Stay At Home

Late last week Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a Stay at Home Directive which went into effect on Saturday and which is set to run at least through April 10th. The directive requires Montanans to stay home and temporarily closes all non-essential businesses, of which we of course are one.

We appreciate and understand the intent of the directive and we encourage everyone to abide by the order and by so doing, hopefully get things back to some sense of normalcy soon. We had shut down guiding operations early last week as well as closed access to the shop in an effort to comply with social distancing standards. Our lodging had remained open and though hotels/motels do fall under essential businesses in the directive we have decided to close everything down for the duration of the order in keeping with the spirit and intent of the directive which is that people should be staying home as much as possible for the duration. We understand that outdoor activity (close to home) is allowed and encouraged and fishing certainly meets the standard however in our view driving somewhere far away enough from home that overnight lodging is required is not really in keeping with the intent of the order.

For this reason all operations are shut down until further notice.

That being said, we are taking orders over the phone as well as by email and we’re happy to ship you anything you need. We’ve also seen a trend on social media encouraging folks to buy gift cards from the businesses they want to support as this immediately puts much needed money in the hands of these businesses. We applaud the trend and would be thrilled to sell gift cards in any amount. Our gift cards are good for everything we sell from lodging to guide trips to merchandise and they never expire. Please call the shop if you would like to purchase a gift card or any other item we can ship to you.

Like all of you, we are hopeful that the future will become increasingly clear as the uncertainty is crippling us all.

In spite of the darkness there is light and I am humbled by the support we’ve received from all of you. The emails and phone calls from our regular customers just checking in to see how we’re doing mean the world to me and the willingness of many to leave deposits in place for future trips has been overwhelming. We’ve also had a steady trickle of folks calling for flies and fly lines and leaders etc which I would bet in many cases have not been needed and I simply can’t express how grateful we are for all of this support through these uncertain times.

Every day draws us closer to the time this will all be a memory. As the weather warms and the grass starts to green and the songbirds return we are hopeful.

Stay Safe, Stay Sane, Stay Home!

By |2020-03-30T20:13:30+00:00March 30th, 2020|Categories: Local Buzz, Shop Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Under the Influence Part Two

Long ago and far away – pre fly fishing days in Ontario with my dad

This is the second installment of a two-part post.

A couple of weeks ago I shared a blog on our Facebook page from HATCH Magazine that asked the question “Which Anglers have influenced your Fly Fishing?” The post got a good response and got me thinking about my own fly fishing history and remembering all of those who played a role in my journey from curious observer to reluctant participant to sell it all and move to Montana to be a fly fishing guide and fly shop owner.

As is the case for many of us, the towering figure in my personal fishing history most responsible for my being where I’m at today would have to be my dad.

This breaks slightly from the theme of that Hatch blog because my dad was not a fly fisherman but that aside, he did instill in me that sense of awe and reverence elicited by the sight of mountains and forests, the sound of babbling streams and raging rivers, the smell of spring rains and the feel of a trout on the line.

Like many, I grew up fishing conventional gear. I was handed a Zebco rod at the age of five, prompting a journey which continues today.

I fished worms with a bobber for bluegill, sunfish and bass on the lake I grew up on in Michigan, and eventually graduated to hardware. My first experience on a trout stream was also fishing with worms but the memories I have of those early days trout fishing the White and Pere Marquette Rivers in Western Michigan have much more to do with experiencing moving water than with catching fish.

Michigan’s Pere Marquette River

I remember donning my first pair of waders and stepping into those rushing waters. I remember feeling the force of water pushing against me, lifting my feet off the gravel bottom. It was like nothing I’d felt before. It was both thrilling and terrifying and I loved it.

The twists and turns of the stream framed by the emerging spring vegetation under the radiant heat of the April sun left a permanent mark on my memory and I still recall those mid-spring Midwestern days on the water like they were yesterday.

But it wasn’t all warm and fuzzy. Numb fingers on cold mornings, an often-times less than patient guide who was doing his best to enjoy his own escape while making sure nothing terrible happened to his kid, snags and tangles and what felt like an awful abundance of SNAKES all tipped the scales in favor of staying home.

I don’t recall how often we trout fished, probably not more than a couple of times a year, but it was enough to plant the seed. I wasn’t always thrilled to be going and I don’t recall really ever being given a choice but the bribe of snacks for the ride helped and once I stepped in that water I always enjoyed myself. I began to learn where the trout live and why, Reading Trout Water 101.

At some point in my late teens it all clicked and I fell in love with trout fishing. I began to pursue it on my own which has obviously led me to all sorts of places but it was all rooted in those early days on the water with my dad.

He was an avid outdoorsman and did what he could to bring me into the fold but I think more effective than his efforts was his passion. I grew up surrounded by books about National Parks and wilderness and hunting and fishing. I grew up watching my dad head out the door, shotgun, rifle or fishing rod in hand, only to return with all manners of tasty table fare. We watched Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom every week on television and we actually saw The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams in the movie theatre. The concept of wilderness was not a foreign one in our house.

Having spent his army days at Fort Lewis in Washington State, my dad always had a fondness for the Pacific Northwest and the western half of the country in general. When I was eight or nine years old we did the family cross country trek from Michigan to California, traveling through the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon to get there.

