Western Montana Fishing Restrictions Expected as Water Temperatures Rise
With hot weather and water levels at 1/3 below normal, Western Montana is likely going to experience some severe fishing restrictions in the near future.
"We are going into a drought year, so we expect to hit some of the triggers for fishing restrictions," said Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks Fisheries Manager Pat Saffel. "The trigger that we most often see in this part of the state is the temperature trigger. Typically we start getting concerned about it in the third week of July, but this year we were concerned in the third week of June, about a month ahead."
As of last Friday, June 12, the temperatures of the Blackfoot River, Bitterroot River and Rock Creek were in the Mid-60s. Restrictions began to happen after the temperatures get into the low 70s.
"If we reach 73 degrees Fahrenheit for three days in a row, then we consider putting a restriction on, and it's usually for part of the day. On the Blackfoot River we watch for 71 degrees for three consecutive days, it's different, because it operates under its own drought plan. Next weekend we are looking at [air] temperatures into the 90s and 100s, so we're definitely going to have an eye out for what could happen this weekend."
Saffel says that the fishing restrictions would most likely be what are called "hoot-owl" restrictions, which limit fishing to the hours between morning and two p.m., however, a full closure of a river or creek is possible this summer in more extreme cases.