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.

Have we Forgotten?

Eighteen years after the deadliest terror attack in US history which killed nearly 3000 people and injured thousands more I wonder what it means to our collective conscience.

Eighteen years is a long time and while I can still vividly recall that day I know there are a bunch of young people walking around to whom 9/11 means very little. Maybe they were very young, maybe they weren’t even born yet. In some ways it’s just another marker of mortality.

Each year I mark this day with a blog post, the last few of which have drawn the contrast between the unified national heartbreak and resolve of September 12th, 2001, with the seemingly ever-widening gap developing in our nation driven by political, cultural and social ideology and 2019 is no different.

It’s a disturbing trend and one which seems to be getting worse, not better.

Per usual, you won’t find anything political here, due in large part to the polarizing nature of said politics. In an age where we seem to have lost the ability to enter into meaningful and respectful discussions with those with whom we disagree, I find it best to just stick to fishing which is generally a safe subject but if you look hard enough for outrage and controversy I guess you can find it just about anywhere!

Tribalism runs rampant and it’s easy to get sucked in. It’s easier to dismiss those with differing viewpoints as being uninformed or backwards or just plain stupid than it is to actually engage in meaningful discussion and have our viewpoints challenged.

But then again if only we could just silence all of those stupid Democrats, Republicans, independents, Pro Life, Pro Choice, NRA, wealthy, Anti-gun, Pro 2nd Amendment, fly anglers, gear anglers, wolf lovers, hunters, trappers, tree huggers, ranchers, SJW’s, outfitters, libertarians, conservatives, liberals….do you see where this is going?

The legacy of 9/11 is far reaching and affects our everyday lives in ways we don’t even realize. There’s the legacy of health issues for the rescue and recovery workers resulting from exposure at Ground Zero. There’s the legacy of expanded government surveillance and shrinking personal freedom in the name of national security. There’s the legacy of grief for the thousands who lost loved ones on that day. There’s the legacy of war and the legacy of a post 9/11 world in which the TSA and Department of Homeland Security exist and are well known to all of us.

Couldn’t the legacy also be one where we recognize that the attack that day defined us not as democrats or republicans, black or white, rich or poor etc but instead as Americans? It’s worth remembering that the attacks on 9/11 drew this nation together. Our differences disappeared, if only for a short time, and we were one.

So maybe take a minute and contemplate what it all means. To me it’s not tribal membership which provides the meaning in my life but rather relationships with actual people. Our relationships with family and friends and the way we treat others are what define us. We’re not defined by nasty tweets or Facebook posts, however bold we think they may be. We’re not defined by our political beliefs, our sexual orientation, our progressive or conservative opinions…we’re not defined by any of it. We are defined by love and our commitment or our unwillingness to show love to those around us regardless of team membership.

By |2019-09-10T19:24:58+00:00September 10th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|1 Comment

Welcome September

Big Game Season coming soon

Good bye summer, fall is on the way and with it our “second season” on the Missouri.

Soon the empty parking lots at the boat ramps and the empty beds at WCA will be filled again as the crowds return to experience what many feel is the absolute best time of the year to fly fish in Montana.

Mind you “crowds” is a relative term and while there will be a marked increase in traffic over what we’ve seen for the past month or so it won’t be anything like what we see during the height of the season in June and July.

Fall is busy, but not CRAZY busy which is a large part of the appeal for those who skip the summer months and reserve autumn for their Missouri River pilgrimage.

Chilly mornings and evenings separated by an abundance of blue sky and sunshine (with a few dark and cloudy days mixed in) and temps that are not too hot, nor too cold. It’s the PERFECT season as far as I’m concerned.

And the fishing? The fishing can be absolutely phenomenal (and sometimes not) but if I had to choose a favorite time to fish the Missouri (and actually to fish in general) this is the time!

Flannel shirt hot coffee mornings followed with a good soaking of autumn sunshine…does it get any better? Why yes, actually it does. Pair the above with a good long float, your favorite streamer stick and colored up browns on the prowl….it’s NIRVANA. We live for this!

Or, if you prefer the top water game Tricos are sporadic but still going  strong and there’s plenty of hopper and ant fishing ahead of us. It won’t be long before we see October Caddis in the mix followed by the eagerly anticipated fall baetis hatch but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. After all, it’s just barely September.

Nymphing has been hit or miss but overall we’ve enjoyed pretty damn good nymph fishing all season long and while we may have hit a late summer lull things should start to pick up from here on out. Keep focusing your efforts on the medium fast to fast water as well as the swirly water where you’ll likely find the fish suspended.

