Hoot Owl Restrictions Montana
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) has determined that when water flows are lower than average and water temperatures begin to rise over 73 degrees fahrenheit for three consecutive days, fishing pressure can put undue stress on the trout in our local rivers and streams. Because of that, they enact what is called a Hoot Owl Restriction on certain waters and stretches of rivers during the summer months once they reach this threshold. Hoot Owl Restrictions restrict fishing from 2:00 PM until midnight each day meaning you can fish during the morning hours until 2:00 PM and then you must stop fishing. You can still float the rivers after 2:00 PM, just not fishing after that time. These restrictions are put in place by Montana FWP to protect the trout and the fisheries and will typically last until water temperatures and water flows improve. For more information about Hoot Owl Restrictions or a current up to date list of all rivers affected, you can visit the Montana FWP Site. Below is a list of rivers in our immediate area affected by Hoot Owl Restrictions. If you have any questions or need more clarification, please give us a call at 406-586-5373 or 406-284-2401. There are still lots of great fishing options. Thanks!
9/9/2016 Update *** Current Bozeman Area River Restrictions
Lower Madison River - No Restrictions as of 9/6/2016!
Gallatin River - No Restrictions as of 9/6/2016!
Yellowstone River - All stretches reopened as of 9/23/2016! ***Please remember to wash, drain and dry all of your equipment before and after heading to the Yellowstone River. Let's do our part to prevent the further spread of these parasites!
Hoot Owl Restrictions FAQ
Can we still fish on rivers with the Hoot Owl Restrictions? Yes! You can still fish from Midnight until 2:00 PM on the stretches of the rivers with Hoot Owl Restrictions. If you are fishing on those stretches, consider going a little earlier to fish when it is cooler. Keep in mind that on many of our rivers, just certain stretches of the river have the restrictions so you can fish all day on the rest of the river without the restriction.
Is it bad to fish the stretches of rivers with Hoot Owl Restrictions? FWP has determined that fishing during the morning hours when the water is cooler is less stressful on the fish in these sections of rivers. While this may be the case, every river is different. Some of our rivers are just hovering at the cutoff point in the afternoons but cool off significantly overnight, or may even drop below the temperature thresholds for several days at a time. We have no problem recommending these rivers or stretches of rivers to fish in the mornings. Other rivers stay much warmer and really don't cool off overnight. We would most likely steer you away from those locations despite the fact that you can still legally fish them in the mornings. Still looking for direction, call us or stop by the shop, we are glad to help.
Is the fishing good on the stretches rivers with Hoot Owl Restrictions? Depends. As long as the water is cooling off significantly overnight, the fish will remain active and fishing can still be very good. On those rivers where the water stays pretty warm throughout the night, fishing will most likely not be as good and we would not recommend you fish those stretches.
Is there anywhere to fish without restrictions? Yes! There are still lots of great options for fishing in our area. The Hoot Owl Restrictions in place are only on certain stretches of our local rivers where they reach a point that they either get too low or too warm or both. On most of those rivers, there are still significant stretches that have no restrictions limiting fishing hours. We'd be happy to help steer you to some great fishing locations.
How long will the Hoot Owl Restrictions be in place? This is up to Mother Nature and Montana FWP. We usually need some significant change in weather or time of year to see the restrictions lifted. This usually occurs in early to mid September, but could happen sooner depending on the weather.