The pictures I had poured over time and again in those National Park books on the shelf at home were brought to life as I took in the plains and forests and snow-capped mountains and rivers and Big Skies and red wood trees and finally the big blue Pacific. There is no doubt the immersion in wild places which occurred on this trip planted the seeds for my future as I fell in love with the place I would someday, some way, call home.

My dad and I fished together in an on-again, off-again manner over the years. He spent most of his fishing efforts on Lake Michigan where he operated a charter boat. I worked as his first mate for a couple of seasons but never cared for that type of fishing.

The solitude and the poetry of the trout stream continued to captivate me. We fished Ontario’s Superior tributaries annually for steelhead which pulled me even further into the wade fishing fold and then fly fishing caught my eye.

As is the case for so many of us in this business, A River Runs Through It played a pivotal role in attracting me to the sport of fly fishing and reinforced my infatuation with Montana. After seeing it, I sheepishly told my dad I wanted to try fly fishing. Sheepishly because, as already stated, he was not a fly fisherman and he was not a fan. In fact, I don’t recall him ever having much nice to say about fly fishing in general.

My first fly rod was a Shakespeare kit that he gave me. I don’t remember what weight it was but looking back it seems like it was likely a #8 or #9 weight. Whatever the case, it was a broom stick and not only was it a broom stick but it was a broom stick I mismatched with a trout line because I was afraid to ask questions at the K-Mart where I purchased the line and no backing. Obviously my time on the lawn trying to cast this ridiculous set up did nothing to inspire me to actually try this on the stream. I quickly abandoned the idea of fly fishing based on my experience with this set up but that desire to learn the quiet sport lingered though the intimidation factor would ultimately keep me gear fishing for several more years.

Little did I know how much this particular episode would relate to my future as the owner of a fly shop. It’s where my customer service is rooted. It seems like a few times a season a kid will show up with a similar set-up and a similar hesitation to ask questions about what, for the beginner, is an insanely confusing, overwhelming and intimidating sport. I pride myself on having been in those shoes and I always do everything I can to simplify things and to encourage the would be fly fisher to ask all the questions they want but not to over-complicate it.

My second fly rod was a Cabela’s PT(Progressive Taper) #5 weight which also came in a kit but this one I’d done the research on and it was much better suited for what I was wanting to do. Casting remained a struggle but there was hope. I flailed around on the water with this rig but I would always take my spinning gear as well and would usually spend no more than a couple of minutes frothing the water before switching over to the deadly Panther Martins I loved so much.

I dabbled in fly fishing for trout for a couple of years while continuing to gear fish, mostly for steelhead with my dad.

He called me one summer afternoon when I was 29 and asked me if I wanted to go trout fishing with him. We hadn’t trout fished together in years. My passion for the sport was growing, his seemed to be waning. While I was starting to become proficient with the fly rod I opted for my spinning gear to avoid his criticism. We agreed on a time and place and I headed there early to get a shot at the best water.

I heard his vehicle pull up and a few minutes later heard his door close so I made my way to a spot where I could signal to him where I was. I waved and thought I had seen him wave so went back to fishing. He looked to be about a 10 minute walk from me.

A half hour later I wondered where he was and figured he must have found good water so I continued to fish. Finally he emerged from the brush looking perturbed and a little out of sorts and told me he had gotten turned around trying to make his way to the creek.

It was now getting towards dark so we fished within ear-shot of one another and then made our way back to the vehicles. Neither of us caught fish that evening. The Panther Martins were ineffective, as were the Rooster Tails.

 

When we got back to the vehicles he offered me a beer and cracked one himself. At this point in his life my dad was not a beer drinker so I found it maybe a little strange but I was incredibly moved by the gesture which I felt affirmed our emerging relationship. My dad and I clashed a lot over the years and were never particularly close. This invitation to fish followed by streamside beers exemplified the new norm. We worked closely together in the family business and the battles of the past were gone. He was 60, I was nearing 30, the time had come to develop an adult relationship and it was perfect!

In retrospect, I think he had other reasons for inviting me to go trout fishing that summer evening. It was purely a gift.

I was anxious to talk him into trying fly fishing and I was looking forward to a summer of trout fishing and a fall of deer hunting with him.

Alas, it was not to be. This would be the last time we would fish together. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor a couple of weeks later and was gone before I turned 30.

20 years later, looking back, while he didn’t have so much  to do specifically with my fly fishing history, there is no one more responsible for shaping who, what and where I’ve come to be.

 

Under The Influence Part One

A couple of weeks ago I shared a blog on our Facebook page from HATCH Magazine that asked the question “Which Anglers have influenced your Fly Fishing?” The post got a good response and got me thinking about my own fly fishing history and remembering all of those who played a role in my journey from curious observer to reluctant participant to sell it all and move to Montana to be a fly fishing guide and fly shop owner.

While I don’t have any TITANS of the industry in my history, there are a couple of individuals who come to mind when I ponder this and I’ll likely treat this in a couple of installments in order to do it justice.

Mike Lenahan

When I was attempting to make the transition from fishing conventional gear to fly fishing I stalled out because I was afraid of making a fool of myself on the water trying to cast a fly rod. My casting work on the lawn was coming along but my fear of being seen on the river flailing away kept me fishing conventional gear more often than not until I met Mike Lenahan.

