BOZEMAN – A fishing closure on the Shields River has been lifted.
The closure extended from the confluence with the Yellowstone River upstream to the U.S. Forest Service Crandal Creek Bridge. It went into effect on July 21 due to high water temperatures and stream flows dropping below the 5th percentile of daily flow values.
Flows have since risen above the 5th percentile and have held steady, allowing the closure to be lifted.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ drought policy provides for angling restrictions and closures when flows drop below critical levels for fish, when water quality is diminished, or when maximum daily water temperatures reach at least 73 degrees for three consecutive days.
These restrictions and closures are designed to protect fish, such as trout, that become more susceptible to disease and mortality when drought and warm water conditions combine with additional stressors, including catch-and-release fishing.
All stress to fish at this time of year is cumulative, and anglers should consider fishing in cooler waters during times of low flows and high water temperatures in rivers. Anglers can help reduce stress for fish by following these practices when catching and releasing fish, though fish mortality may still occur:
- Fish during the coolest times of day, where permitted.
- Land the fish quickly.
- Keep the fish in water as much as possible.
- Remove the hook gently. Using artificial lures with single and barbless hooks can make hook removal faster and easier.
- Let the fish recover before releasing it.