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!

Winter on the Way?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have we Forgotten?

Eighteen years after the deadliest terror attack in US history which killed nearly 3000 people and injured thousands more I wonder what it means to our collective conscience.

Eighteen years is a long time and while I can still vividly recall that day I know there are a bunch of young people walking around to whom 9/11 means very little. Maybe they were very young, maybe they weren’t even born yet. In some ways it’s just another marker of mortality.

Each year I mark this day with a blog post, the last few of which have drawn the contrast between the unified national heartbreak and resolve of September 12th, 2001, with the seemingly ever-widening gap developing in our nation driven by political, cultural and social ideology and 2019 is no different.

It’s a disturbing trend and one which seems to be getting worse, not better.

Per usual, you won’t find anything political here, due in large part to the polarizing nature of said politics. In an age where we seem to have lost the ability to enter into meaningful and respectful discussions with those with whom we disagree, I find it best to just stick to fishing which is generally a safe subject but if you look hard enough for outrage and controversy I guess you can find it just about anywhere!

Tribalism runs rampant and it’s easy to get sucked in. It’s easier to dismiss those with differing viewpoints as being uninformed or backwards or just plain stupid than it is to actually engage in meaningful discussion and have our viewpoints challenged.

But then again if only we could just silence all of those stupid Democrats, Republicans, independents, Pro Life, Pro Choice, NRA, wealthy, Anti-gun, Pro 2nd Amendment, fly anglers, gear anglers, wolf lovers, hunters, trappers, tree huggers, ranchers, SJW’s, outfitters, libertarians, conservatives, liberals….do you see where this is going?

The legacy of 9/11 is far reaching and affects our everyday lives in ways we don’t even realize. There’s the legacy of health issues for the rescue and recovery workers resulting from exposure at Ground Zero. There’s the legacy of expanded government surveillance and shrinking personal freedom in the name of national security. There’s the legacy of grief for the thousands who lost loved ones on that day. There’s the legacy of war and the legacy of a post 9/11 world in which the TSA and Department of Homeland Security exist and are well known to all of us.

Couldn’t the legacy also be one where we recognize that the attack that day defined us not as democrats or republicans, black or white, rich or poor etc but instead as Americans? It’s worth remembering that the attacks on 9/11 drew this nation together. Our differences disappeared, if only for a short time, and we were one.

So maybe take a minute and contemplate what it all means. To me it’s not tribal membership which provides the meaning in my life but rather relationships with actual people. Our relationships with family and friends and the way we treat others are what define us. We’re not defined by nasty tweets or Facebook posts, however bold we think they may be. We’re not defined by our political beliefs, our sexual orientation, our progressive or conservative opinions…we’re not defined by any of it. We are defined by love and our commitment or our unwillingness to show love to those around us regardless of team membership.

By |2019-09-10T19:24:58+00:00September 10th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|3 Comments

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!

Guest Blog by Alan Campbell

A nice piece of writing from a friend of the cause. We always love seeing how our guests are moved by the MO’.

It had been a memorable morning, having caught two browns and a rainbow — two on top and one below, to keep the ratio in tact — on a favored bend in the Missouri River near Craig.

My son and I enjoyed each other again, having yesterday spent a long, contentious drift on the river five feet apart on a rented boat. We could do no right in the fishing department, straining family relations. I’d seen it all and knew where he should cast. He knew better, and sometimes proved it by catching a fish.

But all in all, the abundance of trout raised by the Missouri treated us like foreigners, which is fitting for folks whose lives allow them to spend precious little time getting to know them.

Yesterday was forgotten on this morning. Cody pulled on waders while chatting about a big brown he caught on the same bend two nights before. A high school graduate five weeks removed, life changed on a dime and a good night’s sleep. What’s to worry an 18-year-old?

The place was crowded. Six cars in the pull-off. You just expect company in July if you plan to fish the biggest spring creek in the world. And the Missouri was fishing in a world class of itself. Pale morning dun mayflies were fading but sufficient, caddis were dominating, and the promise of those tiny trico mayflies — the ones that bound in the millions to build spiraling, ghostly forms – was on the horizon.

No fish were rising early, but Cody keeps his smile. He searches while I reluctantly switch my rig to a pair of weighted nymphs four feet below those spongy, sticky floats. We share shock when a big brown sets himself while I was talking downstream with Cody.
A tenuous fight ends, and photos are taken.

But what am I seeing now? Tricos? Yes, tricos were hatching. Two weeks late by our schedule, but right on time according to theirs.
I had handed my pole to Cody, who given my good fortune had suddenly developed a penchant to nymph. I stood there dumbly with his, which was rigged with a No. 18 Adams. A pod of rising fish had formed upstream.

It was ten casts before I feel him, a broad-shouldered rainbow who plays the bully before going airborne three times. “Not again,” Cody yells out in somewhat feigned disgust. He was growing frustrated.

The rainbow reluctantly came to net and Cody coaxes her back to life. We switch rods again.

Then as mysteriously as the tricos appeared, they left. The river turns quiet except for the occasional trout exercising his muscle on a fly the size of a mole. Their rises sound like rocks getting tossed from the bank.

