The first fishing restrictions due to water temperatures were put into place just eight days ago. Since those first few ‘Hoot Owl’ restrictions were put in place, the temperatures have continued to stay high, and therefore we have seen even more restrictions put in place.

If you are wanting to fish on the rivers of Montana, a general rule of thumb is, trout are happiest when the water temperature is below 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 Celsius) When the temperatures rise into the 60s, the stress on trout rises, and when a trout is hooked in high temperatures, it only adds more stress, and in turn increases mortality rates. If the water temperature ever reaches 67 degrees (or higher) you stop fishing immediately.

Down river on the Smith. photo credit
Down river on the Smith. photo credit

When the water temperature exceeds 73 degrees on a section of river for three straight days, Hoot Owl Restrictions are placed into effect. Hoot Owl are restrictions in place to keep people from fishing during the hottest hours of the day. A river, or section of the river, under Hoot Owl, is closed to fishing from 2 pm – Midnight. You are free to fish in the morning hours, but please carry a stream thermometer, and monitor the water temp.

Current restrictions in Southwest Montana look like this:

The Big Hole is under Hoot Owl Restrictions on the following sections:

From the Confluence of the Beaverhead River to Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site (FAS).

From Tony Schoonen FAS to Maiden Rock FAS.

From Dickie Bridge to the North Fork of the Big Hole.

And from the North Fork of the Big Hole to Saginaw Bridge.

Fly Fishing On The River Coln
(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

The entire Jefferson River is under Hoot Owl Restrictions. From the Missouri River to the confluence of the Big Hole and Beaverhead Rivers.

The Madison River is under Hoot Owl restrictions from the confluence with the Jefferson River to Warm Springs FAS.

The Madison River also has a FULL CLOSURE from the Warm Springs FAS to Madison Dam (Ennis Reservoir)

Before you plan a trip make sure to check the up-to-date restrictions, and closures, HERE.

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