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‘Hoot owl’ fishing closures affect Big Hole, Clark Fork

‘Hoot owl’ fishing closures affect Big Hole, Clark Fork

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Water temperatures in the Jefferson River, a portion of the Big Hole and Clark Fork rivers have exceeded 73 degrees for a week, potentially wreaking havoc with fish mortality rates, according to a news release.

As a result, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has imposed daily “hoot owl’’ fishing closures from 2 p.m. to midnight, starting Thursday, until conditions improve.

Affected areas: The entire Jefferson River, the Notch Bottom Fishing Access site (southeast of Glen to the mouth) of the Big Hole River and the stretch from Perkins Lane Bridge near Warm Springs downstream to Flint Creek on the Clark Fork River.

Pat Saffel, FWP Region 2 fisheries manager, said that drought-like conditions, which often occur in Montana in late July and August, potentially stress wild trout and other fish. Prolonged high water temperatures and lower oxygen levels can lead to fish kills.

The preferred water temperature for rainbow and brown trout ranges between 55 to 57 degrees.

Recently, FWP placed fishing restrictions on the Lower Madison and Upper Big Hole Rivers, as well.

Water flows have dropped, too, triggering fishing restrictions in area watershed drought management plans

For details on all emergency angling restrictions, visit and select Drought and Fire under the Hot Topics heading, or check the FWP online fishing guide.


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