Pomp and Circumstance

Many years and many miles ago.

Proud moment

This is one that’s been in the works for almost 18 years. It doesn’t have anything to do with fishing but it does have something to do with Wolf Creek Angler and those of you who’ve been customers of the shop for any length of time will likely recognize the subject of today’s blog.

Last Saturday we attended my son’s graduation from Helena High School and while I will resist the temptation of making too big of a deal out of this, I do feel like it’s at least worth a mention.

It’s one more opportunity for reflection. Yet another reminder of our imminent mortality. I graduated from high school over 30 years ago yet I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember the mix of excitement and joy and hope and fear and sadness. My adult life awaiting me and no clue what the future would hold.

Sitting in the stands these 30 odd years later watching my son walk across the stage in his cap and gown I felt the same flood of emotions about what the future will hold for him but this time mixed in with those emotions was a reflection back at how life has turned out for me as well as the ever-present reminder of how there is likely more life in the rearview than ahead.

I’ve been blessed with an amazing wife and a better son than I deserve. Not to mention a dream job and the opportunity to live in a place that stirs my soul daily. We’ve worked hard to get here, putting everything on the line to make this thing work. So far so good thanks to each and every one of you who shops with us, fishes with us, stays with us or simply follows us on social media.

Sitting on a hot metal folding chair under the Michigan sun at my high school graduation all those years ago I could never have predicted any of this but I believe it’s all happened exactly according to plan and I couldn’t be more grateful.

People often ask me if my kid is interested in the shop, or fishing or guiding or any of it and the answer is that at this point he really has no interest in these things and I’m ok with that. When I was 18 years old I had zero interest in going to work in the family business. Mind you, our family business was not Montana fly fishing, it was a Midwest Iron Foundry (not quite the same curb appeal), but the point is that I wanted to do something on my own and my parents encouraged me to do so all along the way.

In addition to owning and running the foundry my dad was a Lake Michigan charter boat captain in his spare time. I worked for him for several years as first mate and you know what? I wanted NOTHING to do with charter boat fishing which actually to this day holds very little appeal. So that’s how that goes.

My son plans on attending the journalism school at the University of Montana. His dad got a journalism degree in the early 90’s before ending up working in the family business and ultimately landing in Montana…immersed in a dream.

I’m not sure what path my son will take. Who knows, he may end up behind the counter of the shop one day or in the rower’s seat of a drift boat though that doesn’t seem likely. Whatever the future holds and wherever his journey leads him, we couldn’t be more proud of him, not just for completing the task of high school but more importantly, for the way in which he carries himself. We’ve been blessed immeasurably on this life journey in so many ways and this kid tops that list.

Congratulations John. We’re so proud of who you have become and we can’t wait to see what’s next.

By |2019-06-04T21:56:51+00:00June 4th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|5 Comments

Spring Fishing Heating Up

It’s been a cold and wet spring in Montana but don’t  despair.

While most of us are more than ready for warmer weather and sunshine, these cool, cloudy spring days have delivered some phenomenal fishing on the Missouri.

We’re often asked “When is the best time to fish the Missouri” and there are many factors that figure in to the answer to this question but I will say that when you’re considering the fishing above all else, you’d be hard pressed to find a better time to be here than RIGHT NOW!

Nymphing is always an option and is generally the most consistent means of bringing fish to hand however when we’re blessed with cold, cloudy days like what we’ve been experiencing since late last week, your options multiply rapidly.

In my opinion there is no better time to fish streamers on the Missouri than April and May and as of about a week ago the dry fly fishing has really started to pick up as well with an abundance of baetis and also March browns sending our hungry trout into a feeding frenzy.

There are many who love the technical challenge of perfectly presenting tiny dry flies to finicky trout and there are plenty of opportunities to do this throughout the season. If, however, the challenges of feeding educated fish aren’t all that appealing to you but you love to catch fish on dry flies then this is your time!

These first weeks of dry fly fishing are the time when almost anyone can catch fish on dry flies on the MO. The fish are hungry and happy and not overly discerning when it comes to choosing which bugs to eat so if you put your bug somewhere in the general vicinity of their feeding lane and it looks something like what they are eating, then you stand a pretty decent chance of hooking up. You’ll still have the challenge of hooking, playing and landing that fish but presentation is not quite so critical.

You’ve got the best of everything happening now. Dry Fly fishing, Streamer fishing, nymphing….ALL OPTIONS AVAILABLE though I will say that once they key on those meaty March Browns then you better be ready to become a DFO.

