One of my favorite fish to catch is getting some added attention in the way of new proposed sanctions. And you are welcome to comment.

Due to public concern regarding brown trout declines in some popular rivers in southwest Montana, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking public input on potential fishing regulation changes. That's because studies conducted by FWP and the U.S. Geologic Survey suggest that flow is a primary limiting factor for many brown trout populations.

Short-term trends have shown reduced numbers of small, juvenile brown trout in the Big Hole River, Ruby River, Boulder River (tributary to the Jefferson), Beaverhead River, upper Yellowstone River, Madison River, Shields River and upper Stillwater River (tributary to the Yellowstone). While the department will continue to address flow and habitat enhancement over the long-term, regulations may serve to reduce some population stressors over the short-term.

Here are some of the regulation changes being considered:

Adopt seasonal fishing closures to protect spawning brown trout on sections of some or all of the rivers mentioned above. This would adopt a seasonal fishing closure for all species from September 30 until the third Saturday in May to protect brown trout and reduce stress from angling.

Catch and release fishing only for brown trout on some or all of the rivers mentioned above or sections of rivers and/or tributaries. No harvest for brown trout would be allowed year-round.

Implement standing hoot-owl restrictions from July 1 – August 15 on some or all of those rivers or sections of rivers and/or tributaries. This regulation would limit fishing pressure to the coolest part of the day (midnight to 2 p.m.) with no fishing allowed from 2 p.m. to midnight.

Montana FWP is accepting public comment through July 11. You can email your comments to or mail them to FWP Fish Comments, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701. You can also participate in the survey via a special website set up to take your input and to further explain the overview we've presented here.

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