Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On Rock Creek In Montana
This is one of Montana's best trout streams. Its waters
are mostly all open to the public to fish. Fly fishing Rock
Creek is a wading angler's paradise, not only because it
is easy to wade, but also because float fishing the river
isn't allowed between July 1 and November 30th. Rock
Creek flows with the Sapphire Mountains on its west side
and the John Long Mountains on its east side.
Rock Creek begins near Philipsburg where its West,
Middle and East Forks, along with the water from Ross
Creek, join to form the main stream. Not far from there it
flows through over thirty miles of National Forest Land
followed by the Rock Creek Road. It exits the Lolo
National Forest and flows for a few more miles where it
enters the Clarke Fork River near Clinton.
Camp sites along the river are plentiful. Rock Creek is
bordered by National Forest for most of its entire
distance. This makes it easy for those who camp
because they don't have to make a long drive to fish
Rock Creek. There are very few rentals, motels, etc., in
Nymph fishing is both popular and a very productive on
the stream. It is so popular that dry fly fishing Rock
Creek is often overlooked. Trout can be taken on dries
throughout the season, especially during one of its
many hatches of aquatic insects. Rock Creek is a fairly
fertile stream with a good pH level and as a result there
are lots of insects for the trout to eat.
The surrounding scenery of Rock Creek is simply
beautiful. Lolo National Forest has snow covered
mountains, canyons and plenty of granite cliffs. One
thing that really turns out to be to the angler's
advantage, is the long, rough, narrow road that follows
the creek the entire way. Its bad enough to keep the
general tourist away, yet navigable enough for you to
safely get to where you want to go.
Rock Creek has boulders the size of rooms in a house
creating pocket water with deep pools and fast flowing
runs and riffles. Its trout are plentiful and in general,
aren't that picky or difficult to catch provided decent
presentations are made.
This beautiful stream offers some of the best small
stream fly fishing opportunities in the western states.
You don't have to worry about not being able to find a
place where your not fishing behind someone. There
are miles of water that offer an opportunity. It can be a
little crowded in some areas at certain times, but that is
rare,not the usual case.
There are only a few places in the United States where
you can fish in the company of Rocky Mountain Sheep.
See the images on your left.
Rock Creek Montana
Free Shipping Continental U. S.
100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 &12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 71/2
ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five or
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Fly fishing Rock Creek can be great any
day of the season.
Except for the spring runoff, Springtime is
prime time for fishing Rock Creek.
Summertime is the most popular time to fish
the stream which makes it the most
crowded time to fish.
Fly Fishing Guide to Rock Creek
Rock Creek is a pure freestone stream and
it's flows are strictly dependant on melting
snow and rain. Fishing in the headwaters of
Rock Creek is typical of most headwaters.
The fish are generally very plentiful but small
compared to those downstream. Cutthroat,
brown, brook, rainbow and bull trout exist in
Rock Creek. Most of the fish in the
headwaters are brooks, cutts or rainbows.
There are few brown trout.
Below Montana highway #38, the river flows
through the forest. Riffles, runs and deep
pools make up what would be best described
as pocket water. As mentioned, Rock Creek
Road follows along the creek for its entire
length. For the first few miles below the
bridge at highway #38, the fish population
seems to be mostly a mixture of cutthroats,
rainbows and cutbows or hybrids. The fish
are much larger in this area than they are in
the smaller headwater streams. They seem
to increase in size the further downstream
you go although that may be more of a
coincidence than fact.
Several small creeks join Rock Creek on its
way to the Clark Fork River. Below Harry's
Flat Campground, the creek looks more like
a river than a creek. The river gets wider and
slows down some. The lower section has
both rainbow and brown trout but the
rainbows decrease in numbers and the
browns increase the closer the stream gets
to it's confluence with Clark Fork.
The wildlife along this creek is incredible.
