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.

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!

 

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

February Blues – Cabin Fever Edition

 

We continue to dream of warmer days as February is rapidly shaping up to be one of the coldest on record with no end in sight.

We’ll see highs in the teens and 20’s for the remainder of the week with lows in the single digits or well below zero most nights.
The only fishing report we’ve heard comes from Holter Lake where the perch fishing has been slow.

Sure we’re tired of the cold and we’re getting a little stir crazy as Cabin Fever persists….ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY.

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY.

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes jack a dull boy

All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a Dull Boy. All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All Work and NO play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no Play makes Jack a Dull Boy…

but looking on the bright side, these Missouri River trout have had weeks of peace and quiet with very little harassment from anglers. They’ve been busy burning calories and should be anxious to eat a well-presented fly if things ever warm up.

Look for this to be a phenomenal spring to fish the Missouri.

Summer is booking up nicely as we start to anticipate opening up more lodging for the season. Renovations are close to being complete in the motel and we’re confident you’re going to love what we’ve done with the place.

The shop is FULLY stocked for late winter fishing and spring deliveries are starting to roll in so we are anxious to see some shoppers again and we’d love for you to take advantage of some great deals on winter wear and help us clear the way for spring gear. It’s a win win.

This would also be a great time to gear up for the wading season with a new pair of Simms or Redington waders and boots. We’ve got you covered!

Looking for a boat? We’ve got a couple of great drift boats for sale and they’re priced to move. If you’re in the market for a boat we’ve got a 2013 Clacka Eddy and a 2014 RO Deville, both in great shape. The Clack is my personal guide boat, the RO was one of our rental boats. Give us a call or message us for details.

So what are we doing to get through the winter?

We’re excited to host Tipsy Tying in the shop this Friday evening at 8 pm and there are a couple fishing film events happening in Helena in March starting with the IF4 at Grandstreet Theatre on March 8th followed by two showings of the Montana Fishing Film Fest on March 24th at Lewis and Clark Brewing Company. We hope you join us for them both. If we can’t fish we can at least watch movies about people fishing to bide our time while we wait for spring to arrive.

The Window is Open

Winter Bows on the MO – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

As we close out the first month of 2019 we’re emerging from a cold snap but the window of fishing opportunity will be open for the rest of the week before we plunge back into arctic air starting on Sunday.

We’ll see temperatures in the low to mid 40’s for the next several days with a very manageable south southwest wind forecast in the 10-15 mph range. It looks even better on Saturday.

No need to weigh watching the Super Bowl against fishing on Sunday…with highs in the teens and snow in the forecast the Super Bowl party is where you’re going to want to be.

Prior to that however you should make every effort to get out and fish between now and then. We’ve currently got lodging available through the weekend but it will more than likely fill by the end of the day today.

This would be the PERFECT opportunity to take advantage of our Winter Guide Trip and Lodging Special. $500 gets you a full day guided Missouri River float trip for one or two anglers and two nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler. We challenge you to find a better deal ANYWHERE.

Don’t need the lodging? Full Day float trip is just $400. Don’t need the guide? Winter lodging is just $99/night (plus tax). Wolf Creek Angler offers the BEST WINTER FISHING DEALS on the MO’ Hands Down!

Swinging, stripping and bobber fishing should all be good for the next several days and with a drastic weather change happening on Sunday fishing could be prime on Saturday on the edge of that system. It could also be a bust but there’s only one way to find out. You won’t know if you don’t go!

Nymphers should target the SLOW, DEEP winter water. Pink anything, firebead anything, sowbugs, Zebra midges, Pill Poppers, Pederson’s Sow, Caviar Scud, soft hackle sows, UV Crush, Bubble Yums, Rainbow Czechs, Ray Charles….the usual suspects.

Swingers and strippers you know what you like but best sellers have been Polar Leeches in Olive and Copper, Kreelex and Hot Head Kreelex in gold and brown or silver and gold. Mojo Minnows, Skiddish Smolt and Sparkle Minnows should also get the job done.

Stop by for bugs and shuttles and while you’re here don’t forget to check out our best deals of the year on winter wear as well as blow out pricing on all of our Redington waders and boots. These deals are too good to pass up and won’t last long.

Men’s and Women’s Sonic Pros and a few pair of Sonic Pro HD and HDZ’s left as well as women’s Willow waders and boots and a good assortment of Skagit and Prowler boots. Call ahead and we’d be happy to see if we have your size and hold it for you.

