FWP SEEKS INPUT ON PROPOSED BROWN TROUT FISHING REGULATION CHANGES ON SOME RIVERS
By angelamontana

Posted: June 15, 2021

HELENA – Due to public concern regarding brown trout declines in some popular rivers in southwest Montana, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public input on potential fishing regulation changes.

Studies conducted by FWP and the U.S. Geologic Survey suggest that flow is a primary limiting factor for many brown trout populations. Short-term trends have shown reduced numbers of small, juvenile brown trout in the Big Hole River, Ruby River, Boulder River (tributary to the Jefferson), Beaverhead River, upper Yellowstone River, Madison River, Shields River and upper Stillwater River (tributary to the Yellowstone). While the department will continue to address flow and habitat enhancement over the long-term, regulations may serve to reduce some population stressors over the short-term.

The regulation changes being considered include:

  • Adopt seasonal fishing closure to protect spawning brown trout on some or all of the following rivers or sections of rivers and/or tributaries: Big Hole River, Ruby River, Boulder River (tributary to the Jefferson), Beaverhead River, upper Yellowstone River, Madison River, Shields River, and upper Stillwater River (tributary to the Yellowstone). This would adopt a seasonal fishing closure for all species from September 30 until the third Saturday in May to protect brown trout redds and reduce stress from angling.
  • Catch and release fishing only for brown trout on some or all of the following rivers or sections of rivers and/or tributaries: Big Hole River, Ruby River, Boulder River (tributary to the Jefferson), Beaverhead River, upper Yellowstone River, Madison River, Shields River, and upper Stillwater River (tributary to the Yellowstone). No harvest for brown trout would be allowed year-round.
  • Implement standing hoot-owl restrictions from July 1 – August 15 on some or all of the following rivers or sections of rivers and/or tributaries: Big Hole River, Ruby River, Boulder River (tributary to the Jefferson), Beaverhead River, upper Yellowstone River, Madison River, Shields River, and upper Stillwater River (tributary to the Yellowstone). This regulation would limit fishing pressure to the coolest part of the day (midnight to 2 p.m.) with no fishing allowed from 2 p.m. to midnight.

More information and the opportunity to provide comment is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/browntroutscoping. In addition, FWP will conduct three public meetings:

  • June 22 in Dillion at the DNRC Building at 6:30 p.m.
  • June 23 in Butte at the FWP Area Office at 6:30 p.m.
  • June 24 in Bozeman at Region 3 Headquarters at 6:30 p.m.

Public comment can also be sent to FWPFishComments@mt.gov or FWP Fish Comments, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701. Deadline for public comment is July 11.

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