Big Sky Roundup

Full fishing closures for portions of the Big Hole River

By: - August 16, 2021 6:00 pm

The Big Hole River near Wise River, Montana (Photo via Flickr | CC-BY-SA 2.0).

 Full fishing closures will go into effect on portions on the Big Hole River Aug. 17. Full fishing closures prohibit fishing at all times of day. These closures will stay in effect until conditions improve.

These closures go into effect, Tuesday, Aug. 17, at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Dickie Bridge to North Fork Big Hole River.
  • Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site Maiden Rock Fishing Access Site.

“Hoot owl” restrictions currently in effect on several Montana rivers are expected to be lifted this week. Hoot owl restrictions means fishing is closed from 2 p.m. to midnight each day.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ drought policy provides for angling closures 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. Warm and dry conditions are expected to continue during the coming weeks.

Angling restrictions are implemented based on several considerations: stream flow, water temperatures, angling pressure and other angling restrictions in the area that may divert use to waterways where circumstances are increasing stress on the fishery.

When conditions are stressful for fish, disease outbreaks and fish kills are to be expected. The public should report any unusual sightings of dead or diseased fish to their local FWP office.

Under normal conditions, fish can fight off infections. However, under the stress of high temperatures and low flows, they are more susceptible to these diseases.

Anglers can help reduce stress 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.
  • Land the fish quickly.
  • 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.
  • Let the fish recover before releasing it.

Before you go fishing, please be aware of the conditions. Numerous other rivers in Montana are also under fishing restrictions. For a full list, visit FWP’s website: https://fwp.mt.gov/news/current-closures-restrictions.

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