Keep fishing those crayfish along with beatis nymphs, zebra midges and sow bugs. Best sellers as of late have been 2 Bit Hookers, Peep Shows, LGM’s, Jujus, Tailwater Sows, Black Zebra Midges, purple Lightning Bugs, Pheasant Tails, tan UV Czechs and for some reason Crack Back and Split Case PMD’s. Split Case BWO’s, BWO Magic Flies and Soft Hackle Sow bugs should get it done as well.

Rooms are starting to fill and last minute guide trips have been the norm as of late which works out great during the lull but that’s all about to change. Starting around mid-September our guide calendar gets pretty full so if you’re thinking of a fall guide trip on the Missouri or Blackfoot don’t wait any longer.

Lodging availability is good through early October when we hit the prime of our second season but even then we’ve got some holes to fill so call and book your guides, rooms and drift boat rentals today.

We’re fully stocked for fall with new cold weather gear and waders and boots a plenty from Simms. And don’t miss out on the best deals of the season during our second annual Fall Rod and Reel sale…25% off all rods and reels. It’s the perfect time to treat yourself to a new Loop, Echo or Redington rod and Lamson or Ross reel.

Fall shop hours are 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM daily.

Farewell to Summer Days

Autumn is a magical time on the Missouri – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Summer is rapidly coming to a close. And as always, it’s bittersweet.

After all, we do LOVE summertime in Montana. It’s in large part what brought us here and what keeps people coming back.

Long days. Blue skies. Wet wading or floating your favorite stream while soaking up the sun. Warm nights, barbeques, beers on the deck, live music under the stars, visits from friends and family and spending time together before the world clocks back in.

Summer number six at Wolf Creek Angler was a good one and flew by faster than the rest as they tend to do.

Soon we will sadly bid farewell to summer as autumn takes hold but there’s really no need to despair.

Sure, summer is amazing but autumn runs a close second as far as I’m concerned.

The transition has already begun. The days are growing short, so much so that it’s actually dark when I’m driving to work in the morning and again before I go to bed.

The calendar shows summer for another three weeks but there’s a chill in the air (40 degrees in Wolf Creek as I write) most mornings and evenings. We will unofficially say goodbye to summer this Labor Day weekend and close the books on a great summer season while we gear up for the “second season” on the Missouri coming soon.

For many who call this part of the world home, the change in seasons shifts the focus away from fishing to hunting which maintains the late summer and early autumn solitude on the river but for others fall is considered THE best time of the year to fish.

In several weeks we’ll celebrate the arrival of the autumn equinox and with it, a second round of busy chaos as anglers from all around once again set their sights on the Missouri.

Of course Mother Nature has the final say on when the second season begins and ends but we’ve come to expect good fishing and good commerce generally through early November.

We’re open through all of it and beyond. We are your four season Missouri River fly shop. Lodging options dwindle as the temperature drops and we’re forced to winterize but we’ve always got at least a few rooms available, even in the dead of winter. In fact late fall into winter is when Wolf Creek shines as much of the fly fishing infrastructure in and around Craig starts to shut down making Wolf Creek the place to be with two bar/restaurants, a gas station/convenience store and a first rate full service fly shop with onsite lodging all just minutes from Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge.

The feeling must be in the air as the phones have been busy and we’ve been booking a lot of fall trips these past few days. October is prime by fall standards but don’t hesitate to book September dates as well. November is hit and miss but can often deliver the best fishing of the fall as the shift to winter begins ushering in epic days of BWO’s.

Nymphing is always a good bet on the Missouri and fall is no exception but for those of us addicted to the streamer game fall means one thing and one thing only….big cantankerous browns on the prowl. They’re angry and aggressive and colored up in autumn splendor and there’s no better time to target them. Strip through the autumn, swing through the winter….it’s about to be streamer time on the MO (and every other stream in Montana).

So enjoy these last weeks of summer to the fullest but embrace the arrival of fall. It’s a magical time on the MO!

Late Summer on the Missouri

Hopper Time on the MO!

As expected, things on the Missouri have gone from quiet to crickets as August grinds on.

Wolf Creek has become a lonely place, especially on a Monday morning with no rec floaters and just a few anglers around.

It’s the time of the season when we like to catch up on summer projects and also the time when many in the Missouri River fly fishing industry like to take advantage of the slowdown and escape for a spell. Summer is coming to a close and for many of us this is the best opportunity we have to unplug, relax and enjoy some summer downtime.

