About Jason Orzechowski

Outfitter, Fly Fishing Guide and Owner of Wolf Creek Angler - Chasing a dream, counting my blessings daily and writing about it in the midst of mountains, rivers and trout in amazing Montana.

Mid April on the Missouri

Well TAX Day has come and gone and the spring season is really starting to take shape. We’ve seen our best first half of April ever thanks to adverse water conditions elsewhere though now that things have settled on the west side traffic has thinned a bit for the time being.

We’re under a winter weather advisory once again today with light snow falling but it looks like we’re finally going to see some nicer weather with temps approaching 70 by Friday before returning to more seasonable 50’s for the weekend.I’m definitely ready for some 70 degree days but these cool spring temps are exactly what we need right now to keep things in shape going forward.

Flows on the MO are on the high side for April, currently at around 8600 CFS which isn’t ideal for the wade anglers but fishing from the boat has been good most days, great some days and tough on others which is usually how it goes. Overall though spring is delivering.

As you might expect, river conditions have been the hot topic as of late. Everyone wants to know what the flows will be when they get here. The jury is still out on that.

April max flow conditions from the Bureau of Reclamation have already been exceeded with our current flows but even so, snow pack is hovering in the average to slightly above average range so we aren’t expecting to see a repeat of last year’s 20,000 CFS.

Last year around this time

2019 – All about the averages

As always, the wild card will be precipitation. Snow to an extent but rain for the most part will determine where we end up.
Last year at this time we were looking at snowpack in the 180% of average range so we were expecting to see a high water event. Current snowpack isn’t telling that kind of a story but again, if we see an exceptionally rainy spring then all bets are off.

On the bright side last year’s high water provided a much needed scouring of the substrate and we’re optimistic that the river reaped huge benefits from this scouring. Will we see Caddis Nirvana on the MO this season? Only time will tell.

Dry fly opportunities have been minimal but nymphing and streamer fishing are a go. Tailwater sows, Fish Finder Worms, Caviar Scuds, Rainbow Czechs, Amex, Firebead Rays, UV Crush, Bubble Yum Scuds, Pill Poppers, Zebra Midges and soft hackle sows have all been go to choices as of late and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to try a green machine or a BWO Magic Fly just to switch things up.

Deep and slow is still a go but transitional water is in play. The water is still on the cold side but should start to bump up with warmer days and nights ahead which will get those fish moving around and spreading out. Rainbows may be scarce as spawning is in full swing (watch those redds when wading) but this is the perfect time to target those hungry browns with a streamer….just sayin!

We’re moderately busy this week with lodging and doing a fair amount of guide trips but we have rooms and guides at the ready if you’d like to come out and spend a day or two on one of the best trout rivers in North America. Look for things to steadily pick up as we hit the end of April into the heart of spring fishing in early May. You’ve got exactly two weeks to take advantage of $400 guide trips and $99 premium lodging. Starting May 1st that trip will cost you $550 and the rooms go up to $135/night.

Welcome to spring on the Missouri. We can’t wait to see you.

RIP Montana Jim

Montana Jim

We got the sad news last week that our friend James Savstrom (AKA Montana Jim) had passed away. Jim left us too soon but he went out doing what he loved, fishing his beloved Blackfoot River.

I met Jim the second year we were in business when he stopped by the shop looking for a new rod and some advice on where to fish the MO’. Looking back, I’m sure this was my audition and I guess I must have passed the test as Jim continued to frequent Wolf Creek Angler. He always had a kind word to say about our shop and he even started a Facebook group called Friends Who Like Wolf Creek Angler.

Jim started to book guide trips with us the following year and I really enjoyed taking him and his friend Paul fishing. We had some great spring days on the Missouri and while Jim has now been reunited with Paul who passed away last year I will miss fishing with both of them.

Many knew Jim from his “Montana Jim” blog where he chronicled his angling adventures primarily on the Blackfoot near his home in Lincoln. Jim and I often talked about getting out and fishing the Blackfoot together…unfortunately it never happened.

You can check out his blog here

Jim was not only supportive of Wolf Creek Angler but also took an interest in the events and organizations we support. More than one time he made the drive from Lincoln to Helena in January to attend the Pat Barnes Trout Unlimited presentation of the Fly Fishing Film Tour and I could always count on him to share and promote whatever events we were promoting on social media.