We’ve also got Adipose boats for rent and if you happen to be in the market for a new (used) boat this season we’re selling our 2014 RO Deville as well as my 2013 Clackacraft Eddy. Give a call or message us on FB for more info or to make an offer.

We are your pre Super Bowl Missouri River fly fishing destination!

January Water Report

Perhaps it’s a little early to start talking about what we’ll see for water this spring but since we’ve already been fielding plenty of calls on the subject here’s what we know.

Snowpack across western Montana is currently sitting in the 80-90% of normal range. It could be much worse but the fact is we could use some precipitation. Following record precipitation last year, this winter has been a return to what has unfortunately become somewhat of the new normal.

The January long term forecast is for above average temperatures and below average precipitation which could translate into a busy month of fishing on the Missouri while those waiting for the ice to form on Holter Lake may be waiting all winter long.

We’re thankful for any business we get during the long winter months so we’ll take the traffic but here’s hoping for some major precipitation over the next couple of months.

Regardless of snowpack, we’re anticipating a great year ahead on the Missouri. River flow predictions are calling for a likely scenario of flows holding steady in the 4,500 CFS range through the winter months and peaking in the 6,000 CFS range in May and June.  This is great news to the wade anglers who missed out on fishing the Missouri last spring.

Max flow predictions show flows holding in the 4500 CFS range through February and then bumping up around 1000 CFS each month through June with a peak in the 10,000 CFS range while the minimum flow predictions show a steady drop in flow over the winter, leveling off in the 3500 CFS range beginning in April and holding there for the remainder of the season. This is not ideal. Let’s hope we see the most probable scenario (or max probable) play out.

We’re anxious to see what effect last season’s high water scrubbing is going to have on the hatches this year. It could be an epic dry fly year on the Missouri! Will we see the caddis explosion that has occurred following high water years in the past? Only time will tell. One thing looks fairly certain however, that being that we will actually have dry fly fishing before July. We missed much of the traditional dry fly prime time last season so we’re anxious for some BWO and PMD activity.

As per usual this is all speculation. We’re using the best information we have available to loosely predict what we might see this spring but Mother Nature always has the last word.

We’re not climatologists, we just sell fish hooks for a living so we’re content to leave the actual business of forecasting to the experts. We’ll keep you up to date on snowpack and flow conditions all winter long but at this point it definitely feels like it could be a return to dry fly nirvana on the MO in 2019.

In the meantime winter fishing is HOT right now. The nymphing is good to great depending on the day and streamers have been effective both on the swing and the strip. We’ve seen some midge activity with sporadic feeding. If we continue to see mild conditions throughout the winter expect good midge fishing as early as late January and throughout February and March.

We’ve been busy with lodging and have been getting a lot of calls about our winter lodging and guide trip special. The rumors are true! $500 for a full day guided float trip on the MO and TWO nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler. Our lodging options are quite limited during the winter so things tend to fill up quickly. If the mild weather persists and the demand is there we may look at opening more lodging up sooner rather than later. We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime – give us a call and book your cure to cabin fever today and while you’re at it, make those spring/summer plans if you haven’t done so already. Prime dates are filling fast.

A call to action

This is a call to action recently issued by Pat Barnes Missouri River Trout Unlimited. We are expanding this call to action to all of you who enjoy trout fishing on the Missouri River. Please take a minute to read and more importantly we urge everyone to click on the link below and submit your comments to FWP.

CALL TO ACTION – Every Member Needed!

Good Afternoon,

As some of you may have heard, Montana’s Statewide Management Program & Guide Draft is out for public comment until February 4th.  The Statewide Management Program & Guide is the guiding document for how FWP manages fisheries statewide.  As you may have also heard, Walleyes Unlimited is pressuring FWP to consider walleye a native species east of the Continental Divide, which could potentially alter the current management of walleye downstream of Holter Dam.  This would threaten the Missouri River trout fishery we have all come to love.

PLEASE, visit the link below and comment on the plan to back the Department’s science-based management as a non-native species in Montana.  Particularly, not to alter the current management status of walleye in the Missouri below Holter Dam as anything other than “suppression”.  If nothing else, please copy and paste the language below into the “Comments” section at the link below and click “Submit Comments”.

“The Statewide Management Plan & Guide should uphold the current status of walleye as a non-native species in Montana’s waterways.  I support the peer-reviewed science that guide’s the Department’s classification of this illegally-introduced species as non-native to Montana.  Additionally, I support the full suppression of walleye management in the Missouri River below Holter Dam.  People cross continents to fish for wild trout in the Missouri River, and altering the management of walleye from anything other than full suppression places unnecessary risk on this world class fishery that draws millions of dollars to our local economy.  Thank you.”

http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/fishing/pn_0091.html

Right now, the Missouri River needs your help.  PLEASE take 3 minutes and leave a comment. The effort by Walleye Unlimited to have the Missouri managed as a walleye fishery is organized and energized. The Missouri River’s trout need your comment.

