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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.
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Scenic, beautiful and rich in history, this northeasterly flowing river is thought to have acquired its name from the Minnetaree Indians whom were struck by the unique, yellow-colored ... moresandstone lining the river’s lower bluffs. Translated by early French trappers as Roche Jaune, {Yellow Rock} the river kept this moniker until Lewis and Clark recorded their translation into Yellow Stone, a name that took hold and remains today. The river may be better known in history as an escape route after General Custer and his 7thCalvary, were soundly defeated by the Lakota Indians at the Battle of Bighorn. The few remaining survivors were ferried down the Yellowstone to Fort Abraham Lincoln along the Missouri River.

Today, the awe-inspiring river is closely associated with the Wyoming based Yellowstone National Park and the other great recreational fishing rivers that cluster within the southwestern corner of Montana. The Yellowstone itself is officially classed as a Blue Ribbon stream in Montana, from the Park to its confluence with the Boulder River east of Livingston and from the Rosebud Creek to the North Dakota border, and is the longest undammed river in the lower 48. The absence of dams along the river results in favorable habitat for trout from high inside the Park, downstream to Gardiner, the Paradise Valley, Livingston and to Big Timber, a length of nearly 200 miles.

Many consider the area around Paradise Valley to be the most favorable in Montana, especially near Livingston. Here you can expect to lure brown trout, rainbow trout and native yellowstone cutthroat trout as well as rocky mountain whitefish. Further along, from Billings to the North Dakota border, burbot, channel catfish, paddlefish, sauger, smallmouth bass, walleye and the occasional pallid sturgeon can be found. The section of the river from Mallard’s Rest to Carter’s Bridge is known both for its magnificent scenery and abundant fishing. Here you will find yourself in the midst of snow-capped mountains, the Absaroka to the east and the Gallatin to the west, and a landscape dotted with elk, fox and other wildlife. You’ll also discover meandering streams and creeks that flow into the Yellowstone. Many, such as the DePuy Spring Creek, are highly ranked, and like the main river, are full of rainbow and brown trout.

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