Mike was CEO at Resource Recovery Corporation of West Michigan where I served on the board and he and I would get together and fish occasionally. I told him I wanted to learn to fly fish and he was happy to oblige. I don’t know that it was his favorite thing in the world but our next trip to the Pere Marquette River he convinced me to leave the spinning gear in the truck and then proceeded to spend the majority of that outing teaching me to fly cast and to mend.

I don’t believe there were fish caught on that trip but what I do remember about it was finally feeling like I could actually cast and just being so excited that I was really fly fishing after years of flailing around and being too embarrassed to take my fly rod on the water if there was even a remote chance that someone would be there who might see me making a fool of myself.

Mike and I fished a few times after that and he was there when I caught my first brown trout on a fly. It was a glorious experience! And while I don’t recall exactly what all Mike taught me about fly fishing I can say that had he not taken the time to go with me that day and had he not convinced me to leave my spinning gear in the truck I might still be fishing gear!

Paul Drewry

Once I started to develop some proficiency at fly fishing for trout I decided it was time to give Steelhead fishing a try.
Our veterinarian Paul Drewry was an avid fly fisherman and we spent a fair amount of time at dog appointments talking fly fishing. The subject of steelhead fishing came up and Paul told me exactly what setup I should purchase.

I drove to my local fly shop and bought a 9’6” #7 St Croix Avid and a Solitude reel. It was the sweetest rig and compared to my Cabelas trout setup, my first foray into what at the time felt like high dollar gear. Little did I know this was just the gateway drug but it was a great way to ease in to it.

I’d spent enough time fishing dry flies on a #5 that this #7 felt like a whole different world to me. At that time most of the folks fly fishing for Great Lakes steelhead were indicator fishing which was a completely foreign concept to me. Sure, I’d dropped a hare’s ear off of a hopper before but this was a whole different animal and while I was excited to learn something new, I could feel myself sinking back into intimidation paralysis. Paul was able to help!

We spent a few early spring days wade fishing the Pere Marquette where I had grown up fishing worms for trout and spawn bags for steelhead. Paul clued me in to how to nymph a steelhead run.

Those days were filled with snags, re-ties, bad casts and more bad casts and while I caught plenty of tree branches both on the river bank and the river bottom, after three or four outings I had yet to hook into anything that felt remotely like a fish.

And then everything in my fishing universe changed….

Paul invited me to float with him one spring day. I’d never set foot in a drift boat and wasn’t sure what to expect.
Nothing has had a bigger effect on my fly fishing life than stepping in that boat that day. The change in perspective from standing in the water to standing in the bow of that drift boat was life altering for me. That was the day I knew I’d be buying a drift boat and that was also the day my psyche underwent a transformation from reluctant participation to obsession.

As we made our way down the river I was captivated by every log jam, deep bend and shallow riffle. I’d spent more than my fair share of time on a boat on Lake Michigan and I’d been down the river a time or two in a canoe but this, this was something different. We floated probably 5 miles that day, a relatively short float, but it really struck me when I recognized a bend in the river as the start of the 1/2 mile or so of water I’d fished since I was a little kid. This short stretch of river was my entire fishing world for so many years. It WAS the Pere Marquette to me. Now, floating through my “world” in just a few minutes time I discovered just how small my world was and the idea that stepping in that boat opened up an entirely new frontier completely blew my mind.

I fished a bit that day but the fishing was not what was significant on that trip. It was all about the journey from wade fishing with all of its limitations to a new world of opportunities I’d never even considered.

Following that trip I immediately started looking into boats. I didn’t think I could afford to buy a drift boat so I bought a pontoon but as I assembled that boat all I could think about was how awesome that day in the drift boat was. All that room for all the gear you could possibly need. I disassembled the pontoon, put it back in the box and returned it and headed to Newaygo to order myself a drift boat.

I picked up my brand new Hyde in November and began to plot the future. However, one big obstacle did remain…I had no idea how to row a drift boat. I figured the best way to learn was to dump the thing in the water and figure it out. Looking back, launching the boat at Rainbow Rapids (the only stretch of water on the Pere Marquette even remotely resembling a rapids) was probably not the wisest decision but it did reinforce the fact that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, as if there was any doubt.

I think we ran into or over every boulder in the rapids but spun our way through without sinking the boat and once below the rapids, just when I was feeling like I was getting the hang of it I ran the bow of the boat into two steel posts while trying to power forward through a bend leaving a permanent reminder on the bow of my shiny new boat of that maiden voyage.

Following that trip I invited Paul to fish with me, asking him if he would give me some tips on rowing. He obliged, sitting behind me most of the day and teaching me with taps on the shoulders and audible commands of “push” or “pull”. It was slow going but by the end of that day I felt like I had at least a rudimentary understanding of rowing.

The Pere Marquette was a great river on which to learn to row a drift boat. Not much in the way of rapids but plenty of log jams and tight bends offering ample opportunities to sink a boat (which thankfully I’ve yet to do, though I’ve had a couple of close calls).

I’m eternally grateful to Dr. Paul Drewry for his excellent care of our pets during those years as well as for opening the doors to a new world for me.

Fred Davison

At 30 years old I was not really looking to make friends. I was busy with work and had a kid on the way and even though I was enjoying fishing it was something I enjoyed doing on my own.

