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A Thursday Fishing Trip

On Wednesday, we took the car into the shop for some much-needed repairs. We were able to pick it up again on Thursday morning and my daughter and I decided that before we could trust it to go any major distance, we should check to see if it would make it a shorter distance without overheating. That was why it was in the shop, to begin with.

They replaced the water pump, thermostat, intake manifold gasket, tensioner pulley, and fixed a kink in the gas line. I trust those particular mechanics, but without driving the car at least 5-10 miles, we wouldn’t know if the problem was resolved.

As it happens, one of the places we like to go fishing is located about 8 miles from home. No doubt you already see the connection and where this is going. It was a valid excuse, though, because prior to repair, the car would overheat within two miles at highway speed.

So we packed up our fishing gear and poles, and off we went. I’ve shared pictures of this area before, but I took some new ones.

Across Clark Fork River

The day was overcast, but that isn't something we minded at all. This was just as the jet stream was settling over us, so it was bringing in clouds and pleasantly cool temperatures. It also sprinkled a little while we were there, but we didn't mind that, either.

This view is across the Clark Fork River, facing west toward Idaho. Some of the most distant mountains in this view are actually in Idaho.

The water level is low, but actually above what it normally is for July 18. The ribbon of yellow that can be seen from the top of the river bank to the tree line is a wheat field that has already been harvested once. The straw has already been baled and the bales have been removed, too. All that is left is stubble.

I'm unsure if the farmer is going to try for another crop this year or not. There is enough time for it, but only if he starts very soon.

There is a triangular patch on a hillside around the middle of the frame. That is part of the area that was devastated by the forest fire in 2017 and it looks bare because it is. They've pulled out the burned timber in preparation for replanting trees. That area is steep, but it isn't as bad as some of the places that burned, so they can replant it, with a little difficulty.

In my current state of decomposition...er, age, I wouldn't want to try walking up or down that slope, but in my youth, I probably would have.

Remnant of the Miller Creek Fire

Looking downstream, a patch of fir trees can be seen that are sort of reddish-orange. This was the place where there was a forest fire last year. A huge difference between last year and the year before, though, was that a full crew was immediately dispatched, with helicopter support. Obviously, the helicopter didn't have to go far to fill its bucket with water. The result is that the fire was kept at only four acres.

The terrain right there is deceptive in that it is far more rugged than it looks. If they had not immediately squelched the fire, it would have spread very fast and would have been exceptionally difficult to contain. That is the base of a ridge that rapidly gains altitude into heavily forested and even steeper terrain.

The clouds

This picture shows the dense cloud cover, though that wasn't why I took it. When I took the picture, I wanted to capture what I thought was a hawk and I hoped to identify what kind it was before posting this.

I've identified it, only it isn't a hawk. It is a bald eagle fishing the river. Despite its height, bald eagles have extremely keen eyesight and they can see fish in the river. It also doesn't take long for them to plummet a couple of hundred feet and to capture the fish in its talons.

Across the river to the south west

This is the view to the southwest. It is hard to see, but a few of the bushes on the far bank are in bloom, with white blossoms. There are actually two kinds of bushes blooming in this picture. One is chokecherries, though it is late in the year for chokecherries to bloom. The other bush blooming is elderberries. Both make excellent preserves, though I suspect that I won't be going to that far bank to pick any.

That is okay, though. There are gobs of both, and other wild fruits as well, in nearly every direction from home and closeby.

A den

This was a bit of a curiosity. Less than a month ago, the opening of this den was underwater. The den either belongs to a muskrat or a river otter, but I didn't go over to check the tracks to figure out which. I'm inclined to think that it is an otter den. We've seen both muskrats and otters in this area.

The den is located about 20 feet from where we were fishing, on the other side of Miller Creek, which is now only about three feet wide. Earlier in the year, Miller Creek is at least double that width. 

That was our "car test" fishing trip. This time, I didn't catch any but my daughter caught two perch. Incidentally, the car didn't overheat on the way there or on the way back. In fact, it didn't get above 150 F, which is likely what the thermostat is rated for.


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Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. That was very interesting narrative and pictures. I’d love to see otters again in the wild. We saw them off Monterey Bay in California, floating on their backs. I’ve never seen river otters.


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