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Rock Creek Fly Fishing

Rock Creek
Fly Fishing

Flowing mainly through the Lolo National Forest about 30 minutes from Missoula, Rock Creek is simply a perfect trout stream. Boasting the areas highest trout concentrations, together with abundant insect life and gorgeous scenery create a blue-ribbon stream that anglers fall in love with. Soaring eagles, moose, and big horn sheep are all common wildlife sightings on Rock Creek. The Grand Slam of trout, a cutthroat, rainbow, brown, bull, and brookie, all in one day is a real possibility here. This stream is most famous for its unbelievable Salmonfly hatch that occurs in June. The sky is literally clouded by thousands of these giant stoneflies on their daily upstream migration. As the water begins to drop, Rock Creek becomes the premiere wade fishing stream in the area. Public access is plentiful on Rock Creek and fish willingly rise to attractor patterns as well as natural imitations throughout the season.

  • Skwala stoneflies (#8-10)
  • Grey Drakes (#12-14)
  • March Browns (#14)
  • Blue-wing Olives (#18)

Skwalas, Drakes, and Blue-wings all come off in decent numbers on Rock Creek, but it is the March Brown hatches beginning in late March and running through April that gets the trout and anglers alike excited. Mostly a nymph fishery early in the year, the afternoon hatches of March Browns have trout looking up throughout the river and ready to pounce on any parachute or cripple pattern that drifts by.

  • Skwala stoneflies (#8-10)
  • Caddis (#12-16)

It is always unpredictable in May due to run-off, but when conditions allow there will be good hatches of Skwalas and big-time caddis emergences that produce incredible fishing. This is a great time of year to catch larger fish as big trout from the Clark Fork are in the system to spawn.

  • Salmonflies (#4-6)
  • Golden stoneflies (#8-10)
  • Green Drakes (#8-10)

The most prolific Salmonfly hatch in the area. The sky is literally clouded by flying Salmonflies in the afternoon during the peak of the hatch. The opportunity to hook a ridiculously large amount of fish is a reality on Rock Creek during June. Not to be outdone, Golden stones and Green Drakes join the party by mid-month and many of the larger fish are taken on these patterns since most anglers are still casting big orange flies and big fish seem to know this.

  • Golden stoneflies (#8-10)
  • Green Drakes (#8-10)
  • Pale-morning Duns (#14-16)
  • Yellow Sallies (#12-16)
  • Caddis (#14-16)

By July the Creek is a wade fishing stream again and there is no shortage of bugs to keep the fish looking up. On most days a yellow Stimulator and parachute PMD is all you will need, but early in the month trout will still be looking for the bigger Golden stones and Drakes. The evening caddis blitzes are a sight to see with more risers than you can throw a fly at.

  • Grasshoppers (#6-10)
  • Tricos (#18-22)
  • Pale-morning Duns (#14-16)
  • Spruce Moths (#12-14)

Rock Creek is another great Hopper/attractor river and all kinds of large patterns will move trout to the surface. PMDs will linger early in the month until Trico hatches take over, and the mayfly activity is fairly spot specific on the Creek. However, the Spruce moth hatch in unrivaled and it will occur river-wide. Lasting a little longer here than on the Blackfoot, there will be a 2-3 week period where anglers may not need another pattern in their box. The Spruce moth hatch on Rock Creek is that good.

  • Grasshoppers (#6-10)
  • October Caddis (#8-10)
  • Mahogany Duns (#12-16)
  • Blue-wing Olives (#16-18)

Hopper fishing will remain good until the first hard frosts of mid-October, and good hatches of October caddis offer a big bug alternative and the chance to witness some truly violent strikes. By the second week of September reliable hatches of Mahognies and Blue-wings will have fish looking up each afternoon as well.

Rock Creek Fly Fishing Access Map

Rock Creek fly fishing is the most accessible for wading anglers with 50+ miles of public access from its confluence with the Clark Fork River to its headwaters. See below for notable landmarks, campgrounds, and Rock Creek fishing access sites.

Rock Creek Fly Fishing Flies

Rock Creek fly fishing is a staple of the Missoula fly fishing experience. We consider Rock Creek one of our go-to fisheries and have decades of experience fishing it. See below for recommended flies on what works on Rock Creek.

Montana's rock creek in the fall with yellow trees lining the banks

Rock Creek Fishing Report

Seeking the latest updates on Rock Creek fly fishing? Discover our Rock Creek fishing report for the most up-to-date insights on successful fly selections, stream flows, current conditions, and expert tips to make the most of your time on the water.