Reflections on Fall Fishing

It’s no secret. If you follow this blog and others covering the Missouri River and Montana fly fishing in general then you know that this has not been one of our better fall seasons.

The weather has been unseasonably cold and the fishing did in fact start slow. Fishing has picked up but business has remained slow. The consensus is that once we had our second or third winter weather event earlier in October people pretty much pulled the plug on fall fishing plans…and who can blame them?

Dealing with cold weather conditions when you’re fishing is one thing in March when we’re coming out of months of winter’s Deep Freeze but when we’re only a few weeks beyond the end of summer frozen guides and frozen fingers are a little tough to take.

I know, I Know…Forget the Forecast right? We’ve got gear to cover any and all conditions and to theoretically remove adverse weather from the equation. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age but to me the prospect of battling through extreme weather to fish for trout becomes less and less appealing every year.

Now that’s not to say that I won’t fish in cold weather. I most definitely will but the cold weather parameters in which I’ll fish have narrowed considerably to the point where it’s a safe bet that if the temperature is less than 28 degrees it’s going to need to be otherwise perfect or I’m likely not going. Throw in some blowing snow and wind, especially a north wind, and I’m out.

Part of this has to do with the fact that I’m blessed with the opportunity to pretty much fish all winter long so I can pick and choose my days. I understand that this isn’t the case for everyone and I appreciate and applaud those who stick it out and fish through it, whatever “it” may be.

If you’ve made your fall fishing plans well in advance and it happens to be cold and snowy when your flight arrives in Montana then you’ve got a choice of either battling through or sitting in your room and waiting it out. I get it, and once again, I respect and applaud those who battle through it.

Two weeks ago one of our fall regulars who comes every October from Maine arrived to the coldest conditions we’ve seen this fall and he didn’t miss a beat. Snow, Wind, Cold…nothing stopped him. He bundled up and did his thing and caught plenty of trout and was even rewarded with the “best BWO day he’s ever had here”. You’re a legend Bob!

I on the other hand was content to sit in the shop and count flies and wait for a better day but as Bob proved, sometimes even the most miserable conditions can end up being amazing days on the water.

Truth be told, for me it’s getting up the motivation to go. Once I do that, I’ll fish through some pretty gnarly conditions. It’s just a matter of overcoming the temptation to stay inside where it’s warm and the wind is not beating you up.

Once out there it’s rarely as bad imagined and once you throw a couple of good fish into the mix it makes it all worthwhile. But what about when it is as bad weather wise as you had imagined it would be and there are no fish in the mix? Well, as I found out recently, depending on the company you keep, it’s actually possible to still have an amazing day on the water.

It ended up being a great lesson for me because when you’re immersed in this industry culture you tend to drift from some of those attitudes and ideas and states of mind that brought you here. It’s important to not only fish, but to connect with friends while fishing so that you can rediscover the magic that drives our business. The magic involved in planning a fishing trip with your friends and then spending amazing days with people you love doing what you absolutely LOVE doing which is fishing.

Weather be damned. An outing with your best fishing buddies has a way of emboldening no matter what the conditions to the point where you magically might not even notice the weather. Despite the fact that I have the tremendous blessing of being surrounded by this magic all season long sometimes the grind can cause a disconnect. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, being a part of your fishing experience…of your Magic, is an honor and a privilege and there’s no better job in the world than the one that I have. I truly believe this and any time I feel the drift I can step back and snap out of it and realize just how lucky I am.

That being said, it’s one thing to acknowledge and realize how blessed I am to do what I do for a living, but it’s an entirely different thing to reconnect as a participant rather than as just an observer and that’s exactly what I was able to do several times this fall which has got me high on fishing again, more so than in quite some time.

I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I absolutely LOVE to fish and I fish A LOT. Usually at least twice a week, and more often than not I fish alone. It’s how I decompress. It’s how I strategize. It’s how I get my head straight and I love every minute of it but it does lack fellowship and camaraderie and while I usually don’t think too much about such things any time I have the opportunity to fish with others I’m reminded of just what a critical element of the overall experience these things can be.

Two weeks ago I headed down to the Yellowstone for my annual fall streamer trip. I’ve been doing this trip for five or six years and the last several years it’s really blossomed as it’s become just as much about hanging out with friends I don’t get to see often as it is about fishing.
Just prior to leaving Helena my friends sent me a picture of the river…the slushy, icy Yellowstone. For about three seconds I considered bailing but thought better of it and made my way to Mammoth. The river was full of ice flow from Livingston to Yankee Jim but looked better from Yankee Jim to Gardiner so our plan was to float the top stretch.

We awoke to temps in the teens but it was calm in Mammoth. As we entered the valley however the howling wind became apparent and worse yet, the river was now full of ice flow from Gardiner down leaving us with no options to float the Yellowstone.

Brent and Sara suggested we go fish the Madison between the lakes, a stretch of water I’d never fished but about which I’d heard plenty of stories of giant browns caught on streamers. We made our way through the park which was pretty well absent of any traffic. It was a beautiful ride. I’d never been in the park when it was this snowy or this empty so I thoroughly enjoyed it.