I met Fred when he was doing drywall work in our house as we prepared a room for the coming baby. Fred’s wife worked in the same office as my wife Sheila and they arranged for him to do the drywall as he was running his own drywall company at the time.

The first day I talked to Fred was just for a couple of minutes when he was working on the house and I came home from work and grabbed my gear, heading for Canada for solo steelhead fishing.

I told him where I was headed and he mentioned that he liked fishing but didn’t like it THAT much, that he’d drive 8 hours to do what he could do in our back yard. I assumed he must not really be into it. Little did I know we would end up spending the next 11 years on a fishing odyssey, both trading in our conventional gear for fly gear and getting to know the Pere Marquette and other local waters intimately as we indulged our habit which turned us both into streamer junkies and eventually led us to leave what we knew behind and start a fly shop in Montana.

Fred is one of those people who is really good at everything he does and seemingly everything he tries and he seems to pick up most of what he tries on his own with very little formal instruction. Over those eleven years Fred picked up fly fishing, fly tying, hockey, home brewing, boat building…just to name a few, and was pretty damn good at all of them. The boat building may have been a stretch but it did float and even made it down the river a few times!

The first time I fished with Fred was on the Pine River with conventional gear. He pulled a 17” brown off the bank on one of his first casts with a gold Panther Martin and I noticed he could read the water better than most anyone I’d seen.

I don’t know how much we discussed the idea of fly fishing but we were definitely on the same page. I called him one day to tell him I had bought a fly rod…he had as well.

I was given a guide trip on the Pere Marquette for my birthday that summer and I asked Fred to join me. It was a fun trip though not one I would say had much of an effect on my fly fishing history. Neither of us was crazy about the guide and I can’t say that I learned much on that trip but what I do remember was an after-dark explosion on a mouse pattern, followed by a second which I actually connected on. I lost that battle much to mine and the guide’s disappointment but the after-dark thing grabbed hold and would eventually become an obsession. I also remember a thunder storm rolling in and the guide having to row out the last couple of miles through that storm which wasn’t pleasant for anyone involved but it was an experience to be sure.

The following spring I convinced Fred to go to Canada with me on the steelhead trip. If I recall correctly we stuck to conventional gear on that trip but on the way home we caught the BWO hatch on the Holy Water of the Ausable near Grayling and shortly thereafter we discovered the Gray Drake hatch on the Pere Marquette and went night after night. Then it was Hexagenia in the swamps, hoppers through the summer and salmon fishing in fall.

At that time we hadn’t yet attempted to fly fish for steelhead but we booked a guide trip that winter and each caught our first steelhead on a fly rod. We’d both been bitten hard by the bug though as was typical the obsession took hold in different ways.

I was attracted to the gear, the boats, the brands, and the destinations….everything about fly fishing. Fred liked tying flies and catching fish and could care less about Simms or Sage or Hyde or Orvis or any of it. He just wanted to fish and as was usually the case when he tried something new, he was rapidly becoming a very good angler and fly tier.

When I bought my first drift boat it opened up a whole new world of adventure for Fred and I and we spent countless hours on that boat, both of us developing proficiency on the sticks as well as learning the addresses of many a hefty brown as we picked apart the PM with sinking lines and streamers.

We fished every month of the year and covered the entirety of the PM.

During the summer months we would fish all night frequently, developing different patterns and techniques for fishing mice and learning to row and cast in the dark.

We would occasionally float the Ausable or the Upper Manistee but most of our time was spent on the Pere Marquette. It was an education by immersion.

We fished through a lot of life events during those years. There were good times, bad times, sad times, dark times… and the river was always there for us even when we were blind to it.

My focus started to turn towards going and fishing other places including Montana which I first fished probably around 2008. Once I’d done that my dreams got big and my mission became figuring out an exit strategy and a way to move to Montana.

Long story short we left Michigan in 2012 and I bid farewell to Fred and while I was thrilled to be in Montana it was tough losing my fishing partner of the previous decade.

As doors opened in Montana I got in touch with Fred to see if he would be interested in going into the fly shop, lodging and outfitting business. With nothing really holding him back in Michigan, he agreed to join us as a partner in Wolf Creek Angler.

His plan was to spend the seasons in Montana and go back to Michigan in the winter to be with his family though the year we bought the place he spent a good part of the winter here doing the remodel on the shop. It seemed like the perfect arrangement but things being what they are and adding up like they do, we opted to go our separate ways after a couple of seasons.

Times change, people change, circumstances change and ultimately things happen as they’re supposed to but that being said, regardless of how it turned out for us at WCA, I’ll always cherish those years Fred and I spent learning to fly fish and honing our skills while developing a wonderful friendship.

Valentines Update

Valentines Flies – Better than Roses!

It’s been a fairly quiet week here on the Missouri with a mixed bag of weather keeping traffic on the sparse side to say the least.

We’ve had some colder temps and a shot or two of snow along with a daily dose of winter winds. Par for the course for mid-February in Montana.

Boat traffic has been non-existent but there have been a few wade anglers around.

This weather pattern will stick around through the rest of the week with high temperatures hanging right around 40 and a slight chance for snow each day.

Don’t forget tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. If you had planned on taking your valentine to the Missouri expect a breezy day with west winds 17-21 mph, gusting to 36 mph. Saturday looks a little better as far as the wind goes but it’s still going to be breezy.