For some that means getting out of town for late summer vacation. For others it means more time fishing or perhaps a bit of both. In any case it’s a great chance to recharge and reset in preparation for the second season which is soon to be upon us.

Painting, cleaning, watering, washing, mowing, procrastinating, dusting, fixing, scrolling, planning ….all happening daily at Wolf Creek Angler.

And how’s the fishing you ask?

Fishing has ranged from slow to good to great depending on who and when you ask but overall I’d say it’s been solid.

Tricos have been hit or miss which is kind of the nature of the beast but even so, there have been ample opportunities for those willing to put in the time and believe it or not we’re still seeing PMD’s in fishable numbers almost daily. How long will they last? I wouldn’t expect much longer but I’ve been saying that for about three weeks now so take it for what it’s worth and fish em’ while you can.

There are piles of hoppers around this year and so far hopper fishing has not disappointed. We’ll always preface our hopper reports with the disclaimer that the MO is not known as a great hopper river but we’ve got no complaints about this year’s hopper action. Pair your hopper with an ant or drop a small nymph or just throw solo and avoid the wraparound issues the hopper rigs seem to be so prone to.

We’ve had good action most everywhere we’ve fished them so don’t limit yourself to any one stretch. There are hoppers everywhere. Fish the banks, fish the riffles, fish the flats…you might be surprised where those fish will eat a hopper.

Nymphing has been very productive, especially at the dam. Split Case and Crackback PMD’s, Tailwater Sows, Peep Shows, Purple Lighting Bugs, Frenchies, PT’s, 2 Bit Hookers, Weight Flies, Zebra Midges, Zirdles, Claws R and Snapping Crays all getting eaten consistently. We’ve been running deep (6’ – 8’ overall) and getting plenty of action but the word is that the short leash has been productive as well.

Blue skies and sunshine on tap all week long with highs in the 80’s and low 90’s. Cool nights continue with lows in the 50’s. Enjoy these lazy late summer days on the Missouri.

We’ve got an abundance of lodging available and while many guides are enjoying the downtime most would rather be working. Don’t miss out on our Dog Days guide trip and lodging special through the end of the month. Book a full day guide trip and a night of lodging and your second night of lodging is on us.

We are your go- to full service Missouri River fly shop with everything you need for your day on the water and we are closer to Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge than any other shop…we’re right on your way!

We’ve got clean and affordable lodging, the hardest working guides on the water, vehicle shuttles, Adipose Drift Boat Rentals and a fully stocked shop with the best products from the best brands in the industry including Simms, Rio, Smith, Lamson, Ross, Loop, Fishpond, Umpqua, Montana Fly Company, Korkers, Echo and many more.

We’ve also got an open RV spot available now through October 1st. $25/night – Full Hookup AND free WiFi.

And don’t forget we are the Exclusive host of the Mending Waters Montana drift boat program providing drift boat rentals FREE OF CHARGE each and every day to all vets and active duty military members. Book your boat today at mendingwatersmontana.org

Come enjoy the Dog Days with us at WCA.

Autumn Creeping In

Chris with a Pre-Autumn Streamer Eater from this past weekend. A sign of things to come!

There’s plenty of summer left on the calendar, six weeks to be exact, but with the cooler temps and cloudy wet weather we’ve been experiencing one can’t help but feel like Autumn is starting to creep in. The weather trend will continue through this week with highs struggling to reach 80 and nighttime lows dipping into the high 40’s. We got a good dose of thunder, lighting, rain and hail yesterday and it looks like the next chance we have for that will be towards the end of this week but whether it’s in the forecast or not you should always be prepared. There’s nothing worse than being caught out in it without the proper gear.

The greens are starting to fade to browns, yellows, oranges and reds. There’s a chill in the air most mornings and evenings and the black bears have started to show up to feast on the choke cherries which are rapidly ripening. Antlers are reaching full growth and many are starting to turn their attention to hunting with Upland Bird Season and Archery season just weeks away.

Pre-season football has begun and college football begins in earnest two weeks from Saturday. School starts two weeks from Wednesday so yeah, summer is slipping away from us.

Fishing this past weekend felt fallish as well with a good crowd in the grass flats and plenty of fish willing to play. It’s been a long-time coming but we did finally have a good day on the Zirdle with all but a few fish opting for the big bug. Plenty of dry fly opportunities as well with ample Tricos and caddis. Ants were a good option as well between thunderstorms. Hoppers not so much but look for that to improve this week with a little sunshine and a little heat.

