Rock Creek

Twenty miles east of Missoula, Montana Watch the Video View Fishing Report


On Montana’s blue ribbon gem, Rock Creek, where the fishing is as exhilarating as the scenery and a legendary salmon fly hatch from which all others are measured. It drains the north eastern edge of the stunning Pintler range before slicing through the Sapphire mountains on its 50 mile course to the Clark Fork.  This pristine, free flowing stream boasts one of the highest trout per mile counts in the state. Rock Creek is a perfect “fly fishing classroom” complete with consistent depth and speed riffles for nymphing, long and smooth tailout dry fly slicks, and boulder-choked fast water corners providing a haven for streamer chase’n trout.

Float fishing here is prohibited after June 30th each year in order coincide with higher water flows and to minimize wader/floater controversy.  Thus, we offer float fishing on the upper reaches during May and June from the Forks confluence down to the forest service boundary and, the fishing can be spectacular.  Fast action casts, tight against willow choked banks or rushing along canyon walls and boulder pour overs with wildly large dry flies is the name of the game here early in the summer.  Later in the season as the boats clear out and the water recedes, wade fishing the Creek with a guide affords any level of angler an opportunity to improve his/her skills. Taking time to hone your river reading, understand currents and casts, identify aquatic insects or just sit along the bank for a bit and take in a herd of nearby bighorn sheep epitomizes a day of wade fishing on Rock Creek.  And, is simply the best chance anywhere in Montana to catch five different trout species while standing on a single rock.

Blackfoot River Outfitters conducts float trips from the Forks downstream for about 15 miles and afford walk/wade guide trips on that portion of Rock Creek that flow through the Lolo National Forest. These wade trips are offered under a very limited special use permit issued from the Lolo National Forest Missoula District Ranger. The permit allows for only 30 client days, which we utilize on a first come – first serve basis.  Blackfoot River Outfitters is an “equal opportunity service provider.”

The Stats

  • Typical Catch

    Rock Creek provides the best chance to catch a Western Montana Grand Slam, including cutthroat, rainbow, cutbow, brown, bull, and brookie, not to mention the ubiquitous whities. Expect to catch cutties 10"-14" and rainbows 10"-16" with plenty of browns 12"-18". We expect to see around 30-40 opportunities per rod/per day.

  • Total Area of Drainage

    890 square miles.

  • Total River Miles We Guide

    The full 52 miles of the main stem, but we provide float trips only during a short season on the uppermost 16 miles.

  • Travel Distances from Missoula

    20 minutes to 1 hour with an average of 40+ minutes.

  • Bank-side Accommodations

    Numerous cabins for rent up and down the creek, small motel near the mouth, and an outrageously expensive lodge near the Forks.

  • Primary Style of Fishing

    Although Rock Creek is best known for its legendary salmon fly hatch from the end of May/June, it is an exceptional dry fly fishery as early as the second week in March, when several stones and mayflies hatch. The winter fishing can usually be even better with nymphs and indicators. The Creek’s trout are not particularly picky and often a double dry rig or an attractor with a beadhead dropper gets it done.

BRO’s Top Six Patterns for Rock Creek

  • Moreorless Hopper #12-10 (pink, purple, and tan)
  • Parachute Caddis #16-14 (tan or peacock)
  • Sparkle Minnow #8 (olive or white)
  • Batman Nymph #14
  • Patriot Wulff #14-12
  • San Juan Worm Beadhead #12 (pink, red, or orange)