Hopefully by now you’ve bought flowers and made dinner reservations for tomorrow night, if not, good luck! You might be better off skipping the flowers and purchasing something more thoughtful and definitely more romantic like a new rod and reel for your sweetheart.

Think of the look on their face when you present them with their special gift and pop the question…will you fish with me? Does it get more romantic than that?

Well, maybe it does. But be that as it may, you should still think about a new rod and reel for your sweetheart. Flowers are nice but they’re expensive and they don’t last long. A new rod and reel could last forever and if you come out and purchase them from us you’ll get the best deal of the season at 25% off and a FREE ARC fly line on top of that.

We’ve got limited lodging available should choose our Winter Romance Package – this weekend only. Book two days of guided fishing and one night of lodging and we’ll throw in a second night of lodging for FREE.

And don’t forget – Monday is President’s Day so if you’re lucky enough to have Monday off you can make it a 3 day stay.

Whether you’re fishing with us or not we hope you make Wolf Creek Angler your first stop on your way to the river. We are your one-stop Missouri River fly shop with EVERYTHING you need for your day on the water.

A big thank you to all who came out to the F3T in Helena on Tuesday night. As always, a good time was had by all. It’s a great chance to get together with the Helena fly fishing community and get primed for the coming season.

We’ll do it again one week from tomorrow with the Orvis 50/50 On The Water Film Tour presented by Last Chance Fly Gals. There will be a Pre-show Social at Crosscurrents Fly Shop in Helena from 5 pm – 7 pm followed by the show at 7:30 pm at Grandstreet Theatre. Join us for an evening of inspiration and support for women on the water.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

By |2020-02-13T20:21:49+00:00February 13th, 2020|Categories: Shop Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Winter Returns

And just like that winter is on its way once again.

You didn’t think it was over did you? It’s barely even begun!

Winter Storm Warning in Effect from 2 PM today through 11 AM Friday above 5500 feet, Winter Weather Advisory in Effect for areas below 5500 feet.

For the Winter Storm Warning heavy snow is expected. Total snow accumulations of 8 to 30 inches. Winds gusting as high as 40 mph. For the Winter Weather Advisory total snow accumulations of 1 to 6 inches possible.

Just the way we like it! Another big shot of snow for the high country adding to our snow pack which is already in decent shape and manageable accumulations (or possibly none at all) where we live. It’s the best of both worlds!

It looks like highs near 40 for the remainder of the week with lows hanging right around 30 for the next few nights. We’ll see a blast of arctic air mid-week next week with high temperatures dropping back into the teens with lows in the single digits or colder. Now is the time to get on the water.

It’s on the breezy side today but the rest of the week could provide excellent fishing conditions with overcast skies, the potential for snow each day, moderate temperatures and relatively calm winds in the 6 – 8 mph range through Friday.

Often times the leading edge of these weather systems can flip the switch on the fishing. It’s been decent all week by most reports we’ve heard but it could be downright epic these next couple of days. There’s only one way to find out. You won’t know if you don’t go!

We offer the best winter lodging value on the MO at just $99/night (plus tax) for a cozy bungalow with full kitchen and private bath. Two twin beds and a Full pull-out sofa sleep 3 very comfortably and a rollaway will accommodate a fourth if need be.

And while a lot of the competition offers discount “Spring Special” trips come March, Wolf Creek Angler offers the best deal on the river ALL WINTER LONG. $400 for a FULL DAY GUIDE TRIP with the best guides on the water. And as if that weren’t enough we’re giving away FREE LODGING. That’s right….FREE as in ZERO Dollars!

Book two days of guided fishing and your second night of lodging is on us. Try to find a better deal…you won’t. And the best part…NO CANCELLATION FEES, NO QUESTIONS ASKED. Winter weather can change rapidly which makes planning a trip tough to do. If the weather turns or if you simply change your mind you’re off the hook.

We hope you take advantage of the weather these next couple of days and enjoy what could be the best fishing yet of 2020.

Even if you decide to pass on this amazing deal and do things on your own we hope you make us your one-stop on the way to the river. We’ve got anything and everything you need for winter fly fishing on the Missouri. The best and biggest selection of Missouri River winter bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek, Adipose Drift Boat Rentals, shuttles, Simms waders and boots, cold weather gear and the best deals of the winter on rods/reels and so much more.

January Thaw

Winter Solitude on the MO’

Just back from sunny Sacramento and the International Sportsmen’s Expo. We escaped the arctic blast just in time and have returned to a January Thaw so the timing couldn’t be better.

Photo by John Orzechowski

I spent the first part of last week just before we left for California crawling around under the shop thawing frozen pipes in the midst of the coldest temps we’ve seen in quite a while. Fast forward a week and we’re in the midst of a serious warm up that has us thinking spring.

High temps will be at or near 50 degrees all week long and while tomorrow looks to be breezy, conditions couldn’t be much better than they are today. Wind on these warmer days is to be expected but with the exception of tomorrow it really doesn’t look to be too bad. Even tomorrow at 19-24 mph out of the southwest, gusting to 32 mph I wouldn’t let that stop you.

After spending four days talking fishing with prospective clients and returning to this spring-like weather I can’t wait to get back on the water and I’m definitely ready for the season to get underway. I’m well aware there’s plenty of winter ahead but we’re definitely going to take advantage of these current conditions while they last and you should too!

