Dangerous Droughts Put Fishing On Hold in Several Iconic Montana Rivers

by Emily Morgan

When you think of some of America’s most idyllic places, Montana is one of the first to come to mind. However, the state has recently banned one of the state’s most popular recreational activities.

Montana is known as a fisherman’s paradise with its world-class trout streams and tranquil rivers. Both locals and tourists flock to its rivers and streams to throw a line and hopefully catch a trophy Brown Trout.

However, the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department have recently restricted anyone from fishing to reduce pressure at times with low water flows. High water temperatures make fish more susceptible to disease and ultimately death.

The closure of rivers for recreational fishing comes in part of the state’s official drought policy. The state started a full fishing closure on the Shields Rivers beginning on Tuesday, where it meets the Yellowstone River down to the U.S. Forest Service’s Crandall Creek Bridge.

On Wednesday, the agency prohibited anyone from fishing the Big Hole River at its confluence with the Beaverhead River and the Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site. 

Moreso, those hoping to drop a line in the evening are also in for some bad news. Evening fishing restrictions are now in place for Madison, Beaverhead, Missouri, Stillwater, and Yellowstone rivers. 

In many of the spots, anglers will not be allowed to fish from 2 p.m. to midnight. The restrictions include large portions of waterways on the outskirts of the Yellowstone National Park.

Montana Officials Encourage Reservoir Fishing

However, there is a silver lining. Residents and visitors hoping to fish can do so at one of the state’s many reservoirs. Per the Billings Gazette, walleye fishing is very popular at the moment. Walleye fishing is reportedly good at reservoirs such as Canyon Ferry and Hauser. It’s also prevalent at the Big Dry Arm at Fort Peck.

However, experts say that your best bet for fishing will be at the coolest parts of the day. They encourage people to go out in the mornings or late afternoons. 

Earlier this year, someone caught the state record Walleye. Since then, anglers have caught seven state-record fish in Montana over the last nine months. Of the fish, someone caught a new state record largemouth bass at a reservoir.

If you find yourself hoping to fish in Montana, the state encourages everyone to purchase a fishing license. Once you buy a license, you’ll be directly funding the state’s boat ramps, aquatic environments, and fish populations in the U.S. 

Additionally, the money spent on the license also protects you from potentially being fined. It also keeps your gear from being taken away and losing your fishing privileges. Authorities also want to clarify that although you may have a fishing license in one state, it may not be valid in another.