Fishing abounds without license
No license or permits are required to fish inside the boundaries of Glacier National Park. Fishermen need to stop at a Visitor Center or Ranger Station to obtain a current copy of park fishing regulations.
Fishing is allowed by hook and line only.
The following areas are closed to fishing:
Kintla Creek between Kintla Lake and Upper Kintla Lake.
Upper Kintla Lake.
Bowman Creek above Bowman Lake Logging Creek between Logging Lake and Grace Lake. Cracker Lake.
The following creeks are closed for their entire length: Ole, Park, Muir, Coal, Nyack, and Fish Creeks.
Hidden Lake and outlet creek during cutthroat trout spawning.
Glacier National Park offers good fishing in an incredible setting, but only a few of the people who visit the park fish.
And, fishing in Glacier Park means lake fishing for all practical purposes.
Those picturesque streams beside the road or trail look inviting enough, but they are food-poor and so produce marginal angling.
“They are pretty much sterile as far as food supply goes. The lakes are typically better,” said Terry Sherburne, who has fished the park for nearly 50 years.
Glacier has 23 varieties of fish, but to protect bull trout or Dolly Varden and native cutthroats, some streams like those feeding the north and middle forks of the Flathead River have been closed to fishing altogether.
Almost all of the angling in Glacier Park happens in the 50 or so lakes that have fish in them.
Getting to most of those lakes entails a hike, although some are accessible from roads.
Michael Sample says in his book, “Fishing Montana,” that only about 10 percent of the people who visit the park fish, and few of them fish for more than a couple of hours.
So an angler willing to walk a little can find some first-rate fishing for brookies, cutthroat, rainbows, lake trout and grayling.
And whether the fish are biting or not, anglers will be surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery in North America.
Grizzly bears frequent many of the same areas that are home to the alpine lakes that have the fish. So anglers have to be on their toes.
And a late check with Glacier Park rangers or staff before a hike might save an angler some unwanted excitement. Besides, it is a cardinal rule of hiking in the park to register your plans.
Weather also is a factor in a successful hiking and fishing experience in Glacier.
In the high country, trails to some lakes may be impassable until late in the summer.
“A lot of those higher lakes don’t get snow-free or ice-free before the first of July,” said Sherburne.
“There is some real good fishing in Glacier Park,” Sherburne said. “The season runs concurrently with the state of Montana season, so you can begin fishing there the third weekend in May and you can fish until the time there is ice on a lot of the park lakes, which is the end of November.”
Early spring offers some good bait or lure fishing in some of the brook trout lakes like Many Glacier.
“They hang out on the bottom, and you can take two- and three-pound fish in some of the higher park lakes,” he said.
Lakes like St. Mary and McDonald are accessible, and they contain some big mackinaw, although anglers in boats have better luck since you generally have to fish deep for those fish.
“Bigger lakes like St. Mary and McDonald have some large lake trout — mackinaw — in the 30- to 35-pound range,” Sherburne said. “The smaller lakes are good for cutts and brookies.”
One lake that produces good numbers of cutthroat is Hidden Lake, an easy hike from the Logan Pass visitor’s center.
But two years ago, the fishing was restricted to catch-and-release because of bears.
“People were putting fish on a stringer and leaving it in the water. The grizzlies had that figured out, and they were gobbling up stringers of fish,” Sherburne said.
Many lakes and some high streams contain bull trout, but those fish are protected because they are at risk. Cutthroat trout also are subject to restrictions. The park limit is two cutts.
Besides Hidden Lake, cutthroat fishing is good in Otokomi, Oldman and Quartz lakes.
For brook trout, try Fishercap Lake, Swiftcurrent, Grinnell or Josephine, which are easy hikes.
Arctic grayling are found in Elizabeth Lake in the Belly River area in the park’s northernmost reaches.
“You can keep them; there are a lot of fish, and they are really fat,” Sherburne said. “They are 16 to 18 inches long and easy to catch on a fly.”
Sherburne also suggested Two Medicine Lake and Middle and Upper Two Medicine lakes.
“Both the upper lakes have pretty nice size brook trout and lake trout,” Sherburne said.
You can believe him: Sherburne manages the Mountain Pine Motel in East Glacier Park. The motel is 52 years old and so is Sherburne.
“My dad built the first part of the motel,” Sherburne said. “I’ve been fishing in the park for about 45 years, or since I was old enough to fish.”
Great Falls Tribune – Great Falls,MT,USA