Similar to the Blackfoot, but smaller, Rock Creek is a classic Western freestone “dream stream,” flowing for 50 miles between the Sapphire and Garnet mountain ranges. Its proximity to Missoula means that it’s fished often. But there’s plenty of water to go around. The June salmonfly hatch here is epic, when the river’s brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout gorge themselves on the three-inch-long bugs. The hatch often coincides with runoff, but if the river is fishable, cast a Rogue salmonfly along the willow banks and brace for an explosive rise. The salmonflies move up the river five miles each day, and you can learn their latest whereabouts from the Rock Creek Fisherman’s Mercantile. During high water, Rock Creek is best fished from a small raft or drift boat, but after July 1 it’s closed to boat anglers. A primitive dirt road runs the length of Rock Creek and there are plenty of campgrounds and access points. You’re bound to get into some good fishing wherever you stop.
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