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'Hoot Owl' Fishing Restrictions Take Effect On Bitterroot River

Man fishing in the Yellowstone River.
Flickr user: Mirrur Image (CC-BY-NC)
Man fishing in the Yellowstone River.

Warm water temperatures have triggered fishing restrictions on a 55 mile stretch of the Bitterroot River from Veteran’s Bridge on Highway 93 just north of Hamilton, downstream to the confluence with the Clark Fork in Missoula. The so-called ‘Hoot Owl’ restriction went into effect today.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Missoula-area Fisheries Manager Pat Saffel says those restrictions go into effect when river temperatures reach at least 73 degrees for three days in a row.

“And that closes fishing from 2 p.m. to midnight each day. The reason behind it is those high temperatures start to stress fish, because trout prefer cooler water and the water contains less oxygen. We just want to limit the additional stress that angling has on fish," Saffel says.

“Hoot-Owl’ restrictions are also in effect on two other rivers: a 100-mile stretch of the Upper Clark Fork from the headwaters at Warm Springs Ponds to Rock Creek, and in Silver Bow Creek from the confluence with Blacktail Creek to where it enters Warm Springs Ponds.

You can see a map of Montana fishing restrictions and closures here.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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