HELENA – Full fishing closures will go into effect for the following rivers at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 17:
- the entire Jefferson River
- the section of the Big Hole River from the confluence with the Beaverhead River to Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site
- portions of Fish Creek within a 100-yard radius of the mouth of Fish Creek on the Clark Fork River
The temporary closure on Fish Creek will protect bull trout from the additional stress of fishing while water temperatures stay warm.
Bull trout require cold water to survive and tend to congregate in areas such as the mouth of Fish Creek, where waters temperatures are lower than the river, to seek refuge. This location also receives consistent fishing pressure, adding more stress to the fish in the area.
Bull trout numbers are low in Fish Creek and surrounding areas, and removing any stressor than can contribute to mortality is important to the population.
Restrictions are also 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 trout and other 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 higher water temperatures in rivers. Anglers can help reduce stress for fish by following these practices when catching and releasing fish where fishing is allowed, 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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