Our first trip there, Angie video taped two
Bighorn sheep crossing the creek just below
me. I was not aware they were behind me
and she was staying quite because they
were close to us. When I noticed her
continuously shooting downstream of me,
rather than the whitefish I had on, I yelled to
ask what she was doing. The Bighorns went
into high gear and I only got a short glimpse
of them until I reviewed the tape later that
night. I was not aware that she had been
shooting the sheep for the past few minutes.
Another reason I suppose that stuck with
some is that the creek has a lot of deep
pools. Other than the normal pools that may
be less than five feet deep, for example,
there are many that are much deeper. In
fact, it is difficult to get a nymph down to the
bottom in many places.
I'm not suggesting that anglers should fish a
dry fly when nothing is hatching. I would
tend to always use a nymph or larva
imitation under the "no hatch to match"
situation. That said, I haven't found that the
stream necessarily has any fewer hatches
than any other freestone stream of its type
in the western Rocky Mountains. In fact, it
may have more.
Stoneflies are very plentiful in Rock Creek.
Most of the time you will get far better
results fishing a stonefly nymph than you
would an imitation of the adult, but that is no
different on Rock Creek than anywhere else.
If you pay attention to the hatch times, you
should do well fishing dry fly imitations. We
have been able to catch more trout on the
dries than nymphs, but of course we usually
fish them more often than we do wet flies or
nymphs. We think the "nymph" stream is an
unfair and inaccurate label for Rock Creek.
We hope you will be the final judge of that.
Many anglers think that Rock Creek is
purely a nymph fishing stream and that the
trout want generally feed on the surface or
take dry flies. I think that is probably
because several articles have been written
that more or less state that. In our several
trips there at different times of the year and
during several different years, we have not
found that to be the case. I certainly
wouldn't go so far as to say that Rock
Creek is a top dry fly stream. I am just
saying that they seem to feed on the
surface there as well as most other places.
Rock Creek Hatches and Trout Flies:
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly and
most available insects and other foods at the
particular time you are fishing. Unlike the
generic fly shop trout flies, we have specific
imitations of all the insects in Rock Creek
and in all stages of life that are applicable to
fishing. If you want to fish better, more
realistic trout flies, have a
much higher degree of success, give us a
call. We not only will help you with
selections, you will learn why, after trying
Perfect Flies, 92% of the thousands of our
customers will use nothing else.
Like most other trout streams, Rock Creek
has it's share of Blue-winged Olives. They
start hatching in some locations as early as
the middle of March and continues on into
the first week or two of June. These little
mayflies are bi-brooded and will start
hatching again by the first of September.
The second wave of the BWOs will continue
until almost the end of November.
March Brown mayflies start hatching near
the end of March and last through the month
of April. Another species of them hatch out in
late August, September and on into the first
two weeks of October, depending on the
particular section of the stream in August
There's the usual PMD, or Pale Morning Dun
hatch that occurs over a long period of time.
It starts about the first of June and last
almost all the way through September. In
addition, Rock Creek has an "okay" hatch of
Green Drakes, but its usually not a huge
hatch. It starts about the middle of June and
last until the middle of July, depending on
the section of the stream. Mahogany duns
hatch in September and October and Trico
hatch in the slower sections of the stream
There's an early Skwala Stonefly hatch that
occurs, starting about the first of March and
last through most of April. You will also find
some Little Brown Stoneflies hatching during
this same time period. The Salmonfly hatch
often occurs during the runoff. It is hit or
miss, mostly miss hatch at Rock Creek. It
occurs from about the last week of May
through the month of June.
The Golden Stoneflies are often still around
after runoff and they can provide a lot of
action some years. The hatch starts just
before the first of June and last through
The main stonefly attraction at Rock Creek
is the Yellow Sally. They hatch over a long
time at one place or another along the fifty
mile long creek. It starts about the first of
June and last all the way through mid
The most important caddisfly hatches are
those of the Spotted Sedges. They start
hatching about the end of May and last all
the way through the middle of August.