Yesterday’s cloud cover had me thinking we were in for the PERFECT streamer day but alas the trout had something else in mind. We boated a few but the action was painfully slow. Seeing a few random rises we put away the streamer rig opting instead to throw a dry fly blind at those same streamer banks. First cast, first eat with more to follow.

You’ll usually get a few days like this in the early part of the season where you can skate a #14 Parachute Adams along the bank or in the vicinity of rising fish and get plenty of eats but enjoy it while it lasts for soon these fish will get smart and will laugh at your heavy tippets, your random patterns and your poor presentations.

With more of the same ahead in the forecast this would be a great time to take advantage of the situation and treat yourself to some of the best (and least challenging) fishing you’ll find on the Missouri all season long.

Traffic is moderate but spread fairly evenly and if you look hard enough for an underutilized section of water or plan your launch time accurately you can often have the thing to yourself.

Lodging is steady but we do have plenty of openings for these next 10 days both for guides and rooms. We’ve also got plenty of rental boat availability as well. Two weeks from now this won’t be the case as we’re about to embark on PRIME TIME, regardless of the weather.

Sooner or later it’s got to warm up but in the meantime we’ve got you covered with plenty of cold weather remnants priced to move and since wet wading may not be an option for a while why not treat yourself to a new pair of Simms waders and/or wading boots. We stock G3’s, Freestones and Tributaries and we’re happy to order anything we don’t have.

Got flies? We do! Come explore the endless options at Wolf Creek Angler. We have the biggest and best selection of Missouri River flies ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

We are your one stop shop for everything you need when fishing the Missouri. Guides, Lodging, lunches, Shuttles, bugs, rods, reels, fishing licenses, ice, drift boat and equipment rentals, cold weather gear, hot weather gear, rain and wading gear, sun protection, packs, tools accessories….ANYTHING and EVERYTHING you need for your time on the water.

Save yourself the trip down the road and the hassle of the crowds…we’ve got you covered. Once you discover what you’ve been missing we’re confident you’ll make Wolf Creek Angler your go-to fly shack on the MO.

Guiding For The Future

Tom Miner Creek – a classroom like no other

Entomology 101

Hydrology 101

Guide Ethics – Campfire Discussion

Home away from home at the B Bar Ranch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the pilot program of Guiding for the Future, an Advanced Guide Training Program established “to inspire dedicated stewardship of aquatic ecosystems while increasing knowledge, professionalism, and ethics of fishing guides, outfitters, and the fly-fishing industry.”

The program came about in part as a reaction to the PKD outbreak which closed down the Yellowstone River during the summer of 2017.

I first heard about G4F in the winter of 2018 while attending a Montana State Council Trout Unlimited meeting in Livingston. Montana TU Executive Director David Brooks mentioned the program to me and asked if he might pass my name along to Brant Oswald and Sean Blaine who were in the early stages of creating the program, as an outfitter and active member of TU who might be interested in participating.

I was intrigued with the concept but also somewhat suspicious of the motives behind it as it seemed very possible that it was simply a ploy to add more regulation to what is already a heavily regulated industry.

Blaine and Oswald presented the concept later that spring at the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana Annual Meeting. Still somewhat skeptical, I jumped at the chance to participate in the Steering Committee meeting held last April in Craig MT.

It was here we discussed the nuts and bolts of what Guiding for the Future would be and as it became clear to me that the vision was for guides and outfitters in Montana to have the opportunity to separate themselves from the pack through this continuing education program my skepticism turned to optimism as we discussed putting together a program unlike any other  out there.

The program would be offered annually by application only and would fill the void in our industry which is met by continuing education in most every other trade or industry. Rather than being just another requirement for a guide or outfitter license like a First Aid/CPR certificate, Guiding for the Future would be an opportunity for a guide or outfitter to separate themselves from the pack by receiving a well-rounded education going well beyond the basics.

Guiding for the Future would not be a guide school. The assumption would be that a guide or outfitter interested in this program would already be an experienced guide or outfitter looking to take things to the next level. The course would consist of an On-line curriculum followed by a three-day practicum to give students hands on training in the field.

In March this year the program was announced via FOAM and those interested were invited to apply. One look at the curriculum and I was sold.

Online coursed included;
– A History of Fish and Wildlife Conservation in the United States
– Laws and Regulations
– Hydrology and River Ecology
– Entomology
– Fish Ecology
– Water Users and Challenges
– Guides as Stewards
– Beyond Flies and Drifts

Happily, I was accepted into the Pilot Program and delving in to that first online module I was pleasantly surprised by the scope and depth of the material.

