Clark Fork River
The Clark Fork River, which runs 200 miles from its headwaters near Butte to Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho, might win the award for Montana’s most improved fishery. Long polluted by toxic pilings and heavy metals from the mining industry in Butte, the river has been the focus of conservation efforts that included the removal of the Milltown Dam near Missoula. That process, and cleaning up the sediment behind the dam, was finished in 2010. Today, trout are thriving in the cleaner water. Ron Beck, from the Missoulian Angler, likes to fish it in fall, especially the slow section west of town, near Kelly Island. “Fish will pod up and key in on one bug,” he says. “You’ve gotta have the right fly, the right drift. It’s more technical fishing than we do most of the year.” But the Clark Fork runs through downtown Missoula — there’s a great pool behind the Doubletree Hotel — and many local fishermen walk down to the river for a few casts after work.
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