The memory is a little fuzzy, but I faintly remember learning to fish when I was around 5 or 6 years old.  My grandfather taking me to Upper Highwood Creek to catch pan fry brookies from the stream.  Sneaking up on a small hole to wet a line to see what you could come up with for dinner.  Never once during that time would I ever consider that the food we were gathering for dinner that night could be bad for me.

Apparently, I was wrong.

Don't Worry, You Can Still Drown That Worm and Eat Your Catch

Really, don't start worrying about the weekend's catch just yet.  It really depends on where you are fishing that the catch might not be the best for you.  Montana has plenty of streams that offer blue-ribbon access that will afford you some amazing catches and even better meals.  However, there are locations that you should avoid in Big Sky country.

This 146 Mile Stretch of Water Should Be on the Avoid List TFN

As recently as 2020, the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department has issued a warning stating that:

It's our recommendation to not eat any fish from the Clark Fork River below Missoula, saying there are too many pollutants for safe consumption.

Unfortunately, that means basically the entire area from Missoula and the Bitteroot confluence to the Flathead River at Paradise.  A total of 146 miles.  The recommendation from FWP also states:

The standards are based on the buildup of contaminants in the tissues of the fish and in humans over a lifetime of consumption. Biologists admit that the standards are conservative, but they say because more research is needed, the healthiest approach is to not eat fish from this stretch of the river.

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