The yellow perch (Perca flavescens) is a very familiar species to most fishermen. This fish was introduced into Montana and is found in abundance in many lakes and reservoirs located east and west of the Divide. Perch support one of the largest fisheries in Montana and are considered one of the best eating fish in the state. Because of their tendency to travel in schools, perch often can be caught in large numbers, which makes up for their relatively small size and difficulty in cleaning. Young yellow perch are important prey for several sport fish. Perch drape strings of gelatinous material with eggs embedded inside over substrate or vegetation. Perch foods are invertebrates and small fish.
Given its association with transport, commerce and business development, it’s easy to forget that there remain parts of the Missouri set aside for fishing, boating and enjoying nature’s ... morebounty. From source to mouth, it is the longest river in North America, over 2, 341 miles. The river’s watershed consists of over a million square miles and includes parts of 10 American states and 2 Canadian provinces. When combined with the lower Mississippi, it is the 4th longest river in the world. Whew! That’s a lot to take in. But, if you’re a fly fisher in Montana, the only section of the Missouri you really need to know about is a tiny, 40 mile, stretch downstream of Holter Dam, near the towns of Wolf Creek, Craig and Cascade and not far from the city of Helena. This is the “Blue Ribbon” trout section of the Missouri.
Water released from Holter Dam keep this section the river at a fairly consistent level, helping to maintain cool temperatures year round. Some guides describe the river here as a gigantic spring creek surrounded by weed beds with long riffles, great banks and undercuts that provide ideal habitat for the river’s substantial trout population. By substantial, we’re talking 3,500 to 5,500 fish per mile on a yearly basis – and many of these exceed 16 inches! The first ten miles of the river from Holter Dam to Craig tend to have the largest number of hatches resulting in the highest concentration of fish.
In this “gigantic spring” part of the river, rainbow trout outnumber browns by a ratio of 6:1. In addition, stable populations of burbot and stonecats live below the dam. As a bonus, the reservoir is surrounded by the Beartooth Wildlife Management Area as well as three other designated nature preserves and wilderness set-asides. Look up and there’s a good chance you’ll spot a bald eagle, various types of falcon, red-tail hawks, osprey and golden eagles – you may even get a chance to see them snatch a fish from the water. Shore side it’s not unusual to sight bighorn sheep, elk, and mountain goats. This may be an area small in size but its large in its grandeur and many offerings.
The Clark Fork River has its headwaters in the Silver Bow (or Highland) Mountains, originating at the confluence of Silver Bow and Warm Springs creeks near Anaconda, Montana. The river ... moreflows north and west 350 miles through broad, semi-arid valleys, high mountain ranges, and steep-sided valleys and terminates in Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho. The Upper Clark Fork, bordered on the north by the Garnet Range and on the south by the Flint Creek Range, meanders most of its first 38 miles through the flat plains of the Deer Lodge Valley. Vegetation is sparse, due partly to the effects of the mining boom, the greatest historical influence in the Upper Basin.
Downstream from the mouth of the Little Blackfoot River, the river flows through a steep, narrow canyon. Between Garrison and Jens the river channel has been shortened by highway and railroad construction activities, but past Jens the Clark Fork meanders away from the transportation corridor and native trees and shrubs appear along its banks. From below Flint Creek the river runs 26 miles through Bearmouth Canyon to emerge and widen to 150 feet for its confluence with the Blackfoot River. The Middle Clark Fork River extends about 115 river miles from Missoula to its confluence with the Flathead River and is entirely free flowing. Its drainage is mountainous and covered with large forested tracts, broken by grazing and cropland areas in the lower valleys.
From Thompson Falls Dam, its upper boundary, the Lower Clark Fork River flows through sedimentary formations and a landscape sculptured by the massive outflows of glacial Lake Missoula. It runs into Cabinet Gorge Dam, just outside the Montana border. Between the backwaters of Cabinet Gorge and the tailwaters of Thompson Falls Dam the river is inundated by Noxon Rapids Dam. When the Clark Fork crosses the Idaho border, it is Montana's largest river, carrying an average 22,060 cubic feet of water per second.