Near Missoula, you’ll a trout fishing stream called Rock Creek. This location, which has some of the largest numbers of fish per mile, is one of the best trout streams in Montana. Here, you can catch browns, cutthroats, rainbows, and bull trout. Along the first twelve miles, you’ll find several areas where you can access the shores. This stream is especially great for those who like to wade into the water. You’ll find plenty of excellent fishing spots along the length of the stream, which runs through National Forest property. The best places to fish are in the sections of the stream that run through the Northern Campground, Valley of the Moon, and the Sawmill. Rock Creek is close to several other great fishing streams, giving you the opportunity to fish at several of Montana’s finest locations. When you finish at Rock Creek, head over to Big Blackfoot, Bitterroot River, or the Clark Fork – all amazing options within a half hour’s drive.
This popular fly-fishing destination has many access points. The river is favored by winter anglers, who appreciate that the rapid current doesn’t allow the river to freeze easily. Hatches of skwalas, Blue Winged Olives and Western March Browns appear as spring approaches. Runoff begins usually near the end of April, but due to the high gradient of the river, it tends to clear faster than other Missoula rivers.
Rock Creek reportedly has the best salmon fly hatch in Montana during mid-late June. Anglers from around the world come to fish hungry trout using dry flies. Note that, while you can float Rock Creek year-round, you cannot fish from a boat after July 1, nor would you want to. Floating after the beginning of July can be difficult and dangerous due to shrinking waters, the congestion of wading anglers, numerous river obstacles, and a current which takes rafts very quickly along, making it difficult to keep a boat in a consistent fishing position. When wading Rock Creek, beware of large, slippery rocks on the bottom; a sturdy wading staff will keep you dry and upright.
From July on, wading becomes the angler’s best means of access for fishing, as water level drops and the river becomes more accessible for wading. Fish seek deeper, faster waters as summer progresses. High summer means dawn and dusk fishing for better results. Streamer fishing is fun and effective because Rock Creek is small enough that a steamer fisherman can cover the creek from bank to bank.
In fall, brown trout from Clark Fork move up the lower sections of Rock Creek to spawn. During this time they respond well to streamers.