High water temperatures and low stream flows prompted Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials to close northwestern Montana's Thompson River and its tributaries, including the West Fork Thompson River and Fishtrap Creek, to angling from noon to midnight daily until conditions improve. The order takes effect Tuesday, July 26, 2005.
“This is the fourth year in the past five that drought conditions have existed on the Thompson River. The repeated stress is very hard on the fish populations in the river,” said Laura Katzman, local fisheries biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The low stream flows and high temperatures threaten the river's popular wild rainbow trout and native westslope cutthroat trout fisheries and its federally protected native bull trout population.
On the Thompson River, the flow was measured at 166 cubic feet per second (cfs), nearly an all time low for Friday, July 22. In addition, water temperatures in the Thompson River above the confluence of Fishtrap Creek reached 73 degrees for three consecutive days. Low flows and high water temperatures cause fish to seek refuge in pools, where the water is deeper and cooler. That makes them more vulnerable to anglers and predators.
FWP closes streams to fishing when drought conditions combined with angling pressure could seriously threaten fish populations. This mandatory angling closure follows FWP’s Drought Contingency Plan.
FWP will continue to monitor conditions in the Thompson River, but the mandatory time-of-day closure will likely be in place until Sept.15.
Visit FWP's Drought '05 web page for information about the drought and fire season.