Fly Home, Hoot Owl

The hoot owl restrictions that have been in place since early July are no more, as of today. I know plenty of folks are saying good riddance, but lets take a moment to thank FWP and their efforts to keep the resources we all love thriving through a low water and high temperature early summer. Did the restrictions stay in place a bit longer than we’d hoped? Perhaps. Did they help the fish? Definitely. If you were listening to some folks talk, you’d think the restrictions were the most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing to ever besmirch western Montana’s fly fishing guides. Naw, we all did what we do best and got through it just fine. Maybe with a few extra cups of coffee and a few less late nights with the whiskey tumbler, but we made it work.

Tie one on for the evening float, if you’re so inclined. The hoot owl restrictions are set aside for the year. But clear skies like these from June on the lower Clark Fork might also be a thing of the past with fire season in full swing. 

Since mother nature can’t go and make it easy on us this summer, with the hoot owl restrictions now lifted on the Bitterroot, Blackfoot, and the Clark Fork below Rock Creek things aren’t all free and clear – the dry conditions in Montana have firefighters working overtime and the smoke on some rivers is thicker than the clouds coming off a reggae concert. I know Buffs are popular for sun protection, but the next big thing could be respirators and goggles for the foreseeable future. But don’t let that stop you from getting out there. The “artificial cloud cover” will get those bugs popping and the fish don’t spend much time worrying about your lungs. Until next time, Hoot Owl. Lets hope for a big snowpack this winter, and some precipitation soon to knock out these wildfires. For now, I guess we all will have to think up a new excuse if the fish aren’t cooperating, because the hoot owl has flown the coop.

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