Rock Creek Salmon Fly Report 2021
Updated: Jun 7
Water Temp: 51-56°F
Dries: Salmon Flies, Caddis, Mayflies, Purple Attractors
Nymphs: Beaded Stoneflies, Pat's Rubber Leg, Hare's Ear, San Juan Worm
FISHING REPORT (June 6, 2021)
The past few weeks have been up and down, in terms of both weather and fishing. Two weeks ago, we had heavy rain and a couple days of snowfall, which were much needed to replenish our snow pack but threw off the fishing. Then just a few days ago, we were hit with 90 degree weather, creating more high water and murky conditions. The old saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes," is especially true here in Montana.
Although the salmon flies recently emerged on Rock Creek, the cubic feet per second of the water has been unsteady. The recent heat wave bumped the water to over 3000 cfs, making it difficult to catch anything either from a raft or on foot. The GOOD NEWS is that we are finally entering a stretch of moderate weather for the foreseeable future. The Creek has already dropped 300 cfs in a day, and I expect it to continue to decrease as we move into this first full week of June. Keep your eye on the USGS chart for Rock Creek; the closer we get to 2000 cfs (or lower) the better the fishing will be.
Salmon flies are going to be the most popular dry fly for the next couple weeks. They are in the first 15 miles of the creek as I write this report (from the Mercantile up to about the Dalles campground), but they will be working their way quickly upstream over the next week. Besides the stonefly dries, I have also seen caddis and mayflies flying, so try those patterns (or their nymph counterparts) as well. The big water is ideal for large streamers too, and this can be especially productive from a boat. A pink San Juan worm is a great option during runoff season and is very effective when fished in tandem with a big dry.
3 THINGS TO KNOW
If you are planning on heading up to fish the salmon flies in the next couple of weeks, there a few things to keep in mind:
1. If you plan on floating, stay informed and stay cautious. While the reports are that the obstructions on Rock Creek are not overly bad this year, this is still an incredibly technical river to navigate and can cause problems for even the most seasoned of rowers. A little over a week ago, this pontoon wrecked near the Eudaily Bridge and is still lodged there (the owner is safe and waiting for the water to recede before reclaiming it). Stay vigilant if you plan on floating, and make sure whoever is on the sticks knows how to row on streams like Rock Creek. When in doubt, check with either us at the fly shop or with a local guide, as we all get constantly updated on the conditions of the Creek.
2. If you are planning on fishing on foot, keep in mind that the water is virtually impossible to wade in at this point in time. The only time I get my feet wet is to cross little side streams or marshy area to get to the main stem of the river. The beauty of foot fishing this time of year is the trout are moving to within a few feet of the bank and can be reached without setting foot in the water. The downside is presentation of your fly takes some work, and the particularly good spots can be very difficult to fish. Still, if you are willing to cover a lot of ground, you can catch fish without being in a boat, even in these water levels. Again, I urge using caution if you are out on foot and avoid wading as much as possible.
3. The dirt road portion of Rock Creek, notorious for its potholes, was recently graded and is in the best condition I've seen in years! The stretch from the beginning of the dirt (near Norton Campground) up to the White Bridge is far smoother than normal. Although this is great news, the side effect is people will be driving faster than normal on this stretch. With extremely narrow portions of the road and blind corners, this is a recipe for an automotive disaster. We also have lots of bicyclers, dirt bikers, 4-wheelers, and pedestrians constantly going up and down the road, so I implore the speedsters to take it slow and easy and enjoy the scenery when driving Rock Creek. Also, be on the lookout for these ladies and their newborn lambs:
To sum it all up, the fishing is about to get excellent on Rock Creek! The Mercantile has some great salmon fly patterns, tried and true on our favorite stream in the world, and we also have a wide variety of beers, ciders and hard seltzers (build your own six-pack!) in the shop, as well as lots of soft drinks and snacks. We hope you stop by on your way up Rock Creek this season. Stay safe out there and happy fishing!