With just a few weeks to complete the online portion of the course time constraints were a challenge, though a challenge is exactly what I had hoped Guiding for the Future would be.

Last week we were invited to the B Bar Ranch in Tom Miner Basin near Gardiner for the 3 day practicum which included both classroom and field instruction.

This portion of the course had me out of my comfort zone but it didn’t take long to settle in. A few familiar faces and a bunch of new ones made for an awesome opportunity to network with others in our industry and after a couple of days of sharing the classroom and the dinner table with these folks it soon evolved into a very comfortable and friendly setting.

Standing high above Tom Miner creek observing the glacially carved valley through which the creek flows the significance of the Guiding for the Future program couldn’t have been more evident. While a group of us discussed hydrology and stream morphology a group of students waded into the stream below us, overturning rocks in search of the nymphs that provide forage for the trout we chase. Still another group stood on the bank of the creek near a head gate of an irrigation diversion listening to a surface water hydrologist from DNRC explain how stream flows are calculated, bringing life to those graphs and numbers we follow so closely all year long.

Back in the classroom, topics ranged from candid discussions with an FWP Warden Captain regarding laws and regulations governing our industry to leveraging our role as outdoor industry professionals to advocate during public comment opportunities.

An in-depth look at water rights in Montana was a highlight of the program for me but I also very much enjoyed a look at fish biology and ecology and the role required of us as guides and outfitters and as stewards of this resource.

Risk assessment and CPR training kept us grounded in the realities of having clients in our charge every day and the absolute necessity of being proactive when it comes to client safety and health and field work with Yellowstone Ecological Research Center taught us how we, as guides, can play a direct role in monitoring stream health through water sampling.

This was not nail knots and casting clinics (although there was some of that as well). This was big picture education on a broad range of topics which I believe are of vital interest to all of us who work in this industry.

As G4F proclaims… Montana’s rivers are undergoing increased demands for water, recreation, and environmental services. These demands, in the face of increased periods of drought and other stressors, impact the rivers’ resilience and fisheries, while also translating into increased potential for conflict among users. In response, Guiding for the Future (G4F) is part of a new continuing education program led by the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM) that provides advanced levels of knowledge and skill development for professional fishing outfitters and guides throughout the state.

To me it’s a No Brainer and the general consensus amongst those of us who participated is that we hope G4F certification eventually becomes the norm, rather than the exception.

When you see this sticker on your guide’s boat you can rest assured that you are with a guide who not only cares about putting you on fish but who has also gone the extra mile to provide you with a safer, richer experience that goes far beyond flies and drifts.

At Wolf Creek Angler we’re Guiding for the Future

And while the fishing is, and should always be, the primary focus, wouldn’t it be nice to go deeper? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk with your guide about how rivers work, how water rights work, how conservation has evolved, how the life cycle of different bugs has a bearing on the fishing day etc. all the while having the confidence in your guide’s knowledge of the rules and regulations AND knowing they have the skills to respond in an emergency if called upon?

We hope and expect that this program will gain popularity not only amongst guides and outfitters but also amongst our clients. Keep an eye out for the G4F logo in sticker form on your guide’s boat or on the website of your favorite outfitter or fly shop and know that when you fish with those who have gone through this certification program you are fishing with individuals who take their profession very seriously and who have gone the extra mile to better themselves and the industry as a whole through advanced education and training.

There is nothing else like this in the country right now and I for one feel privileged to  have been a part of the pilot program and I plan on doing whatever I can to contribute to the program in the future.

Welcome April….The Season is Upon Us

And just like that winter was gone!

April is here and it’s GO TIME on the MO. The fishing is heating up and Wolf Creek and Craig are starting to come alive after one of the more brutal winters in recent memory.

The river is seeing some moderate to heavy traffic, especially on the weekends and especially in the Holter Dam to Craig stretch.

More importantly (from where I sit) the shop is busy and that’s good because spring shipments are arriving daily and the product is starting to stack up. We’re fully stocked with all kinds of great new gear. Simms waders and boots, tons of new bugs, Lamson and Ross reels, Loop, Echo and Redington rods, Korkers boots and the best of men’s and women’s 2019 sportswear from Simms. Piles of fly boxes, lines, leaders, tools and accessories. Boat bags and packs from Fishpond and Simms. Awesome new sunglasses from Smith and Suncloud and a sale rack you’re not going to want to miss. All Remaining Winter gear needs to go NOW! We’ve got the best deals you’re going to find on cold weather gear from Simms including jackets, hats, gloves, socks, flannel shirts, coldweather pants and more. Get em’ before they’re gone.

