Trip Report Rock Creek Montana

Really, what person that fly fishes doesn't want to live in or retire to Montana? Or at least fish there when they can? My wife and I were newlyweds when we first thought about living in Montana. We'd backpacked and fly fished in the Bob Marshall Wilderness along the North Fork of the Sun River. Backpacked and fished a little in Glacier NP. As novice fly fishers, we even spent a few hours befuddled in the Yellowstone River a mile or two downstream of Fishing Bridge as an undecipherable hatch came off in a 55 degree drizzle causing the river to boil with huge rising fish. My wife managed a 5-second hook up that bent her five-weight rod into a vicious C before the tippet snapped and the fish was gone. That was as close as we got.

A few years later, with our two oldest sons, toddlers, we camped along Rock Creek for several days. The fishing was memorable (for me), with willing, strong rainbows including one that nearly jumped over my head as I stood in the waist-deep current. My wife played mom on that trip and never fished, though she happily, graciously, vicariously shared my time on the water. We didn't fish in Montana again for nearly 30 years.

Bozeman appealed to us. A college town with character. Pretty much at or near the center of the fly fishing universe. Mountains. Skiing. A vibrant outdoor community ..... but, not a lot of jobs. In hindsight (which is maybe 20/40 in this case), maybe we should have made the move. We settled in a small town east of Seattle instead which had all of the same features that attracted us to Bozeman except the whole center of the fly fishing universe thing.

Washington certainly has a wealth of diverse fly fishing options but for dyed-in-the-wool stream/trout fisherman (to paraphrase the Beverly Hillbilly's theme song) - Montanny is the place to be. We just never seemed to make it back there to fish.

We spent our summer vacations camped with several other families on the upper St. Joe in Idaho where we taught our three sons (and a slew of other kids - boys and girls) to swim, snorkel, fly fish, jump cliffs, dirt bike, and lie like the devil about the size of the fish they'd caught and released. We did a lot of the same locally in Washington.

They grew up, as kids do, and now it's their toddlers that are almost ready to grow up as their fathers did, outside, in the mountains and on the rivers. And we grew old, as parents do, and the retirement discussion went from the realm of some day to some day soon.

We had talked for years (mostly me) about getting a weekend cabin but as with any real estate ...... location, location, location was the issue (oh yeah, and money). It had to be near skiing (expensive), yet close to trout streams. Far enough to get away, yet close enough for a weekend. And affordable. Try to find that in western (or eastern) Washington. Montana would occasionally flit into the picture but then zap like a caddis fly dancing into a campfire.

As summer of 2016 approached and we planned our annual St. Joe camp week, we had a moment of clarity. As usual, three other couples, all long time St. Joesians (I made that up), would be meeting us there. For the first time in 25 years, none of our collective children would be there. Jobs, commitments, responsibilities now shaped their lives. The St. Joe camp would truly give us our first taste of what retirement might actually look like ... a bunch of gray hairs flailing the water and falling asleep around the campfire.

Clarity - retirement was a real thing. Not this year, but soon .... which changed things. We didn't need a weekend place, we needed a retirement cabin. It still had to be close to trout streams but skiing not so much. Once retired, we could spend summers at the cabin and come back home when the weather turned to take our RV and ski locally at Crystal, Stevens, Baker, and Whistler. Clarity - Montanny was indeed the place to be.

We planned to spend the week after the St. Joe in Montana, exploring, and maybe getting in a little fishing. We figured we could spend the next couple of years finding (and figuring out how to pay for) a place in Montana.

The St. Joe was low and the fishing was a little slow but wild cutts are wild cutts and always enthusiastic. Then we were off, over the Bitterroot range and into Montana.

Next: the plot thickens and maybe some fish pics
 
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My wife and I go to Rock Creek to camp and fish every few years (alternating with some other favorite places). A few years ago, when the economy was down, we looked at real estate and came close to committing to a place along Rock Creek. I'm eager to see if you have done so! Awaiting the next installment.
D
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
I retired in 1999. I worked at Boeing for about 38 years. I said enough work at the age of 64. I have a somewhat good pension and SS lets me live a good life. I live in Dillon, while I don't Ski I do fly fish.

I'm in the middle of fly fishing heaven. I have the Beaverhead just about out my back door. The Big Hole is 20 miles away. Ruby river is up and over the Ruby Range. The Madison is just a little farther down the road. I have me a spring Creek that is loaded with Brown's, Cutthroat, and Rainbows.

I've had enough for owning a home so now I just rent. No hassles this way. I'm free to come and go as I feel. I'm married but the wife does't fly fish. The skinny water is open year around. There are some closed places on the Beaverhead, But the Brown's need to spawn in piece and quiet. But it all opens back up on the 3rd Saturday in May.

If you are into lake fishing there are several high lakes that hold Cutthroat trout. But you need a 4x4 to reach them.

I've lived here for about 11 years now after a life time in Washington. My wife never wants to go back there anymore.
 

Cody Bitterman

Active Member
I make it a point to pop down to Rock Creek every summer, but honestly there is a lot of water that is way better fishing and no less gorgeous in the area. Rock Creek is always a zoo with people.
 

