Montana Stay-cation


For a few months I have been day dreaming about a week long float on the Smith River this spring.  We successfully drew a permit for the float, my wife and I both got time off work and the I had planted the seed about the adventure with my best friends in Colorado months ago.  Everything was falling into place…

As our launch date approached the weather forecast turned south, friends had a change of plans and just like that my dreams of a week on the river crumbled.

Fortunately, I live in Montana and there is an abundance of vacation options just outside my backdoor.  To salvage our days off we took a “staycation” by spending a couple of days on Rock Creek about a half hour from our house.


Rock Creek can sometimes be overlooked with all the other fishing and camping options around the state, but this recent trip reminded me of why I fell in love with this gem on my first trip to Montana years ago.  Rock Creek is a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream with a healthy population of willing Cutthroat, Rainbow and Brown Trout.  Being a small steam, it is only float and fishing option during the spring and early summer.  Float trips during this time of year can be unforgettable experience; great scenery, awesome fishing and all while having the river to yourself.


Rock Creek is not only a great fishery, but it offers dozens of great camp sites and a handful of Forest Service Cabins available for rent.  On this springtime trip we chose to stay at one of our favorite cabins.  The four or five cabins along Rock Creek vary in size and accommodations and can be perfect for any getaway.  The Stony Creek Cabin has a convenient location, great outdoor fire pit and is the perfect size for us and our dog.

Gabe knows a good Margarita when he sees one
As we were headed home we both remarked about how we both take the beauty of Rock Creek for granted since it is so close to Philipsburg.  Sometimes the best vacation is close to home.


Just Like Riding a Bike?

“It’s NOT just like riding a bike, John!”  My buddy Josh yelled from across the river as I lost another fish.  This type of banter is very common when on the water with good friends, but it also made me realize that practice is an important part of fly-fishing.

Josh showing me how it is done

A brutally cold winter, working with a new puppy (not exactly a fishing dog yet) and my winter job forced me into a two month break from the river.  During the time away I was able to restock and organize my fly boxes, but my hook set was a little rusty.  Actually, everything felt a little clumsy; sloppy casts, poor line control, delayed reactions, etc.  In that first day back I hooked about 10 fish, but was only able to land two of them.  At the end of the day I realized that all the time spent on the river is valuable.  Each time out you are learning, improving and practicing.

First float of 2017

Spring is the time to practice and start getting ready for the summer season.  Get your fishing gear out of the closet, or shed, and get organized.  Practice your cast in the back yard or the park.  Head to you local river or stream to knock off the rust.  Anytime spent practicing now pays off once you are in the midst of your favorite summer hatch.