Montana Dry Fly Fishing on the Rock Creek River

Rock Creek Fly Fishing Guides

Missoula Montana Fly Fishing Guide on Rock Creek – Pristine Missoula Montana Fly Fishing Solitude

I vividly remember the day that I decided to get a Rock Creek permit so that we could outfit guided Rock Creek fly fishing float trips. It was March on my personal fly fishing trip with close friends to Upper Rock Creek. We were eating lunch near Gilles Bridge staring at the granite spires rising above the river between flipping rocks and counting nymphs. Each rock we uncovered was caked in insects in a way that I had never seen. That macroinvertabrate density throbbing under Rock Creek’s rushing water cutting through stunning scenery sealed the deal for me. It took us three years of calls, paperwork, and hustling to finally get a permit on Rock Creek. It was one of the luckiest and finest turns in my outfitting career. Rock Creek is fly fishing boiled down – pure cold water, clean cobbled boulders, and ice green pools filled with wild Montana trout that didn’t get a PHD in dry fly presentation. We are proud to have the honor of being fly fishing guides on Montana’s Rock Creek.

– Missoula River Lodge Montana Outfitter
Joe Cummings

Limited Access, Unlimited Options

Rock Creek rises deep in the Pintlar range of the Rocky Mountains and runs north for 65 miles through the Rock Creek valley and LoLo National Forest paralleling the Bitterroot River to the west cutting through the east side of the Sapphire Mountain range. Per square inch Rock Creek is the richest drainage in Montana and provides great Rock Creek fly fishing opportunities. The cornocupia of minerals is what drives an incredible array of super charged hatches to an equally dense fish population

Limited Access, Unlimited Options

Rock Creek rises deep in the Pintlar range of the Rocky Mountains and runs north for 65 miles through the Rock Creek valley and LoLo National Forest paralleling the Bitterroot River to the west cutting through the east side of the Sapphire Mountain range. Per square inch Rock Creek is the richest drainage in Montana and provides great Rock Creek fly fishing opportunities. The cornocupia of minerals is what drives an incredible array of super charged hatches to an equally dense fish population

Rock Creek Fly Fishing Access – Three Outfitters

The State of Montana Fisheries Department’s population count of the water upstream of Hamilton places the wild trout population at over 1700 per mile of mainly pure strain West Slope Cutthroat Trout representing one of the great sources of this native trout’s home watershed. The Upper Bitterroot River’s cutthroat trout are a willing group that rewards the beginning angler with short casts, easily seen flies, and a species that is programmed to eat dry flies. The Trapper Peak complex with its 10,000 foot snow capped mountains provides a fitting back drop for the angler that should look up from the water as much as he watches his big dry get gulped by a native Montana trout.

Rock Creek Wild Trout Populations

The State of Montana puts the fish population at 2000 per mile on Rock Creek. That is a stunning number because it is a river half the size of Bitteroot River (with more trout in it) and a tenth of the size of the Missouri River. So much food, quality watershed, and protections have contributed to make this river in class by itself.

Rock Creek Fly Fishing in June

We call it a Creek, but during the Rock Creek Fly Fishing season it is a high altitude canyon river. It is the one piece of water we want to be bank full. So it comes into shape first and lasts the longest of all the Missoula June water. Large flows squash two thousand fish per mile under the bankside willows where all the Stonefly hatches stage, hatch, and fall to waiting trout. It is the perfect combination of trout proximity to a gushing food source. Typically floats are longer 12-20 miles per day because Rock Creek is fast moving with a great deal of vertical drop. Advanced Anglers are challenged with circus casts deep under the willows to the protected and feeding brown trout, less experienced anglers can get it close enough and still see more fish come to the dry fly in a day than any other time of year.
My first year on Rock Creek I guided a client that had a clicker to log in each one of his fish. We fished from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. when my guest’s arm finally failed. He stopped clicking exhausted at 98 trout landed to a single rod.

