While the Bighorn is not currently listed, several Montana SW Rivers are under restrictions due to low water and high stream temperatures.
HELENA – Several angling restrictions on rivers in southwest, north-central and south-central Montana go into effect today due to warming temperatures and low flows.
The restrictions include what are commonly known as “hoot owl” restrictions, which means fishing is closed from 2 p.m. to midnight each day. Some waters are under full fishing closures, which prohibit fishing at all times of day. These closures and restrictions will stay in effect until conditions improve.
The following closure went into effect Tuesday, July 20th:
A full fishing closure for portions of the Shields River from the confluence with Yellowstone River to USFS Crandal Creek Bridge.
These closures go into effect, Wednesday, July 21, at 12:01 a.m.:
A full fishing closure for portions of the Big Hole River from the confluence with the Beaverhead River to Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site.
A full fishing closure for portions of the Gallatin River from the mouth to Hwy 84 Crossing.
A full fishing closure for the entire Jefferson River.
These restrictions go into effect, Wednesday, July 21, at 2 p.m.:
Hoot owl restrictions for the entire reach of the Madison River from the mouth to the boundary with Yellowstone National Park.
Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Beaverhead River from the mouth to State Highway 91 South.
Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Missouri River from Town of Cascade Boat Ramp to Holter Dam.
Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Stillwater River from the confluence with Yellowstone River to Absaroka Fishing Access Site.
Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Yellowstone River Hwy 212 Bridge in Laurel to Yellowstone National Park boundary.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ drought policy provides for angling closures when flows drop below critical levels for fish, when water quality is diminished, or when maximum daily water temperatures reach at least 73 degrees for three consecutive days. Warm and dry conditions are expected to continue during the coming weeks.
Angling restrictions are implemented based on several considerations: stream flow, water temperatures, angling pressure and other angling restrictions in the area that may divert use to waterways where circumstances are increasing stress on the fishery.
When conditions are stressful for fish, disease outbreaks and fish kills are to be expected. The public should report any unusual sightings of dead or diseased fish to their local FWP office.
Under normal conditions, fish can fight off infections. However, under the stress of high temperatures and low flows, they are more susceptible to these diseases.
Anglers can help reduce stress for fish by following these practices when catching and releasing fish, though fish mortality may still occur:
Fish during the coolest times of day, where permitted.
Land the fish quickly.
Keep the fish in water as much as possible.
Remove the hook gently. Using artificial lures with single and barbless hooks can make hook removal faster and easier.
Let the fish recover before releasing it.
Before you go fishing, please be aware of the conditions. Numerous other rivers in Montana are also under fishing restrictions. For a full list, visit FWP’s website: https://fwp.mt.gov/news/current-closures-restrictions.
If you’re looking for angling opportunities, many ponds, lakes and reservoirs in Montana provide good mid-summer angling options. For more information go online to fwp.mt.gov. Streams at higher elevations that don’t experience higher temperatures are another good option.