Navigating the Big Hole River

A pair of fishermen negotiates the spillway at the Big Hole River pump station in a rubber raft in June 2016. High water temperatures and low flow have prompted limited fishing restrictions on area rivers. 

High water temperatures and low stream flows have prompted Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to implement “hoot owl” restrictions on several rivers in Southwest Montana starting Wednesday.

The following sections of rivers will be closed to fishing daily from 2 p.m. to midnight until conditions improve effective Wednesday:

• Big Hole River from Saginaw Bridge on Skinner Meadows Road to the Mouth of the North Fork Big Hole River;

• Big Hole River from Notch Bottom Fishing Access Site to the confluence with the Beaverhead River;

• Lower Beaverhead River from Anderson Lane to confluence with Big Hole River;

• Lower Madison River from Ennis Dam to the mouth;

• Lower Gallatin River from the confluence with the Madison River at Three Forks to Sheds Bridge (Hwy 84) near Four Corners;

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• East Gallatin River from Spring Hill Road Bridge (Hwy 411) to the confluence with the Gallatin River;

• The entire Jefferson River

These restrictions come two weeks later in the year than the first restrictions seen in 2015 and 2016.

Regional Fisheries Manager Travis Horton said, “We’ve been fairly fortunate so far this year with flows in general, but temperatures are high and could stay that way for a while.”

Additional restrictions are possible on other stretches of these or other southwest Montana rivers in the coming weeks.

For up-to-date information on restrictions related to drought, visit

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