Rivers in Great Falls closed to take heat off Montana fishing
Helena, MT, United States (4E Sports) – In an effort to protect its fisheries due to the extended hot, dry weather affecting much of the country, Montana closed three central rivers in the Great Falls area.
The closure, effective Friday, July 27, will affect portions of the Dearborn, the Smith and Sun rivers.
The Montana Fishing Wildlife & Parks advised anglers Wednesday that fishing on the said rivers, all located in the Great Falls area, would close daily from 2 p.m. to midnight until conditions improve.
The “hoot-owl” closure will restrict fishing on Dearborn River from Highway Bridge 431 to the confluence of the Missouri River north of Craig.
On the Smith River, it will be implemented from the confluence of the North and South forks to Eden Bridge east of Great Falls.
While on Sun River, the fishing restriction will cover from Highway 287 Bridge to the mouth of Muddy Creek west of Great Falls.
Fishing closures under the agency’s policy provides that it is implement when flows drop below critical levels for fish, when water quality is diminished, or when maximum daily water temperatures reach at least 73 degrees Fahrenheit for three consecutive days.
Water temperature on the Sun River have exceeded for 17 days, while Dearborn River reached that level for 14 days. It reached the 73-degree level for seven days on the Smith River.
The heat and high water temperatures place a significant strain on fish.
It translates to about 20 degrees increase in temperature, warmer than what is optimal for the trout, which common in the said three rivers. Trout thrive around 55-57 degrees Fahrenheit.
The higher temperatures causes them to less likely to survive being caught and released. Warm water holds less dissolved oxygen, making it hard for fish to recover once they are out of the water.
Even without the threat of fisherman, the searing conditions makes it more difficult for the fish to remain healthy.
It marked the first fishing restrictions imposed this year.