The river is in great shape at 4220 CFS and 34 degrees….perfect winter water. Get out there and get your winter trout fix this week. We’ve got lodging available for just $99/night (plus tax) and full day guide trips for just $400 for one or two anglers all winter long. We’ve gotten a few bookings for the weekend already and I’m sure we’ll be full come Friday so don’t waste any more time. Call and book yourself a mid-winter trip to the Missouri before the cold and snow return.

And speaking of bookings, late June and most of July are rapidly approaching FULL so don’t put off those summer plans any longer if you want in on some of the best trout fishing on the planet.

We’ll delve into flow predictions in more detail in the coming weeks but for now all you need to know is that we’re looking good as far as far as snow water equivalent goes with everything sitting at, near or over 100 percent of average. The latest flow predictions are indicating a decent water year with flows most likely peaking at around 6500 cfs. It’s way too early to tell what we’ll actually see come spring but we’ll keep you posted throughout the winter months as a more accurate flow picture begins to come into focus.

We hope you’ll make us your first stop on the way to the Missouri this week. We’re fully stocked on all the hottest winter nymphs and streamers and we’ve got plenty of midge patterns as well if you’re looking for top water action. We’ve also got some great deals going on fall/winter inventory as we make way for spring gear arriving soon.

30% off all Simms winter outerwear and base layers and don’t miss our Mid-Winter Rod and Reel sale…25% off ALL RODS and REELS and a FREE ARC fly line when you purchase a rod/reel combo.

We’ve got everything you need and more for your day on the water including Adipose Flow drift boat rentals, Simms waders and boots, Hand Warmers, nets from Rising and Fishpond, lines, leaders and tippet from RIO, the best coffee in the canyon and so much more.

A Look Back

With tomorrow not only being the last day of 2019 but also the last day of the decade it’s time for our annual look back at the year that was as well as some reflections on the decade.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been this long but 2019 was the year we celebrated our fifth year in business at Wolf Creek Angler and while there were undoubtedly highlights to the season, I think the overarching theme was one of stability.

We never take ANYTHING for granted but as we wrap up another year it feels like we’ve done a decent job of establishing ourselves and at this point our focus has shifted more towards building and improving our brand rather than trying to make a splash as the new guys on the block.
And that’s not to say that we won’t be making splashes from time to time, some minor some more significant, but I feel like we’ve built a solid foundation over these six seasons and I’m hopeful for what the future holds.

We saw a big change in the shop in January of 2019 as we rolled out our Full Line Simms Dealership, something we’d been working towards since opening our doors in 2014. It was a milestone for this shop and we are so grateful for the growth in our business which has been instrumental in allowing us to offer our customers more of what they demand each season. Having Simms show the confidence in our shop and in our brand to open us as a full-line dealer was and is a HUGE affirmation and while there are still brands we’re chasing we feel like the stamp of approval from Simms moves us ever closer to where we want to be as a fly fishing retailer.SIMMS DEALER

Unfortunately our hopes for early season sales were dashed by Mother Nature as we experienced record-breaking low temperatures throughout the winter. The average daily high temperature for the month of February was less than one degree so suffice it to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of fishing happening on the MO last winter.

We kept ourselves busy through those long winter months working on lodging improvements completing the renovations in our motel rooms and replacing carpeting in several of our cabins.

As it always does, spring finally arrived in late March/early April and we were treated to our best spring season to date as those weary of winter flocked to the MO’ to get that spring fishing fix. Wet conditions around the region made for high muddy rivers driving business to the Missouri throughout much of the spring season.

In May I had the privilege of participating in the pilot program for Guiding for the Future, an advanced guide and outfitter certification program being developed by the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana. This was an incredible experience and I hope to remain involved with the program going forward, perhaps on the teaching side.

The highlight in June was a personal one as our son John graduated from Helena High School. He has recently completed his first semester and made the Dean’s List at Helena College where he will attend one more semester before transferring to the University Of Montana next fall.

Cool, wet weather continued to delay the arrival of Prime Time dry fly fishing throughout much of June but when summer finally arrived we ended up with one of the best dry fly seasons we’ve had since opening the shop. Considering we essentially lost much of the dry fly season in 2018 due to high water, watching the dry fly bins empty out in 2019 was a welcome change!

Conditions remained favorable throughout the summer which kept the wild fires to a minimum and also gave us a second straight summer season of essentially ZERO Hoot Owl closures around the region.

Biding our time through the Dog Days of August we were anticipating a busy fall season but it wasn’t to be. Summer turned to winter in September as we were hit by an early winter storm followed by several more in October. The early cold snap robbed us of fall colors, killing the still-green leaves and also robbed us of a busy fall fishing season as the cold and snow persisted through October and into November.

Such is the nature of the business. There are no guarantees with the weather but we’re always hopeful.

Great Falls received a season’s worth of snow in the fall. We didn’t get quite that much but had snow on the ground more often than not since late September. It was looking like a brutal winter ahead (and it may still turn out that way) but we’ve had mild temps and no snow for the past several weeks and the long-term looks favorable for a somewhat busy winter season on the Missouri.

As I look back on 2019 and on the past seven years spent in Montana I can’t help but think about the early part of this decade which is about to come to a close.

