Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks officials constituted “Hoot Owl” restrictions to protect fisheries that are exposed to warm water: designed to limit fishing and safeguard trout fisheries after 2pm during the warmest parts of the day. In addition, the Hoot Owl restrictions encourage anglers to get out on the water early when the water temperatures are best.

Recently, officials from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), have contemplated the Hoot Owl restrictions for the first time on some rivers like the Beaverhead, Bitterroot, Jefferson, Lower Madison, and Sun rivers. This year Montana struggled with snowpack, resulting in historically lower flows and hotter water temperatures in mid to late afternoons.

From Montana FWP: “Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks is advising anglers that the entire mainstem of the Bitterroot River (from the confluence with the Clark Fork near Missoula, to the confluence with the East and West Forks) is now under hoot-owl restrictions, effective Monday, July 24, due to warm water conditions.  Hoot-owl restritions close fishing from 2 p.m. to midnight.”

Anglers anywhere can also help reduce stress and mortality 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.
  • Keep the fish in water as much as possible.
  • Let the fish recover before releasing it.

To check out all Hoot Owl restrictions and fishing closures check out this public release from the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks commission by clicking HERE.

Check out the articles below:

Low Flows & Hot Water: What To Know About Summer Fly Fishing

Summertime Fly Fishing: What You Need to Know


  1. The rivers listed in the article are put on hoot owl restrictions nearly ever year in recent memory, NOT for the first time. They are not NW MT rivers, arguably with the exception of the Bitterroot.

    However; there are some NW MT rivers that are being considered for hoot owl that aren’t usually under those restrictions.


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