Fishing Restrictions Enacted for Two Montana Rivers
Sustained high temperatures and low flows are a bad combo for Montana's fish, so Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is enacting "Hoot Owl" restrictions on portions of two rivers.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This picture of the kid holding a fish OUT of the water is exactly what you're NOT SUPPOSED to do. When fishing this summer, keep the fish under the water as much as possible to reduce stress.
By mandating that fishing is allowed only during cooler morning hours, we're reducing the stress on fish. Simple as that. So what are the details of this memo from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks?
WHAT HOURS FISHING IS NOT ALLOWED: Fishing closures are daily from 2 p.m. to midnight.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Beginning Saturday, July 16th, 2022, restrictions will remain in effect until conditions improve.
LOCATIONS OF CURRENT FISHING RESTRICTIONS: "Smith River — from the confluence of the North and South forks to Eden Bridge south of Great Falls.
Sun River — from the Highway 287 bridge to the mouth of Muddy Creek."
When water flows get low and air temps remain high, conditions for fish become quite dangerous. Risk for disease increases and general stress on the fish is high.
So what's the magic number? MTFWP takes action when river temperatures reach 73 degrees for three consecutive days. According to the FWP official press release:
The latest measurement of flows on the Smith recorded on July 14 at the gauge station below Eagle Creek near Fort Logan indicate a flow of 162 cubic feet per second, with water temperatures exceeding 73 degrees for three consecutive days, which meets established criteria to prompt the restriction.
The Sun River has experienced similar declines in flow in addition to high water temperatures. The gauge station at Simms reported that water temperatures have exceeded 73 degrees for seven of the previous eight days.
Larger lakes or reservoirs with more water and cooler temperatures might be much better options for anglers right now. Hot temperatures don't appear to be leaving the state any time soon, so protecting the fish ASAP is important.