Rock Creek Fishing Report

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High in the Absaroka Mountains in the Beartooth Wilderness, the Rock Creek River springs to life and continues flowing for more than 55 miles until it reaches its confluence with the Clarks Fork River. The river’s initial journey is dominated by dense, pristine forests and soaring, snow-capped mountains. After a short distance of about 15 miles, the river passes by the town of Red Lodge where the landscape opens onto soft, hilly pastureland. As is true with many rivers in this part of Montana, its banks are lined with thick stands of majestic cottonwood trees, tall reeds and wooly brush. As a result of Rock Creek’s original elevation, and that of the rivers that flow into it, the river maintains trout friendly, cool temperatures throughout most of the year.


Famous for its trout, the mountain stretch of the river is most likely to yield small cutthroat and brook trout that can be brought in with a variety of dry flies. Despite the gorgeous scenery and dependable fishing, with the exception of summer weekend campers, this part of the river is rarely congested. Larger browns, rainbow and bull trout are more likely found below the town of Red Lodge. This is an excellent place for those who prefer wading to floating; the river tends to be narrow and shallow enough to easily navigate on foot.
 
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Most experts agree that float fishing Rock Creek is difficult and probably not worth the effort. The combination of sharp turns, narrow passages and low water through summer months, arguably make floating a bad choice. But for those willing to wade, Rock Creek generously rewards anglers with ample fish throughout the year. The river is particularly giving in late June and early July during the salmon fly hatch, although many who know the river well will dispute that. Those most familiar with Rock Creek say the best fishing can be found downstream in the early months of fall. That’s when the super-sized, aggressive browns and rainbows spawn and swim from Clark Fork and pour into the Rock Creek. Then you can get out your streamers and net in fish averaging 13” to 18” long. Some of the best fishing access sites to do this include Water Birch Fishing Access, Bull Springs, Beaver Lodge, and Horse Thief Station.
 
Featured Fishing Trips
Guided Fishing Trips
$
225
/ Angler
Capacity:
2 - 6 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Rocky Ford Creek is a Central Washington desert spring creek and is located northeast of the small farming community of Ephrata, Washington. It percolates underground and seeps from ... morethe rich, desert Columbia Basin soils flowing south, eventually intersecting the massive still water impoundment of Moses Lake.

This small, well-known trout stream is home to multitudes of aquatic insects and most often hatches occur on a year around basis. It has also earned a respected reputation for growing some of the regions largest rainbow trout. Here, fish feed freely on a vast supply of aquatic and non-aquatic organisms throughout the year.

Water flows and temperature remain fairly consistent much of the season and fish can travel easily through the slow moving waters of this small fly fishing only stream. Trout exceeding 5 pounds are common in the creek, however rainbows measuring in the 16 to 20 inch fork length are customary.

This small spring creek is a virtual mayfly factory during the year. The waters of Rocky Ford churn hatches of Blue Wing Olives, Callibaetis, Pale Morning Duns as well as Trico Mayflies throughout the season. Midges are a constant emergence at the "Ford" three hundred sixty five days a year. Specific times during the season, when mayfly hatches are scarce, these small Chironomids attract the attentions of Rocky Ford Rainbows as they fin freely, harvesting these minuscule insects from the surface.

There is really never a bad time to fish Rocky Ford, however weekends during peak periods, especially the warming spring months, can get busy with fly fishermen. There is however plenty of room to fish. The creek offers over 3 miles of accessible fly-fishing water with bridges on both sides of the creek for easy access from one side to another.

February and the first portions of March will begin producing consistent daily hatches of Blue Wing Olives. By April, Callibaetis and spring Caddis will enter the show and fish will have a variety of aquatics to feed on.

