Great Expectations

The Crew from Schultz Outfitters

In between winter storms we hosted one of the bigger groups we’ve ever had last week and while the weather provided for some nice days on the water the fishing remained somewhat challenging.

With four days to fish we spread out far and wide from Land of the Giants to Cascade and while we did manage to find everyone a decent fish or two the fish gods were stingy, giving us just enough action to keep things interesting and to entice the majority of the group into making at least a soft commitment to return to the Missouri for another go around next year.

The group we were hosting was put together by Schultz Outfitters in Ypsilanti Michigan so it was a real treat for me to be around a group of Michiganders all week. I also had the pleasure of teaching some rowing basics to one member of the group who had driven out ahead of the rest in order to pick up his new boat which he had delivered to the shop. What a great group and what a fun experience. I can’t wait to have them back again.

So back to the fishing report, yes on the slow side but hope springs eternal and we’ve got Great Expectations for the days and weeks ahead.

We’re enjoying the post-storm sunshine today and we’re glad to see the snow disappearing yet again, hopefully at least for a few weeks this time.

We’re back in the 40’s and 50’s starting tomorrow and maybe even up in the 60’s again by mid-week next week. Plenty of sunshine on tap over the 10 day and night time lows holding in the 20’s and 30’s, keeping water temps on the drop. Water temps are currently sitting at around 52 degrees.

Random BWO sightings being reported each day but I don’t believe we’re there yet. Keep those epic BWO days in your Great Expectations file and get out there on those cloudy days, preferably when it’s spitting rain and snow. It’ll happen sooner or later. In the meantime there are plenty of pseudos and caddis around to keep you busy if your idea of fall fishing on the MO involves dry flies only.

Nymphing has been moderately effective, depending on the day. There are fish congregating in the grass flats though they aren’t as grabby as we’d like them to be which has caused many to skip the dam and go in at Wolf Creek or lower.

The canyon has been fishing pretty good, relatively speaking and we’ve heard some decent reports from the lower as well. Don’t be afraid to spread out and try some different water. When things are on the slow side it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and explore parts of the river you aren’t as familiar with. You might be surprised what you find.

Best sellers from the nymph bins continue to be purple weight flies, Little Green Machines, Split Case BWO’s, Olive and pearl Lighting Bugs, Rainbow Warriors, Rainbow Czechs, Tung Darts, Tailwater Sows, Nitro Caddis Pupae, Black Zebra midges, Olive S & M’s, BWO Magic Fly, Dark Peep Show, Olive Psycho May and still moving a fair amount of Zirdles (tan or natural as of late). I’ve not had much luck with the zirdles lately but they’ve definitely had their moments based on what we’ve been hearing.

Streamer fishing should be heating up soon. I’ve heard a couple of solid reports but those have been few and far between. I ran an exclusive streamer trip on Friday and boated one really good fish, only moving a few others the entire day but take that for what it’s worth and get out there and strip.

Weeds are an ever-present hindrance though I’ve seen them MUCH worse. Prepare mentally ahead of time. Stay Calm and strip.

Best bets on the streamers have been Sparkle Minnows (shock), Mojo minnows, Black buggers, JJ Specials, Circus Peanuts, MK Ultralights, Dirty Hippy in brown or black and we’ve also had some action on Mini Dungeons, Baby Gongas, D & D’s and Inflated Egos.

As with the nymphing the fish have not been collectively grabby on the streamers but the ones we’ve picked up have been aggressive. If streamers are your thing put in your time and have great expectations. It’s the right time of the year for hunting unicorns and that next cast could be the one.

We’ve got a few more weeks of fall prime time ahead but the end of the season is in sight. We’ll likely start closing/winterizing some of our lodging soon and while there are folks around you can expect some relative solitude out there going forward.

The shop is still open from 7 AM – 5 PM daily for shuttles, bugs, cold-weather gear, Simms boots and waders and so much more.

After a busy week last week the guide calendar is thinning out so if you’re thinking of booking yourself a fall guide trip on the Missouri this wouldn’t be a bad time to do it.

Winter specials for lodging and guide trips coming soon and we’ll update you as soon as we know the winter schedule at Shotgun Annie’s. Expect fewer dining options in the area as the fall progresses but remember we offer lodging with kitchens so you can cook for yourself.

It’s been a weird one weather-wise and fishing wise but we’re still optimistic that there’s some great fall fishing ahead.

Welcome October

The return of autumn on the Missouri River

The winter storm that brought historic September snows and cold to Montana last weekend has come and gone and despite the lingering cold these last two days, it looks like we’re on our way to more seasonable fall weather as the week goes on.

We’ll see temps climb back into the 50’s starting today and it appears as though we may see a bit of Indian summer the first part of next weeks with temps near 70. Night time lows in the 30’s will keep things chilly for those early morning and late evening outings but a far cry from the low teens we saw Tuesday morning which took a toll on our psyches as well as on some of our exterior plumbing.

