Fishermen share their bounty

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  • DARiN KING cooking hush puppies. (John Dowd/Clark Fork Valley Press)

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    BILL TRULL (plaid) and Buck Larson (orange) setting up the equipment to fry up some fish. (John Dowd/Clark Fork Valley Press)

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    BILL TRULL frying up fish for his Sunday fish fry, two weekends ago. (John Dowd/Clark Fork valley Press)

  • DARiN KING cooking hush puppies. (John Dowd/Clark Fork Valley Press)

  • 1

    BILL TRULL (plaid) and Buck Larson (orange) setting up the equipment to fry up some fish. (John Dowd/Clark Fork Valley Press)

  • 2

    BILL TRULL frying up fish for his Sunday fish fry, two weekends ago. (John Dowd/Clark Fork valley Press)

The Sunday before last, Buck Larson and Bill Trull gathered up friends and family at the Legion bar in Paradise for a fish fry meal.

The two men have been fishing for bass throughout the year, in search of a state record.

Since they both love eating fish and have over time found the honey holes, they decided to throw the feast to share some of their spoils with the community.

Darin King, Manager and Commander of the American Legion Post, fried up some hushpuppies and Bill and Buck cooked up the fish.

Most of it was smallmouth, some of whom were decent sized fish, a couple just shy of the state record.

Smallmouth are a common catch in the Clark Fork, however, they are not native. They were introduced in 1914, originally to Horseshoe lake, close to Bigfork, as a popular game fish and have taken over many of the tributaries and bends of the Clark Fork.

They are great prey animals for pike, which were also introduced into the local waterways. They mainly inhabit cool streams but are also found in many lakes. They are a fantastic fish to target for their intense fight, even at small sizes.

The current state record for a Montana smallmouth is 7.51 pounds. Currently the daily limit for the fish is five.

The fish originated in the eastern United States and is a fairly hardy fish. In fact, in the early 19th century, railway workers and shippers discovered that smallmouth bass had such foundation that they could even be taken by rail, across country, in buckets and barrels to be distributed throughout the United States.

This is how many places became populated with the fish in the West. The railway workers could even use spigots from railway water tanks to aerate the young fish as they went along, not needing to be constantly looked after.

Now there are tournaments held annually for the fish, one well known of which is hosted in Trout Creek every early fall or late summer.

Fishermen come from all over the state, and even the nation, to try their luck in these kinds of tournaments.

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