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Fishing Conditions

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Fishing Report Archives


July 31

     Our biggest hatch of the season is about to happen this week...the biker hatch.  Yes, it's that time of the year again here on lower Rock Creek, when the roar of Harleys fills the air, as does the scent of sweaty shirtless bikers.  The Testicle Festival is about to start up again, and let's just say if you decide to attend you will see some "interesting" sights.  I've already heard a few stories so far that would make the hardiest of men blush.  If you're looking to add some craziness to your fishing expedition, come out this week and check it out!  But if that's not your thing, simply drive higher up Rock Creek to the middle and upper sections, where the dirt road keeps away most of the Testy Festers.  Either way, it should be a thoroughly entertaining week.

     The spruce moth continues to be the best hatch going right now, and we're seeing lots of them as soon as the sun hits the valley.  I've been getting very good reports of the fish striking at them hard, so now is the time to fish these patterns.  You'll still want to aim mostly for mornings and evenings for dry fly fishing, with mornings being especially good.  If you don't have a spruce moth pattern, just look in your flybox for something around size 12 that's pale or cream-colored, and the fish will likely take those patterns as well.

     Middle of the day is pretty rough with the heat we're experiencing, but if you're in the right spot, grasshoppers can be very effective.  Look for grassy shorelines or open areas without a lot of trees near the water.  Be sure to add a dropper behind it, because a lot of these fish are hesitant to come all the way to the surface, especially in the afternoons.

     August should be really good for water levels, but we are currently experiencing very hot weather, with consecutive days in the 90s.  If this trend continues into August, we'll have to start looking at water temp issues as well as potential fire issues.  We will cross that bridge when we come to it though, and fortunately nights in August are colder than July, so that will help with overall water temperature.

For more details or any questions or comments, please call or e-mail us: (406) 825-6440 / rcmerc@blackfoot.net

July 25

     The smoke from a few days ago has dissipated, and the skies are clear (for the time being).  We've also been having some colder nights and mornings, which has made fishing especially good first thing in the morning when the water temps are at their lowest.  Use mayflies, caddis, Hazes, and Adams patterns, and if they're not rising all the way to the top, put on a crippled emerger PMD or caddis, and that should help out greatly.

     Purple nymphs have also been excellent lately.  We've been getting reports of great success on purple San Juan worms, Psycho prince nymphs, and purple Copper Johns.  This is especially effective in the middle of the day when the fish are put down due to the heat.

     Lastly, I've heard a couple reports of spruce moths finally popping out.  Aim mostly for afternoons and evenings for the moth; the trout should take them with a lot of vigor.

     Overall, summer fishing is getting especially good on Rock Creek right now.  Middle of the day is pretty hot and can be a lot of work to catch fish, so if you don't feel like trying it, take a siesta (as my grandfather used to say), and stick to mornings and evenings.  Fish on!

UPDATE: Here's a really pretty cutbow that our friend Tom caught on a purple San Juan yesterday!


For more details or any questions or comments, please call or e-mail us: (406) 825-6440 / rcmerc@blackfoot.net

July 19

     Virtually all of Western Montana has become really smoky over the past 48 hours.  Fortunately, it's not because of fires in the area (though I've heard that there are a few spot fires starting up across Montana...luckily none near Rock Creek); it's due to smoke coming in from Oregon, Idaho, Washington and British Columbia.  It could cause problems for people with respiratory issues though, so use caution if this is the case for you.

     The water levels have been really good, although some anglers are not happy that they still can't wade in some spots.  Ironically, the levels are right near normal for the year, which is a change of pace since the past few years the levels had been well below normal and fishermen were getting used to that.  The water is extremely healthy right now though, and hopefully it'll carry over into August.

     The mornings and late evenings are the best times to come out right now, though some people have had good luck in the middle of the day as well.  If you come before sun-up, you can fish nymphs early and have some great production.  Then about a half hour after the sun hits the water, you can use PMDs, caddis, or attractors like Purple Hazes or Parachute Adams and do well on top for a few hours.

     As for afternoons, either continue with the Haze or the Adams, or switch over to hopper/dropper combos.  The classic Joe's Hopper has been a great option, and you can trail it with either a San Juan worm or a Copper John or another small beadhead nymph for added production.  Try peacock attractors as well in the middle of the day, such as a Bugmeister or a Gravatt Stimulator.

