Where to take kids fishing

You don't always need a boat and fancy equipment to take a kid fishing.

With some simple tackle and the right place to go, you can take a kid fishing and have some fun. The Montana general fishing season opens the third Saturday in May. Be sure to read your fishing regulations for limits and other rules that apply.

Here are some ideas on places to go near Kalispell and Glacier National Park that are family-friendly. Remember, if you're taking a child fishing, go on short trips, bring snacks and other things to keep them busy if fishing is slow. 

Flathead River

East Evergreen Drive to Old Steel Bridge - Contains cutthroat trout, lake trout and bull trout, and lake whitefish in the fall. Best fishing is from late June through October. Cutthroat trout and bull trout must be released.

Stillwater River — Contains cutthroat trout, lake trout, pike, suckers, squawfish. Use worms, salmon eggs, small lures or spinners. Mostly private land. Section around Leisure Island is good later in the season.

Ashley Creek west of Kalispell - Contains rainbow trout, pike, perch and squawfish. Use worms, salmon eggs, small lures or spinners. Mostly private land.

  Ashley Creek near Rogers Lake - Go about 10 miles west of Kalispell on U.S. 2, turn south on Rogers Lake road. After you cross Ashley Creek, turn right into the gravel pit. You can fish up to U.S. 2 and for a half-mile above U.S. 2 to the falls. Contains brook trout and rainbow trout.

Swan River near Bigfork - fish under the bridge in Bigfork Bay. Contains lake, rainbow and cutthroat trout. Use worms, cut bait, small spinners or flies. Use the state fishing access adjacent to the bridge.

Bigfork dam - Use small spinners or bait. Fish the calmer pockets in the river from the dam down to Bigfork for rainbow trout and lake trout. You'll have to walk the road from Bigfork to the dam on the west side of the river

McGregor Creek - this creek runs parallel to U.S. 2 from McGregor Lake to Thompson River. East access on foot most of the way. Contains abundant brook trout. Use worms or salmon eggs, but try to sneak up on the holes, as the fish are easily spooked.

Thompson River - Drive 45 miles west of Kalispell on U.S. 2, then turn down the Thompson River Road. The first seven miles are private, but most of the stream below that is open to fishing. Many places to fish and camp on Plum Creek land. Use worms, salmon eggs or flies. 

Whitefish River - Near Whitefish, the river contains rainbow trout and pike. Use spinners and bait, fishing backwaters off the main river. The stretch near the Highway 40 bridge crossing is easily accessible.

Whitefish Lake — fish from the City Beach docks using a worm or artificial bait. You may catch a squaw fish or sucker, but the action is fun for the kids.

Smith Lake - fish from the dock at the fishing access, or along the shore where the weeds are too thick. Tie a hook or jig three to four feet below a bobber, and bait the hoot with worms, maggots or a perch eyeball. Use smelt for pike. (When the fish begin to nibble, reel your slack and jerk hard.) 

Lake Mary Ronan - Fish at the boat ramp and dock in May and June, or on any open ground around the lake. Catch rainbows, cutthroat with worms, salmon eggs, flies or small spinners.

McWennegar Slough - five miles west of Kalispell. This lake experienced a major winter kill this year, so it could be slow. Being close to town, it's worth a try, however. Fish worms or smelt under a bobber.

Flathead Lake - in May and June, smaller lake trout move into the shore. Fish at rocky points like Wayfarer Park in Bigfork, or West Shore State Park using worms, cut bait or lures.

Lion Lake - Turn at Hungry Horse and drive about three miles. Still fish with worms and marshmallows, or flies and lures.

Beaver Lake - Still fish on the bottom with worms and marshmallows, or use lures or flies. Located about five miles north of U.S. 93 north of Whitefish. 

Echo Lake - Fish off the causeway or at the state land access in May and June or late summer for perch, bass and pumpkinseed. Use a small hook or jig with maggots, worms, or piece of fish under a bobber.

Foy's Lake (best bet) - Drive three miles south of Kalispell on Foy's Lake Road. Good fishing for rainbow trout in spring, fall and early winter. Use worms and marshmallows or Power Bait on the bottom, or under a bobber.

Buffalo Head Pond - In Kalispell, turn on Grandview Drive just south of the community college. After the road makes a 90-degree turn south, park in the church parking lot near the gully. Walk down the gully under the road and to the ponds. This is a city park stocked with trout. Best fishing in April and May, using worms and marshmallows, flies or small spinners.

Dry Bridge Slough - Located on Woodland Drive in Kalispell. Best bait is worms or Power Bait under a bobber.

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