July 27, 2021
With lower than average water flows and higher than average air temperatures, Southwestern Montana has been feeling quite a bit different this summer than most. Lower flows and warmer air temps leads to warmer than normal water temperatures which can put undue stress on the trout living here in Montana. When water temperatures are cool, 50s to mid 60s, trout are fairly happy, but when temps creep up into the 70s that's when problems can arise. Trout, for the most part, will still happily eat during periods of warmer water temps and may often in fact fight just as hard as when the water is cooler. The problem comes with recovery. After expending that kind of energy being caught, when the water is warm, they often have trouble recovering from a valiant effort of being caught and released. In order to protect the trout populations of Montana, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) has the ability to enact "Hoot Owl" restrictions on fishing on some or all of the rivers in the state.