Streamer fishing will try your patience right now with the challenge of weeds and other floating and submerged debris but if you can maintain your composure and work through it you’ll likely find some willing players exactly where you’d think you’d be finding them. Bring on the fall fishing!
The late August doldrums are definitely in full swing as evidenced by the lack of traffic out there but those in the know will tell you that August fishing on the MO can often be nothing short of exceptional. Not to say that’s always the case but we normally manage to put together some pretty good days out there in August and the best part is that with the exception of the dam you’ll more than likely have it all to yourself (relatively speaking of course).

Lodging is wide open and guides are suddenly finding themselves with time to kill so book a trip today and put them to work. Remember now through the end of the month you can take advantage of our Dog Days of Summer Guide Trip and Lodging Special. Book a full day guide trip and a night of lodging and the second night of lodging is on us.

Summer deals in the shop are still in full swing but the goods are rapidly disappearing. 25% Off Simms summer sportswear including Guide Pants, Guide Shorts, Stone Cold and Big Sky shirts, Rip Rap wading sandals and more. And don’t miss our Annual Fall Rod Sale coming soon….25% off all 2019 rods and reels from Echo, Redington, Loop, Ross, Lamson and more.

Enjoy these last weeks of summer and don’t despair. Autumn is coming soon and just happens to be our absolute favorite time of the year to fish in Montana. It’s a magical time on the MO and beyond.

Dog Days of Summer Special Happening NOW at Wolf Creek Angler

Dog Days on the MO’

The long-awaited Dog Days of Summer Special has returned, giving you yet another reason to drop everything and make your way to Wolf Creek and the amazing Missouri River.

Now through the end of August book a night’s lodging and a full day guide trip and we’ll throw in a second night for FREE.
The Dog Days have arrived but don’t let anyone tell you the fishing is no good in August.

Can we guarantee phenomenal fishing? Of course not, but the fishing has been consistently good with enough tough days mixed in to make it challenging and keep things interesting.

We make it a point to give you honest and up to date reports based on our own real-time experiences as well at the feedback we’re getting from other guides, customers and guests. The last few reports we’ve shared have been very positive for good reason, but we should take this opportunity to mention that there have been a couple of days where things were slow from start to finish. As you might expect this time of year, under the heat of the summer sun, there have also been plenty of days that started strong but shut off during the height (and the heat) of mid-day.

We’re occasionally called out for making things out to be better than they are but you can rest assured that our reports are always honest and we’ll be the first to tell you when things are tough. There’s nothing to gain by painting a rosy picture when the fishing is tough. You’ll find out soon enough for yourself if that’s the case and will likely disregard anything we’re saying as dishonest going forward.

That being said, if our overall experience for a given time period (generally a week in our case) has been good and if we’ve gotten mostly positive reports overall from our guides and guests during that time, we’re going to report that the fishing is good but since we are talking about fishing it’s not to say that you won’t show up and have a slow day out there. It’s the nature of the beast. There are many factors involved, a few of which we have some control over, most of which we do not so the bottom line is that you should utilize our reports for what they are which is a snap shot of the overall productivity of the fishery in a given time frame, but know that no matter how great things may have been it doesn’t mean they’re going to stay that way.

What we can say is that dry fly opportunities have been abundant. PMD’s have all finally come to a close (for the most part) but Tricos and Caddis are filling in the gaps and terrestrials are starting to shine. We always like to throw in a disclaimer when talking hopper fishing as the Missouri is not known as a great hopper river but, that being said, naturals are plentiful out there right now and hoppers are getting eaten daily. So while the MO may not be known as a great hopper river it’s always worth your time to throw them. Some of the biggest browns of the season always fall prey to the hopper. Run in tandem with an ant or drop a nymph to increase your odds. My go to as of late….#10 More or Less Hopper in Peach.

Fish tight to the banks in the hopper zones but don’t overlook those mid-river flats and riffles. The fish are there.

Nymphing remains good with zebra midges, lighting bugs, PT’s, LGM’s, Tailwater Sows, Czechs, Weight Flies, Tung Darts and the rest of the usual suspects all producing with proper placement. Short leashing has had its days though fish are in the depths as well so fish the water you believe in….the fish are there.

We’re open daily at 7 AM for all of your Missouri River fly fishing needs. We’ve got the hardest working guides on the water, clean and affordable lodging, Adipose drift boat rentals and a shop full of everything you need for your day on the water. Check out our great deals on summer sportswear from Simms as we clear the way for fall gear arriving SOON.

Cruising through Summer

It’s that time of the season when things go quiet.

Dry fly fishing remains prime with an abundance of opportunities available to feed your top-water addictions.

