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. There are several fishing accesses along the first twelve miles from I-90.
Lolo National Forest
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.
Blue Ribbon Trout Stream
Artificial lure or fly only regulations assure the quality, blue ribbon trout stream. Hatches include the famous Salmon Fly, Golden Stone, March Brown, Baetis, Caddis, Skwala, Pale Morning Dun, and hoppers. Hatches occur late March thru October.
The Salmonfly hatch occurs during the spring run-off in late May or early June. Best access is with a raft but better yet, with an experienced fishing guide who can navigate the swift water and put you on the fish. After high water, the river is very wade-able but I must caution you that the rocks (this is Rock Creek) can be slippery. Good wading shoes are suggested.
Places to Fish Near the Cabins
Some favorite spots on the creek include the Norton Campground, Valley of the Moon and of course, Sawmill. Sawmill Mill Creek Fishing Access is adjacent to the cabins. There are 2 nice glide pools downstream which can occupy the afternoon or venture upstream to a glide and a deep pool at the top. A favorite walk of mine is up to where Sawmill Creek comes in. Its a little bit of a walk but well worth it.
Upper Rock Creek
The upper river is also very good. There are many turnouts and accesses; I think I have caught fish nearly everywhere I’ve wet a line on the creek. Rock Creek boasts some of the highest numbers of fish per mile in Montana.
Close Montana Rivers
Another bonus of the Rock Creek area is its close proximity to the great rivers of western Montana. Fish the Big Blackfoot (A River Runs Through It) or the Bitterroot River or the Clark Fork; all within a half hour (or more depending on where you fish). Flint Creek is a fun stream as is the Little Blackfoot. These smaller trout streams are about an hour away. And then there is the mighty Missouri River. Just 2.5 hours away, this is a great choice for fishing if the rivers are up or muddy as the Missouri River, below Holter Dam, is a tailwater. And did I mention it has HUGE fish?!? So much great fishing and so close!