August Fishing on Rock Creek

PRO TIP 1: qlways move upstream when fishing. Fish ALWAYS face into the current so when you move upstream they are not as likely to sense your presence.

PRO TIP 2: the fish are all over the place. There is usually no need to wade to the middle of the river. The exception to this rule is when you are hunting fish. This is my preferred method of fishing. I’ll sit and watch the river till I see a trout rise then stalk to within casting range. I only move out into the middle when necessary to reach a rising fish.

PRO TIP 3: Look for lines of bubbles on the surface. These signal the presence of a current seam and the fish will hang in the water on the slower side of the seam only moving across the seam into the faster water when food (or your fly!) drifts by. So, fish the fast water along the seam by putting your fly as close to the bubbles (on the fast side) as you can.

PRO TIP 4: ignore deep water unless you see fish rising. Instead, fish the edges of the deep water where the bottom drops off. Feeding fish like to say close to the bottom where the Osprey can’t see them. The edges of the deep water allows them to stay close to the bottom, close to the surface, with a quick escape to the deep water when you come sloshing by.

PRO TIP 5: here’s how to spot feeding trout. Look into the water and focus your eyes on the bottom. Keep staring at the bottom because sooner or later a fish will expose itself by rolling on its side to grab a fly or, more commonly, opening its mouth to suck in a nymph. In the latter case, you should see the which flash of its gums.

Rock Creek Hatch Chart courtesy of Rock Creek Trout Bums

Must have Dry Flies for August on Rock Creek

 

PERSONAL NOTE: of these four flies, my personal favorite (because it’s been the most productive for me) is the Purple Haze, especially in the morning before the sun hits the water. In the evening a lighter pattern is often more productive – the Spruce Moth or an Elk Hair Caddis are good flies for this time.

Of course, what’s summer fishing without a productive hopper strategy: my recommendation is to use any hopper imitation with a dropper. This is almost always a good bet midday. As for the combo pictured in this image, I would rather recommend you use size 18 bead-head copper john or bead-head pheasant tail for the trailer and any size 10 or larger hopper with a foam body and wiggly rubber legs.

 

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The Tiger Trout of Rock Creek

One of the rarest fish in the world.

 

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My First Elk Sighting – Rock Creek, MT

Well, it seem many of the residents here in Trouthaven have seen Elk down here in Trouthaven. Most of the Elk are careful to stay high in the surrounding Sapphire (constitute the West side of Rock Creek canyon) and the John Long mountains (being the East side of Rock Creek) making the sighting of one (or more) quite an event.

I just saw my first elk (3 actually) on the West side of Rock Creek near the Giant’s Toe (a.k.a. the Big Rock). Sadly, they skedaddled up the mountain and were gone from sight before I could get my camera on ’em.

Anyway, Marty and Laurie took pictures of two elk in Harry’s Flat a few years ago. Over ten years ago, Don and Bonny took pictures of 3 elk in their yard. Just a few weeks ago, Andy and Jaycee had two young bull elk trot across their property and go up into the Sapphires. Shortly thereafter, Lynn, Gail, and I were saw a small herd way up in a meadow near Quigley.

So, they are around here but seem to avoid humans Рmuch more so than bears and moose.  As a matter of fact, it seems that more people see mountain lions than elk down here on the river. The montana fish and game biologists cataloged a herd of about 600 elk in the Welcome Creek area of Rock Creek in the late 90s. Since then, most of the heard has moved South to the Stoney Creek drainage leaving about 60 to 100 up here between Trouthaven and Welcome Creek.

The Montana biologists note that a pack of Wolves have moved into the Sapphires and much of the Sapphire herd has left the high range to graze in and near Stevensville – just due West of us about 10 miles.

 

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Updated, Improved Shower Enclosure

I can tell you that there are few things in life more refreshing than an outdoor shower after a ‘hard’ day fishing in 90 deg weather (or, say. whittling down the ever growing honey-do list). Our shower, shown here, is huge (8′ by 4′), has hot and cold running water, clothes and towel racks, and a composting toilet.

Sadly, there’s a mountain peak immediately to the South that affords a view down into the enclosure from 5,500 ft and 3 miles away.

This year I’ve modified the enclosure, adding corrugated galvanized metal paneling over the original cedar planks. Gail and I both think it looks more rustic, but also gives more privacy.

Here’s the inside: note I retained the cedar planks. The corrugated panels are not visible from the inside. By the way, the shower curtain is, strictly speaking, not necessary (the door blocks any line of sight. Why, do you ask? Well, it’s got pics of moose, bears, and fish AND for those of you who do calisthenics while showering, the curtain keeps water off your clothes.

 

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Montana Snowpack, 26 March, 2018

On Sunday morning the forecast was for a sunny, warm week. Time to open up the cabin, we thought. So, up we went to the cabin that very morning and set it all up. Turned on the water, electricity, internet, lit all the pilot lights – tested everything and all checked out. Easiest opening yet.

Hah!

Returned home. Forecast changed. Freezing temps, snow now in the forecast for the week. Returned to the cabin Monday morning and drained the water, put anti-freeze in the pipes, but left the rest of the cabin alone.

But, it’s spring in Montana. Whaddya gonna do?

Here’s the latest Montana snowpack as of 26 March, 2018

Location of out cabin at Trouthaven – below and left of the “154” in the map above.

This is great news, but maybe not so great for late spring fishing. Because the snowpack this year is very heavy, the spring runoff may last well into June. But the rest of the summer and fall should be fantastic. Here’s hoping for a great fishing season.

As an aside, the Clark Fork Coalition is seeing a marked improvement in Dollie and Rainbow migration in Rock Creek specifically but also throughout the Clark Fork drainage.

Good times.

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The Missoula Flats

While we have a magnificent view looking West from our deck in Missoula, yesterday Gail, her mom, and I decided to drive out to Bitterroots (the mountains we see looking West) to see what the view was like looking back to the East.

Here is what we saw (the river is the Clark’s Fork and Missoula is about 10 miles East, but not visible).

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We’re Moved In – Finally!

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Bullwinkle – This Morning @7:45 AM

OK, so this Ol’ Boy strolled by us this morning, came up the stairs into our backyard, out to the meadow and then sauntered past the other cabins. A sort of, “Bears! Gimme a break. I, Bullwinkle, Am the TRUE King!”.

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A Hawk Moth – Uncommon but not rare

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First Moose Seen This Season

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