Hoot Owl Restrictions, River Closures

mikemac1

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Those planning a trip should take look at the Montana FWP site for the latest closures. My beloved Beaverhead now has hoot owl restrictions on my favorite evening float. If you plan on coming over to fish the Beav this summer, be forewarned it is crowded. Also the river was running 800+ cfs when I checked this morning. That’s too much flow for me to row comfortably. Unless we get some relief it wouldn’t shock me to see complete closures on some pretty famous water.
Here’s the latest MT Hoot Owl and Closure List. Expect this list to expand over the next two weeks.
 

mandotrout

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Redrock

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Between the crowds, the temps, and the low flows, if they really wanted to protect the resource they would just shut it all down until at least after Labor Day.
As much as I hate it, you may be right for all but the upper sections of the tailwater rivers. The top end of the Beav is so crowded it’s not much fun to fish right now.
 

Longs for Cutts

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Prayers that you all get some much needed rain. I wish I could send you some because it has rained almost every single day this summer where I live now and I am tired of it.

We are staying directly on the Yellowstone in Emigrant so I will probably explore that a bit. We miss living in the Rockies and are looking forward to the mountain air and some cold nights, a couple of fish will only be lagniappe.
There aren't any cold nights lately. One day last week it was 75 when I left for my guide trip at 5:30. Most are in the low 60s. We need 40s.

Yellowstone and Stillwater go on Hoot Owl tomorrow at 2:00.
 

dharkin

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Got this email today;

Several angling restrictions on rivers in southwest, north-central and south-central Montana go into effect today due to warming temperature​

FWP Header
High temps prompt additional fishing restrictions on several Montana rivers
HELENA – Several angling restrictions on rivers in southwest, north-central and south-central Montana go into effect today due to warming temperatures and low flows.
The restrictions include what are commonly known as “hoot owl” restrictions, which means fishing is closed from 2 p.m. to midnight each day. Some waters are under full fishing closures, which prohibit fishing at all times of day. These closures and restrictions will stay in effect until conditions improve.
The following closure went into effect today:
  • 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.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ drought policy provides for angling closures when flows drop below critical levels for fish, when water quality is diminished, or when maximum daily water temperatures reach at least 73 degrees for three consecutive days. Warm and dry conditions are expected to continue during the coming weeks.
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.
Before you go fishing, please be aware of the conditions. Numerous other rivers in Montana are also under fishing restrictions. For a full list, visit FWP’s website: https://fwp.mt.gov/news/current-closures-restrictions.
 

Tony Blundetto

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Looks my trip ended at just the right time! Not that it would have mattered because I mostly got my ass kicked all week.
 

mikemac1

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Looks my trip ended at just the right time! Not that it would have mattered because I mostly got my ass kicked all week.
Not to put you on the spot or challenge your angling skills, but I’d be curious where in the park you fished and why, as you say “got [your] ass kicked all week.” Was it crowds? High water temps? Poor hatches? Low water? It is always useful to understand what’s going on in the park as the season progresses, especially this one. Thanks in advance.
 

Tony Blundetto

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Not to put you on the spot or challenge your angling skills, but I’d be curious where in the park you fished and why, as you say “got [your] ass kicked all week.” Was it crowds? High water temps? Poor hatches? Low water? It is always useful to understand what’s going on in the park as the season progresses, especially this one. Thanks in advance.


man…. More than you wanna hear and a Long story, but here it a goes. Also, feel free to challenge my angling skills, as I would consider myself squarely intermediate. There were some logistical errors like staying too far from the park we made as well. I was with my gf, and getting her up to be on the water very early simply wasn’t going to happen. Maybe I’m a lunatic for being okay with waking up at 4 am on vacation

The first place we fished in Monday we actually did pretty good. We fished Lamar and Slough, caught some really nice cutthroats on the Lamar about a mile upstream. We didn’t fish Slough very long. We just couldn’t catch a break and that was mostly our fault just chunking the hook set, missed some really… really big trout. Still felt good considering the short amount of time we were there.

On Tuesday, tourist stuff. No fishing.

Wednesday, we fished the Yellowstone downstream from the lake. Lots of bugs hatching, especially a lot of green drakes. Would have liked to have fish it longer because there were rising fish, but they were hard to get to. My gf is a smaller gal so standing in deeper water is hard for her and she hated It. We moved on before we could get the skunk off us. Would have been fun to some technical dry fly stuff but it wasn’t too be.

We fished the Gibbon Meadow after that, a few small browns. Water was on the edge of being to warm, water was very low and clear and the fish were very spooky.

Then we fished the south fork of the Madison. Was hoping this would produce since it resembles a MN stream, but we only caught a few small browns. No bugs hatching but the water was very cold.

Later we fished the Gallatin just upstream of the confluence with fan creek. Bugs hatching but no fish rising. Didn’t catch anything. Water was very skinny.

Thursday we fished the Lamar again, but the water was really stained. It wasn’t near as productive as Monday. Water temp was 62. Managed a few dinks.

yesterday, we fished the Yellowstone under the grand loop bridge. Couldn’t really get anywhere up or down stream because my gf was scared of bears. Kinda put a damper on things.

Pressure wasn’t terrible. Most people were right off the road. All in all, I think low water, high temps, and the fact we needed to fish open areas close to the road due to fear of bears made things the toughest. I really would love to back as a guys fishing trip before I get too old and go deeper into the back country. The differences in comfort levels between me and my gf made more than just the fishing difficult.
 
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mikemac1

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@Tony Blundetto Thanks. Pretty typical experience for a first time or novice angler in Yellowstone. Expectations are always high and rarely achieved unless you focus on the right places at the right time of the year. Apart from the gf/bear concerns you hit on a couple of key mistakes. Early starts are imperative in the warm days of summer (or the willingness to fish the last few hours of daylight in the evening), Especially true in conditions we are experiencing this year. Where you stay and where you fish are important as travel can impose lots of logistical issues. Of the places you mentioned you fished, two should have been non-starters. First, the Gibbon because of its thermal influence just doesn’t fish well in the heat of summer. Most decent fish below the falls move downstream into the Madison, maybe all the way to Hebgen while above the falls, the skinny high-gradient water holds only small fish and the meadow reaches are much too warm. The South Fork of the Madison, although a pretty stream doesn’t hold many resident fish in the summer. The rainbows move in to spawn in the spring and move back to Hebgen. The browns don’t move into the stream until late Fall from Hebgen. Pretty much a barren stream in mid-summer.

Despite the fact that the YNP season is five months long, most of the waters have much shorter productive seasons over the course of those five months. Understanding and planning around those shorter windows is important for a YNP trip. As for bears, fear is a great motivator.

Thanks again for the input.
 

Tony Blundetto

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Thanks for the advice! I definitely wanna go back and I do feel like I learned a lot. I’d love to fish Hellroaring creek to its mouth on the Yellowstone and then the Yellowstone in the back country, if that’s even possible. At least that way if I don’t catch anything I’m enjoying some awesome wilderness, bears or not. While the possibility of getting attacked is real, I could also die in a car wreck on my way to work and I don’t quit driving over that.
 

dean_mt

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Jeez, that is bad! But I like you're illustrations, Dan. :sneaky:

We better get some rain, I'm not sure if I've seen the river at 150cfs, can't look good.

And how in the world can an outfitter/shop on the river still be posting photos of fish out of the water?! Such bad form, imo.
 

dharkin

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It doesn't look good John. The photos are from the past catches that are shown on the fishing report page, I don't think they are recent.
 
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