     In the evenings, you'll get a lot of caddis flying, though from what I've seen, the fish can be hesitant to take them on the surface.  Try caddis that sit low in the water like an X-caddis, or you can use a red attractor like a red humpy or a Royal Wulff.  And when in doubt, streamers and big nymphs will take fish throughout the day.

     Smokey as it may be, fishing in Rock Creek (as well as the other Western Montana rivers) has been very good!   

For more details or any questions or comments, please call or e-mail us: (406) 825-6440 / rcmerc@blackfoot.net

July 15

     After several days of weather in the low 90s, we finally got some rain last night along with some much needed cooler weather.  The water has bumped a little, so fishing today might be slightly off, but it should return to form starting tomorrow.  We have a couple more hot days ahead, but after that, we'll be sitting in the low to mid 80s, and I've no doubt fishing will be excellent at that point.

     Besides the usual selection of flies (caddis, PMDs and purples), we've also been seeing some early action with grasshoppers.  So if you find yourself at one of the grassier shores on Rock Creek, you might want to consider a hopper/dropper combo, especially if you're fishing in the late morning or early afternoon.  Other options include various foam ant or beetle patterns as your top fly with a Copper John behind it.

     So far this July, there haven't been as many people here as in previous years.  Some of that is due to the end of the float season, which always happens at the end of June.  The heat wave also didn't help matters either.  Still, the fishing has been good over the past week, and the current trend is that it's getting better each day.  So if you have some free time to fish and you want to avoid people, come out to Rock Creek (this is especially true during the middle of the week).

For more details or any questions or comments, please call or e-mail us: (406) 825-6440 / rcmerc@blackfoot.net

July 8

     Depending on whom you talk to, fishing has been a hit or a miss.  The water has been steadily coming down, but it's still too high in some places for wading.  This is especially true on some of the other rivers like the Bitterroot or the Blackfoot and in certain spots on Rock Creek.  Regardless, conditions are improving, and even if the fish aren't coming up, dropping a nymph or a streamer down is a good alternative.  The main issue has been the large amounts of sun we've been receiving lately.  Aim for shady spots, or fish primarily in the mornings and evenings with Parachute Adams, caddis, and Purple Hazes and you can have a productive day on dries.

     Nymphs and streamers have been the more consistent patterns though.  Jumpin' Jack Flashes are still one of the best nymphs, San Juans and stonefly nymphs are great as well.  And we've been cranking out lots of Wonderbuggers which are great for you streamer fishermen.

     Also, while I usually tout Rock Creek, I've been hearing really good things about Georgetown Lake (above Rock Creek and Philipsburg) recently.  Think damselfly nymphs and dries.  It's also a lot cooler up there, so you can escape some of the heat.

     Lastly, wherever you go, you'll definitely want to pack bug spray.  The mosquitos are out in full force now and they will cover you in bites very quickly (as I learned yesterday).  Horseflies have been an issue in certain areas too.  Spray up and you'll be fine though!

     More in a few days.

For more details or any questions or comments, please call or e-mail us: (406) 825-6440 / rcmerc@blackfoot.net

July 2

     It's officially a lot quieter here at Rock Creek now.  The floating season ended a couple days ago, and with it, so did the crazy amount of traffic.  July arrived along with a heat wave, and the middle of the day has been getting into the 80s so far.  Weather-wise, it should be a great 4th of July weekend.

     As for fishing, while we still have golden stones flying here and there throughout the creek, the fish seem mostly turned off to them.  Instead, they are preferring the smaller flies that come with summer.  I've seen clouds of caddis in the early evening, and you can fish goddards, elkhairs, or CDC cripples well into the evening.  We haven't seen much in PMDs so far, but they aren't far away.  As always, the Purple Haze is doing really well.  Also, I've been hearing tales of the "Buzzball" fly pattern working extremely well, and I'm getting some in the store as of today, so stop in and pick up a couple!

     Long story short, summer hatches are definitely taking hold, and as long as we don't have consistent scorching heat, it should be a good July for fishing.

For more details or any questions or comments, please call or e-mail us: (406) 825-6440 / rcmerc@blackfoot.net