Streams Outside of Yellowstone National Park
.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park

12/29/08

Fly Fishing Rock Creek - Part 1

Southwestern Montana has several great trout streams - more than any area of the
United States. Rock Creek would be near the top of anyone's list of the best streams in
that area of Montana. It is a very fine trout stream in all respects.

Angie and I have fished this stream many times. It is one of our favorite Montana
stream. It can be accessed for most of its entire length of about fifty miles. Although
that is a relatively short length in Montana terms, few streams have that much direct
access. Almost thirty miles of it lies in the Lolo National Forest. It can be fished from the
banks or waded just about its entire length making it a top stream for the wading
angler. Current fishing regulations do not permit the river to be floated between July 1
and November 30.

The rivers headwaters consist of three forks. They join near Montana highway #38.
These streams flow through Phillipsburg Valley. Fishing in the headwaters 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. 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. We have not caught any brown trout in that area of the
stream. 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 with the
rainbows decreasing in numbers and the browns increasing the closer the stream gets
to its 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 Bighorn 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 she had been
shooting the sheep for the past few minutes.
                                                                                                               Copyright 2008 James Marsh