The upper Beaverhead River, from Clark Canyon Dam to the Highway 91 North bridge near Dillon, and the Ruby River, from the base of Ruby Reservoir dam to immediately below the mouth of Alder Creek, will close to fishing beginning October 9, by order of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Pat Graham, acting with authority delegated to him by the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission.
The river closures, affecting about 30 of 80 total river miles on the Beaverhead and about 14.4 of 40 river miles on the Ruby, will help protect spawning brown trout and their redds, the gravel areas containing the eggs produced by the trout. Extremely low water-flow conditions are anticipated this fall and winter on both rivers. Water releases from the Clark Canyon dam and Ruby Reservoir will be cut back soon to slow outflow and increase water storage following an extremely dry spring and summer.
"With the record high numbers of mature brown trout in the upper Beaverhead and Ruby Rivers, losses are likely to be substantial this winter," said FWP Fisheries biologist Dick Oswald. "Similar low reservoir storage pools and over-winter river flows in the 1980's and 1990's resulted in substantial losses of both river and reservoir trout."
"We know we will lose trout over the winter under these conditions," Oswald said. "These closures are intended to protect the spawning that will occur October to November, so we can maximize the opportunity for these trout populations to begin rebuilding next spring."
As a result of restricted flows from the Clark Canyon Dam, the flows at various points on the Beaverhead have been measured at 67.6 cfs to 105 cfs-far below the minimum of 200 cfs FWP recommends to sustain the brown trout populations and maintain trout habitat in fall and winter. Water flow on the Ruby River below the reservoir is about 40-49 cfs and is expected to drop further by the end of November.
The closures will remain in effect through Nov. 31.