Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) closed many Fishing Access Sites (FASs) on the Bitterroot River and a few on the Clark Fork this week due to high water and flood conditions. Other FAS closures are likely as water levels rise, and FWP urges caution if venturing on or near rivers during high water.
High water officially closed the following Bitterroot River FASs on Wednesday from south to north: Hannon Memorial, WW White, Darby Bridge, Wally Crawford, Woodside Bridge, Tucker Crossing, Bell Crossing, Poker Joe and Florence Bridge. Closures will continue until flood conditions subside. Additional FAS closures on the Bitterroot are possible as conditions change, and recreationists should look for barricades and signs to indicate closed sites.
On the Clark Fork, officials closed several sites near Missoula: Turah, Schwartz Creek, Kona and Kelly Island (Mullan Road access only). On the Blackfoot River, Monture FAS is closed due to flooding and a downed tree that is blocking the road.
Many other sites on the Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers are partially flooded, but no closures are in place at these FASs at this time. FWP urges that anyone accessing these sites should use caution near the high water.
Many area FASs may close over the next few weeks as rain and spring runoff continues. Recreationists should anticipate that access sites along the major rivers may be closed to public use and should plan on other locations for recreating and camping over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
FWP also advises anglers and others to stay off the rivers until water levels recede. Large amount of debris can be seen floating in fast currents, and log jams and snags pose a dangerous hazard to boaters. “Swift currents, cold water and hidden snags will make boating dangerous in the next few weeks and greatly increase the risk of drowning,” said Liz Lodman, FWP Boating Education Coordinator. “A boater’s best bet, if there is any question about conditions, is to play it safe by waiting until after the spring runoff.”