In an effort to protect fish from the stress of low stream flows and high water temperatures, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will prohibit fishing from 2p.m. until midnight on parts of the Clark Fork and all of the Bitterroot Rivers, excluding the East and West Forks, beginning Thursday, July 25.
The waters affected by the 2p.m.-midnight closure on the Clark Fork include the stretch from Perkins Lane Bridge near Warm Springs downstream to Flint Creek and then from the Clark Fork-Bitterroot confluence just west of Missoula downstream to the Flathead River. On the Bitterroot, fishing is prohibited from 2p.m.-midnight on the entire length of the river, excluding the East and West Forks.
Water temperatures on the affected streams have exceeded FWP criteria for temporary fishing restrictions, a tool used to help reduce the impact on drought-stressed fish.
Pat Saffel, FWP Region 2 Fisheries Manager, says that drought-like conditions, which often occur in Montana in late July and August, can stress wild trout and other fish. Prolonged high water temperatures and lower oxygen levels can lead to fish kills that can affect fish numbers in future years.
“We’re monitoring temperatures on other western Montana rivers and will implement further restrictions if necessary,” Saffel says. “Anglers on all rivers can reduce fish stress by fishing only during the morning and early afternoon periods when water temperatures are at their coolest.”
Other river restrictions are in place in other parts of the state. Anglers can check for details on fishing restrictions or closures on the FWP home page at fwp.mt.gov. Select Drought & Fire under the Hot Topics heading, or check the FWP online fishing guide.
(Report by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Cover Photo: bigskyfishing.com)