A fisherman poses with his children and a rainbow-cutthroat hybrid trout caught while fly fishing in Red Rock Creek

Fishing is permitted on the Refuge in designated areas only. A Montana State fishing license is required. Please read all applicable fishing regulations. 

Cutthroat trout, mountain whitefish, Arctic grayling, rainbow trout, cutthroat-rainbow hybrids, brook trout, and suckers can be found in Refuge waters. Mottled sculpin are often seen by people walking along Odell and Red Rock Creeks. Rainbow trout and brook trout were introduced to the valley as early as 1889.  

Historically, the waters of the Centennial Valley were thick with Arctic grayling, native cutthroat trout, and other fish. Now their numbers are fairly low, due mostly to change in historical land uses and competition from non-native fish. The Refuge is trying to restore our native fisheries. Feel free to keep your limit (20) of the brook trout, all of which are non-native. See State regulations for limits on cutthroat trout and for seasonal closures. All Arctic grayling must be released immediately. 


Grizzly bears are present on all areas of the Refuge to include, but not limited to: forest, willows, sagebrush sagebrush
The western United States’ sagebrush country encompasses over 175 million acres of public and private lands. The sagebrush landscape provides many benefits to our rural economies and communities, and it serves as crucial habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including the iconic greater sage-grouse and over 350 other species.

Learn more about sagebrush
-steppe, grasslands, wetlands, lakeshores, and creeks.  The carrying of bear spray on your person where it is readily accessible is strongly recommended.

Fishing is allowed in designated areas of the Refuge with a Montana State fishing license and in accordance with Montana State fishing regulations subject to the following conditions:      

All Arctic grayling must be immediately released.

Trout: Brook trout limit is 20.  See State regulations for limits on cutthroat trout.

1. All Refuge streams and creeks are open to fishing in accordance with Montana State fishing regulations except for necessary closures to protect nesting trumpeter swans or spawning Arctic grayling and their restoration efforts.

 2.  To protect spawning Arctic grayling, Red Rock Creek is closed to fishing 1 May - 14 June.  Elk Springs Creek is closed 15 May - 15 June for Arctic grayling spawning.

3. Fishing is allowed on Widgeon Pond and Culver Pond in accordance with Montana State regulations and when not frozen. These ponds are open to fishing from the bank only, except for necessary closures to protect migratory waterfowl and nesting trumpeter swans (1 October - 14 July).  Float tubes and boats of any kind are not allowed on the ponds.  

4. Fishing is prohibited on all other Refuge waters to include Upper and Lower Red Rock Lakes, River Marsh, and Swan Lake to protect migratory birds and other wildlife. 

5. Fishing is only allowed with pole and line or rod and reel. 

6. Felt-soled wading boots are not allowed in order to prevent the introduction of whirling disease and other aquatic invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
into Refuge waters. 

7. The use of bait for fishing is prohibited; only artificial lures or flies are permitted. 

8. The use or possession of lead sinkers or any lead fishing product while fishing is prohibited. 

 9. Do not clean fish in the campgrounds.

 10. Please clean and thoroughly dry your fishing gear and waders before entering Refuge and other waters in order to prevent the spread of invasive species. 

Related Documents
Red Rock Lakes NWR Hunt, Fish & Public Use Regulations

Hunt, Fish & Public Use Regulations with Map for Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Laws, rules, and regulations