Fly Fishing Montana:Creeks And Small Rivers

Tributary Creek, MT
I fished a few creeks in Montana and quickly felt at home on the smaller water. Flows were low everywhere, an ideal time to gain access to the better holding lies. The first day I arrived, I was barely off the plane for 2 hours and we were rigging up on a small creek. This creek held mainly cutthroats and rainbows, which were quite aggressive. We hiked along a precarious ridge overlooking this small tributary of a much larger river. I fished up from the confluence, and quickly found some hungry cutthroats. The fish were six to eleven inch West Slope Cutthroats. In the deep pools the water was so clear I could see the bottom down to ten feet. The fishing was just what I hoped for after hours of travel. The fish were easy to fool, and numerous. In about an hour and a half I landed a dozen trout before we headed back to Missoula.
Rock Creek, MT
One of the more popular creeks, Rock Creek, was also one of the largest I fished. On my first full day I drove along many miles of Rock Creek (pictured above). I moved from section to section, targeting the best looking runs where the diversions all converged. I turned over rocks before fishing and noticed the rocks were covered with cased caddis and trico nymphs. I rigged a spun deer hair cased caddis and trico nymph to start. The first drift through a choppy riffle produced my first whitefish of the week. Numerous drifts yielded nothing, so I moved up into the best looking diversion. A dozen drifts and no strikes prompted me to switch both flies. I tied on a small rubber legged nymph, and sparkle pupa that worked well for me in Colorado. I stung a decent brown on the first drift. On the second drift I came tight to a bigger fish, which took line towards an undercut bank. I busted the 5X tippet trying to drag the fish away from the roots. I did land one fifteen inch bow, and a small brown before moving up river. It took a few hours to drive up twenty miles of creek, taking photos and video. I stopped on the way back, fishing the best looking areas with tandem nymph rigs. The majority of fish I caught were rainbows and browns between eight and sixteen inches.
Smaller Diversion
On the last day of fishing we picked a distant fork of a big river we floated earlier in the week. Matt and I were joined by Nick, who just flew in after a Summer in Alaska. Our destination held the possibility of browns, cutthroats and rainbows of decent size in small water. This fork of the river was quite small, and shallow in most sections. We found fish holding in the deeper runs, and they quickly hit huge rubber legged nymphs and sparkle pupas. In a few of the better pools we rotated through, landing a few fish before the next one of us worked different flies in the same run. The day went by fast, and we all caught fish on some scenic water. The sun dropped behind the mountains, the air was cooler and the light was fading. I worked one last logjam with a streamer before putting my fly on the hook keeper. In that moment all the fishing possibilities of Montana ended for me, since I was flying out the next day. The week flew by, but there were moments and places not likely to be forgotten anytime soon. The latest video post features a mash-up of fishing smaller rivers and creeks in Montana.