Guide To Popular Panfish Fishing Options In Montana
All about fishing for sunfish in MT lakes and ponds.
Montana offers fantastic opportunities for panfish fishing, providing a fun and accessible experience for youth anglers. Two popular panfish species found in Montana are sunfish and perch, which are abundant in many lakes, reservoirs, and ponds throughout the state.
Sunfish, including bluegill and pumpkinseed, are a favorite among young anglers due to their willingness to bite and their vibrant colors. These panfish are often found in weedy areas or near submerged structures. Sunfish can be caught using simple and lightweight fishing tackle, making them ideal for youth fishing. They can be enticed with small hooks, live bait such as worms or small insects, or artificial baits like small jigs or grubs.
Perch are another panfish species commonly targeted by youth anglers in Montana. Yellow perch are particularly popular, known for their tasty flesh and willingness to bite. These fish are found in many lakes and reservoirs, often near rocky or weedy areas. Perch can be caught using small hooks tipped with live bait or artificial lures that mimic small minnows or insects.
Montana's panfish fishing provides a great opportunity for youth anglers to learn basic fishing skills, practice casting, and experience the joy of catching fish. Panfish are often abundant, providing frequent action and increasing the chances of success for young anglers. These species are typically found in lakes and ponds that are easily accessible, making them perfect for family outings or youth fishing events.
Youth fishing events and programs are held throughout Montana, offering additional support and education for young anglers. These events often include fishing clinics, hands-on instruction, and opportunities for kids to interact with experienced anglers. They create a safe and supportive environment for youth to learn about fishing techniques, fish identification, and conservation practices.
Montana's panfish fishing provides an excellent platform for youth anglers to develop a love for fishing and the outdoors. It offers a chance for children to learn about fish species, practice their angling skills, and create lifelong memories with family and friends. Whether it's catching sunfish from a local pond or reeling in perch from a lakeshore, Montana's panfish fishing provides an enjoyable and rewarding experience for youth anglers.
Throughout the state you can find waters with populations of sunfish, including bluegill, green sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, rock bass, white bass and yellow perch. Ice fishing for perch and panfish can provide plenty of action to keep kids interested.
Panfish & Perch Lakes
Panfish typically prefer water warmer than the typical Montana lakes and rivers, Despite that you can find one or more species of panfish in many of the major lakes in MT, including Ashley Lake, Bull Lake, Canyon Ferry Lake, Clark Canyon Reservoir, Flathead Lake, Fort Peck Lake, Fresno Reservoir, Hauser Lake, Holter Reservoir, Lake Frances, Lake Helena, Lake Koocanusa, Lower Saint Mary Lake, Nelson Reservoir, Noxon Reservoir, Placid Lake, Seeley Lake, Tiber Reservoir and Whitefish Lake. They are also common in private ponds as they are a major food source for larger predator fish.
Top Producing Panfish Lures & Bait
Check out the top producing lures and bait for bluegill, redear sunfish, rock bass and warmouth, as well as other smaller sunfish. Click here for the best lures for white bass, yellow bass, white perch and yellow perch.
In-state panfish, sunfish and perch
World record: 4 lbs 12 oz
State Record: 2.64 lbs
World record: 2.2 lbs
State Record: 0.84 lbs
World record: 2 lbs 4 oz
State Record: 0.96 lbs
World record: 3.0 lbs
State Record: 1.31 lbs
World record: 6.8 lbs
State Record: 2.8 lbs
World record: 4 lbs 3 oz
State Record: 2.39 lbs
Click the images and links above for species details.
Montana State Record Sunfish
The state record bluegill was caught from Peterson's Stock Dam.
The state record green sunfish came from Hickson's Pond.
The state record pumpkinseed sunfish is from Upper Thompson Lake.
The state record rockbass was caught in Lower Crazy Head Springs Pond.
The state record white bass came from the Missouri River.
The state record yellow perch was caught from Lower Stillwater Lake.
Panfish are prolific spawners and repopulate the waters as fast as they are harvested. A common problem with panfish fishing is that the waters are under-fished causing panfish to overpopulate. As a result they tend to stay small in size due to lack of food source.
The term "panfish" comprises many species, each called by a variety of names. The bluegill tops the list and is the most common.
One or more species of sunfish populate virtually all warm water streams, ponds and lakes throughout Montana, and around the world for that matter. They can survive in waters that provide their natural food source of minnows, insects, crustaceans and worms. Their competitive nature amongst themselves, for food, makes them relatively easy to catch.
Bluegill Fishing Basics Video
The core principles shown in this video will work for most sunfish, perch and other panfish.
Sunfish information in other states.
Learn the lifecycle of a panfish
There is a host of panfish anglers can pursue. Visit the panfish fishing page for details on many of these sunfish you might encounter in Montana fishing waters.