A full fishing closure will go into effect for the Beaverhead River starting at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 1.
The closure extends for the entire Beaverhead River—from its confluence with the Big Hole River to Clark Canyon Dam. The closure will remain in place until lifted by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks when water temperatures moderate and angling pressure is not expected to cause undue stress to fish.
Flows to the Beaverhead River from Clark Canyon Dam will transition from typical irrigation releases of about 300 cubic feet per second to the minimum overwinter release of 25 cubic feet per second over a five-day period, beginning Sept. 1. This flow change is occurring several weeks earlier than normal due to severe drought projections in the Clark Canyon Reservoir drought plan.
Flow reduction, coupled with forecasted hot temperatures, are expected to cause excess stress to individual fish. This could adversely affect the fishery, prompting the full fishing closure.
Fishing restrictions, such as hoot owl restrictions and full closures, are designed to protect fish that become more susceptible to disease and mortality when conditions, such as low flows and high water temperatures, combine with other stressors, including catch-and-release fishing. Restrictions are in place for other Montana waterbodies. Anglers can find a statewide list of current restrictions at fwp.mt.gov/news/current-closures-restrictions.
All stress to fish at this time of year is cumulative, and anglers should consider fishing in cooler waters during times of low flows and high water temperatures in rivers. Anglers can help reduce stress for fish by following these practices when catching and releasing fish where fishing is allowed, though fish mortality may still occur:
Fish during the coolest times of day, where permitted.
Land the fish quickly.
Wet your hands before handling the fish.
Keep the fish in water as much as possible.
Remove the hook gently. Using artificial lures with single and barbless hooks can make hook removal faster and easier.
If the fish is hooked deeply, you may have to cut the line at the fish’s mouth or consider keeping it if regulations allow.
Let the fish recover before releasing it.