Whether you like targeting specific fish with tiny trico patterns or blind fishing a meaty (and highly visible) terrestrial this is your time.

Tricos, Caddis, the last of the PMD’s, beetles, ants, hoppers…it’s a top-water extravaganza with something for everyone but as luck would have it everyone has rapidly transitioned to no one.

The crowds have disappeared. The fish have not, though we’re certain they’re enjoying the break.

If the fishing is so good, you may be asking yourself, then why have the crowds disappeared?

It’s a valid question and one which is tied to the normal cycles of the Missouri River summer season. These coming weeks are traditionally quiet ones as the prime timers have come and gone and many have started to set their sights on fall.

The exodus typically coincides with hot weather and weeds, neither of which ruin the fishing but suffice it to say that neither really add much to the enjoyment of your Montana fly fishing experience.

This year is a little different.

Yes, hot weather has arrived but it’s been a relatively cool summer up until now and the temps are still unseasonably cool at night which is helping to keep the river cool. These cooler temps along with summer flows in the 6000 CFS range thus far (though dropping now) have helped to keep us virtually weed free through the prime time and things are still in good shape. Expect more weeds as flows continue to drop.

The long winter and the slow march to summer has delayed our “normal” bug schedule by a couple of weeks which means that not only are we STILL fishing PMD’s but we’re just getting started on Tricos so we’re anticipating solid dry fly fishing for the rest of the summer season. Throw in respectable caddis activity and the option of fishing terrestrials and you’ve got a near-perfect time to fish the Missouri.

And as if that weren’t enough to make you change your late summer plans lodging has just become extremely available and extremely abundant and while our guides are enjoying a day or two off they’d rather be working than not so I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be booking yourself an August trip to THE best trout fishery in the country this summer.

Tons of bugs plus tons of fish minus crowds of anglers = the perfect time to fish the MO’.

Best Dry Flies this week – Rusty Spinner, Brook’s Sprout PMD, PMD Drowned Spinner, Hi Vis PMD Spinner, Double Wing Trico, Trico Indicator Spinner, Hi Vis Trico Spinner, Trina’s Hi Vis Sprout, Griffiths Gnat, Buzzball, Bloom’ Parachute Caddis, Outrigger Caddis, X Caddis, Front End Loader, CDC Caddis Emerger, Cornfed Caddis, Para Adams, Purple Haze.

Best Bets for Terrestrials – Moorish Hopper, More or Less Hopper, Water Walker, Cinnamon Parachute Ant, Hi Vis Beetle, Bloom’s Stealth Ant, Parachute Ant, Spruce Moth.

Not to be overlooked the nymphing has been good with a smorgasbord of bugs getting eaten.
Tailwater Sows, PMD Redemption, Frenchie, LGM’s, PT Black, Purple Lightning Bug, Weight Flies, Tung Darts, PMD Wondernymph, Doc’s Summer Bug, Juju purple, 2 Bits, Psycho Mays, Peep Shows and yes, even Zirdles are FINALLY getting noticed.

Fish on top, fish below, fish blind, fish deep, fish shallow, fish fast and medium fast water (skip the slow). Heck, take advantage of the relatively clean water and fish streamers…You know I am.

Your options are limitless right now on the MO.
W

e are your one stop shop for everything you need for your day on the water. The best guides on the river; clean and affordable lodging; Adipose Drift Boat Rentals; Simms waders, boots, sportswear and accessories; sunglasses from Smith and Suncloud; nets, packs and accessories from Fishpond and Rising; ice; fishing licenses; and much more including the largest selection of Missouri River bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

Open daily at 7 am.

Guest Blog by Alan Campbell

A nice piece of writing from a friend of the cause. We always love seeing how our guests are moved by the MO’.

It had been a memorable morning, having caught two browns and a rainbow — two on top and one below, to keep the ratio in tact — on a favored bend in the Missouri River near Craig.

My son and I enjoyed each other again, having yesterday spent a long, contentious drift on the river five feet apart on a rented boat. We could do no right in the fishing department, straining family relations. I’d seen it all and knew where he should cast. He knew better, and sometimes proved it by catching a fish.

But all in all, the abundance of trout raised by the Missouri treated us like foreigners, which is fitting for folks whose lives allow them to spend precious little time getting to know them.

Yesterday was forgotten on this morning. Cody pulled on waders while chatting about a big brown he caught on the same bend two nights before. A high school graduate five weeks removed, life changed on a dime and a good night’s sleep. What’s to worry an 18-year-old?

