What is a Hoot Owl Fishing Restriction?
A Hoot owl fishing restriction is an afternoon closure instituted by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. Fishing is closed each day at 2:00 pm and remains closed until midnight. In Western Montana our daytime and night time temperatures can swing from 45 degrees at night to 90 degrees during the day. Our river temps swing in the same way. Take a glance at the USGS data graphs you can see that water temps can swing as much as 12 degrees in a day. A Hoot Owl Restriction ensures that fish are caught and released during the period of the day when water temps are at their coolest. Therefore giving them a break in the afternoon and evening when the water is at its warmest.
Which Missoula Rivers Currently Have a Hoot Owl Restriction?
Starting July 29th, 2016:
Blackfoot: Entire length
Blackfoot tributaries: North Fork and Copper, Monture and Morrell Creeks
Bitterroot: Tucker Crossing, downstream to confluence with Clark Fork (~47 miles)
Upper Clark Fork: From headwaters where Silver Bow and Warm Springs Creeks join to Rock Creek (~100 miles)
For updates on closures and re-openings click here.
How does Hoot Owl affect my guide trip?
In essence, we’ve been running trips on Hoot Owl hours for the past few weeks…so fishing restrictions won’t alter our approach at all. Except maybe get us sidled up to the bar for an earlier cocktail.
Seriously, though: at Missoula on the Fly we pride ourselves in our ability to set meet times directly based on the most current fishing conditions. In the Fall, for example, when the mid day mayfly hatches dominate the fishing, we meet mid morning to capitalize on the best window of fishing that occurs in the afternoon. In the summer when its hot and the fishing is best in the morning, we meet early. With or without a hoot owl restriction we would be meeting early in the morning to catch the best fishing window anyway.
A full day guide trip usually consists of 6-8 hours of fishing. If we meet at 6 and fish from 6:45 until 2:00 we still get in a full day of fishing.
Tips on how to get the most out of your guide trip during Hoot Owl
We understand that purchasing a guided trip is a big deal and you want to get the most out of it. For those who want to squeeze in as much time fishing possible we are willing to meet you as early as you are willing to be picked up in the morning in order to maximize your day.
Want to squeeze even more fishing in? Instead of breaking for lunch and taking 30 minutes out of fishing time, we can snack throughout the morning and early afternoon and have a riverside lunch at 2:00. After lunch, when the rods are all reeled up, it gives you a chance to take in the scenery, instead of focusing on your fly, as we row to the takeout.
Don’t Take our word for it!
This review, posted by a customer last season, specifically mentions how to not let the restriction deter you.
Upper Clark Fork
Lower Clark Fork