Western Montana is home to numerous lakes, some of the most notable being Flathead Lake, Whitefish Lake, Lake McDonald, Lake Como, Seeley Lake and Lake Koocanusa. In addition to these notable waters, we're also home to high alpine glacier-fed lakes, quiet pools and of course, plenty of waterfalls.
Located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Duck Lake is well-known for its large fish, coming in at an average of eight pounds each. The lake is home to rainbow trout, bull trout, brown trout and westslope cutthroat trout. Be sure to obtain a tribal fishing license before fishing the waters.
Created in 1953 after the construction of Hungry Horse Dam (the upper most dam in the Columbia River hydro-power system), Hungry Horse Reservoir is managed for flood control and power production. Today, fish use the reservoir to rear and reach maturity. The reservoir is home to bull trout, mountain whitefish and westslope cutthroat trout. The reservoir is open year-round to fishing, with May through November being prime fishing times. There are 14 campgrounds and recreation sites around the reservoir.
Surrounded on the east side by the Mission Mountains and the west side by the Salish Mountains, Flathead Lake is the largest natural body of fresh water west of the Mississippi River. This Montana lake is 30 miles long, nearly 15 miles wide and has a depth of 300 feet, providing unparalleled fishing and recreational opportunities. It also has numerous fishing access sites and state parks along its 185 miles of shoreline, as well as several communities, including Polson, Bigfork, Big Arm, Elmo, Lakeside, Dayton and Somers. Wild Horse Island, the lake's largest island, is day-use state park that is home to wild horses, bighorn sheep, coyotes, deer and a variety of birds.
The southern half of the lake is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation, home of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. When recreating or fishing on these waters, be sure to obtain a tribal permit (available at most area sporting goods stores).
Glacier National Park's biggest lake, Lake McDonald is 10 miles long and 472 feet deep. Located on the western side of the park, the lake is surrounded by mountains on the north, south and east. Boat rental, boat tours, fishing and general water recreation are popular activities on the lake.
Located at the north end of the Swan Valley is Swan Lake, a lake popular for both fishing and water recreation. Sitting at about eight miles long and one mile wide, the lake is home to northern pike, salmon and rainbow trout. Also located nearby are a day-use area, small beach and campground.
Offering sandy beaches and beautiful state parks, Whitefish Lake sits just north of the community of Whitefish and at the base of Big Mountain—home to Whitefish Mountain Resort. At seven miles long and more than two miles wide, the lake offers plenty of space for water recreation, such as boating, swimming, water skiing and fishing.
Located in northwest Montana, Lake Koocanusa sits at nearly 30,000 acres and is home to a healthy fish population that includes bull trout, rainbow trout, bass, kokanee salmon and whitefish. In addition to stellar fishing, this 90-mile long reservoir provides excellent boating opportunities and there are several recreation areas along the lake, with campgrounds, boat ramps, picnic shelters and more.
Located southeast of Eureka, Murphy Lake is a prime fishing destination for largemouth bass and northern pike. Sitting in a heavily forested area, this small lake and its surrounding area is home to a variety of birds, including common loons, bald eagles and osprey.
Located a few miles north of Darby is Lake Como, a popular lake in Montana's Bitterroot Valley. The Lake Como National Recreation Loop Trail extends around the lake for seven miles and is a popular route for hiking and mountain biking.
Bitterroot National Forest
Located three miles south and three miles west of Seeley Lake is Placid Lake, known for its good trout fishing and smooth waters. Placid Lake State Park has facilities for camping, picnicking, boating, swimming and more.
Located five miles south of Seeley Lake, Salmon Lake is known as being one of the most picturesque lakes on the Clearwater River. Popular activities include fishing, boating and other water sports. Salmon Lake State Park also has camping facilities, as well a boat dock and ramp.
This 1,000+ acre lake is popular among fishermen, as its home to kokanee, largemouth bass, whitefish, northern pike and yellow perch, as well as rainbow and westslope cutthroat trout. The lake is also a popular destination for water recreationists and is prime for boating and swimming.
Located along Highway 200 near Trout Creek, Noxon Reservoir has a hearty population of largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as northern pike. Its waters are fished primarily by boat, with several available access points along the reservoir.
Located in Thompson Falls, the reservoir offers a variety of recreational activities that include boating, water activities and fishing. Several boat launches can be found along the reservoir. Recently a fish ladder was added, allowing visitors to witness the endangered bull trout as it makes its journey upstream.
For a complete list of lakes, visit Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.