Great Expectations

The Crew from Schultz Outfitters

In between winter storms we hosted one of the bigger groups we’ve ever had last week and while the weather provided for some nice days on the water the fishing remained somewhat challenging.

With four days to fish we spread out far and wide from Land of the Giants to Cascade and while we did manage to find everyone a decent fish or two the fish gods were stingy, giving us just enough action to keep things interesting and to entice the majority of the group into making at least a soft commitment to return to the Missouri for another go around next year.

The group we were hosting was put together by Schultz Outfitters in Ypsilanti Michigan so it was a real treat for me to be around a group of Michiganders all week. I also had the pleasure of teaching some rowing basics to one member of the group who had driven out ahead of the rest in order to pick up his new boat which he had delivered to the shop. What a great group and what a fun experience. I can’t wait to have them back again.

So back to the fishing report, yes on the slow side but hope springs eternal and we’ve got Great Expectations for the days and weeks ahead.

We’re enjoying the post-storm sunshine today and we’re glad to see the snow disappearing yet again, hopefully at least for a few weeks this time.

We’re back in the 40’s and 50’s starting tomorrow and maybe even up in the 60’s again by mid-week next week. Plenty of sunshine on tap over the 10 day and night time lows holding in the 20’s and 30’s, keeping water temps on the drop. Water temps are currently sitting at around 52 degrees.

Random BWO sightings being reported each day but I don’t believe we’re there yet. Keep those epic BWO days in your Great Expectations file and get out there on those cloudy days, preferably when it’s spitting rain and snow. It’ll happen sooner or later. In the meantime there are plenty of pseudos and caddis around to keep you busy if your idea of fall fishing on the MO involves dry flies only.

Nymphing has been moderately effective, depending on the day. There are fish congregating in the grass flats though they aren’t as grabby as we’d like them to be which has caused many to skip the dam and go in at Wolf Creek or lower.

The canyon has been fishing pretty good, relatively speaking and we’ve heard some decent reports from the lower as well. Don’t be afraid to spread out and try some different water. When things are on the slow side it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and explore parts of the river you aren’t as familiar with. You might be surprised what you find.

Best sellers from the nymph bins continue to be purple weight flies, Little Green Machines, Split Case BWO’s, Olive and pearl Lighting Bugs, Rainbow Warriors, Rainbow Czechs, Tung Darts, Tailwater Sows, Nitro Caddis Pupae, Black Zebra midges, Olive S & M’s, BWO Magic Fly, Dark Peep Show, Olive Psycho May and still moving a fair amount of Zirdles (tan or natural as of late). I’ve not had much luck with the zirdles lately but they’ve definitely had their moments based on what we’ve been hearing.

Streamer fishing should be heating up soon. I’ve heard a couple of solid reports but those have been few and far between. I ran an exclusive streamer trip on Friday and boated one really good fish, only moving a few others the entire day but take that for what it’s worth and get out there and strip.

Weeds are an ever-present hindrance though I’ve seen them MUCH worse. Prepare mentally ahead of time. Stay Calm and strip.

Best bets on the streamers have been Sparkle Minnows (shock), Mojo minnows, Black buggers, JJ Specials, Circus Peanuts, MK Ultralights, Dirty Hippy in brown or black and we’ve also had some action on Mini Dungeons, Baby Gongas, D & D’s and Inflated Egos.

As with the nymphing the fish have not been collectively grabby on the streamers but the ones we’ve picked up have been aggressive. If streamers are your thing put in your time and have great expectations. It’s the right time of the year for hunting unicorns and that next cast could be the one.

We’ve got a few more weeks of fall prime time ahead but the end of the season is in sight. We’ll likely start closing/winterizing some of our lodging soon and while there are folks around you can expect some relative solitude out there going forward.

The shop is still open from 7 AM – 5 PM daily for shuttles, bugs, cold-weather gear, Simms boots and waders and so much more.

