Several pristine blue-ribbon trout streams surround Butte providing world-class angling opportunity. Within an hour’s drive, visitors can be casting on the banks of the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Jefferson, Clark Fork, and Little Blackfoot rivers. Visitors can hike to alpine lakes in Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, Tobacco Root, Pioneer, Flint ranges, or venture further afield to the Missouri, Madison, and Blackfoot rivers. Several public fishing-access sites make getting out on the water a breeze. Kids can cast a line at the fishing pond at Skyline Park or at Homestake Lake just 10 minutes east of Butte on Interstate-90. Ice fishing opportunities are plentiful with Georgetown Lake being a local favorite. Grab your fishing pole and impress your friends with your day's haul in the home of some of the world's finest fishing!

A valid fishing license is required for all types of fishing on state waters. To fish in Montana, most anglers need two licenses: a Conservation License and a Fishing License. A fishing license allows a person to fish for and possess any fish or aquatic invertebrate authorized by the state's fishing regulations. It is nontransferable and nonrefundable. The license enables one to fish from March 1 through the end of February of the following year. Visit Fish, Wildlife, & Parks for more information.

Maps are available at the Butte Visitor Information CenterU.S. Bureau of Land Management, or U.S. Forest Service.

Map of Fishing Locations

Click a marker for more recreation area information.

Leave No Trace Seven Principles

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace were developed to help educate and guide recreationists in sustainable minimum impact practices that mitigate or avoid recreation-related impacts. Each Principle covers a specific topic and provides detailed information for minimizing impacts. Visit the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics for more information.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Learn about specific regulations and issues on this particular river.
  • Use a knowledgable guide on new rivers. Use a river guidebook and map to plan your trip.
  • Secure required permits early. Some areas have lottery permits so start planning early.
  • Schedule trip during the time of year when appropriate river flows for your group's skill level will be most likely. Stay informed of flow fluctuations as you approach your trip date.
  • Trips on weekdays rather than weekends and during off-season provide more solitude and wildlife viewing opportunities.
  • Create a flexible schedule allowing you to make use of less-used campsites.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Use established campsites large enough for your group.
  • Beach your craft at an established landing site or onto sand or rock rather than soft, grassy shore.
  • Use extra care in walking only on sand, not vegetation around camp areas.
  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
    • In popular areas:
      • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
      • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
      • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
    • In pristine areas:
      • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
      • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Check local regulations for guidelines on waste disposal since there are a number of possible recommendations.
  • Cat holes quickly convert a campsite into a litter box. Use of a portable toilet is mandatory in many river corridors. Packing out all feces and toilet paper ensures no impact.
  • Liquid waste is usually dumped in the main current of high volume rivers and allowed to dilute as it is washed downstream. Along small rivers, scattering liquid waste at least 200 feet from shore is preferred.
  • Using a tarp as the kitchen floor is helpful to catch food and trash. This is not much of a burden in a watercraft and minimizes the food bits that can attract animals.

4. Leave What You Find

  • Waterways were the highways of early inhabitants. Ancient structures, artifacts, and rock art are abundant along rivers. Be sure to leave them undisturbed.
  • Prevent the spread of non-native species by thoroughly cleaning equipment after a water trip and properly disposing of live bait.
  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the environment. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

6. Respect Wildlife

  • Water is a critical resource for wildlife. Give wildlife plenty of room.
  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Leave larger campsites for larger groups if your group can fit in a smaller area.
  • Avoid camping, eating, and long rest breaks near popular rapids where you may impact scouting and portaging.
  • Canoes, kayaks, and other non-motorized craft usually have the right-of-way over motorboats.
  • Keep an eye out for fishermen and give them plenty of room, especially if they are wading or fishing from shore.
  • Let other groups you meet on the river know your plans and where you expect to camp for the night. This can help distribute impact and increase privacy.
  • Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: