Hot weather closes several Montana rivers

The Jefferson River is one of several southwest Montana rivers closed to fishing from 2 p.m. to midnight until conditions approve.

If you’re planning to fish one of several southwest Montana rivers this week, you n

eed to get up early and be done by 2 p.m.

According to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, “hoot owl” closures go into affect today thanks to low flows and an extended period of hot, dry weather. Affected rivers include the lower Madison below Ennis Dam; the lower Gallatin from its confluence with the Madison at Three Forks to Sheds Bridge near Four Corners; The Big Hole River from Saginaw Bridge to the confluence with the North Fork of the Big Hole, and again from Notch Bottom to the confluence with the Beaverhead River; the Beaverhead from Anderson Lane to the Big Hole confluence; the East Gallatin River from Spring Hill Road Bridge all the way to the confluence with the mainstem Gallatin; and the entire course of the Jefferson River.

The above-mentioned river sections will close until midnight each day “until conditions improve.” The closures are being put in place two weeks earlier this year than they were last year and in 2015. Last year, hot weather and low flows caused closures and parasite infestations that killed native whitefish in the Yellowstone River and in the Madison River. The Yellowstone River is not on the list of closed rivers, but fisheries managers warned that “additional restrictions are possible on other stretches of these or other southwest Montana rivers in the coming weeks.”

As a rule, trout begin to experience mortality, particularly after being caught and handled, when water temperatures approach 70 degrees. Always carry a thermometer with you when you fish, and give the fish a break if water temperatures start to warm close to 70.

— Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.