After a busy week last week the guide calendar is thinning out so if you’re thinking of booking yourself a fall guide trip on the Missouri this wouldn’t be a bad time to do it.

Winter specials for lodging and guide trips coming soon and we’ll update you as soon as we know the winter schedule at Shotgun Annie’s. Expect fewer dining options in the area as the fall progresses but remember we offer lodging with kitchens so you can cook for yourself.

It’s been a weird one weather-wise and fishing wise but we’re still optimistic that there’s some great fall fishing ahead.

Welcome September

Big Game Season coming soon

Good bye summer, fall is on the way and with it our “second season” on the Missouri.

Soon the empty parking lots at the boat ramps and the empty beds at WCA will be filled again as the crowds return to experience what many feel is the absolute best time of the year to fly fish in Montana.

Mind you “crowds” is a relative term and while there will be a marked increase in traffic over what we’ve seen for the past month or so it won’t be anything like what we see during the height of the season in June and July.

Fall is busy, but not CRAZY busy which is a large part of the appeal for those who skip the summer months and reserve autumn for their Missouri River pilgrimage.

Chilly mornings and evenings separated by an abundance of blue sky and sunshine (with a few dark and cloudy days mixed in) and temps that are not too hot, nor too cold. It’s the PERFECT season as far as I’m concerned.

And the fishing? The fishing can be absolutely phenomenal (and sometimes not) but if I had to choose a favorite time to fish the Missouri (and actually to fish in general) this is the time!

Flannel shirt hot coffee mornings followed with a good soaking of autumn sunshine…does it get any better? Why yes, actually it does. Pair the above with a good long float, your favorite streamer stick and colored up browns on the prowl….it’s NIRVANA. We live for this!

Or, if you prefer the top water game Tricos are sporadic but still going  strong and there’s plenty of hopper and ant fishing ahead of us. It won’t be long before we see October Caddis in the mix followed by the eagerly anticipated fall baetis hatch but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. After all, it’s just barely September.

Nymphing has been hit or miss but overall we’ve enjoyed pretty damn good nymph fishing all season long and while we may have hit a late summer lull things should start to pick up from here on out. Keep focusing your efforts on the medium fast to fast water as well as the swirly water where you’ll likely find the fish suspended.

Keep fishing those crayfish along with beatis nymphs, zebra midges and sow bugs. Best sellers as of late have been 2 Bit Hookers, Peep Shows, LGM’s, Jujus, Tailwater Sows, Black Zebra Midges, purple Lightning Bugs, Pheasant Tails, tan UV Czechs and for some reason Crack Back and Split Case PMD’s. Split Case BWO’s, BWO Magic Flies and Soft Hackle Sow bugs should get it done as well.

Rooms are starting to fill and last minute guide trips have been the norm as of late which works out great during the lull but that’s all about to change. Starting around mid-September our guide calendar gets pretty full so if you’re thinking of a fall guide trip on the Missouri or Blackfoot don’t wait any longer.

Lodging availability is good through early October when we hit the prime of our second season but even then we’ve got some holes to fill so call and book your guides, rooms and drift boat rentals today.

We’re fully stocked for fall with new cold weather gear and waders and boots a plenty from Simms. And don’t miss out on the best deals of the season during our second annual Fall Rod and Reel sale…25% off all rods and reels. It’s the perfect time to treat yourself to a new Loop, Echo or Redington rod and Lamson or Ross reel.

Fall shop hours are 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM daily.

Farewell to Summer Days

Autumn is a magical time on the Missouri – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Summer is rapidly coming to a close. And as always, it’s bittersweet.

After all, we do LOVE summertime in Montana. It’s in large part what brought us here and what keeps people coming back.

Long days. Blue skies. Wet wading or floating your favorite stream while soaking up the sun. Warm nights, barbeques, beers on the deck, live music under the stars, visits from friends and family and spending time together before the world clocks back in.

Summer number six at Wolf Creek Angler was a good one and flew by faster than the rest as they tend to do.

Soon we will sadly bid farewell to summer as autumn takes hold but there’s really no need to despair.

Sure, summer is amazing but autumn runs a close second as far as I’m concerned.

The transition has already begun. The days are growing short, so much so that it’s actually dark when I’m driving to work in the morning and again before I go to bed.

The calendar shows summer for another three weeks but there’s a chill in the air (40 degrees in Wolf Creek as I write) most mornings and evenings. We will unofficially say goodbye to summer this Labor Day weekend and close the books on a great summer season while we gear up for the “second season” on the Missouri coming soon.

For many who call this part of the world home, the change in seasons shifts the focus away from fishing to hunting which maintains the late summer and early autumn solitude on the river but for others fall is considered THE best time of the year to fish.

In several weeks we’ll celebrate the arrival of the autumn equinox and with it, a second round of busy chaos as anglers from all around once again set their sights on the Missouri.

Of course Mother Nature has the final say on when the second season begins and ends but we’ve come to expect good fishing and good commerce generally through early November.

We’re open through all of it and beyond. We are your four season Missouri River fly shop. Lodging options dwindle as the temperature drops and we’re forced to winterize but we’ve always got at least a few rooms available, even in the dead of winter. In fact late fall into winter is when Wolf Creek shines as much of the fly fishing infrastructure in and around Craig starts to shut down making Wolf Creek the place to be with two bar/restaurants, a gas station/convenience store and a first rate full service fly shop with onsite lodging all just minutes from Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge.

The feeling must be in the air as the phones have been busy and we’ve been booking a lot of fall trips these past few days. October is prime by fall standards but don’t hesitate to book September dates as well. November is hit and miss but can often deliver the best fishing of the fall as the shift to winter begins ushering in epic days of BWO’s.

Nymphing is always a good bet on the Missouri and fall is no exception but for those of us addicted to the streamer game fall means one thing and one thing only….big cantankerous browns on the prowl. They’re angry and aggressive and colored up in autumn splendor and there’s no better time to target them. Strip through the autumn, swing through the winter….it’s about to be streamer time on the MO (and every other stream in Montana).

So enjoy these last weeks of summer to the fullest but embrace the arrival of fall. It’s a magical time on the MO!

Dog Days of Summer Special Happening NOW at Wolf Creek Angler

Dog Days on the MO’

The long-awaited Dog Days of Summer Special has returned, giving you yet another reason to drop everything and make your way to Wolf Creek and the amazing Missouri River.

Now through the end of August book a night’s lodging and a full day guide trip and we’ll throw in a second night for FREE.
The Dog Days have arrived but don’t let anyone tell you the fishing is no good in August.

Can we guarantee phenomenal fishing? Of course not, but the fishing has been consistently good with enough tough days mixed in to make it challenging and keep things interesting.

We make it a point to give you honest and up to date reports based on our own real-time experiences as well at the feedback we’re getting from other guides, customers and guests. The last few reports we’ve shared have been very positive for good reason, but we should take this opportunity to mention that there have been a couple of days where things were slow from start to finish. As you might expect this time of year, under the heat of the summer sun, there have also been plenty of days that started strong but shut off during the height (and the heat) of mid-day.

We’re occasionally called out for making things out to be better than they are but you can rest assured that our reports are always honest and we’ll be the first to tell you when things are tough. There’s nothing to gain by painting a rosy picture when the fishing is tough. You’ll find out soon enough for yourself if that’s the case and will likely disregard anything we’re saying as dishonest going forward.

That being said, if our overall experience for a given time period (generally a week in our case) has been good and if we’ve gotten mostly positive reports overall from our guides and guests during that time, we’re going to report that the fishing is good but since we are talking about fishing it’s not to say that you won’t show up and have a slow day out there. It’s the nature of the beast. There are many factors involved, a few of which we have some control over, most of which we do not so the bottom line is that you should utilize our reports for what they are which is a snap shot of the overall productivity of the fishery in a given time frame, but know that no matter how great things may have been it doesn’t mean they’re going to stay that way.

What we can say is that dry fly opportunities have been abundant. PMD’s have all finally come to a close (for the most part) but Tricos and Caddis are filling in the gaps and terrestrials are starting to shine. We always like to throw in a disclaimer when talking hopper fishing as the Missouri is not known as a great hopper river but, that being said, naturals are plentiful out there right now and hoppers are getting eaten daily. So while the MO may not be known as a great hopper river it’s always worth your time to throw them. Some of the biggest browns of the season always fall prey to the hopper. Run in tandem with an ant or drop a nymph to increase your odds. My go to as of late….#10 More or Less Hopper in Peach.

Fish tight to the banks in the hopper zones but don’t overlook those mid-river flats and riffles. The fish are there.

Nymphing remains good with zebra midges, lighting bugs, PT’s, LGM’s, Tailwater Sows, Czechs, Weight Flies, Tung Darts and the rest of the usual suspects all producing with proper placement. Short leashing has had its days though fish are in the depths as well so fish the water you believe in….the fish are there.

We’re open daily at 7 AM for all of your Missouri River fly fishing needs. We’ve got the hardest working guides on the water, clean and affordable lodging, Adipose drift boat rentals and a shop full of everything you need for your day on the water. Check out our great deals on summer sportswear from Simms as we clear the way for fall gear arriving SOON.

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.

 

Long Awaited Missouri River Fishing Report

 

For whatever reason I haven’t fished the Missouri much these past few weeks, save a couple of short walk in outings.

December is definitely the slowest month traffic wise on the Missouri but it’s not because it doesn’t fish. The short cold days of December find many busy with the holidays and for a lot of guides, outfitters and shop owners December truly is the end of the season which means it’s time to catch up on end-of-the year paperwork and other such unfishy things.

Counting flies, completing and submitting outfitter logs and begging folks to come out and deplete shop inventory are a few things I’ve been doing. A lot of guides have winter jobs which are typically in full swing by now so we just don’t see much activity during the month of December.

Once the holidays have passed cabin fever starts to set in and a break in the weather will typically bring them out in droves but for now all is quiet.

While looking at the unseasonably warm forecast for this week I decided I really needed to get back on the water. So far this winter most of my days off have coincided with cold temps, wind, domestic projects, lethargy or all of the above. On the days I’ve thought about fishing the weather has changed my mind but with a few winter trips coming up and a fish shaped hole in my constitution I decided Monday was the day.

WCA/Iron Fly guide Brad Turner and I battled a bit of wind but for the most part had very mild weather, at least by December standards. We skipped the dam and opted for the Wolf Creek Bridge to Stickney run intent on devoting a good part of the day to streamer fishing.

Winter water and winter nymphs are producing though it certainly wasn’t lights out. A half-hearted effort perhaps but we were content to pick up a few fish just to affirm the water and bug selection prior to moving on to the big bugs.

Winter is the season of status quo as far as nymphing goes. Rainbow Czechs, Pink Amex, Pill Poppers, Rainbow Weight flies, Tailwater sows, black Zebra midges, Soft Hackle Sows, Firebead anything, UV Crush, Bubble Yums, Cotton Candies, Pinkalicious, Yum Yums, Pink Lucent Bead Rays….you know the drill. Whatever you do adjust depth and weight before getting carried away with changing bugs. You can often run the same bugs for weeks at a time.

Seeing as we were mostly interested in streamer fishing we soon switched rigs and had good action from the start with Brad picking up a nice bow and a good brown within the first mile of water. Things slowed a bit after those first two fish but we did have several stretches where we lit them up. Brad got em’ on the D & D’s and I powered through a couple of slow at-bats with the JJ Sparkle Minnow before they honed in for last light.

A solid day all around with six or eight to the boat, moving another dozen or thereabouts. More bows than browns this time around but you never know what you’re going to get.

