Increased flows in the upper Big Hole River have prompted the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission to lift a fishing closure on the river.
According to Larry Peterman, FWP's Fisheries Division administrator, the closure on the 55-mile stretch of the Big Hole River from Dickey Bridge, located about seven miles upstream from Wise River to the Twin Lakes Road, which is seven miles upstream from Wisdom, was lifted effective September 23 at 12:00 a.m. Peterman said increased flows and resulting cooler water temperatures have eliminated the stressful low water conditions that prompted the closure.
According to Peterman, the Big Hole is unique in that until recent introductions of Arctic grayling into the Beaverhead, Upper Ruby and the North and South Forks of the Sun River, the Big Hole Arctic Grayling population represented the last river dwelling grayling population found in the lower 48 states. While the 55-mile stretch of the Big Hole had been closed to all trout fishing, FWP was especially concerned about grayling. "We are committed to keeping the Arctic Grayling off the Endangered Species List and keeping populations in the Big Hole healthy is critical to that," said FWP Director Patrick Graham.
The fishing closure was a part of a trout management plan adopted by the Big Hole Watershed Committee, which is represented by ranchers, conservationists, sportsmen's groups and water user groups. The plan also incorporates a stock water well program which is supplemented by current flows and is a result of voluntary returns by Upper Big Hole ranchers.