Jim had been dealt some major blows in his life from loss of loved ones to health issues but he remained eternally optimistic and his passion for the resource, the sport of fly fishing and introducing new anglers to the sport never faded.

Rest easy my friend. I’ll miss fishing the MO with you and I’ll always think of you when I’m wandering the Blackfoot.

Not so fast…

Streamer Eaters on the Prowl

Just when we were getting used to spring sunshine and temperatures in the 50’s Mother Nature shows us again that she’s in charge and she’s not quite done with winter weather.

We’re currently in the midst of a good soaking rain and under a WINTER STORM WARNING starting tonight, primarily for elevations above 5,000 feet where 6-12 inches of new snow is expected. We won’t see that here but we’re bracing for a cold, wet snowy day on the water tomorrow.

Lucky for you we’ve got plenty of Simms cold weather gear still hanging around the shop and better yet it’s all 30 percent off!

And speaking of SIMMS – spring is definitely wader weather and there are no better waders in the world than Simms waders so if you’re in the market for a new pair we’d love to sell them to you. We stock G3’s, Freestones and Tributaries (something in every price range) and the boots to go with them and we’re happy to order absolutely anything else you might want including boot foot models or G4’s or G4Z’s, which are the ultimate in wader technology and quality.

It’s a busy week here at WCA in spite of the soggy weather. The west side blew out Sunday night bringing an influx of guides and outfitters and their clients in search of fishable water and it just so happens the Missouri fits the bill and we’re happy to host the migration.

The river is fishing well, with the majority of traffic in the Holter Dam to Craig stretch. LPP and the Dearborn are adding some color but not so much that it’s having a negative impact on the fishing. Most are opting to fish the clean side but don’t be afraid to work the mud line with a worm and a sow bug or better yet a streamer if you are so inclined.

In my mind there is no better time to fish streamers on the MO than April and these soggy/cloudy/snowy days can be lights out. Sparkle Minnows, MK Ultras or Ultralites, Mojo minnows, Clousers, Skiddish Smolts…..angler’s choice this time of year. Fish what you like and stick with it.

Nymphing the dam down is your best bet for numbers. The aforementioned worm and sow bug are key. Pill poppers, UV Crush, Caviar Scuds, Lucent Bead Rays, Soft Hackle Sows, Pinkalicious, Rainbow Czechs, Bubble Yums, Cotton Candies, Amex…..all good choices.

The water is still on the cold side at right around 37 degrees so the majority of the fish are continuing to hold in the deeper, slower water but we’ve picked plenty up in the transitional water as well so don’t limit your options.

Flows have bumped to the 6500 range….we love 6-8K and the river does too.

It’s game-time…are you ready?

The Missouri River awakening continues this week as Izaak’s opens on Thursday, April 11th for season number nine. We can’t wait! Brisket Sandwich and Smoked Wings oh how I’ve missed you.

Izaak’s will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for the time being but open for divinely delicious dinner offerings Wednesday-Sunday 4 PM – 9 PM. Dinner at Izaak’s is a highlight of the trip for many and we are thrilled to have this world-class dining option here on the Missouri.

It’s going to be a soggy week here on the MO but it looks like we’ll see a return to more seasonable conditions by the weekend.

We’ve got lodging available for the weekend ($99 for a kitchenette, $75-$85 for non-kitchen rooms) and our $400 spring special guide trips are in full swing. Book yours today!

 

Welcome April….The Season is Upon Us

And just like that winter was gone!

April is here and it’s GO TIME on the MO. The fishing is heating up and Wolf Creek and Craig are starting to come alive after one of the more brutal winters in recent memory.

The river is seeing some moderate to heavy traffic, especially on the weekends and especially in the Holter Dam to Craig stretch.

