Montana FWP has issued Hoot Owl restrictions on the entire Madison river, including the heavily fished Upper Madison. This means no fishing from 2:00pm to midnight.
The following closures went into effect today via FWP email: * A full fishing closure for portions of the Shields River from the confluence with Yellowstone River to USFS Crandal Creek Bridge. These closures go into effect, Wednesday, July 21, at 12:01 a.m.: * A full fishing closure for portions of the Big Hole River from the confluence with the Beaverhead River to Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site. * A full fishing closure for portions of the Gallatin River from the mouth to Hwy 84 Crossing. * A full fishing closure for the entire Jefferson River. These restrictions go into effect, Wednesday, July 21, at 2 p.m.: * Hoot owl restrictions for the entire reach of the Madison River from the mouth to the boundary with Yellowstone National Park. * Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Beaverhead River from the mouth to State Highway 91 South. * Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Missouri River from Town of Cascade Boat Ramp to Holter Dam. * Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Stillwater River from the confluence with Yellowstone River to Absaroka Fishing Access Site. * Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Yellowstone River Hwy 212 Bridge in Laurel to Yellowstone National Park boundary. Angling restrictions are implemented based on several considerations: stream flow, water temperatures, angling pressure and other angling restrictions in the area that may divert use to waterways where circumstances are increasing stress on the fishery. When conditions are stressful for fish, disease outbreaks and fish kills are to be expected. The public should report any unusual sightings of dead or diseased fish to their local FWP office. Under normal conditions, fish can fight off infections. However, under the stress of high temperatures and low flows, they are more susceptible to these diseases. Anglers can help reduce stress for fish by following these practices when catching and releasing fish, though fish mortality may still occur: * Fish during the coolest times of day, where permitted. * Land the fish quickly. * Keep the fish in water as much as possible. * Remove the hook gently. Using artificial lures with single and barbless hooks can make hook removal faster and easier. * Let the fish recover before releasing it. This is a first for the Upper Madison. We have good flows but incessant hot days in the 90s and heavy angler pressure tipped the scales. You can also read about closures on many other rivers in the state as water temps have exceeded the dangerous 70 degree mark. Montana is hot and dry with numerous fires across the state. At the same time, our state has been overrun with a record influx of humans...everywhere...lining up at Yellowstone Park in record numbers (over 900,000 visitors in June)...jamming hiking trails, campgrounds...lakes, streams and boat launches. Real estate is skyrocketing...new homes are popping up on every piece of vacant land grabbed up by the highest bidder...more, more, more. I wouldn't want to be a trout...nowhere to run...nowhere to hide. It's time to temper our obsession with catching trout and give the fish a break.
UPDATE…SIDE ACTION OPPORTUNITY: If you are in the area and get bored this weekend, drive up to the single-ramp Varney boat launch and be there at 2PM. What a show! Watch everybody try to take their boat/rafts/sups/kayaks/water scooters/tubes out of the river at the same time! Watch jack knifes, 360s and boat trailer buckle-ups. Learn new cuss words at the line-up! Watch FWP officials run angler surveys at the same time! Participate! On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the crowding on the river! Whadya think? Watch the campers and RV crowd grill brats and gawk. Watch labs chase sticks! Make videos…take pano pics. Be there!