By angelamontana

Posted: August 24, 2022

ENNIS – A daily fishing restriction on the upper Madison River will be lifted Wednesday as peak water temperatures have dropped below 70 degrees.

The hoot owl restriction has prohibited fishing each day from 2 p.m. to midnight between Ennis Reservoir and Eight Mile Ford Fishing Access Site. That restriction will be lifted starting Wednesday, Aug. 24.

A hoot owl restriction remains in place on the Madison River downstream of Ennis Reservoir. Restrictions are in place for other waterbodies. Anglers can find a statewide list of current restrictions at fwp.mt.gov/news/current-closures-restrictions.

Fishing restrictions, such as hoot owl restrictions and full closures, are designed to protect fish that become more susceptible to disease and mortality when conditions, such as low flows and high water temperatures, combine with other 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.
  • Wet your hands before handling the fish.
  • 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.
  • If the fish is hooked deeply, you may have to cut the line at the fish’s mouth or consider keeping it if regulations allow.
  • Let the fish recover before releasing it.
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