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Disabled Veteran’s Fishing Trips | Kootenai Angler

Posted on Apr 08, 2017 by Dave Blackburn

Last fall was our third annual year for the Disabled Veteran’s trip. As you may have heard we were able to negotiate a special access to allow a small group to fish between the Dave Thompson Bridge and Libby Dam by boat. The area has been closed to fishing from boats since the dam’s inception in 1974. It took about 5 years to put this trip in motion, thanks to the cooperating agencies of US Army Corps of Engineers and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for allowing this special time for our Vets that have given their all for our freedom. The first year one fish that was fought for 20 minutes or so was never landed, I think it was a large rainbow in the 20 pound plus range hooked on a beadhead  nymph with a 6 weight! After it played possum for awhile just slowly leading us wherever it wanted to go it grew tired and promptly broke off and left us all wondering how big it was! We never were able to even raise the fish out of the deep water to even get a look at it. This year we were able to land two beautiful 7-8 pound rainbows with a streamer. It has always been a challenge to put these great folks into fish with minimum flow regime with spring creek conditions and underwater visibility at around 25 feet. Most of the veterans are entry level fishers, with little to no flyfishing experience. I always wear my Dad’s WWII hat during that special day. Let us know if you have someone who would like to get on our list for these trips. Its great to give back to these fine soldiers.

About dave

Dave Blackburn started tying flies and fly fishing at the age of 10 and has been fishing and guiding the Kootenai River in Montana for more than 25 years. He graduated from West Virginia University with a BS in Forest Resource Management with an emphasis on water quality and aquatic ecology. He traveled westward and ended up in Montana on the banks of the Kootenai in 1981 where he now resides with his wife, Tammy. He is on the board of directors of the Kootenai Valley Trout Club. He has been a past director of the the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana and the Montana Council of Trout Unlimited. Dave chaired the Upper Kootenai River Preservation Society, which was instrumental in defeating the Jennings Rapids Dam project. Dave is a FFF-certified casting instructor and a contract tyer for Umpqua Feather Merchants. He teaches fly tying and fly fishing at Flathead Community College. His photos and articles have appeared in Flyfisherman, Fly Rod and Reel, and The Flyfisher magazines.