MISSOULA - A 220-mile stretch of the Clark Fork River and the entire Little Blackfoot River will be closed to fishing from noon until midnight beginning Thursday because of high water temperatures, the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said.
The closure announced Tuesday includes the stretch of the Clark Fork from the outlet of Pond 2 at the Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area to the confluence with the Flathead River, about 10 miles southeast of Plains. The entire Clark Fork is about 350 miles long.
The 45-mile main stem of the Little Blackfoot River, to the confluence with the Clark Fork near Garrison, also is under restrictions.
Water temperatures in both stretches have exceeded 73 degrees for three consecutive days, FWP said. Stress on most trout species becomes evident at 70 degrees and is compounded as temperatures rise, the agency said.
Closures when such high temperatures occur are specified in the agency's Drought Response Plan. Under the restrictions, anglers, guides, and outfitters are required to limit their fishing to the earlier, cooler hours of the day or fish in tributary streams, reservoirs or mountain lakes where water temperatures are lower.
"The very warm, dry weather has impacted many of the regions waters, and the weather pattern looks to continue," said Pat Saffel, FWP regional fisheries manager in Missoula. "We will be watching the weather and monitoring the waters closely."
The Drought Response Plan calls for lifting the restrictions by Sept. 15 or as water temperatures allow.
Noon-to-midnight fishing restrictions are also in place on the Jefferson River and on two reaches of the Big Hole River: from Rock Creek Road to the mouth of the North Fork and from there to Dickie Bridge.
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