Warm Flows Prompt “Hoot-Owl” Fishing On Dearborn, Smith and Sun Rivers

Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks has advised anglers on three central Montana rivers that all fishing will close daily from 2 p.m. to midnight until conditions improve.

The “hoot-owl” closures, effective Friday August 8, are issued for:

  • Dearborn River—from Highway Bridge 435 to confluence of the Missouri River north of Craig;
  • Smith River—from the confluence of the North and South forks to Eden Bridge south of Great Falls;
  • Sun River—from Highway 287 Bridge to the mouth of Muddy Creek west of Great Falls.

FWP’s 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.

The preferred water temperature for rainbow and brown trout is about 55-57 degrees. Temperatures of 77 degrees or more can be lethal to trout.

FWP officials said one of the best short-term strategies to address heat-induced stress in Montana’s wild and native trout is to reduce catch-and-release mortality by alerting anglers to fish only in the morning.

“All three rivers have experienced high water temperatures between 74 and 77 degrees since early July” said Grant Grisak, Region 4 Fisheries Manager in Great Falls. “Although water temperatures have fluctuated during July, forecasts of 85-90 degree weather necessitates added safeguards to minimize impacts to wild fish” says Grisak. Limiting angling to the cooler water periods of the day helps reduce stress on fish. For details on all emergency angling restrictions and other drought updates, go to the FWP home page and click “Drought & Fire Updates“.