Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced additional drought restrictions for the Big Hole River today, effective today, 7/1/21:
Section II: North Fork BHR to Dickie Bridge: Hoot Owl Restriction
Section IV: MFWP Maiden Rock to Tony Schoonen FAS: Hoot Owl Restriction
Hoot Owl restricts fishing during the hottest part of the day, 2pm-midnight, in order to protect the fishery. See MFWP press release below.
Irrigators – now is the time to give back whatever water you can for the river, especially in Sections I and IV where flows are suffering.
Anglers – now is the time to watch water temps, handle fish as little as possible (Keep ’em wet!), and get off the river in the afternoon when possible.
Let’s all do what we can to protect our precious resource. That’s what “Shared Sacrifice” is all about. Fishing restrictions, closures, and conservation actions are outlined in the Big Hole River Drought Management Plan. Current River Conditions can be viewed here.
Effective July 1, 2021
HIGH TEMPS PROMPT ADDITIONAL FISHING RESTRICTIONS IN SOUTHWEST MONTANA
Jul 1, 2021 2:33 PM
HELENA – Angling restrictions on several additional rivers in southwest 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.
These restrictions and closures go into effect today:
- A hoot owl on the Big Hole River from the North Fork of the Big Hole River downstream to Dickie Bridge, and from the Maidenrock Fishing Access Site downstream to the Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site.
- A full fishing closure on the East Gallatin River from Penwell Bridge Road downstream to the confluence with the Gallatin River.
- A hoot owl on the East Gallatin River from the confluence of Bear Creek and Rocky Creek downstream to Penwell Bridge.
- A hoot owl on the Shields River from the U.S. Forest Service Crandal Creek Bridge downstream to the confluence with Rock Creek.
- A hoot owl on the Gallatin River from Montana Hwy. 84 in Four Corners downstream to the confluence with the Missouri River.
- Upper Clark Fork – From the confluence of Rock Creek near Clinton upstream to the confluence with Warm Springs Creek.
- Silver Bow Creek, including Warm Springs Ponds — From the creek’s confluence with Warm Springs Creek to Montana Street in Butte.
These closures and restrictions were enacted earlier and remain in effect for southwest Montana waters:
- A hoot owl on the Beaverhead River from Laknar Lane Bridge downstream to the confluence with the Big Hole River.
- A full fishing closure on the Shields River from Rock Creek downstream to the confluence with the Yellowstone River.
- A hoot owl on the lower Big Hole River from the Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site downstream to the confluence with the Beaverhead River.
- A full fishing closure on the upper Big Hole River from the North Fork of the Big Hole River downstream to Saginaw Bridge on Skinner Meadow Road.
- A hoot owl for the entire Jefferson River.
- A hoot owl on the Madison River from Ennis Dam downstream to the confluence with the Jefferson River.
- A full fishing closure on the Ruby River from the Duncan District Road crossing downstream to the confluence with the Beaverhead River.
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.
These restrictions and closures are designed to protect fish, such as trout, that become more susceptible to disease and mortality when drought and warm water conditions combine with additional stressors, including catch-and-release fishing.
All stress to fish at this time of year is cumulative, and anglers should consider fishing in cooler waters during times of low flows and high water temperatures in rivers. 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.