOTE — Floating of any kind is prohibited on Fridays in Section 1 from July 1-September 15 and in all sections there is a non-commercial day from June 1- September 15. The sections and their rules are as follows:

Map of Sections 1-4: Upper Bitterroot River and West Fork Bitterroot River26 KB

Section 1: Painted Rocks Dam to Applebury Site (11 miles) — Floating of any kind (commercial and non-commercial) is prohibited on Fridays from July 1-September 15.

Section 2: Applebury Site to Trapper Creek Job Corps Site (8 miles) — Float outfitting prohibited on Saturdays.

Section 3: Trapper Creek Job Corps Site to Hannon Memorial Site (8 miles) — Float outfitting prohibited on Sundays.

Section 4: Hannon Memorial Site to Wally Crawford Site (9 miles) — Float outfitting prohibited on Mondays.

Blackfoot River

Visit the Blackfoot River Recreation more information.

Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork River

A permit is required to conduct commercial use on the Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork River. Please contact the FWP Region 2 office in Missoula for more information (406) 542-5562.

Beaverhead River

The Beaverhead River is one of Montana's premier brown trout fishing rivers, producing more large trout, particularly brown trout, than any other river in the state. The Beaverhead River begins at Clark Canyon Dam, near Dillon, and flows for 80 miles to the confluence with the Jefferson River. The scenic Big Hole River winds and rushes in every imaginable configuration through high alpine valleys, steep-walled canyons, and broad agricultural plains. Its long journey twists and turns through and by the McCartney, Pioneer, Pintler, Ruby, Tobacco Root, and Highland Mountains until the eventual confluence with the Ruby and the Beaverhead in Twin Bridges, the headwaters of the Jefferson River.

To manage recreational use on these two important rivers, rules defining recreational use and outfitter restrictions were adopted in June 2005. The Fish & Wildlife Commission will review the rules within five years of that date.

From the third Saturday in May through Labor Day, recreational use rules and restrictions are in effect on the Beaverhead River (from Clark Canyon Dam to its mouth) and on the Big Hole River (from its headwaters to Notch Bottom Fishing Access Site). Please familiarize yourself with these rules.

Big Hole River

The Beaverhead River is one of Montana's premier brown trout fishing rivers, producing more large trout, particularly brown trout, than any other river in the state. The Beaverhead River begins at Clark Canyon Dam, near Dillon, and flows for 80 miles to the confluence with the Jefferson River. The scenic Big Hole River winds and rushes in every imaginable configuration through high alpine valleys, steep-walled canyons, and broad agricultural plains. Its long journey twists and turns through and by the McCartney, Pioneer, Pintler, Ruby, Tobacco Root, and Highland Mountains until the eventual confluence with the Ruby and the Beaverhead in Twin Bridges, the headwaters of the Jefferson River.

To manage recreational use on these two important rivers, rules defining recreational use and outfitter restrictions were adopted in June 2005. The Fish & Wildlife Commission will review the rules within five years of that date.

From the third Saturday in May through Labor Day, recreational use rules and restrictions are in effect on the Beaverhead River (from Clark Canyon Dam to its mouth) and on the Big Hole River (from its headwaters to Notch Bottom Fishing Access Site). Please familiarize yourself with these rules.

Madison River

In a collaborative effort, FWP and the BLM will require Special Recreation Permits on the Madison River beginning in 2008. Special Recreation Permits are authorizations that allow for commercial, competitive, and organized group recreational use of public lands and related waters.

The Madison River Special Recreation Permit ("SRP" or "permit") Operations Manual provides a comprehensive view of the SRP and has been presented to the public for comment. Intended primarily for agency use, the Operations Manual includes implementation policies and procedures that provide guidance to agency staff responsible for administering the SRP program. It is a working document that will be amended over time to reflect changes in the program.

For more information, please contact the Madison River Recreation Manager. Refer to the Madison River Citizen Advisory Committee page for additional related information.