Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork River originates near the town of Warm Springs Montana where the recently restored Silver Bow Creek joins up with Warms Springs Creek. It is one of the longest rivers in Montana, nearly 280 miles from the confluence to the Idaho border, and drains more volume of water than any other river in Montana.Clark Fork River Cutthroat

The rich mining history of the Butte/Anaconda area led to widespread pollution of the Clark Fork River. However, its distinction as a superfund site has aided in the restoration of the river and the continuing efforts to clean up a century’s worth of damage has created a respectable fishery.

The Clark Fork is commonly referred to as either the Upper Clark Fork or the Lower Clark Fork and from 1908 until 2008 the division was created by the Milltown Dam approximately 8 miles east of Missoula. Toxic sediments from upstream gathered behind the Milltown Dam which prompted the decision to remove the dam in 2008. The addition of water from the Blackfoot River and the Bitterroot River add significant volume to the Clark Fork, further distinguishing the lower river from the upper river.

Since the removal of the Milltown Dam I have witnessed a surge in the cutthroat population on the upper river and have encountered many more bull trout than before the dam was removed. There are good numbers of brown trout on the upper river as well, and you can always find decent rainbows and cutbows throughout. The lower river holds some real beasts and when you get on a pod of feeders it’s game on for 18”+ rainbows and cutbows.

Guided Fly Fishing in Missoula Montana

%d bloggers like this: