Missouri River Hoot Owl begins Wednesday 7.21.21

Missouri River Hoot Owl begins Wednesday 7.21.21

This just in. Missouri River Hoot Owl begins Wednesday at 2pm.

Fishing hours are 12am to 2pm. No fishing beyond 2pm.

Nothing will change for the guided trips out of Headhunters Fly Shop.  We have been heading out at 6am or earlier for about 3 weeks now. Nothing new there.

What will change is there will be no fishing at 2pm and beyond. Floating, yes. Fishing, no. Swimming, yes. Practicing casting without a fly? Boy, I would not risk it. A funny conversation with Mr. FWP Agent it would be. Swimming, yes. Napping, yes. Drinking a cold beverage in the shade? Yup.

How long? Looking at the long term weather forecast no time soon. We’d be surprised if this didi not last until at least the first part of September.

Any questions or concerns about any of this or to get a fishing report as well, just tell that smart phone of yours to dial up Headhunters of Craig at 406-235-3447. We’ll gladly answer any additional questions you may have.

All good here beyond the excessive heat and water temperatures warmer than the trout would prefer. See you soon on the Headhunters shaded porch at two sippin’ a cold one. We’ll see you there.


Jul 20, 2021 5:16 PM

Fishing restrictions implemented for the Missouri River

GREAT FALLS – Hoot-owl fishing restrictions will go into effect beginning Tuesday for the Missouri River near Craig.

Under hoot owl restrictions, fishing is not allowed from 2 p.m. to midnight each day. The restrictions are in effect between Holter Dam and the town of Cascade boat ramp and are meant to keep anglers from stressing fish already struggling with warm water and low oxygen levels.

Flow below Holter Dam is near the 10th percentile for the daily average on record and the temperatures recorded throughout the section have exceeded 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Although flow and temperature are not exceeding established criteria for restrictions, continued forecast high temperatures coupled with high angling pressure could lead to excessive fish mortality, leading FWP to implement the restrictions.

These restrictions will remain in place until streamflow and water temperature conditions improve or until September 15.

FWP urges all anglers to minimize stress on fish by playing and landing them quickly, and not removing them from the water while unhooking.

Numerous other rivers in Montana are also under fishing restrictions. For a full list, visit FWP’s website: https://fwp.mt.gov/news/current-closures-restrictions

So a wrap up is…

Hoot Owl Restrictions begins Wednesday.

Fishing only 12am midnight thru 2pm.

More from FWP and statewide restrictions.

FWP July 20th 4:53pm

High temps prompt additional fishing restrictions on several Montana rivers

HELENA – Several angling restrictions on rivers in southwest, north-central and south-central Montana go into effect today due to warming temperatures and low flows.

The restrictions include what are commonly known as “hoot owl” restrictions, which means fishing is closed from 2 p.m. to midnight each day. Some waters are under full fishing closures, which prohibit fishing at all times of day. These closures and restrictions will stay in effect until conditions improve.

The following closure went into effect today:

    • A full fishing closure for portions of the Shields River from the confluence with Yellowstone River to USFS Crandal Creek Bridge.

These closures go into effect, Wednesday, July 21, at 12:01 a.m.:

    • A full fishing closure for portions of the Big Hole River from the confluence with the Beaverhead River to Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site.
    • A full fishing closure for portions of the Gallatin River from the mouth to Hwy 84 Crossing.
    • A full fishing closure for the entire Jefferson River.

These restrictions go into effect, Wednesday, July 21, at 2 p.m.:

    • Hoot owl restrictions for the entire reach of the Madison River from the mouth to the boundary with Yellowstone National Park.
    • Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Beaverhead River from the mouth to State Highway 91 South.
    • Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Missouri River from Town of Cascade Boat Ramp to Holter Dam.
    • Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Stillwater River from the confluence with Yellowstone River to Absaroka Fishing Access Site.
    • Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Yellowstone River Hwy 212 Bridge in Laurel to Yellowstone National Park boundary.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ 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. Warm and dry conditions are expected to continue during the coming weeks.

Angling restrictions are implemented based on several considerations: stream flow, water temperatures, angling pressure and other angling restrictions in the area that may divert use to waterways where circumstances are increasing stress on the fishery.

When conditions are stressful for fish, disease outbreaks and fish kills are to be expected. The public should report any unusual sightings of dead or diseased fish to their local FWP office.

Under normal conditions, fish can fight off infections. However, under the stress of high temperatures and low flows, they are more susceptible to these diseases.

Anglers can help reduce stress for fish by following these practices when catching and releasing fish, though fish mortality may still occur:

    • Fish during the coolest times of day, where permitted.
    • Land the fish quickly.
    • Keep the fish in water as much as possible.
    • Remove the hook gently. Using artificial lures with single and barbless hooks can make hook removal faster and easier.
    • Let the fish recover before releasing it.

Before you go fishing, please be aware of the conditions. Numerous other rivers in Montana are also under fishing restrictions. For a full list, visit FWP’s website: https://fwp.mt.gov/news/current-closures-restrictions.

If you’re looking for angling opportunities, many ponds, lakes and reservoirs in Montana provide good mid-summer angling options. For more information go online to fwp.mt.gov. Streams at higher elevations that don’t experience higher temperatures are another good option.



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  • Sad days. Necessary, but sad. Seems like just about every trout fishery in the state is in rough shape.

  • Thanks for letting everyone know. Not the news we like to get, but it is necessary to help the fish. Early morning is a good time to be out and about anyway.

  • Never thought I’d see the day a tailgater would need to be under hoot owl restrictions. It’s definitely sad, but I don’t disagree one bit. Gotta protect this resource or we could destroy it in one season.

  • Tail water… thanks iPhone.

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