Thank you,

Sincerely,
PBTU Board Members

Happy Thanksgiving from Wolf Creek Angler

We would like to take this opportunity on this day of giving thanks to say thank you to all of you who have helped to make Wolf Creek Angler the growing success that it is.

We are so very blessed to be able to do what we do where we do it and it’s all thanks to you who have supported us over the years with all of your business.

Whether you shop with us, fish with us, stay with us or all of the above we owe you a huge debt of gratitude and we’re looking forward to another great season next year even as this one has yet to officially come to an end.

So enjoy your Thanksgiving gatherings today. Enjoy the food. Enjoy your time with family and friends and take a minute to count your blessings. We are.

We’re thankful for our health and thankful for our friends and family. We’re thankful for clean, cold water and trout and mountains and access to all of them and we’re thankful for the opportunity to make a living sharing our love of this place with all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Go Lions

By |2018-11-21T18:22:06+00:00November 22nd, 2018|Categories: Local Buzz, Shop Life|0 Comments

October on the MO’

The second season is in full swing here on the Missouri on this second day of October and if the last few days are any indication we could be in for one phenomenal fall fishing season.

Cloudy skies and chilly temps (with the exception of yesterday afternoon when summer made a brief return) have made for ideal conditions. The bugs are going strong and the fish are feasting. These past several days have been a DFO’s dream….a target rich environment to say the least.

Those focusing their efforts below on nymphs and streamers are finding success as well. Fall is definitely among our favorite times to fish the MO’ regardless of the conditions but this fall feels like it has the potential to go down as one of the best in recent memory.

We do have some interesting weather on the horizon next week with the forecast calling for snow with highs in the 30’s and lows in the 20’s. Wednesday could be challenging with a high of 31, a low of 22 and up to 3” of snow. Thursday looks roughly the same. Will winter be here to stay come next week? I wouldn’t count on it but be prepared for the elements if you’re headed out there.

I hit the water a couple of days ago on a 40ish degree morning and opted for muck boots instead of waders and a flannel shirt and vest instead of a jacket. Bad call. The forecast was for highs in the mid 50’s which I’m not sure we ever saw. I didn’t bring gloves, I didn’t bring a stocking cap. Thankfully my buddy had extras.

To be fair, I have piles of gloves and hats and jackets stashed in my boat so I’m used to having what I need when I need it, but on this day we were not in my boat and I didn’t do a very good job of being prepared for the elements. Being cold will rapidly ruin a good day so layer up and bring an extra pair of gloves. Err on the side of too many layers….you can always remove the ones you don’t need.

Along these lines we’re stocked up in the shop with great base layers, outerwear and hats and gloves a plenty from Simms and waders and boots from Redington and Korkers. Stop by the shop for all the best cold weather gear.

With the exception of the chill in the air it feels a bit like July around here right now with close to a full house all month long. We have had a few cancellations from folks who didn’t like the looks of next week’s forecast so we do have a couple of rooms available should you decide to brave the elements. We do have guides at the ready as well who’d like nothing better than to get you dialed in to fall fishing on the Missouri.

Six weeks from now we’ll likely be looking back at the awesome fall season that was. Don’t let it pass you by. Give us a call and book NOW! We’re open daily 7:30 am – 5:00 pm and we invite you to come in and discover what the buzz is all about. Wolf Creek Angler is the best Missouri River Fly Shop you never knew was here. Our mission is to earn your business, one customer at a time by providing you with exceptional customer service and the quality products and services you expect from your Missouri River fly Shop.

Come discover all that Wolf Creek has to offer. Not only is Wolf Creek home to THE up and coming Missouri River Fly Shop, Lodge and Guide Service, but it’s also got great dining (and drinking) options with Shotgun Annie’s and The Oasis; the best cell service for MILES AROUND; The Canyon Store which is the ONLY gas station/convenience store between Helena and Cascade and  all  closer to Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge FAS than ANY  OTHER SHOP.

And speaking of Wolf Creek Bridge FAS – The FAS will be closed to the public starting tomorrow for a capital improvement project which will take approximately 30 days or less.

This will definitely be an inconvenience for the time being but it sounds like we’ll soon also be closer to the NICEST and NEWEST FAS on the MO’.