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Montana Officials Re-Open Sections of Yellowstone River After Fish Kill

Yellowstone River

Three different sections re-opened in the wake of massive fish die-off. 

In a bit of good news for Montana fishermen and outfitters, officials have announced certain sections of the Yellowstone River are re-opening.

Yellowstone officials took the unprecedented step of closing 183 miles of river a little under two weeks ago in response to a parasite that has caused massive die-offs of whitefish and other species in the river. But now officials are re-opening three different sections of river.

There are additional guidelines that will have to be followed for now, however. The Shields River will remain closed as officials hope to protect the cutthroat trout there. The section of river from Gardiner to Carbella is re-opened for paddling enthusiasts, but fishing is off limits for now.

But some anglers will be able to get back on the water from Carbella to the Highway 89 bridge and the tributaries from the Highway 212 bridge to Laurel; those spots are now opened to all uses.

But officials have stopped short of saying the Yellowstone River is completely out of the woods and are urging caution to all river-goers.

“We’re encouraging people to go and have fun and recreate and fish and do their thing,” said Fish, Wildlife and Parks information officer Bob Gibson. He said to make sure anything that comes in contact with river water is properly sanitized before being used in another body of water.

Gibson also reported via the teleconference they are seeing less dead fish now although the exact reason remains unclear. Officials will continue to monitor the situation as they test other areas of the Yellowstone drainage. Their primary concern is the parasite spreading to other waters.

While things aren’t totally back to normal, it’s likely some very welcome news to the many fishing guides and rafting services that depend upon the Yellowstone River for their business. As we reported to you a couple weeks ago, the fishing industry accounts for some $6 billion in economic activity in Montana.

The sudden river closure left many guides scrambling to cancel scheduled September fishing trips and some rafting services completely closed their doors for the season.


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Montana Officials Re-Open Sections of Yellowstone River After Fish Kill