Winter is typically swing season on the MO’ thanks to our friends downriver who have pretty much singlehandedly created the two hand Trout Spey craze which has done nothing but grow since I’ve been here. Kudos to Headhunters Fly Shop for creating an entirely new market on the Missouri. It’s a super effective method and an entirely different way to fish.

I have yet to board that train preferring instead to stick with what I know and LOVE which is streamer fishing of the single hand variety. I prefer covering long stretches of water, fishing from the boat with big heavy lines, big bugs and stripping more than swinging though swinging certainly has its moments. Mind you I have nothing against the Trout Spey game, it’s just not my thing (as of yet).

When I first came to the Missouri I was told by many that it wasn’t a great streamer river. I was told that Intermediate lines and small streamers were what was most effective and while this may be the case from a numbers standpoint I think folks are limiting themselves with that mentality.

Is the Missouri a great streamer river? It depends how you define “great” but to me moving 20 fish in a day and hooking a third or more of those is pretty great. The biggest fish I ever caught on the MO’ came on a hopper but outside of that the majority of big fish I catch are caught on streamers.

Will they eat big streamers? You bet. Again, you might increase your numbers fishing smaller bugs but I’m of the mindset that if you’re hunting big fish you should be running big bugs. I hooked the fish above on a #4 Sparkle Minnow. This was an average sized brown (17” give or take) already in the process of consuming about a 6” rainbow which apparently wasn’t quite enough of a meal.

It’s quite possible that the majority of the diet of these fish on the MO consists of smaller leeches and bait fish but that doesn’t change the fact that they are opportunistic feeders and that they are predators. Put a big bug in front of the right fish and he’s going to eat it. The bigger the bug the bigger the fish? Not necessarily but odds are that the bigger fish are going to target the bigger meals. Sure they’ll eat the small stuff too but in my mind by running bigger bugs I’m minimizing the odds of hooking smaller fish and maximizing the odds of hooking a beast.

I like to dredge and I like to hit every nook and cranny of any kind of bank structure. I like to work the buckets and the tailouts and soft edges near the bank. I like to switch up the retrieve until I find what works and to a lesser extent I like to change bugs and colors but truth be told I have my go-to bugs which seem to work more often than not and you’ll usually find I’ve got one of these half dozen or so offerings rigged and ready at any given time. That being said like most streamer junkies I’m a sucker for bugs that swim so if it darts and dives and flounders like the wounded bait fish it’s supposed to mimic I’m all over it.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of days they simply aren’t interested in chasing streamers and on these days you always have the option of bobber fishing but more often than not I’ll throw streamers all day long regardless if that’s what we set out to do.

Who knows, maybe someday I’ll get in line with the Trout Spey set but for now there’s nowhere I’d rather be than standing in the bow of a drift boat, 7 or 8 weight in hand trying to coax monster browns up from the depths or out from the cover. I live for this. A close second however would be sitting in the rower’s seat serving up prime water to someone just as obsessed as I am with the streamer game.

I will say that this is my preferred time to fish streamers. Now until the weeds return next summer is prime streamer time and while the fish may be a little on the lethargic side as the water temps drop it makes it all that much more challenging and rewarding to coax them in to attacking.

Single hand, two handed, streamers, bobbers….do what you like and don’t miss out on what can sometimes be truly epic winter fishing on the Missouri.

Late October Missouri River Fishing Report

Wolf Creek Bridge FAS is OPEN

We’ve been enjoying some gorgeous autumn weather these last several days though the fishing has slowed considerably.

We love the blue skies and sunshine, optimal conditions for showcasing the dwindling fall color show. The fish do not share our love for such days. The fish prefer the shadows.

That being said, there has been no shortage of opportunities to target rising fish, even on the sunniest of days if you know where to look.

