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Rosebud Creek

Rosebud Creek

East Fork Rosebud Creek
Photo Use Guidelines

Rosebud Creek is located in the beautiful high prairie just to the north of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area. Rosebud Creek only flows for four miles, from the confluence of the East and West Forks Rosebud Creek to the Stillwater River. Thus, the two forks of Rosebud Creek provide for the bulk of the fishing. For simplicity, Rosebud Creek and its two forks are covered together in this section, as the two forks are quite similar.

For an angler looking for a pretty place to fish, the forks of Rosebud Creek are hard to beat. Both begin in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area and flow through beautiful mountainous terrain. The forks then flow out into the rolling prairie, with the towering mountains providing a stunning backdrop to any fishing trip here. The waters are also crystal clear along both forks. The forks have a mix of trees, brush and meadows along their banks for their entire length.

Although both West Fork Rosebud Creek and East Fork Rosebud Creek are classified as "creeks", they both carry lots of water and are larger than some of the other "rivers" in Montana. East Rosebud Creek in particular is quite large for being a "little creek."

Access to West Fork Rosebud Creek is somewhat difficult. Except in its upper stretches, West Fork Rosebud Creek flows through predominantly private property - even in the mountainous terrain. Once West Rosebud Creek reaches the prairie, access is limited to a handful of bridge crossings.

West Fork Rosebud Creek
Photo Use Guidelines

East Fork Rosebud Creek has much better access. For almost its entire length in the mountains, Rosebud Creek flows through Forest Service Lands and has excellent access all the way up to the roads end (the creek is closely paralleled by a forest road for its entire length in the mountains). Once the river leaves the mountains, a handful of bridge crossings allow for some limited access sites.

The main stem of Rosebud Creek, all four miles of it, itself has poor access. Access to Rosebud Creek is limited to a few bridge crossings.

The fishing in the two forks of Rosebud Creek can provide fast and furious action for small cutthroat trout, brook trout and rainbow trout in its upper, mountainous sections. In this section each of the forks come tumbling down out of the mountains, with extensive rapids and pocket water. Fishing pressure is quite light as most people visiting this section of the state are here for purposes other than fishing (each of the forks are a popular trailhead and camping location). These small fish will rise readily to a fairly well presented dry fly that is cast their way. Average sizes range between 8-12 inches, so don't expect to take home a lunker.

The middle sections of these creeks, particular East Fork Rosebud Creek, can provide excellent fishing for decent sized brown trout and rainbow trout. For clarification, the middle section of the East Fork Rosebud Creek is defined as the lower mountain stretch of the river (the last 5 miles the river is located in National Forest Lands). Numerous holes, lots of downfalls and extensive meadows (helped by a large burn that occurred not to long ago) provide lots of nice habitat. Hopper imitations work excellent later in the summer. Streamers are also effective, weighted down and fished around the downfall, in the holes and by the undercut banks. Lots of large rocks in the river also provide lots of pocket water fishing with standard dry flies, such as the Parachute Adams and the Elk Hair Caddis. Fishing pressure is quite light again, although lighter tackle and tippets will lead to greater success. Average trout in this section will run around 12 inches.

East Fork Rosebud Creek
Photo Use Guidelines

The two forks of Rosebud Creek then spill out onto the rolling prairie. Both offer good brown trout and rainbow trout fishing. The trick is getting to them as both these forks flow through private property with virtually no spots for access. Since both of these forks are floatable in normal water conditions in the prairie section, float fishing is recommended as the preferred method. Just watch out for the occasional fence and irrigation equipment. Wade fishermen who have the patience can also wade up or downstream from one of the bridge crossings to reach good-looking fishing spots. Streamers, hopper imitations and standard dry flies all work well on the prairie sections of the forks of Rosebud Creek.

Rosebud Creek itself has very good brown trout fishing, similar to that found in the lower sections of its forks. The best way to fish it, assuming water levels are normal, is to float it, although it will be a short couple mile of float, with the take out point located just to the west of the small town of Absarokee. If you miss this takeout point, the next stop is a fishing access site well down the Stillwater River.

Should you plan on floating either of the two forks, a small raft is the recommended vessel. East Rosebud Creek and West Rosebud Creek both are fairly narrow and a large raft will likely take up most of the river. The creeks also have some downfall in them and turn a lot. A small, maneuverable raft will be much more manageable than a large one. A canoe will also work well. The best floating on either of the two forks will be found in the prairie section, just after the creeks leave the mountains. The mountain sections of both creeks are very narrow, and consist of constant whitewater and rocks. Low water depth will also likely pose problems to anyone attempting to float the mountain sections of either of the two forks.

Next Page : Rosebud Creek Photographs

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