Montana Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing the Red Rock River

Red Rock River

Fly Fishing the Red Rock River

Red Rock River by the Centennial Mountains
Photo Use Guidelines

The Red Rock River provides excellent fly fishing for cutthroat trout and grayling in its upper stretch and good fishing for brown and rainbow trout below Lima Reservoir. Current fishing regulations prohibit fishing on Upper Red Rock Lake and Lower Red Rock Lake, as well as on the river between these two lakes. Due to slow water, warm temperatures and bank erosion, the river section between Red Rocks National Wildlife Refuge and Lima Reservoir does not provide quality fly fishing.

For the upper stretch of the Red Rock River, above the wildlife refuge, anglers will find plentiful numbers cutthroat trout and graylings. Fishing dry flies is the best approach on the upper section. Standard patterns such as the Adams and Elk Hair Caddis work well for these eager fish. Attractor patterns also work fine, as the fish are not picky about what they eat. Angling pressure on this section of the river is very light. Access to the Red Rock River above Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is excellent as it flows through public lands.

Below Lima Reservoir, the fly fishing is for primarily rainbow trout and some brown trout further downstream near Lima Reservoir. As the river runs primarily through private land, access is spotty, and the bulk of the fishing pressure occurs around the one bridge that crosses the river. For those willing to venture away from the bridge, it is quite likely that anglers will have the river to themselves.

Lower Red Rock River near Lima Reservoir
Photo Use Guidelines

The lower stretch of the Red Rock River, like the upper part, provides decent dry fly fishing. A good fly selection for this section of river would include the Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis and Pale Morning Duns. Hoppers are also excellent flies to use beginning in July, as the river flows through prime grasshoopper country. When fishing for brown trout, large streamers such as Muddler Minnows and Wolly Buggers, fished along the undercut banks, will catch fish. The best time to fly fish for brown trout is in the fall when the water has cooled. Average rainbows on the lower stretch will run ten to twelve inches. Brown trout can get up to three to four pounds.

Overall, Red Rock River provides decent fly fishing in a remote environment. What prevents it from becoming another destination river is its very remote location, its status as primarily a wading river and its difficult access. Despite this, Red Rock River will provide a visiting angler with a nice trip in scenic country (at least in the upper stretch of the river), well away from the hordes of anglers found in the areas more popular rivers.

Next Page : Floating the Red Rock River


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