List of “Hoot Owl” Restricted Streams Available on FWP Website
There are a number of streams in Montana currently under “Hoot Owl” restrictions, meaning these streams are closed to fishing from 2pm to midnight each day.
At the time of this writing, these streams include the Big Hole, Bitterroot, Blackfoot, Clark Fork, and Jefferson rivers, as well as Flint Creek and Silverbow Creek.
This list is predicted to change as summer goes on, likely with more streams being added before any are removed.
For a full up-to-date list of statewide stream restrictions and closures, visit: http://fwp.mt.gov/news/restrictions/waterClosure.html
It should be no surprise that these restrictions have gone into effect given the low snowpack in Spring and Winter combined with record-high temperatures and low rain accumulation through the month of June.
These restrictions are in place to lessen fire risk, and of course to minimize stress on fish.
If you’re wondering how you can determine when it is best not to fish, you can pick up a thermometer at almost any fly shop or hardware store.
For most trout brought to hand, the mortality rate starts to climb when water temperatures rise above 58 degrees. As temperatures reach or exceed this point, it becomes increasingly important to limit the time you play and handle a trout. If water temperatures reach or exceed 70 degrees, it is best to pack up your gear and call it a day.
If you’re looking for a good rule of thumb, keep in mind that if the water feels comfortable to you, it probably feels uncomfortably warm for the resident trout.
Here are some things you can do to limit stress on trout when water temps are high:
- Use heavier leader and tippet material so you can bring fish to hand in as quickly as possible.
- Fish with barbless hooks.
- Use a net for catching and handling the fish, never touch the fish with dry hands and, whenever possible, keep it in the water.
- Forego the desire for picture taking, and release the fish quickly once its recovery from the fight is obvious.