My life couldn’t be much more different now from what it was at the start of this decade when my days were spent in the foundry, feeling the pull of the rivers and mountains of Montana and trying to find a way to heed the call.

And so the call was heeded. But it was not through any doing of my own that this happened but through the providential order which has played out in exactly the manner in which  it was supposed to.

I’ve traded my days spent in the chaos and dust and noise of the foundry with no hope for an exit for this new and amazing path which has much different challenges, opportunities and rewards, and for this I feel truly blessed.

I’m so thankful for where I’ve landed and for all of you who have become a part of my story and I can’t wait to see what this next decade holds.

Happy New Year!

Happy Winter Solstice

Today marks the Winter Solstice…the darkest day of the year.

Tomorrow we turn the corner, slowly creeping towards spring.

A little more light, a little less darkness each day.

The countdown is underway so immerse yourself in the holiday spirit and embrace winter’s arrival.

The promise of long warm summer days, gently flowing waters and rising trout make the march through winter an easy one to bear. (That and it’s currently 50 degrees in late December but that will change soon enough).

Happy Winter Solstice!

By |2019-12-21T15:55:20+00:00December 21st, 2019|Categories: Shop Life, Uncategorized|Tags: |0 Comments

Mid December on the MO

Sunshine and clear blue skies this morning in Wolf Creek. It’s a chilly 26 degrees warming to the mid 30’s later today with calm winds. It sure looks like the perfect day to fish the MO but entering this final week before Christmas you aren’t likely to find any crowds at the boat ramps.

I’d bet there may be a college student or two taking advantage of the time off and of the mild weather this week but if winter solitude is what you are seeking I’m confident there will be an abundance of that to be found here all week long.

We’ll see temperatures in the 40’s all week and near 50 on Saturday but expect gusty winds with the warmer temps. That white Christmas is looking unlikely with only a slight chance for snow on Thursday night and Friday morning and nothing after that but we shall see.

We’re open at 8 am every day with great deals on almost everything in the shop. We are running shuttles most days and even if we’re not, we’re always more than happy to help you get one scheduled with another shop.

We do have prime lodging available for just $99/night (plus tax) and guide trips are just $400 for a full day for one or two anglers, all winter long. We’re also offering a second night of lodging free with the purchase of a night’s lodging and a full day guide trip. It’s the best deal you’ll find on the Missouri this winter…hands down!

Dining has become a bit of an issue with Shotgun Annie’s closing for the winter and The Oasis only serving Friday through Monday but not to worry. All of our winter lodging units have a fully furnished kitchen with a full size fridge, an oven with cooktop and all the pots, pans, dishes and utensils included.

So as you prepare for the coming holidays we hope you keep us in mind whether it be for helping you complete your Christmas shopping or getting you set up for your day on the water.

We LOVE being your Full Service Missouri River Fly Shop and we can’t wait to see you again.

The Countdown

As of today there are 16 days shopping days remaining until Christmas.

Have you finished your shopping?

Have you even started your shopping?

If you’re looking for some fly fisher appropriate gifts we’d love to help you out. We’ve got something to fit just about any budget and best of all, we’ve got some amazing deals happening now through the end of the year.

Deals include, but are not limited to, 20% off all fall and winter sportswear and outerwear as well as waders and boots; 25 % off all rods and reels and a free ARC fly line and backing with the purchase of any rod and reel combo (That’s an $80 value); 50 % off all remaining summer sportswear and 20 % off all lines, leaders, tippet and flies.

These are just a few of the deals happening now through December 31st at WCA.

We’ve definitely got something for everyone on your list and we’d love to help you find that perfect gift. Here are just a few ideas.

Simms G3 Stockingfoot Guide Waders
$549.95

These are undoubtedly the go-to wader for the majority of our guides and are the wader by which all others are measured.
Time on the stream is time well spent. And with the G3 Guide™ Waders – Stockingfoot, those precious hours can be comfortable and well-ventilated. Utilizing new GORE-TEX® Pro Shell, the G3 provides optimal balance of reliability, breathability and all-day comfort. The G3 has all the in-river essentials you need, with legendary Simms durability that can stand up to heavy use in rugged conditions. 3 chest pockets provide ample storage and hand-warming zones, while sore feet are a thing of the past with anatomically designed neoprene stockingfeet with a funk-fighting anti-microbial finish.
• Durable, breathable & comfortable GORE-TEX® Pro Shell 3-layer upper & 4-layer lower
• Top access zippered stretch pocket plus zippered, reach-through micro-fleece lined hand-warming pockets
• Attachment zipper for flip-out Tippet Tender™ pocket with retractor docking station & tippet spool sleeves
• Built-in low-profile belt loops with 2 in. stretch wading belt included
• Patented front & back leg seams deliver articulated fit, improved mobility & increased durability
• Patented abrasion-resistant built-in Gravel Guards with boot hooks
• Anatomically engineered neoprene stockingfeet with anti-microbial finish
• Custom options available
FABRIC TECH: 3-layer GORE-TEX® Pro Shell in upper; 4-layer GORE-TEX® Pro Shell in seat & legs
WEIGHT: 45 oz. (1275.8 g)

Korkers Darkhorse Wading Boot
$189.99


Korkers Darkhorse Wading Boot w/ Kling-On and Kling-On felt Soles is a fishing boot that is durable and functional. This boot comes with kling-on and felt kling-on soles.
• Traction: OmniTrax interchangeable sole system adapts traction on these boots to any fishing condition
• Closure System: BOA M2 lacing system for quick on/off and custom fit
• Fast Drying: Hydrophobic upper material with ultra abrasion resistance and tonal camo pattern
• Molded TPU toe cap for toe bump protection
• Protected stitching for longer thread life
• Internal Drainage: Water flows thru internal channels then out midsole ports, removing excess water and weight.
• 3PFS Achilles stabilization for the superlative fit and function.

