View Full Version : Western Montana

07-29-2008, 11:46 PM
Just found some time to post a report on our trip out west a couple of weeks ago. The first three days found us on Rock Creek, near Clinton, about 20 miles east of Missoula. This is a stream I've read about for years and decided to work it into a trip. It runs through the Lolo National forest for about 40 miles and access is very good. The water had just settled down from runoff but was a bit high, I think, for really good wading. Never the less, we had a great first day, with the fish really looking up. Using small yellow stimulators, I myself hooked and landed around twenty cutts, browns, and cuttbows by just after lunch. Most of these came from a thirty yard stretch of river. My partner didn't fare quite as well but still caught a decent number. Most fish were 12-15 inches. The evening hatch of caddis came off fairly good and we did pretty well then. Saw some good browns chasing caddis at dark. Our next day didn't turn out near as well, but we still caught some decent fish, today an ant pattern worked good for me. The third morning we thought about driving a short distance over to the Blackfoot river and trying it. We were told by the locals that it had not been fishing that well. We decided to give Rock Creek one more day before we left. Before we hit the river, we made a phone call to a fly shop up in Craig Montana on the Missouri river. We decided to book a room and a drift boat for three days. We were told the fishing was good. I still can't believe that we found a room there at the last minute. This area is usually booked way ahead. Our last day on the creek was slow, but we enjoyed seeing some different stretches of river and some of the wildlife around there.
After stopping in Helena for gas and groceries the next morning, we were pushing off from below Holter dam on our float back to Craig. As we rode up with our shuttle driver, I can't tell you how many rises I saw, this being around 11:30. Caddis were hatching most, if not all day, with pmd's, both adults and spinners, some rusty spinners, and another very small mayfly. Size 18 tan EHC fished on 4x was the ticket. I tried 5x and was shown the error of my ways very quickly. These fish are very strong, especially once they get downstream. Our best browns were caught the first day with some of the only cloud cover we experienced. I don't believe we caught a fish less than 16 inches our first day. That evening, as we floated the last mile into town, the river lit up with rising fish like I have never seen. Too many insects at this point to hook up very much. Great first day. Our second day we floated the 7 mile or so stretch below Craig. Got into some very good rainbows the first half of this float and then it just died on us. Still, with our early success, it was another good day. Decided to get back to Craig and eat dinner at a reasonable hour for a change. On our last float, we decided to float what we fished the first day. This was a day I'll long remember. From 10:00 to 4:30 or so, it was really non-stop action. Hooking up with two fish, landed or not, got you a seat at the oars. Easing down the banks, fishing to small and large pods of big rainbows. Spook one pod, slip the anchor up and ease down maybe fifty feet to more fish, some slurping spinners, others smashing caddis. We swapped seats in the boat so much it was like musical chairs. As we went down we would notice what looked like mild riffles coming off points of some of the islands. As we got close, it was obvious that it would be a huge pod of fish. Incredible. Our last morning, we fished at an access, each hooking up with a couple of more good fish before the drive back to the airport. On a high bank at this access where the river had a side channel and an eddy, I saw the best sight of the trip. Spread out across forty yards of a seam in this eddy were big rainbows holding just under the surface eating in the film. At any time you could count 15-20, some going as big as 22 inches with none less than 18. We hit things just right on the Missouri and they are expecting things to be great right into September. I am going to try and post some pics. I haven't tried this yet so I hope it works

Moon rise on Rock Creek


Catch of the day




07-30-2008, 11:34 AM
Thanks for sharing and congrats on what looks like a very successful trip......I'm adding Craig Montana to the "Future Trips to take List"