Warm temperatures this week have raised water temperatures to dangerous levels for fish. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will put Hoot Owl Fishing Restrictions in place on Sections I and V beginning tomorrow, Saturday 7/23/2016 in accordance with the Big Hole River Drought Management Plan.

River flows are also dropping. All river users are asked to prepare to take water conservation measures, particularly in Sections I and V where flows have reached “Prepare for Conservation” targets.

Visit our River Conditions page for more information.



(Bozeman, Mont.)—Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is alerting the public to fishing restrictions on the Big Hole River effective Saturday, July 23 as a result of high water temperatures. Restrictions on other southwest Montana rivers are likely in the near future.


The restrictions beginning Saturday will close the sections of river to fishing daily from 2 p.m. to midnight until conditions improve.

  • The Big Hole from Saginaw Bridge on Skinner Meadows Road to the confluence with the North Fork Big Hole River
  • The Big Hole River from Notch Bottom Fishing Access Site to the confluence with the Beaverhead River


Regional Fisheries Manager Travis Horton says biologists are continuing to see flows decline as summer progresses and the return of hot weather has resulted in the need for further restrictions.


“Water temperatures have once again began to reach critical levels while flows have continued to decline. Big Hole River flows have reached thresholds where the drought plan is beginning to be implemented.”


The Big Hole Watershed committee has started to inform irrigators that flow levels are declining, and will likely soon ask irrigators to reduce their water use. Area fishing outfitters are also being asked from their leadership to reduce activities on the river. And in the spirit of shared sacrifice, FWP is asking general anglers to likewise reduce fishing pressure on this river during these critical times. Instead, FWP recommends anglers seek out opportunities for fishing waters less susceptible to fish kills (i.e. high mountain lakes and reservoirs).


For up-to-date information on restrictions related to drought, visit http://fwp.mt.gov/news/restrictions/.

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