Montana advise please

A buddy and I are headed out to drive to the bighorn leaving early early Friday morning and we have a cabin booked at cottonwood camp Sunday night, so the question is what should we fish on the way? Our origional plan was to fish rock creek but someone told us there is mucho better fishing elsewhere. We are leaving this coming Friday, flows generally seem pretty low in most places. We are pretty wide open for ideas, we are considering the big hole, clarkfork, or rock creek and are open to any other ideas. We are both longtime fly fishers that enjoy wading, we don't mind nymphing, or streamer fishing or of course we enjoy fishing dries. What would you do?

Thanks a ton for any and all ideas.

I don't know about mucho better fishing anywhere other than Rock Creek-more fish per mile in other rivers? Absolutely. If that's what you mean by mucho better then head to the Beaverhead or the Missouri. Bigger rivers? yep, try the Yellowstone or the Blackfoot. Smaller, less known waters? Sure, do some research, call some fly shops and pm some dudes familiar with Montana, you'll probably get a different response from everyone you contact. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you need to be more specific in what you want out of your experience. Right now Rock Creek is going to be tough to beat. There hasn't been any fishing from a boat since June 30th. It stays cooler longer than nearby rivers, i.e. the Clark Fork, Bitterroot etc. It hasn't reached 70 degrees yet, which I know both the bitterroot and the clark fork have. The clark fork was 72 a few days ago. Rock Creek is very wade friendly right now, it also won't be nearly as crowded as the Beaverhead or the Missouri. Access is excellent pretty much the length of the creek, there are a plethora of bugs hatching and plenty of willing fish. I would say overall it's tough to get mucho better than Rock Creek right now. my .02


Active Member
Are you guys camping? If you are just drive up Rock Creek and take your chances. You can get there early enough in the day on Friday to get in a lot of fishing. There are miles of stream to fish and it is all better than driving around looking for the next best thing. Stop at the fly shop and get dialed in and get some local recon. Don't overthink it-any part of being on Rock Creek is better than being in Puyallup!


Kyle Smith

DBA BozoKlown406
I am gonna say the Stillwater is one of the best options in the state right now. And it's only 2-3 hours from the Big Horn so you could fish the BH all day Sunday...


Active Member
You'll be driving through hundreds of miles of great fishing, lots of it in close proximity of I-90.
Research and call or stop in and spend a few bucks at some of the many good fly shops along the
way. I'm from Billings and could easily spend 2 weeks getting there from Spokane fishing within
50 miles of the I-90 corridor and not even begin to scratch the surface.
Regarding the Bighorn, Yellowtail Reservoir recently reached full pool and the Bureau of Rec has been
holding pretty steady @2000 cfs. Last fished it in late May and fished well although lots of (too many)
cookie cutter browns.
Have a good trip.
Let me help you out here, if your plan is to get to the Bighorn driving east on 1-90 and don't want to drive to far out of the way to hit water for wading here's what I'd look at from west to east. I'd start with the St Regis river right up from St Regis, should be good anytime of day using stimy patterns, I'd check out Fish Cr... same deal. If you hit the Clark below Missoula at the golden hour, I'd fish it in the ripple water with a caddis pattern. I'd consider lower rock creek using a variety of stuff, I'd hit the upper clark anywhere above Jens on up with small hopper, caddis and streamers. (Bring bug juice you'll need it here). On the downside of Butte I'd hit the Boulder river outside of Cardwell first 5 miles early or late. I'd hit the gallatin river outside the canyon from Axtel Bridge to Robinson's bridge. I'd hit the Yellowstone river anywhere that looks good from Livingston to Big Timber. I'd consider the Boulder River and or Shields River, it's been a few years but the Shields River is a sleeper (lot's of private land). I'd consider the Stillwater around Columbus as the rock creek of the eastside.