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Author Topic: Thompson Falls MT, Clark Fork and Thompson Rivers (Tricos 2017 trip west part 4)  (Read 91 times)

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trico22

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The Cabinet and Noxon dams on the Clark Fork River create a warm water barriers (with warm water predatory fish) that impede migration of bull trout from Lake Pend Orielle (ID) to some historical spawning grounds in tribs to the Clark Fork (MT).  As part of their license from the federal government, the utility that operates the project runs a trap and transport operation to move fish around the reservoirs.  Part of my job was to inspect those facilities and make sure they are operational.  As I finished my visit to the downstream fish trap, the biologist headed out to check the holding pond and I headed off to inspect a rec site.  About 20 minutes later I heard her come across the radio saying she had a recaptured bull trout that needed transport.  The fish had been caught as an out migrating juvenile 120 - 150cm long, in 2014.  It was tagged with a PIT tag (similar to what the humane society puts in pets, it can be scanned through the skin and tags the animal with a unique number for tracking).  I met up with the fish later in the day along Graves Creek.  It was now about 25 inches and I got to man the net from the truck to the release in the stream.  The release point has a series of PIT tag readers burried in the stream and the biologists can sit at their desks and see whether the transported fish moves upstream to spawn or goes downstream to the Clark Fork.  Pretty cool I think and a highlight of my trip.

After work I headed to the Thompson River, using ants and hoppers on the surface to entice 8-10 inch rainbow, brown and cutbow trout.  I used to fish the Thompson quite a bit when I lived in Kalispell, so it was a nice reunion with an old friend.

The next day after the inspection of the Thompson Falls project, I found a pulloff along Hwy 200, ducked through a spot in the 8' fence that keeps bighorn sheep off the railroad and found a nice long run in the Clark Fork that looked like prime water to swing a big streamer and hope for a nice size brown.  I headed to the river with a 5wt and a 6/7 switch rod.  Lined up the switch and started working down the run swinging a white home invader, sort of like a articulated simple slayer with a big, bushy head of fish hair or something similar.  I get about 5 smallmouth to hammer the fly, but no trout.  So I picked up the 5 wt and moved down river to throw hoppers along the bank.  The purple hopper got hammered by a bronze fish that I thought was a brown at first.  It faught pretty hard, but kept its nose on the bottom and did no run much like a trout.  Turns out it was a 15 inch pike minnow.  I played with a few more of these, then decided to head back to the Thompson for my last evening of the trip.  Bull trout transport, Thompson River, and Clark Fork pics...



 
« Last Edit: August 29, 2017, 09:32:42 AM by trico22 »
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k2

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Wow... great series of reports.  I'll echo what Chris said one of the other threads; you really planned the heck out of this trip. 
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Chris M

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Not to mention-- you set the record on this board for pike minnow :lol
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trico22

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Yeah, but since its out of NE, not sure I can create a record post... :lol

Each of the projects I needed to visit was under a different operator, so it took some work getting them scheduled at a time that coincided with family in AK.  Glad it all worked out.
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ginclear

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Great report and trip, Tyler. Helping the bull trout must have been an experience, although I find it sad that this is what we need to do to keep a species alive in a watershed.
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jeffsod

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Another awesome report! Some really pretty water you have been visiting.
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