Warm Water Triggers Bitterroot River Fishing Restrictions
When river water temperatures exceed 70 degrees, fish enter a stressful period and the added stress of "catch and release" can cause damage.
The Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks will institute :hoot owl" fishing restrictions on the Bitterroot River from Veteran's Bridge on the north end of Hamilton to Missoula, as of Thursday, August 3.
That means no fishing from 2 p.m. to midnight. The Upper Clark Fork and Silver Bow Creek had the same restrictions imposed a few days ago.
Pat Saffel of Montana FWP said in a news release, "Although restriction criteria haven't been met on other rivers, fish are feeling the impact of warming temperatures and lower flows across the region."
He suggested that catch-and-release anglers wet their hands before handling fish, remove the hook quickly and gently and keep the fish in the water as much as possible.
Further restrictions could be coming, he said.
In another development, Seeley Lake has been closed to all boating, swimmng, fishing and wading because of helicopter "water-dipping" activity.
The aircraft are using the lake water to fight the fast-moving Rice Ridge Fire. The lake will be closed to public activity until further notice.