We did lose a few trips to cancellation over the weekend but those who kept their dates and fished through a couple of cold mornings were rewarded as the plummeting water temps and dramatic weather change seemed to have perhaps flipped the switch on fall fishing.

We had some good streamer and dry fly reports from yesterday, just in time for our big group trip from our friends at Schultz Outfitters in Southeastern Michigan happening all this week. Of course these Michigan folks are no strangers to cold weather fishing but we’re all stoked to see fall weather return and I’m sure they are as well.

Hopefully we’ll lose the rest of our snow here at the shop today and fingers are crossed that water will again be flowing through our aforementioned exterior plumbing in an orderly manner (not spraying out of cracked pipes) by this afternoon. Unfortunately we’ve embarked upon the season of long shadows here in the Wolf Creek canyon and while we do still have a parking lot full of sunshine we won’t see sun in the back yard until spring and it won’t be long before we lose our sunlight in the front so suffice it to say, we’re enjoying it while it lasts.

But enough about the coming winter woes…..right now the warm up is underway and we’re in the midst of our busiest three weeks of the fall season. The empty lot is empty no more and the quiet shop is now abuzz with activity, at least for the next few weeks. We do have a few vacancies here and there but for the most part rooms are going to be hard to come by until late October. If you’re planning on coming out over these next few weeks I’d recommend you call sooner rather than later as things are rapidly filling up.

Expect plenty of traffic out there (though nothing like during the summer season) if you’re headed this way and make sure to make us your first stop on your way to the river for shuttles, bugs, cold weather gear and so much more including the best streamer selection in the canyon.

Nymphing will continue to provide the numbers but there are plenty of other options if bobber fishing doesn’t excite you. Streamer fishing is heating up and is definitely worth your time though weeds will be an ever-present frustration. Keep calm and strip!

Pseudos and caddis have been providing plenty of top water action in a target-rich environment. The cool water temps should facilitate BWO action soon. In the meantime terrestrials will be back in play on the warm sunny days so make sure you’re stocked up on ants and beetles and the like.

Fall fishing is underway and it’s about to go off!

Winter on the Way?

Three days into fall and unfortunately the talk is having much more to do with the coming weather than about the fall fishing.

Today might be the nicest day we’re going to see for some time.

A high wind watch is in effect for tomorrow with west winds 30-40 mph with gusts of 60 – 65 mph possible in portions of central, north central, southwest and west central Montana. The local forecast is calling for cloudy skies with a 40 percent chance of rain and a high near 64 with west winds 13 – 22 mph gusting to 30. A far cry from what the high wind watch is calling for but just be mindful of the potential for high winds if you’re planning on fishing tomorrow.

Friday looks like a classic fall fishing day with rain likely and a high near 50 with calm winds. Did someone say streamer fishing?

Saturday things get interesting with rain and snow, becoming all snow after 3pm. High near 37. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible and it doesn’t stop there.

We’ll see snow all weekend with highs in the 30’s and lows in the 20’s right on into the early part of next week. The snow will taper off on Monday but it looks like we’re settling in to high temps in the mid 40’s through the end of next week. Will we see an Indian summer to follow? We hope so. Winter is fine but we’ve been really looking forward to fall and hope to see plenty of it before winter takes hold.

Again, most of the chatter this week has had to do with the weather but that’s not to say that folks aren’t fishing. It’s been a moderately busy week on the river with less-than stellar reports overall but fear not, better days are ahead. As sure as day follows night good fishing will return though sometimes I feel like simply adjusting one’s expectations can go a long way in turning things around.

You aren’t always going to have 30 fish days, and you probably wouldn’t enjoy them all that much if you did. Sure, everyone loves to have those days once in a while but it’s the work you put into it that brings the reward. Crack the code and its game on. Sometimes the code can’t be cracked. Sometimes the fish simply aren’t eating. It’s the challenge that keeps us coming back.

And it’s not as though the fishing sucks. It doesn’t. There are plenty of fish being caught and plenty of fish being hooked and lost. They’re hot right now and will give you a fight. You may lose more than you land and some of those lost are likely going to be the biggest trout you’ve ever hooked, that’s the beauty of losing them. No fish, no proof either way. They can be as big as you want them to be.

Nymphing as always is generating the numbers but we’re getting them on top as well and those willing to play the streamer game in the autumn weeds are occasionally getting rewarded with a Missouri River fall trophy.

Traffic has been concentrated from the dam to Craig though there’s no reason you shouldn’t be fishing the rest of the river…the fish are everywhere.

Best bets for nymphing have been status quo with Zebra Midges and Tailwater sows leading the charge. We’ve also continued to have good luck with weight flies and tung darts as well as Rainbow Czechs. Don’t hesitate to throw some small mayflies in the mix. #18 Green Machines, pearl lightning bugs, olive WD 40’s, Jujus and BWO Magic Flies are all good options.

