Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Wednesday, October 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 29° Partly Cloudy

Outdoors blog

Montana drought-related fishing restrictions lifted in some streams

A 19-inch cutthroat is released back into the Clark Fork River near Missoula. (Rich Landers)
A 19-inch cutthroat is released back into the Clark Fork River near Missoula. (Rich Landers)

FISHING -- Montana is lifting drought-related fishing restrictions on the rest of the Clark Fork River this weekend a week after Washington officials added hoot-owl restrictions to some streams.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will lift fishing restrictions Saturday, Aug. 22, on the upper Clark Fork River and Flint and Silver Bow Creeks, where stream temperatures have cooled to tolerable ranges for trout.

            These rivers and streams have been under “hoot owl” restrictions that prohibit fishing from 2 p.m. until midnight since July 3 to reduce the impact on drought-stressed fish.

            The lifting of these restrictions means that the entire Clark Fork River is now free from “hoot owl” restrictions.  The lower Clark Fork, Blackfoot main stem and Bitterroot were removed from restrictions earlier this week.

            Conditions still require “hoot owl” restrictions to remain in place on the Blackfoot tributaries including Morrell, Gold, Belmont, Cottonwood, Copper and Monture Creeks; the North Fork of the Blackfoot River below North Fork Falls; and Landers Fork.

 In Washington, drought-related restrictions were set in July affecting about 40 stream segments, including portions of the Spokane and Kettle Rivers.

Last week, new restrictions were applied in the Yakima Basin where some streams were partially or completely closed to fishing for game fish until further notice to reduce drought-related injury or mortality.


Species affected: All game fish (trout, whitefish, etc.)

Locations for new restrictions or closures:

  1. Yakima River from I-82 Bridge at Union Gap to the South Cle Elum Bridge: Closed 2 p.m. until midnight
  2. Swauk Creek and all tributaries downstream of Williams Creek: Closed 2 p.m. until midnight
  3. Williams Creek and all tributaries: Closed
  4. Swauk Creek and all tributaries upstream of Williams Creek: Closed
  5. American River: Closed

Previously announced restrictions and closures remain in effect on the following Yakima Basin tributaries:

  1. Ahtanum Creek, including North and Middle Forks: Closed
  2. Naches River from Tieton River to Bumping River/Little Naches River: Closed 2 p.m. until midnight
  3. Rattlesnake Creek: Closed 2 p.m. until midnight
  4. Little Naches River: Closed
  5. Teanaway River, including West, Middle and North Forks: Closed

Reason for action: Afternoon water temperatures in Yakima Basin rivers and creeks are approaching the upper limit for survival of trout and salmon. Most of the above waters do not benefit from cold water releases from the Bureau of Reclamation storage reservoirs. These select waters receive significant summer fishing effort that will subject hooked fish to handling stress, injury or death directly related to elevated water temperature combined with record low instream flow conditions.

            Click here for up-to-date information on restrictions related to drought.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

Follow Rich online:

Go to the full Outdoors page