Adipose Rental boats are polished up and ready to hit the water and don’t forget we’ve got three Mending Waters Montana boats available free of charge to all vets and active duty military. Reserve your boat today at mendingwatersmontana.org

As of today lodging is 100 percent OPEN and we’re excited for our first FULL HOUSE of the season coming this weekend. It’s been a long and lonely winter around Wolf Creek Angler. Let the busy season begin!

Spring Special Guide Trips in effect…just $400 through the end of the month. Don’t miss this awesome opportunity to fish the amazing MO with the best guides in the business and save yourself $150 while doing it. The fishing is good and getting better and while we’ve still been flirting with some winterish weather the 10 day looks good with highs in the 50’s through the weekend and a little cooler heading into next week. Perfect spring fishing weather. Nymphs, streamers, dries….it’s all happening right now.

We are your Missouri River one stop shop with everything you need for your day on the water. Guides, rooms, shuttles, fishing licenses, the best coffee in the canyon and the biggest and best selection of bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

Open 8 am daily for all of your fly fishing needs.

Chewy’s Top 5 FAQ’s of March

Now that the thaw is underway and I’ve succeeded in kicking cabin fever square in the chops; here’s the short list of calls I’ve been fielding at the shop consolidated into my Top 5 FAQs of March, so far.

  1. How are the ramps?

Holter Dam is still drifted in but if you’re willing to put in some effort you can always slide a boat in from the campground. Is it worth it? That’s your call. On the other hand, Wolf Creek Bridge, Craig, Stickney Creek, Spite Hill and Mid Cannon are all good to go. Mountain Palace and Prewett Creek and socked in with ice and drifted snow. Looking like a few more weeks until we’re hitting the lower river.

 

  1. How’s the MO fishing?

Excellent. Angler’s choice when it comes to tactics. Midges are out when it warms up mid-day and fish and eating them on top. Nymphing is still a great option too, standard winter/early spring fare. Zebras, Sows and anything in the pink or hothead family are all dropping bobbers daily. Still swinging up a few on the bigger bugs as well. Sparkle Minnows, Skiddish Smolt, Polar Leeches and some in house specials paired with a sink tip are all good jumping off points.

 

  1. Any lodging left for June through 4th of July?

Hardly. We’ve got a few rooms open sporadically for prime time, but if you’re looking for a week it’s going to be tough. Remember last year when I told you those dates generally book a year in advance? I wasn’t joking. Is it worth giving us a call to check? Absolutely, if we can’t accommodate you, we’ll point you in the right direction.

 

  1. Will the water be high in June when I want to come walk wade?”

Probably, just like it is every year. Will it be as high as last year? Probably not. Do I have a crystal ball? Nope. Word from upstream is something between 9k-12k last I saw. Bottom line is we’re still a ways out from having a solid guess as to flows for summer. Call a week before you show up and we’ll have a better idea.

 

  1. Are the rainbows running up to the Dam yet?”

No.  I left my soapbox at home so I’ll just leave it at that.

 

~Cheers, Chewy.

By |2019-03-17T19:17:01+00:00March 17th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Still Waiting

Another day of watching the snow fly.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s coming to an end.

The first days of March saw the coldest temperatures of the season (in the 30 below zero range) but as of today we’re on the right side of zero and it looks like we may just be emerging from winter’s icy grip.

They’re calling for a high of 34 tomorrow and then highs near 30 every day through the middle of next week. Still nowhere near the 47 degree average high for March but after dwelling in single digits for most of the past five weeks I’m thinking 30’s are going to feel like a real heat wave.

Keep in mind that the boat launches are all buried under a couple of feet of snow and the river from about Mt Palace down is choked with ice but if it shouldn’t be long now.

The snowpack is in good shape and we’re still optimistic that we’re going to see a great water year with flows right where we like them.

We’ve had to push out a few guide trips these past two weeks and will likely have to push out a few more this week into next as it’s going to be a bit before the river comes into shape. We’ll let you know just as soon as it’s fishing and you can bet we’ll be out there the very first day we can get a boat on the water but I wouldn’t expect the fishing to really heat up before the middle to latter part of the month.

That being said, with the lower river getting scoured by ice flows conventional wisdom would dictate that there’s likely a huge concentration of fish between the dam and the canyon. The water is a chilly 33 degrees, not prime trout temps, but if you can find them and get your nymphs in front of them, they’ll eat.

