Silver Bow Creek is part of the headwaters of the Clark Fork River and at one point had became so contaminated with mining waste no aquatic life could be found on some stretches.
Since 1999, $120 million has gone into the cleanup of 22 miles of Silver Bow Creek from Butte to the Warm Springs Ponds. The Department of Environmental Equality with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency cleaned up the sight with the Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Program.
Restoration efforts have been successful. Fish have returned and for the first time ever Fish Wildlife and Parks has assigned regulations to the waterway and its tributaries.
For the first time in 100 years, anglers are casting lines into Silver Bow Creek.
"This is a landmark day. This stream has been through everything and so changed by the mining activity now it's a fishery," Legendary Fly Fisher Bud Lilly said.
And it's brought an unlikely pair of anglers together to celebrate the restored site.
Governor Brian Schweitzer joined Lilly Monday to fish Silver Bow Creek and even picked up a few tips.
"He's a very good listener, he's a big strong man, and he learns quickly. When he comes back with all the advice I've got him he can't loose," Lilly said.
Butte and Silver Bow Creek have been listed as a Federal Superfund sites for almost 30 years.
Flooding sent century-old tailings and other mine wastes into the waterway.
Toxic discharge polluted the stream and floodplain, the whole area was known as a dead zone. No fish, no wildlife, not even bugs.
Since restoration work began 13 years ago life has returned to Silver Bow Creek.
"To come back to Silver Bow Creek now that it has fish in it again my heart beats just a little bit faster," Gov. Schweitzer said.
Skilled anglers can find rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout.
Populations are still considered lows that's why FWP has put regulations on the creek.
Brook and rainbow trout can be kept, cutthroats must be released.
"It was Bud Lilly who first told us catch them and release them they live better in the wild," Gov. Schweitzer said.
"A fish is too valuable to be only caught once," Lilly said.
Governor Schweitzer believes the work on Silver Bow Creek is proof restoration efforts are working.
For anglers like Lilly he's just glad to be out there.