More importantly (from where I sit) the shop is busy and that’s good because spring shipments are arriving daily and the product is starting to stack up. We’re fully stocked with all kinds of great new gear. Simms waders and boots, tons of new bugs, Lamson and Ross reels, Loop, Echo and Redington rods, Korkers boots and the best of men’s and women’s 2019 sportswear from Simms. Piles of fly boxes, lines, leaders, tools and accessories. Boat bags and packs from Fishpond and Simms. Awesome new sunglasses from Smith and Suncloud and a sale rack you’re not going to want to miss. All Remaining Winter gear needs to go NOW! We’ve got the best deals you’re going to find on cold weather gear from Simms including jackets, hats, gloves, socks, flannel shirts, coldweather pants and more. Get em’ before they’re gone.

Adipose Rental boats are polished up and ready to hit the water and don’t forget we’ve got three Mending Waters Montana boats available free of charge to all vets and active duty military. Reserve your boat today at mendingwatersmontana.org

As of today lodging is 100 percent OPEN and we’re excited for our first FULL HOUSE of the season coming this weekend. It’s been a long and lonely winter around Wolf Creek Angler. Let the busy season begin!

Spring Special Guide Trips in effect…just $400 through the end of the month. Don’t miss this awesome opportunity to fish the amazing MO with the best guides in the business and save yourself $150 while doing it. The fishing is good and getting better and while we’ve still been flirting with some winterish weather the 10 day looks good with highs in the 50’s through the weekend and a little cooler heading into next week. Perfect spring fishing weather. Nymphs, streamers, dries….it’s all happening right now.

We are your Missouri River one stop shop with everything you need for your day on the water. Guides, rooms, shuttles, fishing licenses, the best coffee in the canyon and the biggest and best selection of bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

Open 8 am daily for all of your fly fishing needs.

Spring Special

Photo – Rob Weiker

Do we have a spring special you ask?

It just so happens we have THE BEST DEAL on the MISSOURI… PERIOD.

Most are running specials, some are not and while we may not have been the first ones on the river to run a spring special we appreciate and are happy to participate in the market which has been created and we’re confident that you’ll be much more interested in the details of our amazing offer than in how long we’ve been doing a spring special.

Here’s what we’re offering…

$500 (plus tax) for a full day on the water with one of our exceptional guides AND two (2), that’s right, two nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler. No rushing to get here the morning of your trip. No driving home tired after hauling in trout all day. We invite you to try to find a better deal…you won’t!

Get here the night before your trip and relax. You can wander down to Shotgun Annie’s for dinner and cocktails or prepare your own dinner in your fully furnished kitchen. We’re still waiting for the last of the snow to disappear but it will soon be gone and we’re getting to the point where you’ll probably enjoy spending some time on the porch just taking it all in. We’re nestled in the heart of the Big Belt Mountains, surrounded by gorgeous views of rugged canyon landscapes. We’re definitely biased but we believe we’ve got the best views around and while being a stone’s throw from the MO would be nice, as far as we’re concerned there’s not a more perfect setting for a fly shop and cabins than Wolf Creek Montana.

Spend an awesome spring day on the water with the best guides on the river and return to WCA for another evening of R & R.

Don’t need the lodging? No problem. Our guide trip only price is an amazing value at just $400.

Just looking for a room? We’ve got you covered. $99 for premium lodging (kitchen and private bath) through the end of April.

So yeah, we’ve got a spring special and it’s the best deal on the Missouri.

Five Years In

Wolf Creek Angler has a birthday coming up. This April 1st we turn 5 years old.

 

 

 

In some ways it feels like yesterday we opened up our doors but looking back there’s no denying we’ve come a LONG way.

Five years ago we spent the month of March transforming this old shack into the shop we’d dreamed up over years of frequenting fly shops. We still love the look and feel of this place though we are definitely space-challenged and doing our best to fit an ever-growing product line into our limited, but well utilized, space.

Just to highlight how much things have changed, there was actually a discussion early on of putting a raft in the shop just to take up space since we didn’t have enough merchandise to fill the shop. That’s not an issue today!

Enjoy this walk down memory lane….

Montana River Outfitters interior….where it all started

Another Time, Another Place

 

Montana River Outfitters Exterior

Inside the empty shell…winter 2014

Changing of the Guard (and the sign)

Taking Shape

Digging In

Progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WCA 2019

 

 

 

 

Since we opened, it’s been our goal to make continuous improvements to the shop and to our lodging units. Sometimes its little things, sometimes its big things. Sometimes its things you’ll notice, often times its things that go unnoticed but which you’d definitely notice in a bad way if we didn’t do them.

