Fishing alone while in Montana may be a crime

Never fish alone in MT if you're a woman.


A friend and regular follower of the UA informed me recently of an interesting law in Montana. The law states:

“In Montana it is illegal for married women to go fishing alone on Sundays, and illegal for unmarried women to fish alone at all.”

Now, I’m a reasonably intelligent person and suspect that this is an old wive’s tale.  I’ve Googled the matter and the same verbiage comes up on several different websites, but none of them are what I would call reliable sources:, These websites are likely just spreading falsehoods and simply adding fuel to a fire that shouldn’t even be burning. Over at Single Barbed this and other ridiculous fishing laws across the land were also called out.

Makes you wonder if these laws are, or ever were, real. If they were real at one time, what lawmaker got paid to write them and how did they make it through the legislative process?  And assuming these laws were written during a time of considerable social conservatism, how could modern lawmakers not revoke such antiquated legalities? If these laws are simply the result of some lonely jokester sitting in a dark office posting outrageous claims to the internet, then what a pitiful life that individual must lead.

Whatever the case may be, I must ask myself, “Why let them have all the fun?”  The Unaccomplished Angler would like to throw his lucky fishing hat into the mix and declare himself an authority on Montana fishing law: I confirm that it is in fact, illegal in Montana for married women to go fishing alone on Sundays, and illegal for unmarried women to fish alone at all.

So, heed my advice when you ladies are fishing in Montana: Know the laws. Avoid judicial persecution.

No charge for the legal advice.


  1. David G

    I’m sure the writer of this law is also the proud owner of the new “macbook wheel” as well.

    • Kirk Werner

      Indeed, he (or she) who invented the wheel also invented this and other stupid laws…

    • bard trout

      is this the story of mrs. hunter?

      • Kirk Werner

        Possibly, although without knowing who she is/was, I cannot say for certain.

  2. Patrick

    While I cannot (nor have the time or inclination to) confirm that it’s illegal to use a lasso to catch a fish in Tennessee, illegal to fish from a giraffe’s back in Illinois, illegal to use canned corn as bait in Oregon, illegal to fish for whales on Sunday or get a fish drunk in Ohio… I did find that freedom won out over insanity in Idaho, where one can now fish from the back of an animal. However, it is illegal in that state to molest any fish by “…chasing [it] up or downstream in any manner.” I trust that this doesn’t apply to a fish already molested by a fly in its mouth, or at least the flailing of a rod and fly line by an unaccomplished angler.

    • Kirk Werner

      Thankfully, I wouldn’t know about any of all that.

    • Tammy

      It is indeed illegal to use canned corn as bait in Oregon.

  3. Fred Telleen

    While it is illegal for single women to go fishing alone in Montana, they may soon be able to go hunting with a spear.

  4. chuck

    The most beautiful places are full of idiots!

    • Kirk Werner

      As evidenced in the movie, Deliverance…

  5. Elizabeth W

    Wait a minute – can two or more single (or married) women fish together? Or does the group have to have a male chaperone (as if they could protect the ladies in a Deliverance moment)? I need to know before I accept an online invite fishing date…in Montana (or not). He may use this law to justify his presence.

    • Kirk Werner

      Valid questions, Elizabeth. If you interpret the law verbatim, it would appear legal for two women to fish together, even if they are both unmarried. I’d say accept the invitation just for good measure. Even if you don’t like the guy, he may keep you out of jail.

  6. cofisher

    Kirk, I don’t know whether this law is fact or not, but there are many stupid laws on the books. I suspect that something similar to this is actually on the books. Understand that laws like these were usually written during America’s Victorian period (1800’s) when women were held in the highest esteem and they didn’t trespass into the man’s domain with a few notable exceptions; Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, Tiny Tim. Then again, maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    • Kirk Werner

      It wouldn’t surprise me if it were actual law, written at a time, as you noted, when things were…different (I almost said “better” but caught myself ; )
      Funny, if that’s the case, that it has stayed on the books until now.

  7. cofisher

    Law makers are great at crafting laws and churning them out one after another ad nauseous. (and pretty ridiculous ones to this day.) Not so good at cleaning up after themselves, literally and figuratively.

  8. Montana fishing guide

    Wild! I’ve never even heard of the law. I’ll have to check into it and see if its ligit. Stories like this are always fun to share when floating down the river with clients.

    • Kirk Werner

      The things you learn on the internets, eh?! You have officially just become a little bit more entertaining and can charge your clients a bit more now 😉 Thanks for stopping by.

  9. The River Damsel

    Jeepers!!! I have broken several laws in MT. and didn’t even know it… and several times… I was wondering why I didn’t see any women out there! LOL What a ridiculous law if true… I think that The Outdooress needs to hear this one!

    • Kirk Werner

      We would not want a River Damsel in Distress, so you best stop breakin’ them Montucky laws, ma’am. I agree, the Outdooress needs to know. Problem is, she’s such a big shot that she doesn’t stop by the Unaccomplished Angler any more…

  10. Fontinalis Rising

    I fish alone all the time, and when I do run into a woman on the river, I always offer to chaperon. I’m just that good of a guy, and have gotten used to pepper spray.

    • Kirk Werner

      Assuming you’re on the receiving end of the pepper spray, and not hosing down the lone female anglers? Because that would just be wrong.

      • hi

        lol that is funny Kirk Werner.
        ps… do they actually spray u with pepper spray??

        • hi

          oh oops I mean Fontinalis Rising sorry

  11. Montana Fly Fishing Outfitter

    Same state that says in Excelsior Springs, Montana, you are not allowed to “worry the squirrels.”

    • Kirk Werner

      This is good to know. I wonder if this has anything to do with A.D.D.?

  12. Jeanne A. Thornton

    This is the dummies law ever. I have done a lot of deep sea fishing never had a problem fishing in rivers or lakes alone in California. What is this states problem.

    • Kirk Werner

      I can’t be certain, but I have a feeling that if this law is still on the books, it’s seldom enforced.

  13. Wulf Nesthead

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! is chock full of outright falsehoods; I can’t believe anyone with brains takes it seriously.
    Good on you for having a discerning eye: the vast majority of articles online which mention those sites swallow the whole thing hook, line and sinker.

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