The Hoot Owl has spoken! The Lower Madison has reached several days above 75 degrees and is now under hoot Owl Restrictions. This month-long fishing ban is not a bad idea. Protecting the fishery is of vital concern. Hoot Owl restrictions ban fishing from 2pm-midnight. Montana is currently facing warmer weather and the water temperatures have already exceeded 75 degrees on several days.
The Lower Madison is impacted by two issues. The power production dam at the mouth of Bear Trap Canyon raises the water temperature and changes the rivers flow. The Ennis Lake is a Solar Collector that also heats the water as it settles in its shallow pool. Snow melt water ends up several degrees warmer as it leaves these areas.
Trout do best when the water temperature is below 65 degrees. Temperatures over 75 degrees can be fatal to trout. When the water warms, some trout migrate to cooler spring fed areas or other colder watersheds. If a trout is hooked and fought, then released into these warmer conditions, it becomes vulnerable to predators or stress.
The Lower Madison Ban begins at Warm Springs fishing Access and ends at the Headwaters Park where the Jefferson, Gallatin, and Madison form the Missouri River. Fishing this area in July and August is hard when the locals bus flotillas of tubers onto these waters. The “Rubber Hatch” is stocked with hundreds of swimmers and rafters escaping the summer heat. Most will not fit into a fisherman’s net.
This closure tool could be used on any watershed where temperature becomes a factor. The new annual closure fits the concerns of the Lower Madison.
For more Montana Grant, find him staying cool at www.montanagrantfishing.com.