Throughout the late spring and summer months of the season, fish forage on a host of terrestrial insects as well. Ants, Beetles and Grasshoppers flourish under the desert sunshine and will present the rainbows of Rocky Ford Creek with a summer time feast during the long dog days of summer. This is especially true when strong desert winds blow across the Columbia Basin. These tiny creatures are hurled into the water and become a favorite forage for fish this time of year. Large Grasshopper patterns twitched and skated along the banks; cattails and weed beds will also prove productive.

The warm summer months also provide another aquatic event as well. Damselflies as well as Dragonflies, mostly associated with our still water fisheries, also inhabit the waters of Rocky Ford in vast numbers. Trout anxiously await this cycle each year and nourish themselves on both the nymph and adult stages of the insect. Exacting imitations to match this summer food form will work well during peak periods of their activity. Stalking the shoals of the Ford quiet and carefully during a Damselfly hatch can be an exhilarating experience. Site casting to large cruising rainbows as they foolishly feed on these summer time critters is one of our favorites at the Ford. Blue, olive and tan adult Damselflies during the peak months of June, July and August can provide fly fishermen with a fun and exciting dry fly fishing experience at the creek.

Life below the water's surface at Rocky Ford is abundant as well. Scuds by the thousands inhabit the muddy bottom and thick plumage of weed growth that blooms throughout the creek. Trout root along the stream bottom, its deeper shelves and of course the weed line, gorging on these fresh water shrimp. Leeches, as you can imagine, are also consistent forage for rainbows. These two constant food sources aid in growing fish to proportionate sizes very quickly.

When winter arrives in Central Washington and some of our trout rivers close under seasonal regulations or cold temperatures have invaded the Kittitas Valley chocking the Yakima River with slush ice, the water of Rocky Ford stays spring creek consistent and the fish continue on their relentless feeding opportunities. Even during the coldest of winter days, Midges and Blue Wing Olives with appear in the afternoons. The winter months can be a popular time for some Rocky Ford fly fishing enthusiasts. The colder weather and other wintertime activities have chased away the summer time crowds. However, the die-hard fly fishing fanatics will be there and they have it figured out.

Rocky Ford Creek has a long fishing history. A trout hatchery was first erected on its banks in the early 1940's. Fishing became renowned and its popularity quickly grew. Over the past decades, the creek has endured several hatcheries and has under gone environmental changes. Fish barriers were placed at the creeks confluence with Moses Lake to repel non game fish from entering the creek. These intentions were well deserving, however to date both suckers and carp flourish in the creek in specific areas. However, these fish do supply a food source during their yearly spawning cycle, which trout eagerly anticipate and take full advantage of a fleshy meal.

Rocky Ford Creek is one of the few "Fly Fishing Only" streams in the state of Washington. Special regulations were set in place in the late 1990's to establish a consistent lunker rainbow fishery and it seems to be working. The creek remains catch & release only, no bait fishing and a single barb-less hook is required. There is also no wading allowed in the creek, so casting must be completed from the bank. There's not much need to wade the water anyway because an accomplished caster can easily sling line to the other bank with very little effort. Cattails and other plumage grow along the water's edge, which provides shade and cover for the fish during the hot, barren summer sun as well as provide insects refuge from lurking rainbows.
$
5,950
/ Angler
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Fishing Waters:
Destination:
This scenic, gin-clear river runs through the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness for most of its length. To get to the river, horses and mules carry us along with our boats and gear ... more20-26 miles by trail. The float trip takes place over the course of 5 days and 50 miles.

Anglers will encounter Westslope Cutthroats and huge Bull Trout in addition to several other species. There few places in the entire lower 48 where we may fish for these monsters. This trip is a rugged adventure for those looking to enjoy the wilderness and some great fishing!

