The Jefferson River will reopen to fishing beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, September 19, 2007.
“The Jefferson River Drought Management Plan allows FWP to consider reopening after seven consecutive days over 300 cfs and we reached that point on Sept. 17,” said Ron Spoon, FWP fisheries biologist.
The entire Jefferson River was closed to fishing from 2 p.m. to midnight on July 11 due to high water temperatures. It was subsequently closed to all angling on Aug. 17 because of low flows. Both of these conditions stress and threaten wild trout.
“The inflows to the Jefferson River near Twin Bridges were extremely low this summer,” said Spoon. “The average daily flow in July was only 462 cfs, which is the lowest on record, and the average daily flow in August was the fourth lowest on record at 303 cfs. The long-term average flow in July is 1,890 cfs and 788 cfs in August.”
The Jefferson River Watershed Council met with major water users once each week during the low flow period to attempt to maintain a flow of at least 50 cfs at Waterloo. Major canals in the upper Jefferson reduced irrigation withdrawals throughout the summer, but river flow at Waterloo was still below 50 cfs for 22 days this summer because of extremely low upstream inflows to the river.
“Sacrifices made by irrigators and anglers have helped get the trout fishery through this difficult summer and we appreciate their contributions,” said Spoon.
The Jefferson River Watershed Council developed the Drought Plan in 2001. The Council was created in 1999 out of concern by the local angling community of declining fish populations and interest among local ranchers and irrigators in solving ongoing water shortages in the Jefferson River valley.
The Big Hole River remains closed to all angling from the Rock Creek Road above Wisdom downstream to the mouth at Twin Bridges. For additional information on all fishing restrictions and other drought updates, visit fwp.mt.gov and click on Drought & Fire Updates.