This fifth year was no different. Some of our birthday gifts to you this year include;
• A Full Line Simms Dealership at Wolf Creek Angler
• Reels from Waterworks/Lamson
• New and improved Wi-Fi Access property-wide
• Fully remodeled motel rooms (just completed #11, the last of them)
• New carpet in Cabin #4
• New water heaters in all of our cabins

With the exception of the water heaters and the Wi-Fi these are all very visible improvements which are the fun ones to make and even though you’d probably never have occasion to notice things like water heaters, we love making these improvements almost just as much as they make it so much easier to sleep at night.

You can expect continuous change and continuous improvements as long as we’re around because as long as you keep coming back we want to do everything we can to enhance your experience shopping, fishing and staying with us.
We hope you join us this season at Wolf Creek Angler, it’s definitely a mile stone but honestly, we’re just getting started.
We are your FULL SERVICE Missouri River fly shop and we’re getting better with age. Come experience CHILL in Wolf Creek, far removed from chaos. You’ll be glad you did.

The Shape of Water

As often happens, the sunshine and the spring-like forecast brought about a shift in my mindset from enduring the remainder of winter to getting things opened up for the start of the spring season. Right on cue, Mother Nature shut me down this morning with another dumping of snow.

Thankfully the temperatures are holding steady and it looks like the remainder of the week will bring a return to an abundance of sunshine, highs in the 40’s and a resumption of spring preparations.

I decided yesterday that today would be the start of having the shop open every day so that is the reason for another day of watching the snow fall but it’s just one more day. Tomorrow we turn the corner and it looks like we’re headed for more seasonable norms just in time for the official arrival of spring just one week from today.

As you might expect, the talk has definitely turned to the water forecast for 2019. As the snow continues to pile up the Bureau of Reclamation has adjusted flow predictions upwards though nowhere near what we saw last season. The latest “most probable” projections look favorable with spring flows in the 7-8K range with a peak around 9K in June. Max probable shows a jump from 8K to 12k from April to May with a June peak just over 12K while the Minimum probable shows things holding about where they’re at through the spring season with a peak of around 6K in June and back around 4500 CFS for the rest of the season.

What does it all mean? As per usual, it means that we’ll get what we get, there’s not much we can do about any of it, and while an extremely wet spring could change the game from where we sit now we’re still liking what we see.

As far as the snowpack goes, we are well below where we were last season at this time so we see no reason to panic. Wading conditions may not be ideal if we hit those most or max probable projections but it’s a ways out yet. We’ll wait and see what happens.

As I proclaim every spring when I start writing these water reports we have no way of knowing what’s going to happen. The experts are making informed decisions and we trust what they are saying but the bottom line is that Mother Nature will always have the final say.

What we do know is that there will be water, there will be fish, there will be bugs and we will be fishing. Beyond that, our crystal ball is as clear as mud but I’m still expecting that we’re setting up for what could be one spectacular season on the Missouri.

For the time being this is what you need to know. Spring weather is coming. Several of the ramps have been cleared including Wolf Creek Bridge, Craig, Stickney and Mid Cannon so it is indeed GO TIME.

Reports from the last couple of days have been good to great. Detailed report to come but suffice it to say that the fish are eating. Traffic is light (for the moment) but that’s all about to change.

We had a couple of cancellations for this weekend so if you’re itching to get out on the MO’ and want to make a weekend out of scratching that itch give us a call.

Make the Missouri River (and Wolf Creek Angler) Busy Again!

By |2019-03-13T16:50:19+00:00March 13th, 2019|Categories: Local Buzz, Shop Life|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

FAQ’s @ WCA

While traffic has been light in the shop this winter we’ve been spending a lot of time on the phone with customers. There’s nothing quite like the planning stage when you’re putting a fishing trip together and while the snow may be flying outside your window, a little fishing talk goes a long way in transforming your thoughts from ice dams and snow shovels to warm summer days and sipping trout on the Missouri.

