Homestead Now Home to ‘Best’ Fishing Pond in Montana

By Beacon Staff

Click the image or use the arrows to see more photos from stocking Pine Grove Pond.

A lot happens in 128 years, but surprisingly little has changed on the Street family’s 160 acres north of Kalispell. The property, first homesteaded in 1883, has remained undeveloped and the family continues to till the land, keeping alive generations of farming tradition.

But one pasture, tucked away next to the Whitefish River, has caught Robin Street’s attention for years. It always seemed like a nice place for a fishing pond. A perfect place, in fact.

Apparently, Street has an eye for these things, because now that a pond has been placed in that pasture, it looks like it should have been there all along. The way Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Jim Vashro sees it, it’s the nicest family fishing pond in Montana.

“I would venture to say this is the best one in the state,” Vashro said. “We have some other nice ponds, but this one beats them all.”

It’s just as Street envisioned it.

“It’s a pretty area down here,” Street said last week as crews stocked the pond with trout. “It’s kind of a shame to keep it all to yourself. All the stars aligned to make this happen.”

Street donated 13 acres of his family’s original 160 homesteaded acres to the FWP for the Pine Grove Pond, which will officially open on April 30. The pond measures 5 acres and holds both rainbow and westslope cutthroat trout. Altogether, Vashro says there are about 4,000 fish cruising the water.

There will be a kids’ fishing derby with prizes from 9 a.m. to noon on April 30, followed by a ceremony to honor the Street family. To reach Pine Grove Pond, driving from Kalispell, head north on Whitefish Stage Road, turn right on Rose Crossing and follow the signs down to the water.

The pond is open to all ages. Kids ages 14 and under are allowed to keep one fish each. Some trout are as large as 18 pounds, but the majority are more manageable sizes. It is the fourth FWP-operated public fishing pond in the area. There is also a popular fishing pond located at Snappy Sport Senter.

While FWP’s other three ponds – Buffalo Head, Dry Bridge and Shady Lane – are all quality, Vashro said Pine Grove, the biggest of them, is special. Located just off of the Whitefish River, free-flowing underground water gives the pond characteristics of a natural fishery, with high nutrients and the potential for diverse bug life. It’s 17 feet deep in areas. The surrounding area is pretty.

The fish will be able to live healthily for years, Vashro said, which will make for good fishing and good eating.

“The only thing they’ll have to worry about are ospreys and kids,” Vashro said.

Building the fishing access area was a widespread team effort involving numerous volunteers, in addition to FWP and the Street family. Street’s wife is Joyce and three kids are Debbie, Steve and Valerie. Steve was instrumental in the permitting process.

The Flathead Valley Community College heavy machinery program built the road and gravel parking area. Flathead Electric Cooperative’s Roundup for Safety provided the fence. Boy Scouts were slated to do landscaping and Flathead Wildlife Inc. donated 12 bluebird boxes.

Gene Fincher, who runs local fishing tournaments, gathered crews to perform a number of tasks, including building a picnic shelter. Fincher said Walleye Unlimited is paying for the construction of a gazebo. Other groups, including Schellinger Construction, also contributed to building the fishing access area, Fincher said.

Murray Springs State Fish Hatchery from Eureka, Creston National Fish Hatchery and Jocko River Trout Hatchery all stocked fish in the pond on April 20 with the help of volunteers.

To help pay for some improvements and for the purchase of the property, FWP used a $20,000 grant, though the land would be valued much higher than that if Street were to sell it on the market.

Street’s grandparents, Richard and Susan Street, homesteaded the property in 1883. After growing wary of sending their kids to school all the way down in Demersville on horseback, the Streets decided to start their own school, and Pine Grove School was born. Richard was on the original school board.

Mannington Street, Robin’s father, went to school at Pine Grove, which is located right next to the family’s property. Robin also went to the school. Both of them served on the school board. Two of Robin’s three kids attended the school before it shut down in 1973.

Robin Street has long wanted to put a pond on his property. One big step was finding someone who wanted all the gravel. After Bucky Wolford’s Glacier Town Center fell through, Street said he was fortunate to work out a deal with Ames Construction to provide gravel for the U.S. 93 Alternate Route.

Ames Construction also helped with building structure at the fishing access area. The manager for Ames was excited about the pond, Street said.

“He told me, ‘When I leave a gravel pit, I never want to see it again, but this one I want to bring my grandkids to,’” Street said.

Street was relieved to see the project finished, but there was still one thing he wanted to see.

“When the kids are fishing – that’s when it’s going to feel good.”

For rules, regulations and other information on FWP’s Pine Grove Pond, call the agency at (406) 752-5501.