No Montana angler likes to hear the words " fishing restrictions." But a few rivers might feel a bit of a pinch in the name of restoring.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced yesterday (Tuesday) updated research and monitoring of trout population declines. For now, the proposed restrictions are in southwest Montana. That includes proposing temporary angling restrictions on the Big Hole, Beaverhead and Ruby Rivers. That has been presented to the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Trout populations in many streams in southwest Montana have seen declines in recent years, attributed to perennially low stream flows and high water temperatures. Eileen Rice, Montana FWP fisheries division administrator was quoted as saying, “Though we don’t yet know all we’d like to about what’s happening in some of our most iconic rivers in southwest Montana, we can say that it starts with the amount of water in the river over the course of a year, and how warm that water is.”

She also points out that coldwater fish like brown and rainbow trout really struggle in low, warm flows, particularly when it happens during spawning or after the eggs hatch.

More restrictions can mean fewer fishing opportunities, which affects tourism and revenue for those who make their living selling gear and offering guide services. It is definitely a delicate balance and not an enviable task for Montana FWP. Some of the new, more in-depth efforts will look closely at mortality and at performance and behavioral responses.

FWP will make their new angling restriction proposals on the Big Hole, Beaverhead and Ruby rivers to the Fish and Wildlife Commission at its meeting tomorrow (Thursday). You can see the regulation proposals on this page of the Montana FWP website.

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