Their Little Sister Caddisflies are not that
plentiful, but can be found hatching from
about the middle of June through August.
From about the middle of June through
July, you will find some Little Short-horned
Sedges. Imitations of these little caddisflies
The Green Sedges are the most important
caddisflies on Rock Creek. Several species
of them hatch from about the middle of
June through the middle of September.
There's usually a very good October
Caddis hatch. It occurs from about the
middle of September until the first or
second week in October.
Terrestrials are important insects to imitate
during the months of July, August and
September. Imitations of grasshopper,
beetles and ants will catch their share of
trout on Rock Creek. Midges hatch
year-round, but are more important when
other insects are not hatching. We show
them important for March and April and
again during October and November, so
you may want to have some midge larva,
pupa and adult imitations with you during
that time period.
Don't forget to have a good selection of
streamers. The stream has plenty of
baitfish, minnows and sculpin. Imitations of
these small fish can produce at times,
especially early and late in the day and
when the water is slightly stained from rain.
Please consider using our "Perfect Flies".
They are not only the most realistic
imitations of the aquatic and terrestrial
insects at Rock Creek, they are the most
effective at catching trout. If you haven't
already done so, we certainly hope you will
give them an opportunity to work for you.
We suggest you use our Rock Creek Hatch
Chart and select the flies for the time
period you will be fishing.
Fall is an excellent time to fish Rock Creek.
The crowds are gone and the fishing is
It is possible to catch trout on many winter
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Headlines; Rock Creek is in grat
shape right now and only a few
locals are fishing there. This is the
usual case in the early fall days., I
don't know if it is hunting or football
but something is put in priority to
fishing and in my opinion, this is a
huge mistake for those that care
about fly fishing for trout. There is
some rain in the forecast this
coming week and it should be good
if it doesn't get too high. Keep a
close check on our weekly updated
Rock Creek fishing report linked
above for the latest information.
Map of Rock Creek starting at
Philipsburg where the three
10/14/15 Great conditions exist throughout the creek's length. Good stream levels and great
weather. There have been some very big brown trout caught lately. There are still a lot of
hatches occurring including October Caddis, Mahogany duns, Yellow sallies, Spotted sedges
10/27/15 October Caddis are hatching and bringing trout to the surface to feed on the egg
laying females. Blue-winged olives aqre also hatching. Two good reports came in this past
week from customers fishing the October Caddis hatch. Brown trout are n the pre-spawn and
11/03/15 A winter storm warning is in effect for the next four days. It is turning cold and that's
changes the game plan. Midges and Blue-winged olives are about the only aquatic insects
you need to imitate. Our Brown Sculpin fly has taken its share of big brown trout the past two
weeks and should continue to do so.
11/10/15 The weather is colder but still very mild compared to normal. There is a little snow in
the forecast but that just makes the Blue-winged olives hatch better. Stream levels are good
for wading and few anglers are there to get in your way.
11/17/15 Rock Creek is getting cold and it is snowing big time. The water temperature is
dropping like a nymph with split shot the size of a baseball on the leader. BWOs and Midges
are the only insects brave enough to hatch. You may be the only one brave enough to fish
and remember, it is catch and release only.
11/24/15 We didn't receive any reports from anyone last week but the conditions were good
and will remain good once the current winter storm gets through. Midges are all the flies you
will need except for a few Brown Sculpin Streamers. They will get you a big post-spawn trout.
We recommend fishing the midge lava and pupa in tandem..
12/02/15 The sheep can stop shivering on Rock Creek. It is going to be a little warmer this
week than the deep freeze of last week. There is snow forecast from Thursday through next
Tuesday. Midges are what you need to be imitating. Fish the larva and pupa in tandem with
the pupa above the larva about a foot or more.
12/08/15 The USGS gauge is working again and showing the stream levels are high. It will
take a couple of days for it to return to a good level. Notice we have added Winter Stoneflies
to the list because they have started to hatch. It is a little warmer this week and that means
some melting snow.
