Medicine Bow



This is a popular fishery with good public access. The primary fishery management purpose for filing this water right was to protect adequate amounts of water during different times of the year to maintain the existing excellent trout fishery. To achieve this purpose adequate flows are needed to maintain spawning habitat for rainbow trout in the spring. Adequate flows are needed in late summer to maintain habitat for adult and juvenile fish in the stream. Studies have shown that the reduction or modification of winter flows can have very negative effects on all life stages of trout, so flow recommendations between October and April were designed to maintain existing natural stream flows during this period. As with the majority of instream flow filings, this action won’t change anything about how the stream flows. It’ll just make sure that enough water continues to flow downstream so future generations of anglers and river enthusiasts can experience the same level of enjoyment on this small stretch of stream that folks do today.
The fishery within the instream flow water segment changes somewhat over its length. Rainbow trout dominate throughout the lower end of the segment though a few brown trout can be found there too. The relative lack of deep pools in combination with fast flow keeps most of the trout here from getting very big. The majority of rainbows are less than 12 inches long, though the ardent angler can occasionally encounter fish up to 16 inches and bigger. Further upstream, brook trout become part of the mix. The entire length of stream within the instream flow segment is managed as a wild fishery, which means all of the fish found here were born and raised in Rock Creek or its tributaries.
From the confluence with Elk Creek down to State Land boundary with private property.
If you’ve ever driven across Wyoming on Interstate-80 you’ve crossed right over this stream at the town of Arlington, which is found between Laramie and Rawlins. To get to the instream flow segment, turn off the interstate at the Arlington exit. About 100 yards south of the interstate, turn right (west) on a gravel road and then take the next left (about ¼ mile). This good dirt road passes up the canyon until it dead-ends at the Rock Creek trailhead. This trail parallels the stream all the way up to Sand Lake and is a popular place for day hikers and anglers. There are numerous places to jump down to the stream and check out the fishing. Normal statewide fishing regulations apply to the stream.
In the late 1800’s tie drives were one of the main ways to transport ties to railroad construction sites in Wyoming and other Western states. In many situations, tie “hacks” (men who cut and crafted the ties) worked in the mountains where they harvested trees and stacked large numbers of finished ties adjacent to streams. They often built small impoundments that they piled the ties on and then blew out the dam with dynamite to send a surge of water and ties downstream to collection sites. This business was an important step in the settlement of Wyoming but came at the price of scoured out stream channels and greatly impacted trout habitat. Rock Creek was one of many streams that experienced tie drives and, if you look closely, you can still see evidence of that activity by the relative lack of large pools and boulders in this fast-running stream near Arlington.