Cody heads back to a pool upstream, but I suspect he’s moving in the direction of the truck to read. Bless him. A kid who would rather read a novel than yell at his old man on Facebook. Imagine that.

I, too, soon head in that direction, stopping to reflect at a riffle that in five previous passings this week always held fishermen. It was known as an excellent place to nymph, one had told me. And now no one was there. I took a few more steps toward the truck before realizing I was walking away from a golden opportunity.

But after skidding down the hill I found an older gentleman — even older than me — relaxing on the shore. I turn to walk away when he offers, “There’s plenty of room. Go ahead and try it here.”

Turns out his name is Don, a retired painter for the Helena school system. He’d gotten up at 4:30 to hit this particular riffle by 6 a.m. Been there 3 1/2 hours and landed three fish.

Don was my dad’s name.

Don on the river was happy. While his fishing itch scratched, socializing had taken a back seat. He was an affable fellow taken to conversation, and we hit it off.

Eventually I transform my leader back into a nymph rig and start across the riffle. Every flyfishing opportunity comes with its own rhythm. I start close, flipping the line ahead and upstream for a short but natural drift.

I soon find that a longer cast is not difficult and covers more water with the aid of one strong, over-the-top mend.
No takers, though, as I move across the channel. Then my fly sticks on a rock. Don hollers something out, but I explain that I snagged. I pull and fli but the situation is useless.

The only way to save my nymphs is to wade into the fast water and extract them by hand. I tried. But even within feet of the end of my leader it didn’t budge. How deep is it? Can I even tough bottom?

But then … something. Given the uneven temperament of a blur of rushing water you can’t be sure. But maybe something.
And then movement. By God, it was a fish!

Don turns giddy.

“Now what?” I ask.

“If you can get him over here, it’s calmer. And you can walk in the river here,” Don suggests.
I’m not sure as a calm stretch lays on the opposite side of the river.
But truth be known, I want to land this fish with Don. Maybe I need to land this fish with Don, and he the same.
The brown has other thoughts. He still hasn’t taken a run. It was like he had do laid dwn stakes in the middle of the riffle, his home, and was not about to retreat under duress.

Just as Don was urging me to close the gap, the brown gives up a few feet. Eventually I pull and pump, a sure sign that the trout is tiring.
About ten minutes — fifteen minutes? Who knows? — and the brown leaps three feet in the air with the last of his strength. Now it was close combat.
I pull my cellphone out and hand it to Don for a photo. Cody wouldn’t believe this fish without proof, and who could blame him? Sixteen inches of trout on the river has a tendency to reach 18 inches by shore. A few drinks, and the proportions get out of hand.
The trout does not fit in my net. I have him in there twice but he refuses to fold his body in a time-honored tradition of trout that lose a good fight. On the third try, something happens. I don’t know what. Perhaps he catches the upper nymph on the bag of my net.

But he is gone.

“Did you get a picture?” I ask Don.
“I’m not very good with these new phones,” he replies.
“At least I have a witness,” I continue, somehow smiling.
“You sure do.”

We talk another few minutes about nothing and everything, reaching the mutual conclusion that life’s been good.

“I’ve been really fortunate. Had a good job with good bosses. Have a good pension. And I’m able to be here,” he says, gazing up and through the Big Belts.
But it is time to go, I explained. Cody is waiting, no doubt with face into his latest novel that could be about anything from video games to espionage.
“Has he got it, what it takes to fish here?” Don wants to know.
“I think so,” I say.

Cody greets me with a smile that covers his face. I show him my broken leader and tell my story in as cursory form as I can muster. But better yet, Cody caught three rainbows after leaving me. I want details.

We fish for many reasons. Some call us lazy. They say we’re escaping reality.

But what if the trappings of life are just that?

Then we’re left with memorable mornings on the Missouri.
Me, Cody and Don.

By |2019-07-24T17:36:07+00:00July 24th, 2019|Categories: Shop Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Prime Time Flying By

It’s Trico Time on the Missouri – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Mid way through July we’re enjoying one of the better seasons in recent memory. Don’t look now but it’s soon to be behind us.

It’s been a strong month for dry fly fishing, I can’t recall a July with more optimal conditions. Near perfect flows, near perfect water temps, fairly consistent bugs and plenty of targets for those on the hunt.

Looking beyond the Missouri the weather has been keeping things green and cool throughout the region. It’s mid-July and we’ve yet to see any hint of Hoot Owl restrictions. That’s a good thing.

It’s been so good we’ve had to resort to complaining about frequent thunderstorms (which, in actuality haven’t been all that frequent) and a couple of hundred CFS bumps in flows here and there bringing us 6400 ish – still well within the “optimal” summer flows we hope for each season.
Some prefer something closer to 3000 CFS for increased wading opportunities but 3000 CFS means warmer water and a serious reduction in prime trout habitat. The river is in great shape at 6000 and the fish are healthy and happy.