12/15/15 Merry Christmas and good fly fishing for trout for the next year. Rock Creek is a top
Montana destination you shouldn't miss. Right now, the lowest end of the river is still providing
some opportunity to catch trout. Midges and Winter stonefly nymphs are your best bet for
flies. The Brown sculpin streamer should work great with all the cloud cover.
12/29/15 This is a pure freestone stream, as I'm sure most of your know, and that means the
water temperature is controlled by the air temperature. That means the water is cold with ice
along most of the banks and anywhere it is still. You can catch trout but you will earn each
and every one of them. Put a midge within two inches of a trout's mouth and you have a good
01/05/16 Fish the lowest end of the river for the warmest water. Midges, fished in tandem with
the larva the bottom fly is the best option right now. The Winter stonefly nymph is another
good option. Stream levels are in good shape. The weather is a little warmer but that means
more snow. It is in the forecast every day for the next week.
01/12/16 There is snow in the forecast every day for this coming week, so getting to the water
in the upper sections may be a big problem. Fish the lowest section of the creek for the
warmest water. The White Belly and Brown sculpin streamers will work great with all the cloud
cover. Stream levels are in good shape although the gauge isn't working yet.
01/26/16 The weather is actually going to be much warmer with highs in the forties but with
that, comes a lot of snow. Melting snow will keep the water stained. It is about 35 degrees at
the warmest area in the lowest section of the creek. Deep snow along the banks and on the
roads may make it tough to deal with.
02/02/16 About the best thing that has happened to Rock Creek lately, is the USGS gauge is
working again. The stream levels and flows are just fine. The water temperature isn't. It is a
cold 35 to 36 degrees and that makes it very tough to catch trout. If you try it, use Cream
Midges. They do hatch on the coldest days.
02/09/16 The weather is unseasonably warm for Montana this month of February. The melting
snow has actually raised the stream levels some and have them off color in places. Midges
and Winter stoneflies continue to hatch and are the main insects you need to be imitating.
02/16/16 The weather continues to be more spring like than winter. It is still cold with lots of
snow but not as deep as normal because it is often melting. The water is stained and dingy
right now and about 36 degrees. Midges and winter stoneflies are the main insects to imitate
but the brown sculpin should produce some trout as well.
02/23/16 The stream levels are back down in good shape but the water still stained from
melting snow. It will continue to be warmer though Friday. Sculpin streamers like our Brown
Sculpin and White Belly Sculpin should work good now but fish the in the slow water out of the
main current. The water is still very cold.
03/01/16 From the looks of the weather forecast, you would think it is April or May. The
warmer air temperatures is melting a lot of snow. In other words, rain, more snow and the
warmer weather is making a mess. Streamers like our White Belly Sculpin and Brown Sculpin
flies are your best option. Midges are hatching and there are some opportunities to catch
them on top.
03/08/16 The stream is flowing just a little above normal and staying cold due to a lot of
melting snow. It is mostly clear but stained in some areas. Midges, winter stoneflies and little
Blue-winged olives are the insects you should be imitating. There is a lot of rain and snow in
the forecast, so keep a check on the stream levels.
03/15/16 The creek is in good shape, but clear and cold again. The weather is returning to a
more normal pattern for this time of the year. It is back to midges as about the only good
opportunity to fool the fish. If you do want to take the challenge and fish the creek, fish the
lowest section and stick with the slack water areas.
03/22/16 It is still cold and with a chance of snow every day except the weekend. The water
ranges from the mid thirties to near forty degrees. Midges are hatching most days and they
are about your only option for fooling any of the creek's trout. Fish the lowest section near the
warmest part of the day and you may see midges hatching.
