By Alkali Springs Correspondent
For those of you longtime Howdy Beaver readers, you will be interested to know that the oldest chickadee, Rhett, got married two weeks ago in Lewistown. It was a wonderful ceremony. The other two chickadees (Wendy and Willie) were there, too, and in spite of all the happiness, it made your faithful correspondent feel just terribly old.
Last weekend marked the beginning of stream-fishing season in Montana. And for the first time in more than 100 years, there just may not be many fish in area streams due to so many fisheries drying up last summer.
There is an interesting story about how fish got into the north-flowing streams in the Bear Paw Mountains in the first place. It seems that when soldiers from Fort Assinniboine got into this country there were no trout in any streams that flowed into the Milk River. However, there were trout in the streams that flowed out of the Bear Paws into the Missouri. Those included Cow Creek, Eagle Creek and Birch Creek, among others.
Those creeks were far from Fort Assinniboine and apparently the fact was that Fort Assinniboine officers wanted to fish in area creeks. So they knew they had to haul fish from somewhere and plant them in Beaver Creek in order to make for fishing fairly close by.
Fort Shaw, west of Great Falls, had fish. How they had fish is unclear. Was there a hatchery there or did soldiers pull them out of area creeks? Anyway, Fort Assinniboine soldiers rigged up wagons with large tanks on the top of them, made the long trip overland to Fort Shaw, collected fish and returned, planting them in upper Beaver Creek. But still fishing was never good in Beaver Creek. Soldiers could not figure out why. As soon as they planted trout in the creek, it was like they vanished into thin air, never to be seen again.
So, a couple more long, long trips were made to Fort Shaw and back to plant fish. Finally, a few trout stayed in Beaver Creek and that was the beginning of fishing in that Bear Paw creek.
It was not until years later that the mystery of the disappearing fish in Beaver Creek was discovered. It seemed that early homesteaders on Clear Creek got wind of the fish plant on Beaver Creek and as quickly as soldiers planted fish there, homesteaders purloined them for Clear Creek. Clear Creek was a premier fishing creek in no time, and now you know the rest of the story.
It is said that the brook trout found in the headwaters of Clear Creek, Beaver Creek and Little Box Elder Creek are progeny of those first fish in the north reaches of the Bear Paw Mountains.
We hope that if you go fishing this weekend out in the beautiful Bear Paws you will find that there are still some of those wonderful fish that have withstood a terrible year last year and are well and healthy members of the Bear Paw finny tribe this spring.