Fishing in Missoula  can be as unpremeditated as throwing a line into the Clark Fork from a bridge in the middle of town. The Clark Fork, which was horribly polluted until cleanup measures were taken in the 1970s, is now home to some trout.
Excellent fishing spots abound within an hour’s drive of town. The Clark Fork, Blackfoot, and Bitterroot Rivers harbor rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and bull trout. Like the Clark Fork, the Blackfoot has had some environmental hurdles to overcome in recent years, but local anglers say it’s on its way back. Rock Creek is reached by traveling 26 miles east of Missoula on I-90 to exit 126. Rock Creek has been designated a blue-ribbon trout stream, although it is not necessarily an easy stream to fish. Catch-and-release fishing is enforced along the middle stretch of the creek, and fishing with bait is prohibited, except by children.
Campsites along Rock Creek range from Ekstrom’s Stage Station (406/825-3183), a full-service tent and RV campground (complete with flush toilets, hot showers, a store, and swimming pool) 0.5 mile from I-90 on Rock Creek Road, to Siria (www.fs.fed.us/r1/lolo/ ) a small bare-bones Forest Service campground with no drinking water, 29 bumpy miles up Rock Creek Road.
For fishing supplies, stop by Kingfisher Fly Shop (926 E. Broadway, 406/721-6141) or Grizzly Hackle (215 W. Front, 406/721-8996). Both shops run guide services; daylong trips run about $400.