03/29/16 The creek is in as good of shape as it could possibly be at this time of the year. The
stream level is normal and the water mostly all free of ice. There is still a lot of snow on the
banks. It is very close to the time the big Skwala stonefly nymphs will come out of their hiding
places for the trout to eat. Get off the couch and on the water.
04/05/16 Rock Creek is in good shape. The stream level is rising and the water a little off
color due to melting snow, but otherwise, conditions are very good for this time of the year.
Midges, little BWOs, and Skwala stonefly nymphs are the foods you need to be imitating. It is
going to be nice and warm this coming week.
04/12/16 The creek is flowing high and stained. There is a lot more rain and snow to come
from now to Saturday, so this is not likely to change. You will just have to watch the levels.
The opportunity will be good as soon as the levels get low enough again. The first fly choice
should probably be a Sculpin streamer. Later, midges and BWOs.
04/19/16 The creek is still high and stained from melting snow. This will continue to be the
case for the coming week with more warm weather. Make sure you check the stream level
before traveling very far to fish the creek. Midges and Blue-winged olives continue to be the
most important insects to imitate. The Sculpin streamers also work good in the stained water.
04/26/16 Hight water levels that are stained is what you can expect more of this coming week.
Last week's warm weather melted a lot of snow in the watershed and rain forecast every day
for this coming week will keep it that way for a few days. Streamer will be about your only
choice for at least two or three days.
05/10/16 The creek is very high and badly stained and little opportunity exist for fly fishing.
We think this will continue for at least the next week. The weather forecast is showing a
chance of rain every day from tomorrow though next Wednesday.
05/17/16 The stream level is down a lot from the past week but still on the high side. Most
areas is still to high too safely wade but much of the creek can be fished from the banks,
especially if you use streamers like our White Belly and Brown sculpin. Little Black caddis and
Skwala stoneflies ae hatching. There is rain in the forecast every day this coming week.
05/24/16 The creek is blown out from Spring runoff of melting snow and ice from the
headwaters and lots of rain. There is more rain in the forecast every day for the coming week.
There isn't any opportunity for fly fishing on Rock Creek and probably won't be for several
more days. You can be getting ready for some red hot action when the levels do drop.
05/31/16 The stream levels and flows are still lower than normal for this time of the year, but
the warmer weather in the forecast for this coming week is likely to increase the runoff in the
headwaters of the creek, so we are not predicting much fly fishing opportunity. All you can do
is watch the stream levels for the next several days.
06/07/16 The creek is in pretty good shape considering it is runoff time. There is rain forecast
everyday this coming week. Salmonflies are hatching and anglers catching some trout on the
hatch dealing with the higher levels. Expect more high water but catch it anytime you can
when it isn't too high to fish.
06/14/16 The weather is turning much cooler and there is rain in the forecast every day for
the coming week. The stream levels are currently down a lot and the creek can be fished at
this time. The water is still stained. It will most likely rise back up. We don't think the runoff is
completely over. Let's just hope it ends early this year.
06/20/16 The creek has really gotten into good shape this past week. The levels are way
down and the water mostly clear. There are a lot of insects hatching and more should start up
this coming week. The weather forecast for the coming week looks good. Salmonflies, some
Golden stoneflies, Spotted Sedges, Green Sedges, and Western Green drakes should be
06/28/16 The creek is in good shape from the headwaters to the lowest section. Our
customers are sending in some good reports. This past weekend was awesome. There are
still a lot of stoneflies hatching, Goldens and Little Yellows, and Pale Morning duns are
hatching in the middle and lower sections of the river.
07/05/16 The stream level is low and easy to wade, of course, but it is also easy to spook the
trout. You have to keep a low profile and blend in the with background. Longer, lighter leaders
and tippets may also help. There are a lot of insects hatching and our customers are catching
plenty of them on the surface. That written, keep in mind it is easy to over fish a dry fly.
07/12/16 Rock Creek is in very good shape and our customers are catching trout from the
headwaters to the lowest section of the creek. There are still a lot of insects hatching. Egg
laying stoneflies and caddisflies makes it very important to fish as late as you can. The last
two hours of daylight is the best time to catch fish.
