The entire Jefferson River has seen fishing restrictions since July due to warm water temperatures and low flows. Temperatures have dropped, and flows on the Jefferson will have reached management criteria for lifting the closure by Wednesday.
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. Fishing restrictions are also still in place for the Beaverhead and Big Hole rivers. Anglers can find a statewide list of current restrictions at fwp.mt.gov/news/current-closures-restrictions.
All stress to fish during warmer months 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 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.