Hoot-owl restrictions start Sunday on Smith, Sun rivers
Hoot-owl restrictions will take effect on two central Montana rivers starting at midnight on Sunday, July 9.
All fishing will close daily from 2 p.m. to midnight on these river stretches:
- Smith River, from the confluence of the North and South forks to Eden Bridge, south of Great Falls.
- Sun River, from the Highway 287 bridge to the mouth of Muddy Creek, west of Great Falls.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks implements fishing closures when river flows drop below critical levels for fish or when maximum daily water temperatures reach at least 73 degrees for three consecutive days.
The preferred water temperature for rainbow and brown trout is about 55 to 57 degrees. Temperatures of 77 degrees or more can be lethal to trout.
FWP officials said one of the best short-term strategies to address heat-induced stress in Montana's wild and native trout is to reduce catch-and-release mortality by alerting anglers to fish only in the morning.
"Fishing only in the cool morning hours can help," said Grant Grisak, FWP Region 4 fisheries manager. "We're trying to minimize additional stress on wild trout during this summer of high water temperatures and low flows.
“This is really important among catch-and-release anglers who should reel in their catch and release it as fast as possible. Reducing the time on the line can really help the survival of trout this time of year."
These are the first angling restrictions imposed this year in FWP Region 4. For details on all emergency angling restrictions and other drought updates, go to the FWP home page at fwp.mt.gov. Click "Drought & Fire Updates".