Solitude

Active Member
I love Montana. Would not want to spend winters there, as I don't snowboard anymore and have had my fill of shoveling snow.

I fish over there a lot and probably made 10 trips over there just last year. Been looking at places around Missoula and south of there, but prices have definitely increased and finding a usable weekend or fishing cabin have proven to be more difficult than I hoped.

Still looking and will continue to look for that perfect place......ready to leave the Seattle area and all traffic and hassles of this over-crowded area.
 

wanative

Retired, gone fishin'
Really, what person that fly fishes doesn't want to live in or retire to Montana? Or at least fish there when they can? My wife and I were newlyweds when we first thought about living in Montana. We'd backpacked and fly fished in the Bob Marshall Wilderness along the North Fork of the Sun River. Backpacked and fished a little in Glacier NP. As novice fly fishers, we even spent a few hours befuddled in the Yellowstone River a mile or two downstream of Fishing Bridge as an undecipherable hatch came off in a 55 degree drizzle causing the river to boil with huge rising fish. My wife managed a 5-second hook up that bent her five-weight rod into a vicious C before the tippet snapped and the fish was gone. That was as close as we got.

A few years later, with our two oldest sons, toddlers, we camped along Rock Creek for several days. The fishing was memorable (for me), with willing, strong rainbows including one that nearly jumped over my head as I stood in the waist-deep current. My wife played mom on that trip and never fished, though she happily, graciously, vicariously shared my time on the water. We didn't fish in Montana again for nearly 30 years.

Bozeman appealed to us. A college town with character. Pretty much at or near the center of the fly fishing universe. Mountains. Skiing. A vibrant outdoor community ..... but, not a lot of jobs. In hindsight (which is maybe 20/40 in this case), maybe we should have made the move. We settled in a small town east of Seattle instead which had all of the same features that attracted us to Bozeman except the whole center of the fly fishing universe thing.

Washington certainly has a wealth of diverse fly fishing options but for dyed-in-the-wool stream/trout fisherman (to paraphrase the Beverly Hillbilly's theme song) - Montanny is the place to be. We just never seemed to make it back there to fish.

We spent our summer vacations camped with several other families on the upper St. Joe in Idaho where we taught our three sons (and a slew of other kids - boys and girls) to swim, snorkel, fly fish, jump cliffs, dirt bike, and lie like the devil about the size of the fish they'd caught and released. We did a lot of the same locally in Washington.

They grew up, as kids do, and now it's their toddlers that are almost ready to grow up as their fathers did, outside, in the mountains and on the rivers. And we grew old, as parents do, and the retirement discussion went from the realm of some day to some day soon.

We had talked for years (mostly me) about getting a weekend cabin but as with any real estate ...... location, location, location was the issue (oh yeah, and money). It had to be near skiing (expensive), yet close to trout streams. Far enough to get away, yet close enough for a weekend. And affordable. Try to find that in western (or eastern) Washington. Montana would occasionally flit into the picture but then zap like a caddis fly dancing into a campfire.

As summer of 2016 approached and we planned our annual St. Joe camp week, we had a moment of clarity. As usual, three other couples, all long time St. Joesians (I made that up), would be meeting us there. For the first time in 25 years, none of our collective children would be there. Jobs, commitments, responsibilities now shaped their lives. The St. Joe camp would truly give us our first taste of what retirement might actually look like ... a bunch of gray hairs flailing the water and falling asleep around the campfire.

Clarity - retirement was a real thing. Not this year, but soon .... which changed things. We didn't need a weekend place, we needed a retirement cabin. It still had to be close to trout streams but skiing not so much. Once retired, we could spend summers at the cabin and come back home when the weather turned to take our RV and ski locally at Crystal, Stevens, Baker, and Whistler. Clarity - Montanny was indeed the place to be.

We planned to spend the week after the St. Joe in Montana, exploring, and maybe getting in a little fishing. We figured we could spend the next couple of years finding (and figuring out how to pay for) a place in Montana.

The St. Joe was low and the fishing was a little slow but wild cutts are wild cutts and always enthusiastic. Then we were off, over the Bitterroot range and into Montana.

Next: the plot thickens and maybe some fish pics
Very nice writing. I'm about 2 years from retirement too. Lots of daydreaming going on.
 

freestoneangler

Not to be confused with Freestone
My new neighbor and I spent a few days camping on Rock Creek 11/8-10. He hadn't been back to a specific section he's loved for many years and has been wanting to go. So, we voted at the fire station and left immediately afterwards. The heater in the truck camper worked overtime as it was cold, but we brought plenty of firewood and great eats...bacon, lots of bacon. The fishing was good, especially for the last couple hours before the sun dipped behind the mountains, and the views were even better.
 

Bruce Baker

Active Member
My new neighbor and I spent a few days camping on Rock Creek 11/8-10. He hadn't been back to a specific section he's loved for many years and has been wanting to go. So, we voted at the fire station and left immediately afterwards. The heater in the truck camper worked overtime as it was cold, but we brought plenty of firewood and great eats...bacon, lots of bacon. The fishing was good, especially for the last couple hours before the sun dipped behind the mountains, and the views were even better.

And best of all, it didn't interfere with college football Saturday!
 

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