A Sprout Baetis paired with cripple or emerger will get eaten as will a split wing BWO or a tried and true parachute Adams. An October Caddis makes a great strike indicator…the kind they like to eat! Drop a CDC Caddis Emerger or a zebra midge to up your odds and always make that first cast count. Matching the hatch can be important but presentation is critical. They’ll eat something other than the exact bug that’s on the water if it’s presented correctly. They won’t think about eating a poorly presented fly no matter how close to the natural it looks.

There are always exceptions to the rules but if you plan to consistently catch fish you have to make your first casts count. A ravenous pod of hungry trout on the Missouri is NOT the place for casting practice!

Nymphing reports have ranged from awesome to terrible, depending on location (and just maybe also depending on the skill level of the anglers). You end up hearing a lot of conflicting reports over the course of a day in the fly shop due in large part to the subjective nature of our sport.

It’s not uncommon to hear the extreme ends of the spectrum on any given day. “The water is really high” for one but “the water is as low as I’ve seen it” for another. “The slowest it’s ever been for us” often times coincides with “the best we’ve ever done here”.

The objective report is that nymphing is good. It was better prior to this streak of sunny days and it will likely be better once the clouds return but overall nymphing has been good and will always be your ticket to numbers.

Tailwater Sows have been money for me as of late, typically paired with a Rainbow Czech or beaded version of the Tailwater Sow but I’ve also had good luck with Pill Poppers, Firebead Rays, black Zebra Midges, Little Green Machines, Psycho Mays and plain old pheasant tails.
I’ve been running 5’ to split and not doing much in the way of depth adjustments. Many are finding success running shorter late in the day, I haven’t found a reason to do so. Keep it simple and don’t overthink it.

If you’re having a tough time finding fish take a look at the depth of your rig and the water you’re fishing before going crazy with bug changes.

Believe me, we’re all for people making bug changes. We’ve got thousands of bugs we think you should try but truth be told….it’s typically not the bug itself but rather where you’re fishing it. Even so, just like everywhere, there are a handful of go-to patterns on this river you should not be without…all of which are available for purchase every day at Wolf Creek Angler.

Streamer reports have been decent but once again, blue bird days are typically not your best bet for tossing the big bugs. Mornings have been decent before the sun hits the water and the long shadows of the afternoon into the early evening hours are good bets.

The water is still relatively warm (currently 52 degrees) so strip aggressively. They’re up for the chase and if you’re lucky the ATTACK! Expect plenty of short strikes and keep at it. Weeds are still a hindrance but they haven’t been horrible. There are angry browns lurking somewhere in the shadows. All you have to do is find them.

Try MK UltrasSparkle Minnows, Dirty Hippies, Autumn Splendors, Skiddish Smolts, Polar Leeches, Circus Peanuts, Mojo Minnows or anything else you believe in. We’ve been having our best luck with olive, natural and grey but don’t overlook white.

The entire river is fishing well right now. Best nymphing reports have come from the upper while we’ve found the better dry fly and streamer fishing to be below Craig. FYI – The Wolf Creek Bridge FAS is OPEN.

The fall season is in full swing and it will be over before you know it. Make your fall fly fishing getaway to the Missouri while there is still time.

Autumn has Finally Arrived

Fall has arrived

Here we are in the final days of September and while autumn just officially arrived last Saturday, in some ways summer seems like a very distant memory.

Most mornings have been dark and chilly and while we’ve continued to have some days with temps in the 70’s the chill returns early each evening.

Traffic has been steadily increasing since about the second week of September and while we’ll be winterizing rooms before we know it, we’re currently enjoying a full house more nights than not. I always enjoy the company during the fall knowing that in just six weeks or so the lonely days of the winter season will be upon us.

Soon the dark winter days of the canyon will commence and the shop will be starved of sunlight until spring. In the meantime we’re loving each and every sunny day.

The fishing has been good overall, though with the increase in traffic comes the increase in sub-par fishing reports. Guide reports have been good most days, DIY reports are always a mixed bag.

