Rock Creek
Fishing Informaiton

Rock Creek

Fly Fishing Rock Creek

Upper Rock Creek
Photo Use Guidelines

Rock Creek in Montana provides excellent fly fishing for rainbow trout, cutthroat and brown trout in a unspoiled location. Rock Creek is high in fertility, allowing for extensive hatches that are best experienced and not described. Access is excellent for virtually its entire length. Camping along the river is simple, as the river is bordered by National Forest for most of its distance. Rock Creek is also of only moderate width, allowing for relatively easy crossings by wade anglers and the ability to cast to all points of the river. Float fishing is also not allowed after June 1st. What is the result of all these excellent river characteristics? Rock Creek can rightly be considered a Montana fly fishing destination spot for anglers who will be wade fishing.

Of course, all of these characteristics have a drawback. Rock Creek is well known as a top-notch fishery, and as a result, fly fishing pressure is heavy throughout most of the year. While overall fishing pressure is heavy, the ability to access Rock Creek throughout most of its length (instead of being confined to several fishing access sites), allows the fishing pressure to be more evenly spread around than in many other Montana rivers. The prohibition on float fishing also limits the fishing pressure on Rock Creek. Thus, while an angler may not find solitude fly fishing Rock Creek, an angler is also unlikely to experience being over-run by numerous anglers such as occurs on other popular rivers.

Rock Creek has a number of distinct sections throughout its length. For ease of use, each of the three sections are listed separately below, going downstream from its origin to Rock Creeks confluence with the Clark Fork fifty miles later.

Rock Creek : Origin to Highway 348 Bridge

Rock Creek
Photo Use Guidelines

This section encompasses nine miles of water, and flows through the southern end of the broad Phillipsburg Valley. Of the three sections on Rock Creek, this section has the least fishing pressure. To reach this section requires either a very long and bumpy ride up Rock Creek Road, a twisty one-lane gravel road, or a round about trip through Phillipsburg. This section also has the most difficult access, as the river partially flows through private property, not forest service land.

The upper section has smaller fish than the rest of the river. Rainbows and cutthroats make up the bulk of the fish in this section, averaging in the eight to twelve inches in length. However, some large rainbows, and even a few brown trout, can be found in the deep pools that are periodically scattered along Rock Creek in this section.

When fly fishing for the smaller trout, standard dry flies, sized 12-16, will work just fine. However, to get at the larger fish requires using streamers and nymphs and getting them down on the bottom - a standard technique used all along the river. Many of the pools in Rock Creek are very deep. And the current around these pools is often quite fast. As a result, many anglers find it very difficult to get nymphs and streamers to depth before the flies are whisked away by the fast current.

Some of these deep pools on Rock Creek are indeed very difficult to fish, especially in the Dalles area further downstream. However, a combination of using a sink tip line, with a weighted fly, a strike indicator, a smart approach to the pool and allowing some slack in the line frequently allows nymphs and streamers to sink deep enough to get near the larger fish. It doesn't work all the time, but this is a method that will bring home the largest trout, both in this upper section as well as throughout the length of Rock Creek.

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