Big Sky Roundup

FWP lifting fishing closures, restrictions on some SW Montana rivers with cooler temps on the way

By: - August 4, 2023 4:27 pm
The Big Hole River near the Divide Bridge Campground. (Photo by Blair Miller, Daily Montanan)

The Big Hole River near the Divide Bridge Campground. (Photo by Blair Miller, Daily Montanan)

Fishing restrictions and closures on several sections of rivers in southwest Montana will lift at midnight because of the cooler temperatures and rain expected this weekend in that part of the state.

Temperatures Friday afternoon across southwest Montana fell some 20 degrees to the 60s and 70s, and they are expected to stay in that range through early next week as cooler air from Canada moves into the area.

There is also expected to be widespread rain across the region through Sunday when monsoon moisture from the Southwest makes its way into southwest Montana, bringing up to a quarter inch of rain in some parts of the region, and some locally higher amounts, after several weeks of dry, warm weather.

And another cold front could bring more rain on Monday and Tuesday, according to National Weather Service forecasts.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced Friday afternoon it would lift restrictions and closures at midnight on six of the rivers that have been in place since July because of water temperatures too warm for trout populations to be caught safely.

FWP said it will be lifting the hoot owl restrictions on the lower Beaverhead, the four sections of the Big Hole, the lower Gallatin, the Jefferson, the lower Madison and the Ruby rivers. The full closure of the Madison River below the Ennis Dam will also be lifted.

Hoot owl restrictions closed portions of the rivers to fishing from 2 p.m. to midnight during the warmest hours of the day, while FWP can also implement full closures if water temperatures meet certain thresholds that can be harmful to trout.

For a full list of closures and restrictions, click here.

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Blair Miller
Blair Miller

Blair Miller is a reporter based in Helena who primarily covers government, climate and courts. He's been a journalist for more than 12 years, previously based in Denver, Albuquerque and mid-Missouri.