The place was crowded. Six cars in the pull-off. You just expect company in July if you plan to fish the biggest spring creek in the world. And the Missouri was fishing in a world class of itself. Pale morning dun mayflies were fading but sufficient, caddis were dominating, and the promise of those tiny trico mayflies — the ones that bound in the millions to build spiraling, ghostly forms – was on the horizon.

No fish were rising early, but Cody keeps his smile. He searches while I reluctantly switch my rig to a pair of weighted nymphs four feet below those spongy, sticky floats. We share shock when a big brown sets himself while I was talking downstream with Cody.
A tenuous fight ends, and photos are taken.

But what am I seeing now? Tricos? Yes, tricos were hatching. Two weeks late by our schedule, but right on time according to theirs.
I had handed my pole to Cody, who given my good fortune had suddenly developed a penchant to nymph. I stood there dumbly with his, which was rigged with a No. 18 Adams. A pod of rising fish had formed upstream.

It was ten casts before I feel him, a broad-shouldered rainbow who plays the bully before going airborne three times. “Not again,” Cody yells out in somewhat feigned disgust. He was growing frustrated.

The rainbow reluctantly came to net and Cody coaxes her back to life. We switch rods again.

Then as mysteriously as the tricos appeared, they left. The river turns quiet except for the occasional trout exercising his muscle on a fly the size of a mole. Their rises sound like rocks getting tossed from the bank.

Cody heads back to a pool upstream, but I suspect he’s moving in the direction of the truck to read. Bless him. A kid who would rather read a novel than yell at his old man on Facebook. Imagine that.

I, too, soon head in that direction, stopping to reflect at a riffle that in five previous passings this week always held fishermen. It was known as an excellent place to nymph, one had told me. And now no one was there. I took a few more steps toward the truck before realizing I was walking away from a golden opportunity.

But after skidding down the hill I found an older gentleman — even older than me — relaxing on the shore. I turn to walk away when he offers, “There’s plenty of room. Go ahead and try it here.”

Turns out his name is Don, a retired painter for the Helena school system. He’d gotten up at 4:30 to hit this particular riffle by 6 a.m. Been there 3 1/2 hours and landed three fish.

Don was my dad’s name.

Don on the river was happy. While his fishing itch scratched, socializing had taken a back seat. He was an affable fellow taken to conversation, and we hit it off.

Eventually I transform my leader back into a nymph rig and start across the riffle. Every flyfishing opportunity comes with its own rhythm. I start close, flipping the line ahead and upstream for a short but natural drift.

I soon find that a longer cast is not difficult and covers more water with the aid of one strong, over-the-top mend.
No takers, though, as I move across the channel. Then my fly sticks on a rock. Don hollers something out, but I explain that I snagged. I pull and fli but the situation is useless.

The only way to save my nymphs is to wade into the fast water and extract them by hand. I tried. But even within feet of the end of my leader it didn’t budge. How deep is it? Can I even tough bottom?

But then … something. Given the uneven temperament of a blur of rushing water you can’t be sure. But maybe something.
And then movement. By God, it was a fish!

Don turns giddy.

“Now what?” I ask.

“If you can get him over here, it’s calmer. And you can walk in the river here,” Don suggests.
I’m not sure as a calm stretch lays on the opposite side of the river.
But truth be known, I want to land this fish with Don. Maybe I need to land this fish with Don, and he the same.
The brown has other thoughts. He still hasn’t taken a run. It was like he had do laid dwn stakes in the middle of the riffle, his home, and was not about to retreat under duress.

Just as Don was urging me to close the gap, the brown gives up a few feet. Eventually I pull and pump, a sure sign that the trout is tiring.
About ten minutes — fifteen minutes? Who knows? — and the brown leaps three feet in the air with the last of his strength. Now it was close combat.
I pull my cellphone out and hand it to Don for a photo. Cody wouldn’t believe this fish without proof, and who could blame him? Sixteen inches of trout on the river has a tendency to reach 18 inches by shore. A few drinks, and the proportions get out of hand.
The trout does not fit in my net. I have him in there twice but he refuses to fold his body in a time-honored tradition of trout that lose a good fight. On the third try, something happens. I don’t know what. Perhaps he catches the upper nymph on the bag of my net.

But he is gone.

“Did you get a picture?” I ask Don.
“I’m not very good with these new phones,” he replies.
“At least I have a witness,” I continue, somehow smiling.
“You sure do.”

We talk another few minutes about nothing and everything, reaching the mutual conclusion that life’s been good.