Stay tuned for frequent updates on conditions as well as that long-awaited fishing report which we’ll get to you just as soon as we’re able to get on the water.

By |2019-03-06T16:55:38+00:00March 6th, 2019|Categories: Shop Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Finally…A Farewell to February

Coming Soon?

The shortest month of the year feels like it’s been the longest as winter drags on with no end in sight.

March will pick up right where February left off with single digit temps through the weekend and into the first part of next week but then it looks like something might just be starting to happen. Things could change between now and then but at this point it looks like we’ll be bathed in sunshine Sunday through Tuesday and while the temps will be far from warm we all know how good that late winter sun feels.

We’ll climb into the 20’s on Wednesday and Thursday and near 30 on Friday. Is it a warming trend? Here’s hoping so!

We’re thankful to have made up for winter’s slow start with plenty of precipitation throughout the last month but I for one have had just about enough. I’ve had enough of shoveling snow. I’ve had enough of fighting ice dams on the roof. I’ve had enough of NOT FISHING!

Snowpack has edged up to 110 – 120 percent of normal in our region and most of the state looks good right now at or near 100 percent of average. Only the Kootenai and the Sun, Teton and Marias drainages are lagging behind but  are currently right around 90 percent of average. We like the looks of this map and we’re remaining cautiously optimistic that high water will not be an issue however Mother Nature always gets the final say on this so no guarantees here.

Ideally we’d see a return to normal temperatures sooner rather than later. The average high for February is 39 degrees, we’ve seen highs in the single digits or below zero more days than not this month. The average high for March is 47. We obviously won’t see that the first week of the month but sooner or later it has to warm up and when it does we’re expecting an extremely busy spring as the throngs arrive to satisfy that long-delayed Missouri River Fix.

And speaking of spring fishing, don’t forget it’s time to buy your 2019 Montana fishing license. 2018 licenses expire tomorrow.

Sadly we still have no fishing report to share but as you look towards the eventuality of spring fishing here’s what you need to know.

Water temps are currently holding in the 33 degree range….COLD! We would expect much of March to be full on winter fishing as far as the nymphing goes. Slow, deep water is what you’ll want to target with winter fare. Pink should be in the mix along with firebeads, tailwater sows, Yum Yums, Caviar Scuds, Zebra Midges, Rainbow Czechs, Soft Hackle Sows, Lightning Bugs, Ray Charles etc. Fish deep with weight (tungsten bead nymphs or split shot or both) and cover the water from the inside out, shortening the depth of your rig until you find where they’re at.

Warming water will get them moving at which time we’ll start to key in on the traditional spring hot spots, typically a little faster current with a little less depth. We like to run sowbugs all season long as they’re a constant food source but as we move into spring we will typically swap out the winter fare for mayfly nymphs and maybe even a dirt snake. Little Green Machines and the like tend to shine as the water conditions hit the spring prime.

Spring is brown trout time as the spawning rainbows become scarce. Watch those redds and please don’t target spawning fish. Late March through April and into the first part of May are the prime weeks for streamer fishing on the Missouri. We can’t wait!

Spring is also dry fly time as the Midge Machine churns out piles of bugs. We typically start fishing midges in late February but since nobody has been on the river harassing and educating the fish this year, those first few fishable days could be lights out with relatively easy pickings.
Don’t care for fishing midges? Spring is also Skwalla time so if throwing big dries is your thing don’t miss this opportunity. Many of the larger browns we catch each spring fall for the Skwalla.

I think we could be in for one phenomenal spring if this weather ever breaks and while it’s tough to shift gears to fishing mode while winter continues to have a stranglehold, it’s coming soon so there’s no time like the present to prepare.
It’s time to dig out your gear and get it organized. It’s a great time to replace those old, worn fly lines and this is the spring you should treat yourself to a new pair of Simms waders and boots. We’d be happy to help you with that!

How about a brand new Lamson, Ross or Redington reel or maybe a new LOOP, Redington or Echo rod. We’ve also got a limited supply of Nautilus reels we’re clearing out at 25% off. Once they’re gone they’re gone.

Great deals on Simms winter wear including Cold Weather Pants and Shirts and guide flannels….all 25 % off. Help us make space for the new gear arriving daily.

Remember spring is also time for the WCA Spring lodging and guide trip special….we guarantee it’s the best deal you’ll find on the MO’ and it’s happening right now!

$500 for two nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler and a full day guide trip for one or two anglers through the end of April. This same package will cost you over $800 starting May 1st so don’t miss this opportunity.

 

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.

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