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Heat and historically low water levels bring fishing restrictions to western Montana

A woman fly fishing on a green, bushy bank of a small stream.
U.S. Forest Service Northern Region

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists say historically low water levels and hot temperatures may severely impact cold-water fish in the region.

FWP spokesman Dillon Tabish says, "Flows in the North, South and Middle forks of the Flathead river are about a third of what they normally are this year,"

Tabish says for the first time in the region, experts are considering enforcing a prohibition on fishing between 2 p.m. and midnight.

"This is a potentially unprecedented situation so we're really just trying to get this advisory out to start the conversation."

Fisheries biologists are most concerned about heat-induced stress for fish in Flathead rivers and tributaries, as well as the Swan and Thompson Rivers.

Portions of the Big Hole and the Ruby rivers are now closed to anglers between 2 p.m. and midnight to ease stress on fish. Those restrictions were implemented on the Beaverhead, Bitterroot, and Jefferson earlier this week.

To reduce stress on fish populations, the agency recommends anglers land fish quickly, keep them in water as much as possible, limit photos, remove the hook gently and let fish recover so they can swim away.

Find more information from Montana FWP.
FWP Region 1 office: 406-752-5501.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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