“I’ve been really fortunate. Had a good job with good bosses. Have a good pension. And I’m able to be here,” he says, gazing up and through the Big Belts.
But it is time to go, I explained. Cody is waiting, no doubt with face into his latest novel that could be about anything from video games to espionage.
“Has he got it, what it takes to fish here?” Don wants to know.
“I think so,” I say.

Cody greets me with a smile that covers his face. I show him my broken leader and tell my story in as cursory form as I can muster. But better yet, Cody caught three rainbows after leaving me. I want details.

We fish for many reasons. Some call us lazy. They say we’re escaping reality.

But what if the trappings of life are just that?

Then we’re left with memorable mornings on the Missouri.
Me, Cody and Don.

By |2019-07-24T17:36:07+00:00July 24th, 2019|Categories: Shop Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Prime Time Flying By

It’s Trico Time on the Missouri – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Mid way through July we’re enjoying one of the better seasons in recent memory. Don’t look now but it’s soon to be behind us.

It’s been a strong month for dry fly fishing, I can’t recall a July with more optimal conditions. Near perfect flows, near perfect water temps, fairly consistent bugs and plenty of targets for those on the hunt.

Looking beyond the Missouri the weather has been keeping things green and cool throughout the region. It’s mid-July and we’ve yet to see any hint of Hoot Owl restrictions. That’s a good thing.

It’s been so good we’ve had to resort to complaining about frequent thunderstorms (which, in actuality haven’t been all that frequent) and a couple of hundred CFS bumps in flows here and there bringing us 6400 ish – still well within the “optimal” summer flows we hope for each season.
Some prefer something closer to 3000 CFS for increased wading opportunities but 3000 CFS means warmer water and a serious reduction in prime trout habitat. The river is in great shape at 6000 and the fish are healthy and happy.

It looks like the weather pattern will continue through this week, with high temps holding below average in the mid 70’s and lows in the high 40’s at night keeping things cool. Expect breezy conditions beginning this afternoon and over the next couple of days. Things begin to heat up early next week with sunshine and low 90’s on tap through mid-week. A little more what you would expect in mid to late July in Montana and just what we need to get those Tricos going.

Clouds have started to form and we expect to be fishing Tricos perhaps today and if not today then definitely by the end of the week.  Stock up on your Indicator Spinners and double wings now while you can. All indications are that it’s going to be a good, long Trico season which means we’ve got another month at the least of potentially phenomenal dry fly fishing.

PMD’s still going strong (Rusty Spinners are the ticket) though we expect we’re reaching the end. Caddis in very fishable numbers…just like the days of old. (Maybe not quite but good nonetheless). Best bets include Outriggers, Cornfed, JazzCabbage and CDC Caddis Emergers.

Don’t like tricos? Terrestrials are soon to be in play. I’ve yet to see a hopper but ants are getting eaten and whether you see them or not it’s never a bad call to throw a hopper from here on out. If nothing else it beats the bobber as far as I’m concerned and the ever-present potential for your hopper getting slammed by a hungry trout should hold your interest.

So while the focus has definitely been on dry fly fishing these past weeks nymphing should not be overlooked. PMD nymphs and Caddis pupae have been good options as well as Tailwater Sows and black Zebra midges. Much to our disappointment the Zirdle has yet to turn on. After last year’s Zirdlepalooza when we couldn’t keep the bins stocked we went HEAVY on Zirdles on our pre-season orders and here they sit. Sooner or later they’ll start to get eaten again and when they do we’ve got you covered. If per chance they don’t there may just be some screaming deals on Zirdles by season’s end.

Hot sellers continue to be primarily of the PMD variety. Psycho Mays, Split Case, Crack Back, Magic Fly, Frenchies, Little Green Machines, S & M’s. On the Caddis front Pulsating Caddis Pupae, Weight Flies, Nitro Caddis Pupa, Tung Darts and the like have all been effective. Throw in some of the aforementioned Zebra midges and Tailwater sows and you should have your bases covered.

We’ve hit our peak and we’re now on our way to the Dog Days of August and early September. The bugs will be here, the fish will be here…the crowds will not.

In the meantime July is pretty well spoken for on the lodging front, though there are a few holes here and there and guides are starting to become available again so make it a point to get out here and enjoy one of the better seasons we’ve had in recent years.

The peak may be over but we’ve got months of great fly fishing ahead of us on the Missouri.

Dry Fly Prime Time on the MO

Ten days into July and we can finally proclaim that the summer season is indeed in full swing. We still haven’t felt summer heat (though it appears to be on the way) but the dry fly droves have arrived and the river is abuzz with activity from first light until dark.