This works both ways because while you’re giving me dates and times and details I’m flipping forward on the lodging calendar from the bleak desolation of winter to busy summer days with rooms filled and a parking lot crowded with guide rigs each morning preparing to deliver your daily dose of Montana fly fishing bliss.

These conversations help us through some very long winter days and while there’s plenty of individualized discussion there are some frequently asked questions which come up more often than not…here are a few of them in no particular order, save maybe the first one which has always been the most frequently asked question of all.

Q – How’s the snowpack/what will the flows be like?

A – The first part of this question is a matter of record so it’s a pretty easy one to answer. As of today snowpack affecting the Missouri is ranging from 111 – 125 percent of normal….right where we like it. The second part of the question is one for which we don’t really have an answer….yet.
Any answer we give you will be served with a heavy dose of disclaimer because the fact is that while we all have an opinion based on the current conditions, the long-term weather and water forecasts and our personal experience Mother Nature has the final say. We’re comfortable presenting you with the predictions of those in the know at the Bureau of Reclamation but sometimes they miss the mark.
We’re still sticking with cautious optimism that flows this season will be ideal…we’ll see what Mother Nature says.

Q – When’s the best time to fish the Missouri?

A – Whenever you can make it here. The Missouri is, for all intents and purposes, a year-round fishery (this winter excluded). Prime Time as we’ve come to define it, is June and July, but that’s a narrow definition based for the most part on insect hatches. It’s only part of the story.
The rest of the story is that you won’t likely find a more consistent fishery from the months of April through November and while it’s true that nymphing may be the go-to method for some of that time, there are generally dry-fly opportunities to be had throughout those eight months. Additionally, what the DFO’s consider the shoulder seasons of early spring and late fall, the streamer junkies consider PRIME TIME.
I would generally include March in this answer of when to fish the Missouri but the present conditions have me re-thinking this. For 2019 we’ll call it an eight month fishery with January and February both a no-go and March trending that way. Fingers crossed we’ll salvage the second half of March.

Q – What flies should I be tying?

A – While we’re happy to give you a general idea of the bugs you’ll encounter when you’re here, our hope is that you’ll buy some flies from us. After all, we are a FLY SHOP!
Seriously, we’re happy to give you suggestions but just know that we spend countless hours researching what flies work best and we take our bug selection extremely seriously. Our goal is to provide you with an awesome and expansive offering of high quality dry flies, nymphs and streamers. We do what we have to do to make sure we don’t run out of the hottest bugs and we not only follow the trends but even develop a few ourselves. Fly sales are the heart of our business and a top priority season after season.

Q – How far are you guys from Craig?
A – Who’s Craig?

Q – Will I need waders? Do you rent them?

A – This question comes up often both with guided clients and DIY clients. The answer to the former is that if you are going on a guide trip you will likely be fishing from the boat 100 percent of the time so you will not need waders for wade fishing, however I highly recommend wearing waders during the spring and fall just as an added layer of protection against the elements. Additionally, waders make getting in and out of the boat a non-issue. Some prefer not to wear them but should you encounter wind/rain/snow/cold, all very likely during the spring and fall seasons, you’ll wish you had them.
You’ll see a lot of guides doing the Muck boot thing, which is fine, but I’m old school that way. If it’s cold enough for muck boots I’m going with waders and won’t give a thought to stepping in over my boots.
Come warm weather I strongly discourage waders on guide trips as there’s nothing quite as unpleasant as sitting in a drift boat roasting in the sun in a pair of waders. Many folks wet wade in the summer, which I’ll do if drifting from spot to spot but you won’t catch me in shorts and sandals wandering the banks….no thanks!
Either way, yes we rent waders and boots so if you don’t own them or have limited space then we’d be happy to set you up with what you need.

Q – Do you guys sell Simms waders?

A – Why yes, yes we do. We are a Full Line Authorized Simms dealer and we’d be thrilled if you considered us for your next Simms purchase. The biggest name and the best gear in the industry…hands down!

Q – Do your cabins have kitchens?

