Montana Fly Fishing
The Red Rock River

Red Rock River

The Red Rock River

Lower Red Rock River
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The Red Rock River begins at Lillian Lake in the beautiful Centennial Mountains in Montana. It flows down the mountains into the extremely scenic, sparsely visited and wildlife abundant Centennial Valley. The upper section of the Red Rock River is known for its cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and a healthy population of grayling. The river is very narrow through this section and is not floatable.

The Red Rock River soon leaves the mountains and enters the Centennial Valley, where it flows through the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. While flowing through the refuge, it passes through Upper Red Rock Lake and Lower Red Rock Lake. Fishing is prohibited on these two lakes and on the river between them. As the river flows through large marshes in the wildlife refuge, numerous reeds and willows are found along its bank. For those who manage to make their way onto the lakes, waterfowl is very abundant.

Access to the Red Rock River in the National Wildlife Refuge and upstream is excellent, as the river flows through federal lands. The river is also very narrow, running around ten yards wide. Due to the marshy condition of the wildlife refuge, many of the back roads are primitive at best, and when wet the roads can turn into a muddy bog. Four-wheel drive vehicles are advised for those seeking to fish the river off the back roads in the refuge.

After it leaves the wildlife refuge, the Red Rock River flows quite slowly through private property, with sparse access. Two bridges over the river on county roads present the only access points. The water is warm, and the banks are heavily grazed. The countryside is very arid and open beneath the wildlife refuge, in rather stark contrast to just upstream. This section of the Red Rock River also provides stunning views of the Centennial Mountains. Trout fishing is not very good between Lima Reservoir and the wildlife refuge due to slow water and warm temperatures.

The Red Rock River enters Lima Reservoir sixty miles from its origin. Below Lima Dam, the river becomes more popular and somewhat more accessible, as more county bridges cross the river. The flows increase in this section, allowing for decent floating. Cottonwood trees line the bank, providing a stark contrast to the arid and somewhat barren landscape away from the river. The fly fishing also improves with colder water and increased flows.

The Red Rock River flows for more than fifty miles through similar country below the dam before entering the Clark Canyon Reservoir. The Beaverhead River begins just below the dam.

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