The Clark Fork River

Sean Visintainer - 06/22/16

Montana Clark Fork Cutthroat Trout.

The forgotten river

I remember when I first started at the Silver Bow, the year was 2002, anglers would come in with reports from the NF Coeur d'Alene, St. Joe, and Montana's Clark Fork River on a regular basis. A lot has changed since then, one of the biggest is where Spokane anglers fish. Folks still ask about the Idaho rivers, but they rarely does anyone ask how the Clark Fork River is fishing, or have a report for us.

I find it interesting as to why fisherman have stopped heading over the mountains to the Clark Fork so much. I have a few theories. Back in the 2008-2009 time frame we were doing some guiding on the C.Fork through Brooks Sanford, formerly of Clark Fork Trout and Tackle. The Clark Fork was fairly popular back then, but around those years the Milltown Dam was being removed. The Milltown Dam was removed in an effort to restore the Clark Fork and Blackfoot watersheds. Sediment from the dam removal was believed to damper the bug hatches and fishing on the Clark Fork making it a tougher endeavor for those traveling to fish the Forks fabled dry fly action.

About that time frame, as we all will recall, the US went into the recession. Anglers stopped traveling as much, opting to stay close to home and explore waters that were more friendly on the gas tank. That's about the same time folks started exploring the Spokane River more as well. Some may not have liked the fact that the Spokane receives more publicity these days, but I look at it differently and say more anglers means more protection and improvements for the river. That's for a different article however, lol.

For the past 6 years or so, traffic on the Clark Fork seems to be pretty quiet from those two reasons in my opinion. Anglers from the Spokane region have pretty much forgotten on the Clark Fork, or gave up on it. Like many of those anglers, I too sidelined the Clark Fork, choosing to fish the rivers like the St. Joe, Spokane, etc. The Clark Fork was always known as a "fickle" river and compounding that stigma with poor bug hatches and driving distance, people from here just stopped fishing it. There have been few Clark Fork devotees that never stopped fishing it, and the last couple seasons reports have been as good as they ever have been. Consistently good.

I recently went to the Clark Fork by St. Regis with new shop employee Kelby to see how it was fishing. It was my second trip to the Clark Fork this year. I think I will let the photos tell you how the fishing is...