When we got to the river the temperature was hovering right around 20 degrees and snow was beginning to intensify. We suited up and hit the water and proceeded to freeze for a couple of hours. Frozen fingers and frozen gear but awesome looking water nonetheless. A few tailing fish here and there. I had a brief battle which I lost and Brent nymphed up a couple of whiteys….that was it for the fishing but disappointment was the furthest thing from my mind as it was an awesome couple of days hanging out with a couple of my favorite people in one of my favorite places in the world.

A couple of weeks prior I had journeyed with the family to Calgary for a long weekend. We went to check out a Wings and Flames game and to spend some time checking out a city we’ve come to enjoy immensely. Prior to our going I had reached out to a fishing contact I knew in the area to ask about streamer fishing on the Bow.

Dana Lattery www.flyfishingbowriver.com had paid us a visit at Wolf Creek Angler last spring and had told me that if I was ever in Calgary I should look him up and he’d take me fishing. We all say this a lot in the business and it’s usually sincere, but it rarely comes to fruition.

Dana responded as promised and we ended up spending a great day floating the Bow and getting to know each other. We talked shop and began to put together plans for future group trips going both ways. It seems everyone likes to visit different water on occasion and the relatively close proximity of the Bow River to the Missouri River make for the perfect fly fishing exchange.

Fishing was marginal but hanging out on new water with great company was a highlight of my fall fishing experience.

So a little bit of rambling on here but the point of all this is that in spite of less than ideal fishing conditions this fall I’ve had some great fishing experiences which I wouldn’t trade for anything. A busier late season at Wolf Creek Angler would have been nice but these are the ebbs and flows of business and besides… it ain’t over yet!

Unseasonablly unseasonable this fall on the Missouri

In the midst of yet another winter weather event time is rapidly running out on fall fishing 2019.

Cold and snow have kept many an angler away starting with a late September snow storm and continuing through much of October. This is our fifth significant bout of winter weather and though we have had a few nice days in between winter weather events, the unseasonably cold weather has seemingly brought our 2019 season to a premature close.

All that being said, we do live in the Rocky Mountains so it’s certainly not unheard of to have some significant winter weather during the fall but if we look at the numbers it’s obvious that this fall is considerably outside of the parameters which define “normal weather conditions”.

Since that first winter storm that hit at the end of September we have seen well below average temps and well above average precipitation. In some cases the amount of recorded snowfall has already reached over half of the annual average and we’re seeing snowfall amounts not normally reached until February or March during the average winter.

Last Friday we reveled in 75 degree highs before waking up to several inches of snow on the ground on Saturday morning.

The good news is we’re well on our way to building the snowpack that will hopefully provide another great water year in 2020. Not everyone was thrilled with average flows in the 5K range during most of the season on the Missouri but it was a good year for the health of the river even if the wade fishing may have been a little more challenging and two consecutive summers with minimal Hoot Owl closures around the state is nothing short of awesome.

So while we’re definitely not blind to the silver lining it has been a slow fall season on the MO’. Rightly or wrongly we’ve come to expect a busy October and early November. So far this has not been the case in 2019 but we could still finish strong with a couple of decent weeks ahead of us.

It will be unseasonably cold tomorrow and Wednesday but this round of snow is over for the most part and temperatures will warm by the end of the week, running much closer to average. Next week looks promising with highs in the 40’s. The warm days are nice but they are usually accompanied by a fair amount of wind this time of year. The upcoming warming trend might just bring us the classic fall weather we’ve been waiting for. Not too warm, not too cold, not too much wind….just right for those pursuing trout as well as those pursuing big game.

Winter lodging rates go into effect this Friday….$99 for premium lodging (kitchen and private bath included). We’ve shut down the motel for the winter but still have cabins and bungalows available. Winterizing/closing the cabins is next on the to-do list but I would think we’ll go at least another week or two after which time we will have bungalows available all winter long.

We picked up a few random guide trips last week and do have a few more on the books between now and the end of next week but it feels like we’re definitely getting down to the final days. That being said, we’re hopeful and optimistic that we could in fact see some downright epic days out there during these next two weeks so keep an eye on the weather and if it looks good give us a call to book an expert guide and cozy lodging and close this season out right.

Shop hours still officially 8 AM – 5 PM Monday – Saturday and 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM on Sunday but this is becoming more and more weather dependent. It wouldn’t hurt to give us a shout before heading out just to make sure.

 

Of Winter Storms and Trip Insurance

As we sit through our second winter storm of the fall today it seems like a good time to talk about trip insurance.

Early October is traditionally a great time to come fish the Missouri. Sometimes it’s not!

We started the day yesterday at around 60 degrees and by early afternoon temps had dropped into the 30’s. With a Winter Storm Warning in the forecast for Tuesday afternoon through midnight tonight it was quickly determined by clients and guides alike that it would be best to set this day out.

This isn’t always the case however and unfortunately if the guide/outfitter decides the conditions are fishable then the clients are on the hook to either fish or forfeit their deposit.

