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Evening fishing restrictions adopted on more rivers in southwest, western Montana

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Parts of the lower Madison River have been added to the list of streams with "hoot owl" restrictions.

BOZEMAN — More evening fishing restrictions went into effect on rivers and streams in southwest and western Montana on Tuesday afternoon, as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

The “hoot owl” restrictions prohibit anglers from fishing between 2 p.m. and midnight daily, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks adopts them to reduce stress on fish while water temperatures are high.

Anglers are now subject to hoot owl restrictions on the approximately 25-mile stretch of the Shields River between the Shields River Road bridge and the confluence with the Yellowstone River.

The limits also went into effect on an approximately 45-mile section of the Madison River between the Madison Dam and the Madison’s confluence with the Jefferson River near Three Forks.

Hoot owl restrictions also impact a 10-mile section of the Madison River between the Eight Mile Ford Fishing Access Site and Ennis Reservoir, and a 10 mile stretch of the Ruby River between the Duncan District Road crossing and the Ruby’s confluence with the Beaverhead River.

Officials also ordered the evening fishing restrictions on the East Gallatin River between the confluence of Rocky Creek and Bear Creek and the West Gallatin River confluence.

Farther west, hoot owl restrictions went into effect on the Clark Fork River between the confluence of the Bitterroot River and the Flathead River; on all of Silver Bow Creek; and on the entire main stem of the Bitterroot River, excluding the east and west forks.

Evening fishing restrictions are already in place on many rivers and streams in southwest Montana.

Officials enacted the limits on a stretch of the Gallatin River, two stretches of the Big Hole River, a stretch of the Madison River, a stretch of the Beaverhead River and the entire Jefferson River earlier this summer.

People can’t fish between 2 p.m. and midnight on the Gallatin River between its mouth and the Cameron Bridge Fishing Access Site.

On the Big Hole River, the restrictions are in place between Maidenrock Fishing Access Site and the Big Hole’s confluence with the Jefferson River, and between Saginaw Bridge and Dickie Bridge.

Additional hoot owl restrictions were enacted on the Beaverhead River from its mouth to Selway Park Fishing Access Site.

Montana FWP wrote in a news release that water temperatures have exceeded 73 degrees for three consecutive days in the aforementioned rivers and streams, and that triggered the hoot owl restrictions. The limits will be lifted once the water bodies cool down or until Sept. 15.

“Fishing restrictions, such as hoot owl restrictions and full closures, are designed to protect fish that become more susceptible to disease and mortality when conditions, such as low flows and high water temperatures, combine with other stressors, including catch-and-release fishing,” the department wrote.

Anglers can help to reduce stress on fish by fishing during the coolest times of the day, landing fish quickly, wetting their hands before handling fish and keeping fish in the water as much as possible. They should try to remove hooks gently and let fish recover before releasing them.

Helena Dore can be reached at or at 582-2628.


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