Similar to the Blackfoot, Rock Creek can be fairly unpredictable for dryfly fishing in April due to cold water and shaded canyon environment. Unlike the Blackfoot, however, nymph fishing this time of year is almost always good on Rock Creek, and more often than not, the dryfly fishing will be very good as well. Like all Missoula area rivers, Rock Creek has a good hatch of skwala stoneflies and spring grey drakes or March browns. Weather can range from cold and snowy to 70 degrees and sunshine, you just have to roll the dice! The Missouri, Bitterroot and the Clark Fork are extremely consistent and predictable this time of year.
Along with the Madison and Big Hole Rivers, Rock Creek has an international reputation as a salmonfly destination fishery. Floating the river during this time can be as productive as it is limited. The forest service allows only four outfitters to float fish this river and these outfitters are only allowed a limited number of launches. If you want to book June on Rock Creek through the Kingfisher, you have to move fast!
As June comes to an end, the mid-summer month of July is hopper and caddis time. Fishing the fast riffles in the heat of the day with a hopper/ant dropper rig can be deadly! As the day cools down and the sun sets behind western canyon walls, the caddis begin zig zagging over the water, and even (or especially) dragging casts will hook you up time after time.
The hopper fishing continues on into September along with the emergence of trico mayflies and the size 8 and 10 orange sedge or October caddis. Other hatches that you can expect this time of year will be pmd mayflies, spruce moths (big doings on Rock Creek), and the beginning of the mahogany duns and baetis. August is, on average, the warmest month in the Missoula area and temperatures usually get into the mid 90’s during this time. Evenings always cool down dramatically no matter how hot the days are, and by 11:00 P.M. you’ll need some type of light jacket.