Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has closed gates or created temporary barriers at many popular river fishing access sites.

The reasons are obvious: high water and flood conditions around west-central Montana. A lot of the fishing sites do remain open to walk-in access, but users are urged to avoid those areas, or if you do use them, exercise extreme caution if you get in or even near the water.

Some of the areas you might find affected by these closures at present time:

Clark Fork:
Schwartz Creek; Turah; Kelly Island (all access points); Kona Bridge; Harpers Bridge

Bitterroot:

Hannon Memorial; Woodside Bridge; Bell Crossing

Blackfoot:

Harry Morgan; Monture Creek; Clearwater Crossing

Conditions change quickly, so it's always smart to try to find out ahead of time. But warmer temps and more rain have driven higher stream flows and causing portions of access sites to be under water. Besides - or because of - high water, there are a lot of other factors that contribute to dangerous conditions. Debris in water. Colder water. Heavy currents. Logjams. Debris caught on bridge abutments that can cause swirling undertows.

We're all eager to take in what Montana rivers offer this time of year. Please don't let that desire get in the way of common sense.

DB