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Category: Fly Fishing


Protecting Rock Creek with Trout Unlimited

Sustainability from Field to Stream
Guest blog by Teresa Scanlon, project coordinator with Trout Unlimited



Why We Love Rock Creek

It’s no secret that Rock Creek, the fabled blue-ribbon trout stream tucked away in the mountains of Western Montana, is remarkable. Its steep canyon walls and sweeping valleys are home to both traditional ranching and endless prospects of recreation and exploration.

Guests can enjoy beautiful fall river scenes like this one at Montana's The Ranch at Rock Creek
Rock Creek bridge at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

The hills in Rock Creek are filled with wildlife diversity including moose, bear, mountain goats, and elk, and its waters offer prized fly-fishing opportunities.

A moose crosses Blue Ribbon Rock Creek
Moose crossing Rock Creek. Photo courtesy of Brian Bowen Smith.

That’s why Trout Unlimited’s (TU) local WestSlope Chapter is partnering with the community and other stakeholders to launch a signature program dedicated to protecting and restoring this iconic local watershed for future generations of anglers to enjoy.

A Montana fly fisherman catches a fish in his net
Fly fishing on Rock Creek. Photo by Silvio Mollov.

For over a year now, I’ve been the Trout Unlimited program coordinator, working with individual and public landowners to explore opportunities to improve habitat and connectivity for native and wild trout in Rock Creek.


Why Rock Creek Matters

Biologists recognize Rock Creek as a native trout stronghold with populations of bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout as well as wild browns and rainbows.

A large bull trout is released back into Rock Creek
Bull trout photo by Ranch Guide Madi King.

Anglers from across the country revere Rock Creek for both its accessibility and quality fishing. Yet native and wild trout populations are facing challenges, such as increasing water temperatures and barriers to migration.

Tess Scanlon of Trout Unlimited
Tess at our Whiskey & Water Weekend casting carnival.

I am collaborating with biologists and landowners to address these issues through collaborative projects that benefit both the fishery and landowners.


How The Ranch is Helping

The Ranch at Rock Creek and Trout Unlimited are working together to protect the landscape and fishery in Rock Creek and ensure future guests can enjoy it. I am working with The Ranch to explore installing fish screens on irrigation diversions on the four miles that run through The Ranch’s property.

fish screen projects help promote more sustainable waterways
An established fish screen similar to what will be installed at The Ranch at Rock Creek. Photo courtesy of Trout Unlimited.

The Ranch uses stream water to irrigate their fields for pasture and hay production. Installing a screen at the headgate, which is used to control the water intake, prevents fish from getting stuck in the ditch.

Pastures and hayfields at The Ranch at Rock Creek
Lines are cut into the hayfields by a pivot sprinkler used in irrigation.

In the process of installing a fish screen, the irrigation infrastructure used to divert water from the stream is typically updated to the latest technology. This collaborative project showcases The Ranch’s dedication to environmental conservation and helps keep fish in Rock Creek.

“Rock Creek has a special spot in my heart. Working with local animal protection and conservation groups like Trout Unlimited is so important to everyone in Montana and at The Ranch. There are people, groups, companies and land owners that care deeply and take steps to help preserve the wilds of this great state. It’s uplifting knowing that what we (The Ranch, TU, and our neighbors) do in this valley makes a difference and sets an example of what should be done. I couldn’t work for a property that didn’t care.” ~ Activities Director Patrick Little


How You Can Help

When I attended The Ranch’s Whiskey and Water Weekend, I discussed how guests could contribute to healthy fish populations on Rock Creek. Here are my top tips for protecting local waterways, especially our beloved Rock Creek.

  1. Sponsor a fish in the Race Up Rock Creek. Watch cutthroat trout run the 80k up Rock Creek to spawn! All donations go to our on-the-ground projects to protect Rock Creek.
  2. Be conscientious about when you fish. Midday water temperatures in the summer are hot. Catching and releasing fish at the hottest times of the day can stress or even kill fish.
  3. Join or support your local Trout Unlimited chapter. No matter where you live in the United States, you have a local chapter that will share with you how you can support fishing for the future. Go to TU.org to join or to learn about our research and project work across the country.
  4. Teach a kid how to fish. Building memories and a love for the outdoors breeds the next generation of conservation leaders!


Dalles Rapid on Rock Creek. Photo Courtsey of Trout Unlimited.

 

Category: Fly Fishing


The Blue Ribbon Report | Spring Edition

Fly fishing doesn’t stop for winter. In fact, Inside Hook recently published the story, “Why You Should Go Fishing on Your Next Ski Trip.” They named Discovery Ski Area and The Ranch at Rock Creek as the essential places to try this dynamic duo. With a little over a month of skiing left, and warmer temperatures on the way, we’re making plenty of room for skis and waders in our SUVs.

Winter fly fishing on Blue Ribbon Rock Creek in Montana
Photo by Martin Battilana

While we enjoy a “heat wave” of temperatures just over freezing, our guides are gearing up for an eventful season of spring fly fishing. Montana’s streams, and especially Rock Creek, are famous for their fly hatches. With this exciting season close at hand, we’re back with a fishing report and our new fly fishing video that shows what it’s like to fish on the world’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star ranch and glamping destination. Read more…

Category: Fly Fishing


Extraordinary Journeys: Fly Fishing

 fly-fishing-rock-creek

Summer in Montana can take on a faster pace than other seasons. The long days make you want to get up earlier in the morning and stay awake after the stars come out—with the recent full moon and the alignment of Venus and Jupiter, there’s been plenty to see after dark. However, it’s when we slow down and enjoy an activity for several hours that we are amazed by Montana’s wildlife and scenery.  A recent guest took some time to write about her experience with one of our signature activities, fly fishing. We think she captured the slow pace, patience and beauty of fishing on Rock Creek, as well as the valuable experience of working one-on-one with our guides to master one of the most elusive fly fishing techniques. Thanks, Gwen for sharing your adventure. 


