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FLY FISHING ROCK CREEK IN MONTANA

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Born approximately 20 miles west-northwest of Anaconda in western Montana, Rock Creek is an anglers dream. Its water runs cold and most of the time clear even during the hot summer months making it a tremendous fishery for brown, rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout. There are also the large and endangered bull trout that reside in the river. On occasion one of these brutes will swallow your fly and bend your rod like no trout has ever before. If you catch a bull trout be sure to promptly release it since they are a protected species. In addition, it is an absolutely beautiful and also easy river to "read" making it a great place for a seasoned or beginning angler. Check Rock Creek Special Fishing Regulations for specific information.
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Rock Creek's headwaters are comprised of the East, Middle, Ross, and West Forks. Route 38 crosses the river where the forks all finally come together to form the main Rock Creek. From here Rock Creek flows for approximately 50 miles before spilling into the Clark Fork River near Clinton. It flows past fir and pine trees along with beautiful rock formations and steep cliffs and banks for much of its length. Boulders, logs, and sharp bends are a few of the great attributes that create holding water for the trout that reside here and also for the browns that migrate into the creek during the fall from the Clark Fork River to spawn.
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With gentle riffles and pools to swift runs and pockets, Rock Creek has water to please almost every angler and trout. From its headwaters to where Hogback Creek empties in, it is made up mainly of soft flowing riffles and runs. Cutthroat trout are prolific here and account for the majority of the population. Hogback Creek to Henry's Flat is where the river picks up pace and is characterized mostly by swift riffles and pockets. The holding water in this section is generally less abundant yet it is a wonderful stretch of river to fish (especially if you prefer nymph fishing). This section has a fair population of all species of trout although rainbows seem to account for the majority. From Henry's Flat to its end at the Clark Fork River, Rock Creek is characterized by swift riffles, deep runs and classic pools. Brown trout are prolific here and there is an abundance of larger fish.

Access to Rock Creek can be found in many places along its path. Rock Creek Road follows the creek from Route 32 near its headwaters to Route 90 where it ends at the Clark Fork River. Wading is generally easy aside from the slippery rocks that line the bottom of the river. Boats are only allowed on the river from December 1st until June 30th. From July 1st until November 30th only wade fishing is allowed. Hiring a guide during the boating or wade fishing period is a great way to learn this tremendous fishery and increase your odds.

Hatches on Rock Creek include a fair variety of mayflies, stoneflies and caddis. Mayflies include Blue-winged Olive (baetis), Pale Morning Duns, Green Drakes, some Brown Drakes and Gray Drakes. The two most important stonefly hatches on the river are the famed Salmon Fly hatch and the Golden Stone hatch. These flies are sure to bring some of the largest fish of the season to the surface. The Salmon Fly hatch usually occurs during the middle of runoff which usually runs from early May to late June. Caddis are made up of variety of sizes and colors. Tan and gray are two excellent colors for caddis ranging in size from 12-18. In the fall orange sedge hit the water and at times are an effective fly. Midges and terrestrials fill the gaps when the other insects are not on the water.

Rock Creek is a tremendous fishery often overlooked by many anglers. It has a diversity of water and a great population of trout. Dry fly, nymph, and streamer fishing are all productive methods on this scenic river. If you're going to be in western Montana or planning a unique fishing trip somewhere, consider Rock Creek. You'll be glad you did!