There are a very limited number of launch dates for this trip. We try to accomodate "last minute" trips, but reservations are recommended 30-60 days in advance.
Additional Information
Source:
Beartooth Wilderness, Absaroka Range
Mouth:
Confluence with Clark Fork and Yellowstone
Length:
55 miles
Basin:
70,000 sq miles
Seasonal Conditions
Season
Temperature
Hatches
Spring
40 - 67
 F
Skwala, March Browns, Blue Winged Olives
Summer
48 - 81
 F
Salmonflies, Golden Stoneflies & caddishes
Fall
25 - 44
 F
Caddishes, Pale Morning Duns, ants, beetles & grasshoppers
Winter
22 - 41
 F
Midges
Latest Guide Fishing Reports
Guide Reports
Went over to rock creek for the last three days for an excellent stay in the mountains With some excellent fishing with salmonflies,
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Thursday, 9 Jun, 2016
Fish Caught:
20 fish or more
The warmer weather of the last couple of weeks has made Rock Creek fishable with things starting around 11am. The nymphing has been working well including San Juan’s, Princes, ... moreLightning bugs, and Rubberlegs. Keep your dry flies at home as there is no action on top.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Monday, 1 Feb, 2016
The bigger fish are hanging low so keep your Nymphs and Streamers all the way on the bottom. Be careful of the ice that has formed along the shore. Midge activity will be weak until ... moreJanuary.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Tuesday, 15 Dec, 2015
As we approach the winter months, Rock Creek is best with nymphs and streamers. Wait till January to break out your Midges.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Tuesday, 1 Dec, 2015
Time to start fishing streamers. As it warms in the afternoons, you can try some ants and beetles. Down deeper are the larger fish. Baetis hatches are appearing in the morning.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Sunday, 15 Nov, 2015
Fishing Trips
  • Experienced guide
This scenic, gin-clear river runs through the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness for most of its length. To get to the river, horses and mules carry us along with our boats and gear ... more20-26 miles by trail. The float trip takes place over the course of 5 days and 50 miles.

Anglers will encounter Westslope Cutthroats and huge Bull Trout in addition to several other species. There few places in the entire lower 48 where we may fish for these monsters. This trip is a rugged adventure for those looking to enjoy the wilderness and some great fishing!

There are a very limited number of launch dates for this trip. We try to accomodate "last minute" trips, but reservations are recommended 30-60 days in advance.
Fishing Waters:
Destination:
Current Forecast
Water Flow
Fishing Access Sites
Find out about the latest fishing action with our Rock Creek Fishing Report
Fishing Water Reports:
Size:
4 acres
Elevation:
4,101 ft
Activities:
Fishing
Boat Services:
Hand Launch
Find out about the latest fishing action with our Rock Creek Fishing Report
Fishing Water Reports:
Size:
77 acres
Elevation:
4,790 ft
Activities:
Fishing, Camping, Hunting
Boat Services:
Hand Launch
Campground:
Primitive Campsite
Sanitation & Water:
Toilet
Find out about the latest fishing action with our Rock Creek Fishing Report
Fishing Water Reports:
Size:
32 acres
Elevation:
4,980 ft
Activities:
Fishing, Camping, Hunting
Campground:
Campsite
Sanitation & Water:
Toilet
Find out about the latest fishing action with our Rock Creek Fishing Report
Fishing Water Reports:
Size:
60 acres
Elevation:
5,075 ft
Activities:
Fishing, Hunting
Boat Services:
Hand Launch
Campground:
Campsite
Sanitation & Water:
Toilet
Find out about the latest fishing action with our Rock Creek Fishing Report
Fishing Water Reports:
Size:
84 acres
Elevation:
5,230 ft
Activities:
Fishing, Camping, Hunting
Campground:
Primitive Campsite
Sanitation & Water:
Toilet
Find out about the latest fishing action with our Rock Creek Fishing Report
Fishing Water Reports:
Size:
65 acres
Elevation:
4,094 ft
Activities:
Fishing, Hunting, Wildlife Viewing
Boat Services:
Hand Launch
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Top Fly Fishing Rivers in the US
Rock Creek is rated as one of the top trout fishing rivers inthe US by Bob Mallard, author of 25 Best Towns - Fly Fishing for Trout
Fishing Quality
Scenery
Access
Water quality
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