With more snow, temperatures below freezing and a stiff north wind in the forecast today’s conditions are bordering on extreme. And while there will undoubtedly be some folks on the water today I think most guides are more than happy to sit this one out but what if they weren’t?

A couple of degrees warmer and a little less north wind and it’s fishable….probably not pleasant, but fishable nonetheless.

This late in the season we’re closing in on the home stretch and just like the roaming bears currently packing on calories in preparation for a long winter hibernation those who make their living in this business on this river are trying to stash as much money away as possible to make it through until spring.

Losing a day of pay is not optimal for any of us and while we understand not wanting to fish in adverse conditions the fact of the matter is we book dates well ahead of time and hold them and if we weren’t holding them for client X we’d be holding them for client Y. Ideally those days come and go and they’re all beautiful weather and perfect fishing conditions but we all know this isn’t the case.

Cold and snow are always a possibility in the spring and fall and wind is ALWAYS in the mix, no matter what time of year. Summer days can be HOT and rainy and smoky and weedy. Water can be high, water can be low. Fishing can be hot, or not. We have zero control over any of these factors and while you can choose your dates based on historical data you simply never know what you’re going to get.

Let me make one thing clear. There are conditions which are hazardous and client safety is our number one priority. We won’t fish in lightning and we won’t fish in extreme cold or extreme wind. Our guides have all been instructed that if there are any conditions they are not comfortable with then they are not to go, regardless of whether the client wants to go or not. We will make the call if we deem the conditions unsafe and in these cases clients will receive a full refund.

More often than not however the conditions are not hazardous, they’re just not ideal. Rain, snow, wind, high water, low water, cold, heat, smoke…they can all make for tough fishing. We get a ton of calls from clients looking at the crappy forecast and asking if they can move their days. The answer is NO. Your guide is likely booked every day so it’s simply not as easy as waiting for a nice day.

Again, we understand not wanting to fish in nasty weather and we probably wouldn’t want to fun fish in these conditions either but the bottom line is we have a relatively short time in which to make our living each season and the nature of the beast dictates that we hold fast to our somewhat stringent cancellation policy. Sometimes we get clients who reluctantly fish through it, other times we get those who refuse to go and forfeit their deposit. There’s not an abundance of joy and happiness in either situation.

But what if there was a way to insure against not only unforeseen emergencies but also crappy weather or just a change of plans? What if there was a way to make sure you wouldn’t lose your deposit AND your guide/outfitter would get paid?

Well it just so happens there is such a thing. It’s called Trip Insurance and we offer it to all of our clients whether they’re doing guide trips and lodging through us or simply staying with us and fishing on their own.

It’s the same story with our lodging as it is with our guides. We’ve got a limited number of rooms and they book up early which makes them unavailable. A last minute cancellation for a week of lodging during prime time can be devastating to us as the likelihood of re-booking the room with such short notice is minimal. Once again, if we’re holding lodging dates we need to be paid for those dates.

Our travel insurance offered by IMG provides various coverages with three different purchase options which you can explore here. We recommend the premium Travel LX plan which covers up to 75% of the cost of the trip for cancellation FOR ANY REASON as outlined below and while the insurance is an additional expense it will cost you much less than losing your 50 % deposit.

As you can see, LX gives you blanket coverage for just about any situation but whether you purchase premium coverage or not we recommend you purchase some level of insurance for your sake and ours. Pricing is available here. Just enter your trip details and they’ll take care of the rest.

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!

Second Annual Fall Rod and Reel Sale happening NOW at Wolf Creek Angler

We’re in the midst of our second annual Fall Rod and Reel Sale at Wolf Creek Angler.

These are the best deals of the season. Don’t miss your chance to snatch up a great new rod and reel (or several) at prices that can’t be beat.

25% Off all rods and reels and deeper discounts up to 40 percent off on discontinued items from Ross, Echo and more.

We carry rods from Loop, Redington and ECHO and reels from Lamson, Ross, Redington and ECHO and they’re ALL on SALE now.

Here’s what we carry;

 

Loop Rods – Cross S1 in #5 and #6 and Evotec Cast ranging from #3 – #7 in various actions.

Redington Rods – Hydrogen, Crux, Vice and Predator. We’ve got the Vice and Crux in #5 and #6, the Predator in #7 and #8 and the Hydrogen in #5 as well as in an 11’ #2 two-handed Trout Spey rod.
Redington reels include the Behemoth and Zero.

Echo Rods – Ion XL, Carbon XL, Boost, Dry, Echo 3, Gecko and Echo Glass in a 7’6” #4 as well as a 10’6” #3 2-handed trout spey rod. We carry a full lineup of Echo Ion and Bravo reels.

Lamson Reels – A full lineup including Speedster, Guru, Remix and Liquid 3 Packs (Reel and two extra spools).

CLOSEOUT ITEMS

Ross Gunnison, Colorado LT, Cimarron II and Animas reels all 40 percent off.

Loop – Multi 3/6 and Evotec 3/5 40 percent off.

Sale runs through October 31st.

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.