Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is encouraging anglers to reduce stress on fish this summer by fishing in the morning hours only and in mountain streams, lakes and reservoirs.
“Fish in the cooler, high elevation streams, and in lakes and reservoirs are less stressed, while fish in low elevation streams with low flows and high temperatures are under more stress,” said Chris Hunter, FWP Fisheries Division administrator.
Hunter said catch and release fishing can also be hazardous to fish in hot, dry weather.
“Some of our waters call for catch and release fishing only, but combined with the high water temperatures and low flows, the added stress may be too much for trout,” Hunter said. “Anglers need to be alert to the condition of their favorite fisheries now and fish ‘defensively.’ That may mean moving to another location where fish are less stressed.”
FWP may restrict angling on waters where low flows and high temperatures combine to threaten fish, by calling for voluntary restrictions, or mandatory time-of-day or full angling closures.
Local biologists review the situation on a particular river and make decisions on what action to take when flows near a one-in 20-year flow level and the daily maximum water temperature reaches or exceeds 73 degrees, 60 degrees for bull trout, over the course of three consecutive days.
“Conditions this summer have required that we restrict or close angling on some of our rivers and it’s likely more restrictions will follow,” Hunter said. “In the meantime, anglers can do a lot to help protect the state’s fisheries by being especially aware of the conditions and using good judgment.”
For information on the FWP Drought Fishing Closure Policy, angling restrictions and other drought information, go to the FWP home page at www.fwp.state.mt.us and click on Drought & Fire ’03.