Words of Wisdom—Fly Fishing

by Special Guest Blogger Gwen Books

Properly Presented Dry Flys Will Catch Fish...after a few hours on Rock Creek with my fishing guide, Riley Fitting, he uttered the prophetic phrase. I was successful in catching two large trout and one baby trout, however it was due to his assistance…as in his shouting: Hook It!

selecting-flies

I grew up fishing, my father had three daughters and it didn’t deter him from teaching us one of his favorite pastimes. Not as much fly fishing as baiting with a worm or lure and dropping in a lake or stream. I’ve only recently realized seeing fish in a creek or following the fly downstream is a challenge for my aging eyes. I spent a half day fly fishing at The Brando Island and neither Teihotu or I caught a fish, and I never even saw them in the gin-clear sea. Read more…

Category: Fly Fishing


Big Fly Country: Spring Fishing on Rock Creek

Montana Fly Fishing During “The Hatch”

We’re biding our time in the Rod & Gun Club, because the spring melt has begun in the lower elevations. We know that with the end of spring runoff comes a series of fly hatches that make Montana a world-famous fly fishing destination. Our spring specials are in full swing, and one of them is designed for anglers who want to take advantage of prime seasons—spring and fall—in 2018.

Soon we will be immersed in the six-week period known as the salmonfly hatch to avid fly fishermen. This period generally stretches from late May through early July on Montana’s “big bug” rivers. The celebrated period of fishing takes place on several waterways, including the Madison, Yellowstone, Gallatin, Big Hole, Smith, and our very own Rock Creek. We want to take a moment to let our waders dry off and share the three big reasons why these late spring weeks might be considered the “Carnivale” of the fishing calendar. Read more…

Category: Fly Fishing


Clark Fork River Cleanup

Since The Ranch at Rock Creek opened as a guest ranch in 2010, we have become increasingly invested in the Granite County, Montana community. Our staff has delved into the local causes that improve environmental sustainability and the lives of its residents. Throughout the year we look to give back in ways that will make a lasting impact. As a charter member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, it’s also been an important part of our mission to be responsible stewards of the land, protect wildlife and maintain clean waterways.

montana-wildlife

We are dedicated to keeping Rock Creek’s waters clean year-round. However, this Spring, as Activities Director Patrick Little began floating a little further afield, he noticed that the Clark Fork River, 47 miles North of The Ranch, was accumulating some litter. The refuse ranged from old farm equipment to highway trash to forgotten recreation supplies. People leave cans, water bottles, clothing and other items on the bank, which get washed into our fisheries. As Little noted, the section of the Clark Fork River in Granite County needed a little love.

clark-fork-cleanup Read more…

Category: Fly Fishing


Rethinking Spring Break

During spring in Granite County, everywhere you turn something has started anew. The land looks and smells green and earthy. Thousands of calves have been born within 100 miles of us, and they roam the fields in little gangs challenging each other to running races. If we could bottle that contagious feeling of spring renewal and send it out into the world, we would. But it wouldn’t be the same without seeing the fawns poking their noses out of the tall grass or the endless open spaces that make Montana such a unique destination.

montana-wildflowers

We want to harness that contagious feeling of spring renewal for travelers and propose some reasons to get out and take a spring break now—before the fevered excitement of summertime begins. If you’re looking for your own spring cleaning, for body, mind or soul, here are some once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities that are sure to recharge you. Read more…

Category: Fly Fishing


Experiential Travel: State of Play

The words “experiential travel” sound a lot more mature and serious than they need to be. The experience of traveling to The Ranch at Rock Creek should be an escape from normal routine. It should be at times exhilarating, relaxing and even a bit fantastical. It’s all fun and games.

child-playing-montana-664x442.jpg

Children are naturally adept at play. However, it seems unreasonable that we should lose that talent during our working life, only to rediscover it during retirement. When Jim Manley bought The Ranch at Rock Creek and made it into the award-winning luxury guest ranch it is today, he had an eye on the indefinable western spark that encourages people to dream and play. He envisaged more than a traditional dude ranch that recreated the life of a working cowboy. He sought to redefine experiential travel by inspiring a state of play for every guest, child or adult.

hiking-2

In fact, researchers seem to be suggesting that play is essential for adults, as well as children. NPR, Psychology Today, Scientific American and The Huffington Post have published stories about the importance of adult play. A researcher and psychiatrist Dr. Stuart Brown says,

“Play is something done for its own sake. It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”

Read more…

Category: Fly Fishing


Montana Fall Vacation Ideas

If you are searching for fall vacation ideas, our Ranch at Rock Creek staff is a living, galloping guidebook of Montana experiences. They are our knowledgeable instructors, our wildlife scouts and our adventurers thanks to personal passion and professional pride.

ranch-staff

With a dusting of snow on the highest peaks already, most fall vacation ideas and our fall special offers are as inviting as a fleece jacket and a cowboy coffee.

Our Ranch staff took a few moments to share what they look forward to each fall on Rock Creek. Many of our hired hands took root in Montana after growing up elsewhere, and they understand that, although summer gets the main billing, fall in Montana offers a more robust and satisfying glimpse of the Big Sky. Enjoy their fall vacation ideas, and we hope you’ll one day visit The Ranch to put them into action. Read more…