HELENA, Mont. — Few places in the world rival Montana’s fly fishing, and the state’s cold, clear mountain streams are renowned for their large populations of trout, especially the rainbow and brown.
But this is a drought year, and a confluence of extreme conditions now threatens the state’s legendary waters. Higher temperatures early in the year, worryingly low river levels, fish die-offs and pressure from the crush of anglers yearning to recapture a year lost to the pandemic have swirled into a growing crisis.
This week the state announced a slate of new restrictions, including outright closures, for some of the top trout streams.
And a new coalition of businesses, fly fishing guides and environmentalists warned that the severe drought may not be a temporary problem and that the state’s fisheries could be nearing collapse.