We’re three days into June and while in some respects things seem to be approaching normal, in many others the sense of Covid weirdness still pervades.
The biggest stride towards normalcy we’ve seen in months happened on Monday as Montana entered Phase II of reopening which included the lifting of the mandatory 14 day quarantine for those coming from out of state. We did have some spur of the moment lodging and guide trip bookings from out of state residents on Monday and Tuesday but for the most part Phase II feels about like Phase One did with light traffic on the river and an eerily quiet atmosphere in Wolf Creek and Craig.
Weekends have been a different story, feeling much more like the heart of the season with overflowing parking lots and flotillas of drift boats, rafts and all manner of floating apparatuses. Montanans were out in force over the weekend taking advantage of the clean, controlled flows of the MO and also re-discovering the Dearborn River in droves.
We’ve always advised against scheduling your guide trips on weekends, particularly on Saturdays. It’s no different this season. There has been a well-documented shift towards outdoor activities since things began to open up and we’re expecting that this trend will keep things busy here on the weekends as Montana residents stay close to home.
Obviously, our hope is that things get steadily busier during the week as we transition into Phase II but at this point our loss of out-of-state business is your gain as this could be the least fishing pressure the Missouri River has seen in decades. Between the continued Covid restrictions around the country and the travel complications caused by a reduction in air traffic the MO will likely see a relatively quiet June so if you have avoided the Missouri in the past due to the crowds and you are within a day’s drive we would love to be your June destination on the Missouri.
Conditions couldn’t be better. The weather has been nice and the water is in great shape. Flows are currently at 5100 but will bump over the next two days, nearing 7,000 cfs on Friday. Water temps are ideal at around 57 degrees and the Dearborn and Little Prickly Pear are dropping rapidly and should not be a factor going forward unless we get a bunch of precipitation.
Snowpack is dwindling but we’re in good shape for a good water year.
Oh, and the fishing? The fishing has been consistently solid and is about to get super fun as PMD’s emerge on the scene. We’ve had some sporadic bugs but it’s just getting started so if you’ve ever wanted to fish the PMD hatches on the MO’ now is the time. We’re also seeing plenty of caddis around though the fish have yet to settle into surface feeding mode. Rising fish have been few and far between but fear not, it’ll happen soon. Make sure you’re out there when it does.
In the meantime, nymphing has continued to be the go-to with, you guessed it, tailwater sow bugs continuing to be the nymph of choice. Split Case and Crack Back PMD’s, PMD Magic Fly, PMD Redemption, Psycho Mays, Peep Shows, S & M’s, Frenchies all on the menu right now. Gold or Purple Weight Flies, Tung Darts and other Caddis pupae patterns are all good choices for a point fly and we’ve heard a few rumors of the Zirdle getting eaten as well. Medium depth, fast (ish) water with or without lead, depending on the day. Target those nymph runs while keeping an eye on those PMD flats for bugs and rising fish. Rusty Spinners, Buzzballs, PMD Sprouts, HI Vis PMD’s, Film Critics, Flash Cripples, Doc’s PMD all good PMD Go To’s. All these and more currently filling the bins at WCA.
Restock that caddis box as well with Outrigger Caddis, Cornfed Caddis, Bloom’s Hi Vis Caddis, Stockingfoot Caddis and the ALMOST ALWAYS EFFECTIVE CDC Caddis Emerger. The time is drawing near!
We haven’t heard much on the streamer front this week but with the bump in flows coming and hopefully at least a couple of weeks left before the weeds arrive you could do worse than bombing the banks with big bugs as you hunt for rising fish.
The bottom line is the fish are here, the bugs are here….the people really aren’t. It’s a rare and golden opportunity to enjoy some summer solitude on the Missouri.
The shop is open at 7:30 daily and while we may be a little skinny on T shirts and trinkets this season we’re fully stocked on the stuff that matters. Bugs, Bugs and more bugs. Lines, leaders and tippet a plenty.
We’ve got good availability on lodging and guide trips through around the third week of June and limited availability of both right on through prime time. Shuttles, sun protection, Air Lock Indicators, Simms wading gear and sportswear, Adipose drift boat rentals, essential tools and accessories and a sensible inventory of rods and reels from Loop, Echo, Redington, Ross and Lamson.
We are the preferred fly fishing destination operation on the Missouri, close enough to the action but far removed from the chaos. We are closer to Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge than any other shop and it won’t take but a few minutes spent on the porch at cocktail hour, scanning the hillsides for roaming critters, to realize that what the town of Wolf Creek lacks in publicity it more than makes up for in genuine Montana Ambiance.
Shotgun Annie’s is open daily from 11 AM to 8 PM and serving breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30 am – 11:00 am and our friends at Izaak’s just down the road in Craig is open Wednesday – Sunday from 3:00 PM – 9:00 PM. We urge you to support them both.
We’re also loving the breakfast and dinner delivery right to your door from MO’ River Eats. Call your order in the night before and have an amazing breakfast delivered to your door. Order the morning of and Kelli will return in the evening with absolutely delicious dinner once again delivered right to your door.
Are things weird this season in Wolf Creek and Craig? Of course they are, but we can’t stress enough the opportunity this is presenting to those in close proximity to enjoy relative solitude on one of, if not THE BEST fishery in the lower 48.