The Red Rock
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
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
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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