In an effort to protect wild fish from the potentially life-threatening stress of low stream flows and high water temperatures, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will limit angling to the coolest time of the day on several rivers beginning Monday, July 22.
The affected waters include the upper Big Hole, lower Madison, Smith, Dearborn, and Sun rivers where fishing will be prohibited between 2 p.m. and midnight. Signs explaining the local restrictions will be posted at fishing access sites.
Drought-like conditions, which often occur in Montana in late July and August, can stress wild trout and other fish. Prolonged high water temperatures and lower oxygen levels can lead to fish kills that can affect fish numbers in future years.
Flows and water temperatures on the affected streams have exceeded FWP criteria for temporary fishing restrictions, a tool used to help reduce the impact on drought-stressed fish. A full fishing closure is another option if conditions worsen.
Anglers can further help to conserve wild fish populations in other areas by planning to fish only during the coolest part of the day.
"We suggest that anglers, when fishing trout streams and rivers, primarily in valley situations, restrict their fishing to the morning and early afternoon periods when water temperatures are at their coolest," said Bruce Rich, fisheries division chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Helena.
Anglers can check for details on fishing restrictions or closures via FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov.