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Dry weather brings fishing restrictions to Clark Fork watershed

(MISSOULA)- With water levels continuing to drop, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is being forced to impose restrictions to help ease pressure on fish stocks in several popular rivers. 

The cutbacks, commonly known as "hoot owl" restrictions because fishing is limited to early morning hours, will go into effect on Friday.

FWP biologists have been worried about rapidly dropping water levels on area rivers for the past several weeks. Some streamflows are already down to August levels, and coupled with air temperatures far above normal, is bringing a rise in temperatures that's critical to fish habitat.  

In some cases, water temperatures have been above 70-degrees, or nearly 20-degrees above the point some species need to get through the hotter summer days. Biologists have already had evidence of some fish kills because of the warmer water. 

The hoot owl conditions restrict all fishing between 2 p.m. and midnight to ease angling pressure on the fish stocks.

The closures cover all of the Bitterroot and Blackfoot rivers, as well as the Clark Fork from the headwaters in the Deer Lodge Valley downstream to the Flathead River confluence near Paradise. Additionally, the restrictions impact Flint Creek, and upper Silver Bow Creek which are also tributaries of the Clark Fork.