There are a lot of RV parks that are located in the general area of where the fish are active. However, it’s not easy to find one where you can enjoy fishing just steps from your RV site. My wife and I enjoyed this type of experience during a trip through Clinton, Montana, after enjoying a tour of the Lewis and Clark trail.
Understanding the Lewis and Clark Trail and tracking the route though Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota is something every RVer should do. Experiencing Fort Mandan and Yellowstone where the party built rafts to transport a wounded explorer to reach Lewis on the Missouri is something I won’t forget. With a real feel for the terrain I read about so often in various journals, the stories came alive.
While the trip was very enlightening, I still needed a bit more success when it came to fly fishing. I had landed some fish on the Lochsa River; I sweated the 100-degree weather on the legendary rainbow waters of the Big Horn. However, I didn`t really have a chance to find a great place to catch fish and work on my skills.
Near the end of our journey, while heading up I-90 towards Missoula, I was griping about my lack of fishing to my wife, Claudia. She looked across the highway and pointed to a bright wood building on the far shore of the Clarks Fork River. “Why don’t we spend the night there?” She suggested. “They have campsites.”
While we were half-an-hour away from Missoula, this seemed to have some potential. The Clarks Fork River flows into Lake Ponderay. It`s also one of the major rivers that offers active trout fishing in Montana. The river helped Clark find a good route around the Rockies to the southern part of the State. It`s also populated with great cutthroat trout.
Many miles of the river is right off the highway. There is so much river, I was sure there was a good chance to catch a fish or two. We pulled off at Bearmouth Creek, then drove a few hundred yards to the Bearmouth RV park (formerly the Bearmouth Chalet RV Park).
This was a great choice. Owner Paul Alamo is making great strides with the services and grounds. What I like is the river wraps around the property. In addition, with permission from adjacent public waters, there’s two miles to fish.
The river is the perfect size and depth. It’s about knee deep and is 50 feet across. It weaves its way through vegetation with lots of wildlife. I also realized it was full of foot-long cutthroat.
It wasn’t long after we checked-in that I had my rod on the table and was rigging my line. I then looked for a place to drop down to the river, which ended up being within 100 feet from my RV. Twenty minutes later, I had landed three fish.
I didn’t get into a big hatch or anything. However, I saw a couple of fish rise and was able to fool a few on elk hair caddis and parachute Adams dry flies. The shore features brush and the river is shallow enough to cast cleanly.
An RV Park to Return to and Fish
As I walked back to the RV, I passed a dog protecting a campsite. He really was looking for some petting and pretty soon Paul – the dog’s owner – asked about my success with the fish. He then offered to give me a ride and show me around on his ATV.
In addition of offering a lodge, cute little cabins and some very pet-friendly sites, this RV park has some great views of the mountains. The river also has the kind of bends and turns that create great fishing. The RV park is also close enough to the larger center of Missoula.
I had some great conversations with Paul, and discussed an outing concerning my fly fishing club for my next trip!