Bozeman, Mont.) — Consistent high water temperatures and low stream flows have prompted Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to close two sections of the Big Hole River and the entire Jefferson River to all fishing. FWP is also implementing hoot owl restrictions on the Yellowstone River and reinstituting hoot owl restrictions on the Lower Beaverhead River as well as a section of the Big Hole.
Specifically, the following sections of rivers are closed to all fishing effectively immediately:
- Big Hole River from Saginaw Bridge on Skinner Meadows Road to the confluence of the North Fork Big Hole River and Big Hole River
- Big Hole River from Notch Bottom FAS to confluence with the Beaverhead River
- The entire length of the Jefferson River
The following sections of rivers will be closed to fishing daily from 2 p.m. to midnightuntil conditions improve effective Tuesday:
- Big Hole River from the North Fork Big Hole River to Dickie Bridge
- Beaverhead River from Anderson Lane to the confluence with the Big Hole River
- Yellowstone River from Carter’s Bridge FAS to the confluence with the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone east of Laurel
Regional Fisheries Manager Travis Horton warns water levels are so critically low that restrictions may remain in place for weeks or even longer.
“What has us so concerned right now is the lack of water. It’s all about water when it comes to sustaining healthy fish populations. Even if the temperatures drop for a while, we still need to wait for flows to improve before adding back the stress of angling.”
Other hoot owl restrictions around the region which remain in place include:
- Big Hole River: Maiden Rock FAS to Notch Bottom FAS
- East Gallatin River: Spring Hill Road Bridge (Hwy411) to the confluence with the Gallatin River
- Gallatin River: Confluence with the Madison River at Three Forks to Sheds Bridge (Hwy 84) near Four Corners
- Madison River: Ennis Dam to the mouth
- Ruby River: Duncan District Road to the confluence with the Beaverhead River
Additional restrictions are possible on other stretches of these or other southwest Montana rivers in the coming weeks.
For up-to-date information on restrictions related to drought, visithttp://fwp.mt.gov/news/restrictions/.
YELLOWSTONE RIVER RESTRICTIONS:
Warm water prompts fishing restrictions on Yellowstone River
BILLINGS — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will restrict fishing on parts of the Yellowstone River in south central Montana beginning 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016, due to warm and rising water temperatures.
The “hoot owl” restrictions mean that anglers may not fish between 2 p.m. and midnighteach day. The restrictions were triggered when water temperatures reach, — or are anticipated to reach – at least 73 degrees for three consecutive days.
The restrictions will apply on the Yellowstone River from Carter Bridge south of Livingston to the confluence with the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone east of Laurel.
The “hoot owl” restrictions begin at 2 p.m. each day because water temperatures tend to spike during the heat of the day and surpass the 73-degree threshold by mid-afternoon. The higher water temperatures are highly stressful to fish and can be fatal if the fish are put under an additional burden of being caught by an angler. Flows as low as 10 percent of normal for early August mean that the water can heat up quickly and get warmer during the afternoon.
Two southern Montana tributaries to the Yellowstone River already are under hoot-owl restrictions, They are the Stillwater River downstream of Cliff Swallow fishing access site and the Boulder River downstream from the Natural Bridge.
Though water temperatures in streams such as the Yellowstone River below Billings are higher than 73 degrees, they are populated with warm-water species such as channel catfish, bass and sauger. Those fish thrive in warmer water and restrictions are not necessary. Trout are considered cold-water fish, however, and are susceptible to heat, prompting restrictions on streams where they live.
Biologists will continue to monitor the flow and temperatures of rivers throughout the region to determine if others need to be restricted or when restrictions can be lifted.
For up-to-date information on restrictions related to drought, visitfwp.mt.gov/news/restrictions/.