Bull River

Bull River / Highway 56 from Noxon to Troy
Warning: The last four miles of the Bull River run down through a canyon to meet the Clark Fork. During spring this section offers some nasty whitewater, and during the summer the same stretch calls for dragging your raft or canoe over a lot of shallow, rocky stretches. With the exception of a few lurking bull trout, the Bull River hosts 8- to 12-inch rainbows and cutthroats. Mostly the river meanders through bottomland that is posted. The river is narrow, slow, clear and deceptively deep in places. Once summer arrives, the trout have less cover and tend to hide in or around grassy tendrils along the bottom of the stream, as well as those shady banks afforded by willow and tag alder. Floating access is at the bridges.

River description by David Archer


Bull River Tributary Creeks and Lakes

MM 8.9: East Fork Bull River, St. Paul Lake Trailhead
At 1.3 miles the road forks left to the north fork and the St. Paul Lake trailhead, which is six miles from the highway. St. Paul Lake is a three-mile hike. Although it lacks in scenery, the lake fishes well for 10- to 14-inch cutthroats. Below the trailhead the creek is small and offers good fishing for typical creek-sized trout. You have to look for a pullout and scramble down to the creek. Plan on heavy brush and pocket water. At 1.3 mileage turn right and go one mile to a historic ranger station and a great spot to fish the lower creek.

MM 29.4: Spar Lake / Lake Creek

Affording little access due to private property, Lake Creek surely has some bragging rights for the prettiest creek in the area, albeit with little public access. Nonetheless, bridge crossing and a few non-posted spots provide a sampling of this beautiful creek. I came upon one couple who were fishing right from the side of the road. The wife had just killed a 16-inch rainbow dragging a night crawler through a small hole next to the road. The Lake Creek Road is actually a loop that connects Highway 56 with Spar Lake via Chase Cutoff. The upper road is gravel all the way with a few washboard sections. From the highway to the lake is 17.4 miles. Spar Lake Campground has eight campsites, water, toilets, and is non-fee.

MM 32.4: Savage Lake

A relatively small lake of about 100 acres, Savage Lake is surrounded by summer homes with only one public access right off the highway. Belly boaters have fun on this lake for both cold- and warm-water species.