A – Some do. We have 11 total units for rent at Wolf Creek Angler. We classify them as cabins, motel rooms and bungalows. Here is a brief description of each;
Cabin #1 – Full Kitchen. One full bed and one twin bed in loft. Twin pull-out couch on main floor.
Cabin #2 – Full Kitchen. One full, one twin in loft. Full pull-out couch on main floor.
Cabin #3 – One level, no kitchen. One full and one twin bed. Small fridge, microwave, coffee pot.
Cabin #4 – One level. Full kitchen. Two twin beds.
Motel #8 and #11 – Full bed, small fridge, microwave, coffee pot. Shared porch on front of building
Motel #9 and #10 – One full, one twin bed. Small fridge, microwave, coffee pot. Shared porch.
Bungalow #12 – One level. Full Kitchen. Two twin beds, one full pull-out couch. Shared porch.
Bungalow #13 – One level. Full Kitchen. Two twin beds, one full pull-out couch. Shared porch.
Bungalow #14 – One level. Full Kitchen. Two twin beds, one full pull-out couch. Shared porch.
All rooms have private baths with showers. There are a number of shared barbeque grills around the property for your use.

Q – Can I bring my dog?
A – Yes. We are dog friendly. We charge a flat $25 fee per dog. We expect our guests to inform us when they are bringing dogs and expect them to clean up after their pets.

Q – Is there any place to eat nearby?

A – Yes. Here in Wolf Creek Shotgun Annie’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has been a big hit with our guests. We also have The Oasis in Wolf Creek. Last season they served lunch and dinner on selected days. I haven’t heard yet what they’re planning for this season. Your other dining options in the area are Izaaks and The Trout Shop Café.

Q – Is there a grocery store nearby?

A – The Canyon Store in Wolf Creek has a nice selection of essentials, including a great Montana Microbrew selection, but we suggest you do your major grocery shopping in Helena or Great Falls, depending on where you are coming in from. There is a grocery store in Cascade as well but if you are staying with us you’re better off just driving to Helena which is about the same distance and has an abundance of grocery stores including Albertsons, Costco, Safeway, Super 1 and WinCo.

Q – Can I buy my fishing license from you?
A – Yes. We are a Montana FWP License Provider.

Q – Do you rent drift boats?
A – Yes. We have Adipose Flow drift boats for rent for $150/day.

Q – Do you guys do shuttles?
A – Yes. We are your Full Service Missouri River fly fishing destination.

These are just a few of the FAQ’s we get. Please don’t hesitate to call or message us or stop by with any other questions you may have. We’ll always do our very best to answer them.

By |2019-03-07T18:02:02+00:00March 7th, 2019|Categories: Shop Life, Wolf Creek Chatter|1 Comment

Still Waiting

Another day of watching the snow fly.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s coming to an end.

The first days of March saw the coldest temperatures of the season (in the 30 below zero range) but as of today we’re on the right side of zero and it looks like we may just be emerging from winter’s icy grip.

They’re calling for a high of 34 tomorrow and then highs near 30 every day through the middle of next week. Still nowhere near the 47 degree average high for March but after dwelling in single digits for most of the past five weeks I’m thinking 30’s are going to feel like a real heat wave.

Keep in mind that the boat launches are all buried under a couple of feet of snow and the river from about Mt Palace down is choked with ice but if it shouldn’t be long now.

The snowpack is in good shape and we’re still optimistic that we’re going to see a great water year with flows right where we like them.

We’ve had to push out a few guide trips these past two weeks and will likely have to push out a few more this week into next as it’s going to be a bit before the river comes into shape. We’ll let you know just as soon as it’s fishing and you can bet we’ll be out there the very first day we can get a boat on the water but I wouldn’t expect the fishing to really heat up before the middle to latter part of the month.

That being said, with the lower river getting scoured by ice flows conventional wisdom would dictate that there’s likely a huge concentration of fish between the dam and the canyon. The water is a chilly 33 degrees, not prime trout temps, but if you can find them and get your nymphs in front of them, they’ll eat.

Stay tuned for frequent updates on conditions as well as that long-awaited fishing report which we’ll get to you just as soon as we’re able to get on the water.

By |2019-03-06T16:55:38+00:00March 6th, 2019|Categories: Shop Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Finally…A Farewell to February

Coming Soon?

The shortest month of the year feels like it’s been the longest as winter drags on with no end in sight.

