How hot is it?
Hot enough for FWP to start enforcing some “hoot-owl” closures on certain rivers across the state.
Starting Monday July 22nd fishing on the Lower Madison (below Ennis Lake to the mouth) will not be permitted between 2pm and midnight. Portions of the Big Hole River will also see fishing restrictions in place Monday. These closures are designed to reduce stress on the fish during warm water conditions, and will remain in effect until conditions improve.
Other rivers that will see “hoot-owl” closures on Monday are sections of the Smith, Sun, and Dearborn Rivers. Also don’t be surprised to see Jefferson placed under similar restrictions as the water temps and levels over there could allow FWP to do so any day now.
Fishing is still good though. Fish are eating well throughout most of the day on most of the rivers. Check our fishing reports for the latest information.
Even on those rivers that are not restricted yet it is important to practice good river stewardship when releasing each fish. That means fight the fish as quickly as possible and take the time to properly revive each fish thoroughly before releasing them. To revive a fish gently cradle the fish behind the pectoral fins so that you are not touching the gills or gill plates. Next face the fish so it is facing upstream into the current. It doesn’t have to be fast water just moving. Moving water has more oxygen, which you want flowing over the fish’s gills. Do NOT move the fish back and forth. Pulling a fish backwards through the water moves water over the gills in an unnatural manner and can damage the delicate organ. Just hold the fish gently facing upstream and let it recuperate. Let the fish swim out of your hands under its own power. This may take anywhere from a few seconds to five minutes or more. Just be patient. Remember the bigger the fish the more prone to stress they are, but also remember the little guys grow up to be big guys, so take the time to release every fish properly.
FWP is closing the rivers as part of their obligation as manager of the rivers, but Montana’s rivers belong to you and everyone else. We are all stewards of this magnificent resource. Do your part to manage it correctly!