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What are 'Hoot Owl' fishing restrictions and why they matter for MT rivers

What are 'Hoot Owl' fishing restrictions and why they matter for Montana rivers
Posted at 3:50 PM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 17:50:03-04

HELENA — One of the most cherished resources our state has to offer is a healthy fish population. At this time of the year with rising temperatures, the best way to keep that population is to change when we go fishing.

“We're not saying you can’t fish, we’re just asking that you fish in the morning up until about 2:00 in the afternoon,” Helena area Fisheries Biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Adam Strainer told MTN News.

That time change, now in place in areas of the Madison, Missouri and other rivers all across the state is known as a Hoot Owl restriction.

And it’s officially put in place for a number of summertime reasons. Like a maximum daily water temp of at least 73-degrees for three consecutive days.

“Monitoring water temps, fisheries, population trends as well as angling trends," said Strainer. "The amount of pressure on the systems are having on them this time of year, and using all those variables to figure out what is best for each water body, each drainage through the state of Montana.”

When conditions are stressful for fish, disease and deaths can run rampant among the populations. And that could have long-running implications. So, it’s good to see that these restrictions are being respected by the angling population.

“The public’s been very helpful, this year in particular in informing us, they are seeing things occurring out there," said Strainer. "They’re calling area biologists. They are staying in touch with FWP and helping us come to some of these conclusions. They are being very helpful this summer and we’ve had a lot of really great support from the public.”

You can find an updated list of all FWP restrictions and closures here.