March will pick up right where February left off with single digit temps through the weekend and into the first part of next week but then it looks like something might just be starting to happen. Things could change between now and then but at this point it looks like we’ll be bathed in sunshine Sunday through Tuesday and while the temps will be far from warm we all know how good that late winter sun feels.

We’ll climb into the 20’s on Wednesday and Thursday and near 30 on Friday. Is it a warming trend? Here’s hoping so!

We’re thankful to have made up for winter’s slow start with plenty of precipitation throughout the last month but I for one have had just about enough. I’ve had enough of shoveling snow. I’ve had enough of fighting ice dams on the roof. I’ve had enough of NOT FISHING!

Snowpack has edged up to 110 – 120 percent of normal in our region and most of the state looks good right now at or near 100 percent of average. Only the Kootenai and the Sun, Teton and Marias drainages are lagging behind but  are currently right around 90 percent of average. We like the looks of this map and we’re remaining cautiously optimistic that high water will not be an issue however Mother Nature always gets the final say on this so no guarantees here.

Ideally we’d see a return to normal temperatures sooner rather than later. The average high for February is 39 degrees, we’ve seen highs in the single digits or below zero more days than not this month. The average high for March is 47. We obviously won’t see that the first week of the month but sooner or later it has to warm up and when it does we’re expecting an extremely busy spring as the throngs arrive to satisfy that long-delayed Missouri River Fix.

And speaking of spring fishing, don’t forget it’s time to buy your 2019 Montana fishing license. 2018 licenses expire tomorrow.

Sadly we still have no fishing report to share but as you look towards the eventuality of spring fishing here’s what you need to know.

Water temps are currently holding in the 33 degree range….COLD! We would expect much of March to be full on winter fishing as far as the nymphing goes. Slow, deep water is what you’ll want to target with winter fare. Pink should be in the mix along with firebeads, tailwater sows, Yum Yums, Caviar Scuds, Zebra Midges, Rainbow Czechs, Soft Hackle Sows, Lightning Bugs, Ray Charles etc. Fish deep with weight (tungsten bead nymphs or split shot or both) and cover the water from the inside out, shortening the depth of your rig until you find where they’re at.

Warming water will get them moving at which time we’ll start to key in on the traditional spring hot spots, typically a little faster current with a little less depth. We like to run sowbugs all season long as they’re a constant food source but as we move into spring we will typically swap out the winter fare for mayfly nymphs and maybe even a dirt snake. Little Green Machines and the like tend to shine as the water conditions hit the spring prime.

Spring is brown trout time as the spawning rainbows become scarce. Watch those redds and please don’t target spawning fish. Late March through April and into the first part of May are the prime weeks for streamer fishing on the Missouri. We can’t wait!

Spring is also dry fly time as the Midge Machine churns out piles of bugs. We typically start fishing midges in late February but since nobody has been on the river harassing and educating the fish this year, those first few fishable days could be lights out with relatively easy pickings.
Don’t care for fishing midges? Spring is also Skwalla time so if throwing big dries is your thing don’t miss this opportunity. Many of the larger browns we catch each spring fall for the Skwalla.

I think we could be in for one phenomenal spring if this weather ever breaks and while it’s tough to shift gears to fishing mode while winter continues to have a stranglehold, it’s coming soon so there’s no time like the present to prepare.
It’s time to dig out your gear and get it organized. It’s a great time to replace those old, worn fly lines and this is the spring you should treat yourself to a new pair of Simms waders and boots. We’d be happy to help you with that!

How about a brand new Lamson, Ross or Redington reel or maybe a new LOOP, Redington or Echo rod. We’ve also got a limited supply of Nautilus reels we’re clearing out at 25% off. Once they’re gone they’re gone.

Great deals on Simms winter wear including Cold Weather Pants and Shirts and guide flannels….all 25 % off. Help us make space for the new gear arriving daily.

Remember spring is also time for the WCA Spring lodging and guide trip special….we guarantee it’s the best deal you’ll find on the MO’ and it’s happening right now!

$500 for two nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler and a full day guide trip for one or two anglers through the end of April. This same package will cost you over $800 starting May 1st so don’t miss this opportunity.