Rock Creek Fly Fishing Access – Three Outfitters

The State of Montana Fisheries Department’s population count of the water upstream of Hamilton places the wild trout population at over 1700 per mile of mainly pure strain West Slope Cutthroat Trout representing one of the great sources of this native trout’s home watershed. The Upper Bitterroot River’s cutthroat trout are a willing group that rewards the beginning angler with short casts, easily seen flies, and a species that is programmed to eat dry flies. The Trapper Peak complex with its 10,000 foot snow capped mountains provides a fitting back drop for the angler that should look up from the water as much as he watches his big dry get gulped by a native Montana trout.

Rock Creek Wild Trout Populations

The State of Montana puts the fish population at 2000 per mile on Rock Creek. That is a stunning number because it is a river half the size of Bitteroot River (with more trout in it) and a tenth of the size of the Missouri River. So much food, quality watershed, and protections have contributed to make this river in class by itself.

Rock Creek Fly Fishing in June

We call it a Creek, but during the Rock Creek Fly Fishing season it is a high altitude canyon river. It is the one piece of water we want to be bank full. So it comes into shape first and lasts the longest of all the Missoula June water. Large flows squash two thousand fish per mile under the bankside willows where all the Stonefly hatches stage, hatch, and fall to waiting trout. It is the perfect combination of trout proximity to a gushing food source. Typically floats are longer 12-20 miles per day because Rock Creek is fast moving with a great deal of vertical drop. Advanced Anglers are challenged with circus casts deep under the willows to the protected and feeding brown trout, less experienced anglers can get it close enough and still see more fish come to the dry fly in a day than any other time of year.
My first year on Rock Creek I guided a client that had a clicker to log in each one of his fish. We fished from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. when my guest’s arm finally failed. He stopped clicking exhausted at 98 trout landed to a single rod.

A Missoula Montana Fly Fishing Guide’s Perspective on Rock Creek Hatches – Super Charged Bugs

June on Rock Creek – Salmonflies, Golden Stones

Rock Creek fly fishing enjoys the Best, most Reliable, and copious Salmonfly hatch in the American West. The Salmonfly hatch is the mystical Montana fly fishing hatch that angler’s try to hit, but can be fickle everywhere it happens except on Montana’s Rock Creek. On Rock Creek we get it for two solid weeks in June. That gives the angler a wide Missoula hatch target to plan a trip. As good as the Salmonfly hatch is the Golden Stones can actually produce more trout and they overlap in June to provide a broad menu for our wild trout. A Guided Float trip on Rock Creek with a 6 foot leader of 12 lb test and a huge dry fly is an experience that all fly anglers should saturate in.

Stone Fly.

July – August on Rock Creek – Easy Fly Fishing Walks, Great Montana Scenery

On July 1st all boats commercial and recreational are required to stop floating. Rock Creek is then managed as a wade fishing only destination for the rest of the year. Rock Creek does enjoy great Caddis, Green Drake, and PMD hatches but really the fly angler with the small attractor patterns is king here. Rock Creek trout are accommodating and plentiful. Sneaking along the banks of a now midsized creek with a size 12 dry fly surrounded by the pristine canyons of Lolo National forest is a relaxing break from a guided drift boat fly fishing float trip that is common on the Blackfoot River, Clark Fork River, and Bitterroot River. Stretch your wading legs and enjoy the simplicity that is Rock Creek.
Montana Weather – Highs in the 70s, Lows in the 40s

Rock Creek map.

September – October on Rock Creek – Streamers, Fall Colors, October Caddis

The same streamer bite that is turned on in the Clark Fork River is getting the Brown Trout to aggressively take flies is happening while Rock Creek fly fishing. We also see a great push of October Caddis late that can turn the big dry bite on in the afternoons. Although not a hatch the autumn turn of the Cottonwoods and Ponderosa on the banks of Rock Creek is draw in and of itself. Rock Creek satisfies the breadth of many layered desires of the small stream angler.
Montana Weather – Highs in the 60s, Lows in the 30s

Osprey flying.

A Classic Journey Outfitters is permitted to operate on the Lolo National Forest. Equal Opportunity Service Provider.