Warm water prompts hoot-owl restrictions on portions of Big Hole, Ruby rivers
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: July 21, 2023

BOZEMAN – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is advising anglers that portions of the Ruby and lower Big Hole rivers are closed to fishing daily from 2 p.m. to midnight, effective Friday, July 21.

The hoot-owl restrictions are issued for:

  • The Big Hole River from its confluence with the Beaverhead River to Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site
  • The Ruby River from its confluence with the Beaverhead River to Duncan District Road

FWP’s drought policy provides for angling restrictions 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 will stay in effect until conditions improve.

Restrictions of this nature are designed to protect fish that become more susceptible to disease and mortality when conditions like this exist. One short-term strategy to reduce catch-and-release mortality during times of warm water is to restrict angling to the coolest times of day.

Anglers can help reduce stress and mortality 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.
  • Keep the fish in water as much as possible.
  • Let the fish recover before releasing it.

If high temperatures and extremely low flows persist, anglers may want to consider fishing areas with less stressful conditions, such as larger lakes or reservoirs, or higher elevation waterbodies.

Similar restrictions are in place for other waterbodies. For a current list of restrictions and closures, click here.

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