Boat rental drop offs and pick-ups have us on the pre-dawn and post-dusk run which has ushered in The Blur, the time of the season when we lose all sense of time and the days blur into one another. Autopilot kicks in and the next thing you know its August and the crowds have disappeared.
Traffic is at its peak right now. Boat traffic, pontoon traffic, wade angler traffic, recreational floaters….all living in perfect harmony right now on the Missouri River. Or maybe not exactly…but the river is here for everyone to use so let’s all make our best effort to treat each other with kindness and respect out there.

The flows have bumped a bit to 5700 CFS which is maintaining a good separation between wade anglers and boats but with traffic at its height your bound to run into situations where things are getting crowded. Boat anglers should do everything within their power to give wade anglers a wide berth and wade anglers should realize that when they’re standing in the middle of the river several deep across a flat that it sometimes makes that wide berth difficult for boats to execute. All anglers should realize that much of that recreational traffic has no concept of what it is we’re doing out there. Generally speaking I think they do their best to avoid the anglers but floating unicorns and the like are tough to steer so if they happen to run over your rising fish why not extend them some grace and just give them a smile and a wave. The fish will come back.

Tensions tend to run high this time of year but they really don’t need to. There are inconsiderate jerks who will intentionally run over your fish but they are few and far between. Most simply don’t know any better so the best thing we can all do as stewards of the resource and ambassadors of the sport is to be on our best behavior and practice good river etiquette whether that same courtesy is being extended back to us or not.

There’s a lot of water out there and fish live in ALL of it. Spread out. Start early before the crowds or wait until they’ve cleared out. Go out and explore some sections of river you’re not familiar with. There’s so much great water on the MO and if you’ve been fishing the same stretch forever then you’ve barely scratched the surface.

But enough of the soap box. If you’re reading this you’re probably more interested in how the fishing is than in the traffic dynamics of the high season.
Well, the bugs were a long time coming this year but with several weeks of phenomenal dry fly fishing behind us, suffice it to say that 2019 has in many ways restored the reputation of the Missouri River as THE dry fly destination in the west.

PMD action has been consistently good, though some days are better than others and while we’ve heard plenty of “back in the day” talk regarding the caddis hatch as is typical for this time of year our real time here and now assessment is that there are plenty of bugs around and there are plenty of fish willing to eat a well-presented caddis imitation.

#16 PMD and Rusty Spinners have been in demand, to the point where we’ve sold out of a couple of different patterns. The bins will magically refill as always but following a 2018 where high water pretty much completely shut down the PMD event I couldn’t be happier to see empty PMD bins on the dry fly side of the bins. I’ve pushed #18’s after selling through #16’s in a couple of different patterns and the feedback has been good. I’ve personally been running more #18’s than #16’s for two weeks now and doing just fine.

I get the sense that PMD action may be waning but in the meantime the aforementioned Rusty Spinners, PMD Spinners, Knock Down Duns, Film Critics, Drowned Spinners, Sprout PMD’s and Hackle Stackers have all been getting it done.

Best Caddis patterns for me have been the Outrigger Caddis, Blooms Parachute Caddis, Cornfed Caddis, Front End Loader and the legendary and recently restocked CDC Caddis Emerger, perhaps rivaled by only the Parachute Adams in the sheer number of fish fooled over decades of fishing.
I’m continuing to hear talk of Tricos, I’ve yet to see any but it won’t be long and it could be the kind of season where Tricos run well into September.
Ants are getting eats and hoppers will soon be a legitimate part of your arsenal.

Its Dry Fly Prime Time on the Missouri. Loved by many both in theory and in practice and hated by others who’ve been beat down and frustrated by the challenge of micro-currents and picky fish. They’ve seen it all by this point of the season and they won’t tolerate your sloppy casts and skating flies. This is the BIG show. You’ve got to bring you A Game.

Stop by WCA to restock bugs, leaders, tippet, floatant or anything else you need to maximize Dry Fly Nirvana on the MO. The most professional and least pretentious guides on the river, Adipose Drift Boat Rentals, Shuttles, Simms Waders and boots, sunglasses from Smith and Suncloud, fishing licenses, ice, LOOP fly rods, Lamson and Ross reels, Fishpond nets and so much more. We are your one-stop Full Service Missouri River Fly Shop far removed from the madness.

Make Wolf Creek your new Missouri River Fly Fishing Destination.

By |2019-07-10T19:12:14+00:00July 10th, 2019|Categories: Fishing Report, Shop Life|3 Comments