07/19/16 The creek is in good shape from the uppermost headwaters to the lowest end. Our
customers are sending in some good reports. The stream levels are down some but you can
wade about anywhere you desire. You should use stealth and stay hidden from the trout.
Trout are being caught in good numbers in all sections of the creek.
07/26/16 Stream levels are getting a little low. You have to stay hidden from the trout. Stealth
is required as well as good presentations. There are still a lot of insects hatching. Pale
Morning Duns and Spotted sedges are the most plentiful. Fish as late in the day as possible.
The spinner falls and egg laying caddis and stoneflies are bringing a lot of trout to the net.
08/02/16 Hoot Owl restrickions are in effect. The water is getting too warm in the afternoons.
Fish early mornings or choose a different destination. Pale Morning duns are hatching along
with two different species of caddisflies.
08/09/16 Fish the uppermost sections of the creek. The lower section is near getting too
warm. There are still plenty of hatches taking place. Pale Morning duns, two species of
caddisflies, little Yellow stoneflies and others. It is best to fish Sculpin pattern streamers in the
early morning. The best action comes during the last two hours of daylight.
08/16/16 We received a good report from a customer fishing the creek three days this past
week. The upper and middle sections of the stream are cooler and turning out a good number
of trout each day. Terrestrials are working in the afternoons. Caddisfly adults are working the
last two hours of daylight.
08/23/16 Stream levels are a little low. That makes wading easy, but also easy to spook the
trout. Stay low and well hidden from the trout. Early morning has been good to those who
fished our Sculpin streamers. Tricos are hatching with late morning spinner falls. Terrestrials
imitations of ants, beetles and hoppers are also working good.
08/30/16 The creek is in good condition with cooler water but the flows are still a little low.
That makes it easy to wade but easy to spook the trout, so stay low and well hidden. Tricos
are hatching on the lower end of the river. Lots of caddisflies are hatching througout the river.
Fish the egg laying activity the last two or three hours of the day. Fish streamers in the early
09/06/16 Excellent conditions exist on Rock Creek. You should be able to catch plenty of trout
in any section of the stream from the headwaters to the lowest section of the river. Our
customers sent in some good reports from the holiday weekend. The weather is much cooler
and the water temperatures much lower. There are still a lot of insects hatching and terrestrial
imitations are working.
09/13/16 Rock creek is in great shape from its uppermost headwaters to the lowest elevation.
Our customers sent in good reports this past week. One group fished the entire week and in
all sections and reported catching good numbers of trout each day. They used a variety of
flies from hoppers and ants to BWOs and little Yellow stoneflies.
09/20/16 We received some good reports from customers fishing the creek this past week.
They did well on a number of flies but mostly on terrestrials. The cloud cover helped. They
caught some nice ones on the brown Sculpin streamer as well. It is raining as I write this and
the levels will likely come up during the next few days.
09/27/16 Great conditions exist on Rock Creek. Our customers are catching big numbers and
big brown trout. October Caddis, Mahogany duns and Blue-winged olives are hatching good.
Stream levels are just a little below normal and the weather remaining cool. This is a great
time to be fishing the stream. You will have plenty of water and solitude.
10/06/16 The creek is in excellent conditions with good stream flows and levels. Our
customers are all catching good numbers of trout using a variety of methods. October caddis
are hatching good. Blue-winged olives and Mahogany duns are working good. Terrestrials are
also still working. Use brown hoppers, Japanese beetles and carpenter ants.
10/13/16 The stream is in great shape and you can fish anywhere you want to without seeing
another person. Our customers continue to catch some very nice size brown trout and good
numbers of everything. The stream levels ae good and the cloud cover is helping turn out
some big Blue-winged olive hatches. October caddis are getting near their end but Mahogany
duns are still hatching.