Upper Clark Fork, Montana

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    al simpson

    I drove up north to fish Gary LaFontaine’s home water, the Upper Clark Fork near Deer Lodge, Mt. If he were still with us, he would be very disappointed. Several years ago, it was discovered that the Butte/Anaconda copper and silver mines (the largest superfund site in America) had over the past century leached harmful chemicals into the headwaters of the upper Clark Fork, which became embedded in the stream bottom. So, a reclamation effort was begun as part of the superfund clean up. This involves scooping up the stream bottom, and depositing it nearby in holding ponds.

    Today, I found many miles of water closed, and streamside vegetation utterly destroyed from the equipment. The stream is literally being remade, and willows are being planted to replace the destroyed vegetation. I did find a few places open to fishing, and a very good trico hatch occurred around 10 am, but I saw no rising fish. I did catch a few 10-12″ brown trout on a small wooly bugger.

    Perhaps in another decade the stream will have recovered, and return to its former self, a meandering, spring-fed trout stream. If so, it will be a wading fisherman’s delight. Until then, not worth the drive!

    • This topic was modified 8 years, 7 months ago by al simpson.
    #3706 Reply
    al simpson

    I made the mistake of trying the Upper Clark Fork today. The superfund stream work is still in progress. Fishing above the work area, the steam looks good, but the expected morning trico hatch was small, and did not bring any fish to the surface. Dismal experience- wonder how many years before the stream recovers from efforts to detoxify it and restore it to its former state. Hope I live that long!

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