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Fishing Closures During Spawning To Begin For Sections Of Big Hole, Ruby, Beaverhead Rivers

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

Fishing will close starting Oct. 1 for sections of the Big Hole, Ruby and Beaverhead rivers to protect trout during spawning season.


The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted emergency fishing regulations in June in response to struggling fish populations in the three rivers. These restrictions limit fall angling during the brown trout spawning season in some stretches of the rivers.



Trout abundances in several areas of the three rivers have steadily declined since 2011 and are at or near historical lows. Meanwhile, fishing pressure in these areas has increased. The emergency fishing regulations aim to be responsive to fish populations in accordance with Montana’s draft statewide fisheries management plan.


Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is also beginning new research with Montana State University to better understand and manage trout mortality, recruitment and health.

The current fishing regulations for the three rivers are as follows:

Big Hole River

  • Entire river

    • Catch and release for Arctic grayling


  • Headwaters to Dickie Bridge

    • Combined trout: five daily and in possession, no size restriction


  • Dickie Bridge to the mouth

    • Open April 1 through Sept. 30

    • Catch and release only

    • Artificial lures and single-pointed hooks only. No treble or double hooks. Anglers may remove treble or double hooks from the lure and replace them with a single hook, or the shanks may be cut off the other hook points to leave a single hook. Lures with multiple hook attachments may still be used but any treble hook must be replaced by a single hook.



Beaverhead River

  • Entire river

    • Catch and release for rainbow trout

    • Brown trout: five fish daily and in possession, all fish must be less than 18 inches, except for Clark Canyon Dam to High Bridge Fishing Access Site (see special regulations below)

    • Artificial lures and single-pointed hooks only. No treble or double hooks. Anglers may remove treble or double hooks from the lure and replace them with a single hook, or the shanks may be cut off the other hook points to leave a single hook. Lures with multiple hook attachments may still be used but any treble hook must be replaced by a single hook.


  • Clark Canyon Dam to Pipe Organ Bridge

    • Open third Saturday in May through Sept. 30


  • Clark Canyon Dam to High Bridge FAS

    • Catch and release for trout


  • High Bridge FAS to Henneberry FAS

    • Closed to float fishing by nonresidents and float outfitting on each Saturday from the third Saturday in May through Labor Day


  • Henneberry FAS to Pipe Organ Bridge

    • Closed to float fishing by nonresidents and float outfitting on each Sunday from the third Sunday in May through Labor Day



  • Barretts Diversion to the mouth

    • Open April 1 through Sept. 30

    • Catch and release for trout


  • Highway 91 South Bridge (Tash Bridge) to Selway Bridge

    • Closed to float outfitting from the third Saturday in May through Labor Day


Ruby River

  • Upstream from Ruby Reservoir

    • Combined trout: all may be cutthroat trout


  • Downstream from Ruby Dam

    • Catch and release for rainbow trout.

    • Angling is closed the entire year just below Ruby Dam, from its confluence with Ruby Dam outlet channel upstream to the dam, including the outlet channel.



  • From Ruby Dam to Alder Bridge (Ruby Island FAS)

    • Catch and release for brown trout

    • Open April 1 through Sept. 30


  • From Alder Bridge (Ruby Island FAS) to the mouth

    • Brown trout: one daily and in possession, must be less than 18 inches


For more information, visit fwp.mt.gov/fish.

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