Simms Coldweather Shirt
$119.95


Hands down – our favorite winter shirt.

A hardworking mainstay featuring the boosted warmth of waffle-lined micro-fleece internals. Quick-dry performance and chafe-free, off-shoulder seaming for added comfort. Stash gear in two cargo top load pockets to stay on the water until last light.
• Flannel, waffle fleece‐lined shirt to keep you warm during winter fishing
• Two fly box compatible chest pockets with hook and loop closure
• Off‐shoulder seams for comfort
• Slight drop tail
• Resized in 2018 for a better fit
FABRIC TECH: 100% Polyester flannel, 100% Polyester waffle fleece

Loop Evotec Cast Rods
$475.00


EVOTEC CAST FAST ACTION SIGLE-HAND RODS
Fast action progressive casting styles mean pushing for the limits of performance in modern day fly fishing. Finished in deep pearlised blue, Evotec CAST Fast fly rods are available in single-handed models for both fresh and saltwater fishing and double-handed models for the pursuit of anadromous fish. Evotec CAST Fast fly rods deliver flies quickly to the taking zone without compromising on the positive ‘feel’ response that anglers have come to expect from LOOP fly rods.

Redington Path Fly Fishing Outfit
$199.99


Ready to fish!
The new PATH rod is a smooth-casting, medium-fast action graphite fly rod, offering classic performance for all levels of anglers. Rods through 6 weight have a half-wells handle with a wood reel seat for a classic look and feel, and 7 weights and above feature a full-wells grip with anodized aluminum reel seat that is ready for salt or fresh water conditions.
• All water, moderate-fast action rod
• Wooden reel seats on rods weights through 6 weight models
• Durable anodized aluminum reel seat on rods 7 weight and above
• Alignment dots for easy rod setup
• Durable cordura rod tube with built in rod dividers
• Combo includes: PATH rod, CROSSWATER reel pre-spooled with RIO Mainstream WF fly line, and cordura rod tube
• Lifetime warranty *rod only

LAMSON LIQUID 3-PACK FLY FISHING REEL & SPOOLS
$169.99


All together now. The Liquid 3-Pack includes one Liquid reel and two spare spools in a nylon carrying case all for the price of one reel and one spool. Liquid offers everything you need in a fly reel at an absolute bang for your buck—and this new combo pack opens up easy interchangeability for the multifaceted angler at even more of an extreme value.

Fishpond Cross-Current Chest Pack
$149.95

THE CROSS-CURRENT CHEST PACK IS DESIGNED TO KEEP ALL YOUR ESSENTIALS AND BOXES ORGANIZED, KEEPING THEM HIGH ON YOUR BODY AT THE READY.
When the fishing is hot there is a lot going on and you have to be able to multitask to keep up with all the activity. The Cross-Current Chest pack is designed to keep all your essentials and boxes organized, keeping them high on your body at the ready. Slide your net out of the integrated net slot, scoop your fish, release it, grab your dry shake out of the magnetic drop down workstation, and get back those moments we all love to celebrate.
FEATURES
• Compatible with all Fishpond backpacks
• 210D Nylon Cyclepond Fishpond fabric
• Front magnetic closure pocket for small fly boxes, pucks, and other quick access items
• Front main zippered storage compartment for large fly box storage
• Two small stretch mesh pockets on the front for quick access items
• Exterior VELCRO® attachment for foam attachment (foam patch included)
• Exterior Hypalon® tabs for tool and accessory attachment on each side
• Integrated net slot on backpanel holds a long handle net
• D-ring on top center back for attaching a net release for short handle nets
• One large pocket on the backpanel with a zippered entry on each side
• Magnetic front pocket has velcro interior on one side, and 4 small stretch mesh pockets for organization
• Main front zippered pocket includes one interior zippered pocket

 

Rising Lunker Net
Starting at $159.99

With three handle lengths to choose from and available handle extensions these nets have become the go-to amongst our guides. The 10” and 24” handles make for great wading nets and the 38” net is the perfect boat net. The 14” handle extension converts any net to the next model up so no need to buy multiple nets.

Stocking Stuffers A Plenty
$$


We’ve got piles of unique stocking stuffers…From flasks to lanyards to fly boxes to tools and accessories and more, we’ve got something for all the fly fishers on your list.

Wolf Creek Angler Gift Cards
$-$$$

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Not sure what to get them? Wolf Creek Angler Gift Cards are the perfect option. They are available in any amount and good for anything we sell.

Can’t find the time to make the trip to Wolf Creek? No problem. We’re happy to ship anything anywhere. Just give us a call and tell us what you need and we’ll take care of the rest.

Happy Shopping!