It looks like the weather pattern will continue through this week, with high temps holding below average in the mid 70’s and lows in the high 40’s at night keeping things cool. Expect breezy conditions beginning this afternoon and over the next couple of days. Things begin to heat up early next week with sunshine and low 90’s on tap through mid-week. A little more what you would expect in mid to late July in Montana and just what we need to get those Tricos going.

Clouds have started to form and we expect to be fishing Tricos perhaps today and if not today then definitely by the end of the week.  Stock up on your Indicator Spinners and double wings now while you can. All indications are that it’s going to be a good, long Trico season which means we’ve got another month at the least of potentially phenomenal dry fly fishing.

PMD’s still going strong (Rusty Spinners are the ticket) though we expect we’re reaching the end. Caddis in very fishable numbers…just like the days of old. (Maybe not quite but good nonetheless). Best bets include Outriggers, Cornfed, JazzCabbage and CDC Caddis Emergers.

Don’t like tricos? Terrestrials are soon to be in play. I’ve yet to see a hopper but ants are getting eaten and whether you see them or not it’s never a bad call to throw a hopper from here on out. If nothing else it beats the bobber as far as I’m concerned and the ever-present potential for your hopper getting slammed by a hungry trout should hold your interest.

So while the focus has definitely been on dry fly fishing these past weeks nymphing should not be overlooked. PMD nymphs and Caddis pupae have been good options as well as Tailwater Sows and black Zebra midges. Much to our disappointment the Zirdle has yet to turn on. After last year’s Zirdlepalooza when we couldn’t keep the bins stocked we went HEAVY on Zirdles on our pre-season orders and here they sit. Sooner or later they’ll start to get eaten again and when they do we’ve got you covered. If per chance they don’t there may just be some screaming deals on Zirdles by season’s end.

Hot sellers continue to be primarily of the PMD variety. Psycho Mays, Split Case, Crack Back, Magic Fly, Frenchies, Little Green Machines, S & M’s. On the Caddis front Pulsating Caddis Pupae, Weight Flies, Nitro Caddis Pupa, Tung Darts and the like have all been effective. Throw in some of the aforementioned Zebra midges and Tailwater sows and you should have your bases covered.

We’ve hit our peak and we’re now on our way to the Dog Days of August and early September. The bugs will be here, the fish will be here…the crowds will not.

In the meantime July is pretty well spoken for on the lodging front, though there are a few holes here and there and guides are starting to become available again so make it a point to get out here and enjoy one of the better seasons we’ve had in recent years.

The peak may be over but we’ve got months of great fly fishing ahead of us on the Missouri.

Summer Solstice Edition

Well it feels more like the autumn equinox than the summer solstice but be that as it may tomorrow is the official first day of summer. We’ll see cloudy skies and a high near 56 with a chance of rain all day and more of the same throughout the weekend. Maybe not quite what you had in mind for the first weekend of summer but don’t despair, things will return to normal by the first part of next week.

We’re in the midst of the Prime Time grind this week, making the proverbial hay whether the sun shines or not. It’s our busiest couple of weeks of the season for guide trips and while the MO isn’t exactly giving it up right now, we’ve managed to piece together some decent days, even for the DFO’s.
Water temps are still a little shy of where they need to be to flip the switch on dry fly action but we’re getting there. I would expect to see things improve on the dry fly front by next week as the air and water temps trend upward. It’s got to happen sooner or later!

Not to say there hasn’t been any dry fly action, there has been, but it’s been sporadic at best. Some PMD activity, some caddis activity and some fish up but finding them has been a challenge even for those of us who know exactly where to look.

Nymphing has been satisfying numbers quotas and streamer fishing continues to provide enough action to keep the bobber watching averse entertained.

Status quo on nymphs with an added emphasis on PMD patterns, particularly the split case and crack back. Redemptions, Psycho Mays, S & M’s and PMD Magic Flies also getting noticed but don’t abandon the Tailwater Sows just yet and make sure you’re stocked up on Little Green Machines…if you aren’t we are!

A couple of holes in lodging this week though not many. Give us a call if you’re looking for something for this weekend, beyond that we’re booked solid for the next two weeks though you never know what might open up. It’s the same with guide trips. We’re pretty well booked solid  for the next couple of weeks but we do have the random opening and cancellations do sometimes occur so make the call.

Stop by and see us for all of your summer solstice fly fishing needs. Sun screen, buffs, hats, Smith and Suncloud sunglasses, Simms Solarflex shirts AND rain gear, wading gear and hand warmers for those cold and damp summer days.

Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere Wolf Creek Angler also proudly employs female guides and shop staff and we have a fine selection of women’s waders, boots and clothing from Simms. We are also the only shop on the Missouri featuring products from Damsel Fly Fishing, manufactured in Belgrade Montana. It’s not a badge, it’s just who we are.

Hope to see you soon for summer fly fishing on the Missouri. Tomorrow is the longest day of the year. How did that happen already? Now begins the march to darkness  but on the way we’ve got months of easy living summer days ahead so get out there and enjoy Prime Time on the Missouri River.

By |2019-06-20T23:00:12+00:00June 20th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

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.