Hebgen dam trout Madison River

Volunteers search a channel of the upper Madison River for fish stranded by drastically lowered water levels below Hebgen Dam on Dec. 1.

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The busted gate component on Hebgen Dam that led to a massive drop in streamflow on the upper Madison River this week has been fixed.

NorthWestern Energy said in a Facebook post Thursday morning that the gate was fixed just before midnight and that flows had been restored to the river. 

A U.S. Geological Survey gauge below Hebgen Dam shows flow in the river climbed to 640 cubic feet per second Thursday morning, near the level the river was at before the dam malfunction early Tuesday morning. 

Flows over the last two days were dramatically lower, sitting closer to 200 CFS. The drop left parts of the river dry and stranded fish in riffles and pools. The stretch between Hebgen Dam and Earthquake Lake was hardest hit.

The decline in flows led Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to order a full fishing closure for the upper river, which runs from Hebgen Dam to Ennis Lake and is a world-renowned fly fishing destination. 

The closure will be lifted Friday, FWP said in a news release.

Volunteers and officials from FWP worked all day Wednesday to save as many stranded fish as possible. Armed with nets and buckets, they scooped all manner of fish they could find and moved them to the main river channel.

The immediate impact on the fishery is unknown, but FWP officials said their biggest concern was the spawning redds that were exposed to colder temperatures over the past two days.

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