We’re in-between on the dry fly scene as we await fall baetis but in the meantime try ants, beetles, caddis, October Caddis, pseudos and Callibaetis. You can’t go wrong with a Purple Haze or October Caddis trailed with an ant, a buzzball or a cdc caddis emerger. Get creative and show them something they haven’t seen.

Streamer guys have been getting them on small black buggers (are those even streamers?) but as always, fish the bugs you believe in. Confidence is the X Factor and it can make all the difference in the world.

If you’re coming out to fish the MO this weekend bundle up and if you happen to get caught unprepared for winter weather stop by WCA for layers upon layers of Simms cold weather gear. We’ve got you covered from base layer to outerwear, literally from head to toe. Gloves a plenty, socks, hats, Cold Weather shirts, guide flannels and of course a full lineup of G3 and Freestone waders and boots.

We’re not expecting much traffic this weekend but we’ll be here regardless, 7 AM daily. Rain, Snow, Sleet….whatever the case may be, we are your full service Missouri River fly shack.

Mid September on the Missouri

Autumn is starting to take hold

September is rapidly disappearing as the 2019 season continues to fly by. The lonely days of late August/early September are gone and the river is getting to be a very busy place again. The official start of autumn is just a few days away and if this week is any indication it’s going to be one busy fall on the MO’.

No more sitting around drinking coffee and staring at the computer screen all morning…its go time again.

Traffic has been heavy in the shop this week with a bunch of guide trips and drift boat rentals and more and more folks just stopping by for shuttles and bugs having heard about us and wanting to check out the shop. The word is out, especially for those coming in from Helena, Bozeman, Billings, and Missoula…really anywhere other than Great Falls. We are your first stop on the way to the Missouri and we are closer to Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge than any other shop. And even if you’re coming from Great Falls, if you’re planning on fishing at the dam, WCA is the most logical place to stop for your shuttles and flies and anything else you need for your day on the water.

We are your outfitter owned and operated full service Missouri River fly shop. We’re your one stop shop for guides, affordable lodging, drift boat rentals, Shuttles, Simms waders and boots, Loop rods, Lamson reels and so much more including the largest selection of Missouri River bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana. Don’t miss our Annual Fall Rod and Reel sale going on now. 25% off all rods and reels and deeper discounts up to 40% off on clearance items from Ross, Redington and more.

Fishing has been good enough and it’s about to get much better.

Some slow days out there last week (and this week as well depending on who you ask) but things seem to be trending in the right direction as we await Autumn Splendor and Fall Fishing Nirvana on the Mighty Missouri.

Holter Dam has been crowded this week, both with anglers and with trout. It’s where most will be concentrating their efforts from here on out but just because most people are fishing at the dam that doesn’t mean you have to.

There are plenty of fish from Craig down as well so don’t limit yourself. If you’d prefer a more solitary experience then by all means spread out and try something new.

Nymphing has been and will continue to be your best bet for numbers. Purple weight flies, black Zebra Midges, LGM’s, Tailwater sows, Olive Redemptions, Peep Shows, 2 Bits, Tung Darts, Nitro Caddis, Radiation Baetis, Purple or Pearl Lightning Bugs, Rainbow Warriors, Juju’s….lots of bugs on the menu right now in the sub-surface game.

Hoppers have peaked and will continue to fade, ants are where it’s at. Caddis are getting eaten as well with the standard tan elk hair caddis and the larger October varieties all getting looks. Tricos on some days, with pseudos and callibaetis also in the mix. Fall BWO’s still a few weeks away. Dry Fly tip of the day – try trailing a CDC Caddis emerger when you’re targeting those sipping trout. They might not like your dry fly game but a CDC Caddis emerger fished in the film gets eaten way more often than you’d think even by the most discerning fish.

Streamer fishing has been heating up and will only get better as we move through the fall. If you’re a streamer junkie this is your time. A detailed report coming soon but suffice it to say that Wolf Creek Angler is your Missouri River Streamer headquarters. We’ve got the right streamer lines for any and all situations and while we don’t like to brag we have heard it said that we’ve got THE BEST STREAMER SELECTION on the MISSOURI. A word of caution for those just getting into the game….weeds, though not as bad as they could be, are an ever-present challenge when fishing the MO in the fall. Anticipate the challenge and STAY CALM. Streamer fishing is hard work. Weeds make it harder work and can drive even the most patient angler to the brink. Just try to stay focused on the hoped for results….the big payoff…the BEHEMOTH dwelling in the hidden depths of the MO.

Fall shop hours are 7 AM to 5 PM daily.

We hope to see you soon for the best of Montana fall fishing.

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.

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.
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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.