The river is in great shape right now, holding in that 4500 CFS range with water temps in the 60 degree range and dropping. We’re getting a fair amount of folks inquiring about the flows, feeling like they are higher than normal. This isn’t really the case as indicated by this chart which shows that we are currently just a few hundred CFS over the historical average.

We get a fair amount of wading anglers who prefer flows to be in the 3500 – 4000 cfs range which is great for accessing more spots but that being said, the river is VERY wadeable right now. You should always use extreme caution when wading any river but these flows are not considered dangerous.

Weeds are an ever-present challenge right now, but no worse than normal. Expect to encounter them and be vigilant about keeping your rigs clean. Weeds are part of the deal this time of year on the Missouri. Don’t let them get you down and don’t expect them to disappear anytime soon. They’ll be here throughout the fall fishing season but there’s no reason to let them ruin your day.

Dry fly fishing is a real possibility each day though we are in transition so expect this to improve from here on out. There have been multiple reports of BWO’s and you can expect to encounter pseudos, callibaetis and caddis as well. Terrestrials are definitely a possibility throughout the fall but we’ve all but closed the book on sub-par hopper season. Ants and beetles are still in the mix but keep your expectations low. We’re moving BWO’s front and center in the dry fly bins as we speak.

Nymphing will continue to produce. No big changes on the bug menu though we’ve definitely seen a shift towards rainbow Czechs as the point fly of choice. Purple weight flies are a close second and I wouldn’t hesitate to throw a pink Amex into the mix. Trail with a black zebra or your baetis nymph of choice. If those don’t work try a soft hackle sow or a tailwater sow. More often than not it’s more of a depth issue than a bug issue but sometimes you have to throw the kitchen sink at them.

It pretty much goes without saying that fall is streamer season so if that’s your thing then you should be here now! Yes, weeds complicate things but work through those issues and you’ll be rewarded. Who knows, that next cast might just miss every weed in its path and entice that 24” angry fall brown to strike. You won’t know if you don’t throw.

Streamer bins are full and we’re also fully stocked with cold weather gear from base layers to hats and gloves to jackets, waders, boots and more.

It’s been a busy month for guide trips and we expect October will be the same. We’ve got plenty of dates available for both the Missouri and the Blackfoot.

Don’t wait any longer, autumn is here…make your fall fishing plans today.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Fall on the Blackfoot

It’s hard to beat autumn in Montana.

Sure, summer is amazing and never seems to last quite long enough but there’s something about the transition to fall that quickly makes us forget all about those long, warm summer days.

Chilly mornings, flannel and fleece, painted fall foliage, bugling elk, brown trout on the prowl….what’s not to love?

Come experience the best of what Montana has to offer. Book a trip with us this fall and we’re confident you’ll make autumn your go to time for Montana fly fishing.

If you’ve got the time we encourage you to make it a multi-river trip with a day or two on the Mighty Missouri and a day on the Blackfoot as well.

It’s just a short drive across the divide to the Blackfoot (less than two hours) but a full day on the water can make for a long drive back to Wolf Creek. Many don’t mind the trip but if you’d prefer we can get you set up with lodging in either Ovando or Lincoln.

Maybe take a day off guided fishing to explore wade fishing opportunities on the Blackfoot before returning to Wolf Creek and the Missouri.

If you’re strictly into numbers then stick to the MO’ but if you want to experience two completely different Montana fly fishing experiences then book them both. Our guides feel right at home on either.

We look forward to seeing you this fall.

September Fishing Forecast

Fall Colors on the MO’

September has arrived.

Labor Day has come and gone. Summer Vacation is OVER. School is back in session. High School and college football are underway and NFL football returns this Sunday. Could this be the Lions’ year?

Technically we’ve still got almost three weeks of summer to go but for all intents and purposes autumn has arrived.

It even feels like fall today with a chilly 42 degrees this morning and a high only in the 60’s. We’ll see a return to the 80’s this week before things trend cooler again starting Saturday.

As you might imagine the Tuesday after Labor Day tends to be a quiet day in the shop and on the river but it won’t be long before things fire up again as we enter what we’ve come to refer to as our “second season”.

