The Lower Madison may have permanent “Hoot Owl” restrictions applied. Past restrictions, applied by the MT FWP, have kicked in about July 1 to August 31st. The Madison River from the Ennis Dam to the mouth of the river near Three Forks would be affected. With this restriction, angling is banned from 2PM to Midnight every day.
Summer’s hotter temperatures, lower water conditions, and more fishing pressure impacts the fish. Stress is greater for any Catch and Release opportunity. Mortality is much higher during this time.
This section of river also becomes flooded with “Tubers”, swimmers, and floaters trying to cool off. Busloads of people fill the access parking areas ruining the opportunity to fish.
The MT FWP has applied these restrictions for decades. Making the Hoot Owl restrictions permanent would mean signage and enforcement would become consistent and less expensive.
Trout prefer cooler water under 75 degrees. The Ennis Dam can release some cooler water if needed to protect the fish. Temperatures later in the summer can reach nearly 80 degrees. Trout really end up in hot water when temperatures exceed this. Fortunately, seeps and springs also add cool water to the watershed.
Know your limits!
For more Montana Grant, find him cooling off at www.montanagrantfishing.com.