Rock Creek Fly Fishing Trips

Adventure Missoula Rock Creek fly fishing trips are a private, singular trips tailored to your skill level.

The River

Flowing mainly through the Lolo National Forest for 52 miles about 30 minutes from Missoula, Rock Creek is simply a perfect trout stream. Boasting the area’s highest trout concentrations, together with abundant insect life and gorgeous scenery create a blue-ribbon stream that anglers fall in love with. People come from all over the world to explore Rock Creek. Soaring eagles, moose, and bighorn sheep are all common wildlife sightings on Rock Creek. The Grand Slam of trout, a cutthroat, rainbow, brown, bull, and brookie, all in one day is a possibility. This stream is most famous for its unbelievable Salmonfly hatch that usually occurs in June. The sky is clouded by thousands of these giants on their daily upstream migration in early summer. As the snow runoff ends and the water begins to drop, Rock Creek becomes the premiere wade fishing stream in the area. No boating is allowed after July 1st. Public access is plentiful on Rock Creek and fish willingly rise to attractor patterns as well as natural imitations throughout the season. Rock Creek can be crowded this time of year but there is plenty of holes for everyone. The river’s headwaters is near Phillipsburg, MT and it parallels the Sapphire Mountains, eventually dumping into the Clark Fork River near Exit 126 on I-90. You can find sapphires along the river. 

Guided Trips on Rock Creek

$675 1-2 Anglers (Season: Mid April pre-run off through June)

Guided trips feature your private guide, fishing gear; this includes flies, rods, poles, tackle. We pack life jackets, soft drinks, water, mid day riverside lunch, and raft. This trip includes your transportation and we will call you to arrange a meet up or pick up. Our trips combine fishing from boat and shore (as desired). Please bring your own waders as we do not carry tons of sizes. We have room for one to two people. During the booking process, some trips allow a 3rd boat rider (youth or non fishing participant), but this river does not allow for a third person. We provide wetsuits to keep warm and water shoes as needed for comfort during early season or rainy weather.

What to Bring: Pack sunglasses, a hat/visor, quick dry clothing, strapped sandals or water shoes, Montana fishing licenses, sunscreen, sun wear, layered clothing and waders (if desired).

Rock Creek fly fishing trips are located Southeast of Montana and are guided, fully catered and a full day affair.

Travel Time

From Missoula, it takes about 2 hours to get to the top of Rock Creek traveling the highways through Drummond and Philipsburg. It takes the same 2 hours to get to the top traveling Rock Creek Road- a 52 mile drive. The first 13 miles is paved, so it takes about 90 minutes to cover the unpaved 39 miles. Rock Creek Rd is not built for speed. This adds to the cost for a guide’s shuttle, gas, and time which is why this is the most expensive (but worth it if you can swing it) trip in the area.

River Features

While there are three distinct sections of Rock Creek, of particular interest to the wading angler and private boaters will be the fourteen mile stretch from Dalles to the Clark Fork.There are two portions to this stretch, as the upper half offers the angler excellent rainbow and brown trout opportunities. The lower half is predominantly populated with brown trout. Each half has its own distinct personality.

Guided Float Trip Info

Adventure Missoula can commercially float fish the upper third of Rock Creek that is characterized by beautiful vistas and a swift current with clear, deep pools. Boulders can be found in and along the water. We fish for around six hours on the full day trip. It includes all you will need, lunch, and travel. We fish Rock Creek on rafts fitted with a fly fishing frame. Rock Creek is not a place for hard boats. It is worth it to be guided on Rock Creek as a beginner.

Access

Finding access points when one travels to new areas to fish can be an issue. The beauty of a trip to Rock Creek is that access is not a challenge. Rock Creek Road runs parallel to the river and provides able access to anglers via designated Fishing Access Sites and campgrounds. 

Rock Creek Fishing Regulations

Tumbling from the Pintler Mountains near Philipsburg, Rock Creek begins its 50+ mile journey to join the Clark Fork River just east of Missoula, Montana. This freestone river is home to cutthroats, browns, rainbows and the elusive bull trout. Then the road and creek wind through the Lolo National Forest for the next 20 miles where access is easily obtained from almost any turn-out. Riffles, pools, and glides make this creek very wadeable in normal water conditions. In higher water, floating the creek is a good option. Fishing from boats is allowed December 1 to July 1. Rock Creek is in the Western District, Region 2.  Montana fishing regulations include:

  • Trout limit: three brown trout daily; catch-and-release for rainbow and cutthroat trout
  • July 1 – November 30: Closed to fishing from boats/vessels

Wade Fishing Rock Creek Tips

If you want to head out on your own, artificial lure or fly only regulations assure the quality remains. Hatches include the famous Salmon Fly, Golden Stone, March Brown, Baetis, Caddis, Skwala, Pale Morning Dun, and Hoppers. Typically Montana; hatches occur late March thru October. Rock Creek is popular with wade anglers due to its medium size. Wading can be tricky though and cleats and a good wading staff are a must.

A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Rock Creek. For larger nymphs and streamers a sink tip fly line makes life easier in particular in the deep runs on the lower river. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Hatches on Rock Creek are typical.

  • March – April – March browns, Nemora, Skwala stoneflies, San Juan worm nymph rigs
  • May – Decent dry fly fishing begins
  • June – Salmon Flies, Golden Stoneflies
  • July – Pale Morning Duns
  • Aug – Terrestrials
  • Sept – Oct – Blue-winged Olives

Best Time to Fish Rock Creek

The start of spring runoff can vary up to three weeks. Our guided Rock Creek fly fishing trips happen pre run off in April through June. Generally speaking runoff occurs late May through mid-June. The middle of June is when the Salmonfly hatch occurs on Rock Creek and it can last up to two weeks. This is an excellent time to fish. Of importance to note is that this hatch begins on the lower portions of Rock Creek and travels upward at a rate of three to five miles per day. Angling pressure will be heavy during this hatch, but with excellent access and ample water to fish, the river handles the pressure well.

Interested in a Rock Creek trip with Adventure Missoula?

Interested in other trips? Visit our list of Guided Fishing Trips.