Rivaling our peak months of June and July, mid -September through mid- November offer some of the best fishing of the season. Having lost a good part of the prime time this season to high flows we’re hoping for an especially strong fall and by the looks of things we’re going to get it.

Guide dates and lodging are filling quickly for late September and the first half of October. The weather will dictate what happens after that but late October and early November have been money for as long as I’ve been here.

We’ll keep as much lodging open for as long as we can but as the cold begins to take hold we’ll be forced to start shutting things down, likely mid to late October. The motel units are the first to be closed and we generally keep the cabins open through Thanksgiving. Our bungalows and the shop are open year round and guides are available any and every day of the year.

Epic dry fly fishing and phenomenal streamer fishing along with great nymphing opportunities define late fall on the Missouri. Crisp autumn air, BWO’s and predatory browns on the prowl make fall my favorite time to fish the MO’ and in fact my favorite time to fish period.

Crowds will soon return, though not like what we see during the prime time so there is some solitude to be had out there as many turn their attention to hunting from here on out.

Expect tricos to continue for the next week or two and stay focused on your pseudo as well as your hopper/terrestrial game. Caddis have been resurgent as of late and will continue to offer opportunities as we await the autumn BWO’s.

Nymphers are finding success with gold or purple weight flies, Psycho Mays, LGM’s, Purple Lightning Bugs, PT’s, Peep Shows, Redemptions, Zebras, 2 Bits and the like. Claws R Cray, Snapping Crays and Zirdles continue to drive the numbers.

Streamer fishing is heating up and will only get better from here on out. Low light conditions and overcast days are key but don’t feel like you can’t fish streamers in the sun. Sunny clear days may not be optimal but you never know unless you throw. There are plenty of big fish caught on streamers on sunny days. Don’t wait for perfect conditions, work with what you’ve got.

Speaking of conditions, prepare yourself mentally to contend with the weeds no matter how you’re fishing. They can frustrate the best anglers out there but if you choose your water wisely and expect the inevitable it’ll go a long way in helping you maintain your sanity.

Olive has been working well as have natural and tan. JJ Sparkle Minnow shines this time of year but don’t give up on the Sculpin version which seems to get it done in just about any conditions. ZK’s MK Ultra in grey or brown and yellow, Dirty Hippies, ZK’s Inflated Ego, Montana Mouthwash, Galloups Peanut Envy, Skiddish Smolt, buggers and polar leeches all good choices right now.

You’ve heard it here plenty and we’ll continue to preach it…fish what you like and fish it well. Confidence in your bugs makes all the difference in the world no matter what discipline but it’s critical in the streamer game.

Most are stripping, some are swinging. Cover a lot of water and bomb the banks but don’t overlook the riffles, drop offs and buckets. The fish are everywhere. Stripping off of the bank will get you your best ROI but you could definitely hit pay dirt hitting the water overlooked by most.

Fish the next two weeks if you want solitude. Busy days are coming.

Holter Dam to Craig is still your best bet for mixing it up with nymphs and dries (emphasis on nymphs). I’d stay below Craig if it’s streamer or terrestrial action you seek.

Welcome to fall on the Missouri. Be sure and pay us a visit for obscene deals on summer gear. We’re in the process of shifting to colder weather gear and will see an influx of new arrivals coming soon.

From the top guides on the river to affordable lodging to shuttles and accessories, rods and reels, lines and leaders, boots and waders and the best bug selection in the canyon we are your Missouri River one stop shop for everything autumn fly fishing.

Don’t miss our Fall Wader Sale happening now. Fall is the time to drag the waders and boots back out. Why not treat yourself to an upgrade. 25% off all wading gear while it lasts. We proudly feature Redington waders and boots as well as Korkers boots which continue to dominate with interchangeable felt and rubber soles.

There are always great deals to be had at Wolf Creek Angler, the best shop you never know was here.