State of the Missouri

The Pat Barnes Missouri River Trout Unlimited Chapter  hosted the annual State of the Missouri earlier this week at Montana Wild in Helena.

FWP Region 4 Fisheries Biologist Jason Mullen once again presented summary data for both the Missouri and Smith Rivers as well as updates on various special projects in the region.

This is always a highly anticipated and generally well-attended program which covers everything from fish counts to flow data to angler days.
A big thanks to Jason Mullen for his willingness to share this data with us. All data and graphics are pulled directly from his presentation.

Fish numbers were slightly down last year in both the Craig and Cascade sections. The Craig section is the 5.5 miles from Wolf Creek Bridge down to Craig while the Cascade section is from the power lines above Pelican Point down to Cascade.

The figures indicate fish greater than 10” per river mile. Craig rainbows came in at 2,860 while browns totaled 390 per mile. Both are slightly down from 2018 as well as slightly below the average of 3,391 rainbows and 568 browns per mile.

Cascade rainbows came in at 1104 with browns coming in at 238. These numbers were roughly on par with 2018 and below the averages of 1588 and 390 respectively.

Size wise we’re still looking at pretty incredible average size with the majority of fish in the 16” – 19” range. In 2018 we saw an abundance of 12” and 13” browns in the Craig stretch, not much for those in 2019.

One of the most encouraging slides of the presentation every year is the one indicating Relative Weight or overall weight in relation to length and while I’m not exactly sure what comprises this figure the healthy target according to Mullen is in the range from 95-105 and as you can see the Missouri supports a very healthy population, and has for some time. This Relative Weight, more than anything, is what keeps you coming back. It’s what makes that 16” bow take you into your backing.

Switching to flows – we had a good water year in 2019 with flows peaking at around 11,500 CFS in April and holding nicely between 5 and 6,000 CFS throughout the summer season. The only thing that could have made this better would have been a couple of days of flushing flows at 15K plus but we’re not complaining. 5-6K throughout the summer is just about as close to perfect as you can get.

How busy was the MO?

170,736 angler days (2017 data) ranked the Missouri River number two in the state behind the Madison which reported 207,334 angler days. Busy for sure but down from the 183,479 angler days in 2015 which ranked us number one in the state.


This was roughly a 50/50 mix of resident and non-resident anglers and generated an estimated $61,082,010 in revenue for trip-related expenses.

Fishing is, and will continue to be, a HUGE part of Montana’s economy and we feel incredibly blessed to be a part of that economy.
That is why we take none of it for granted and we work overtime to protect and conserve the resource. We are so thankful to FWP and DNRC for the work that they do and we encourage everyone who enjoys and takes advantage of this incredible resource to join or contribute to organizations such as Pat Barnes Trout Unlimited, Missouri River Flyfishers and UMOWA.

Full Moon Fishing Report

Full Moon over Wolf Creek Bridge

All is quiet on the Missouri as December continues to disappear.

We’re in the last full moon phase of the decade with the Winter Solstice knocking at the door.

The days continue to get shorter but only through next weekend when we turn the corner, celebrating the first day of winter on Saturday the 21st and then reversing course. A lot of winter ahead for sure but it’ll be good to be back on the road to spring.

Duck hunters outnumber anglers most days but there are a few folks getting out and enjoying winter’s solitude.

Winter nymphing is on and Swing Season is here. And while Trout Spey continues to grow in popularity, we’re here to tell you that you can actually fish streamers on a single hand rod on the MO in the winter as well. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

Obviously the first hurdle is to get acclimated to cold weather fishing. Its not for everyone but once you talk yourself into it and actually get out there you just might fall in love with the consistent abundance of solitude and the occasional banner day of fishing.

Warmer temps this time of the year are generally accompanied by gusty winds so I’ll usually fish the colder days if I can avoid the hurricane winds. Case in point, today we’ll see highs in the mid 40’s but we’ll also see 20 mph winds gusting to 40 mph….no thanks!
Tomorrow looks like a slight improvement and Saturday looks to be near perfect (by December standards) with highs in the mid 30’s and light winds.

And speaking of the weekend, we do have lodging available should you decide to treat yourself to a winter weekend on the Missouri.
Water temps have dropped considerably (currently right around 36 degrees) so the conditions are definitely right for tried and true winter techniques.

If nymphing is your game you’ll want to be targeting the slow, deep winter waters. Pink is always the go-to during the winter months and firebeads should also be a staple in your arsenal. Best bets are Rainbow Czechs, Pill Poppers, Amex, Bubble Yums, Tailwater Sows, Soft hackle sows, Caviar Scuds, Firebead or Pink Lucent Bead Rays, Pink Lighting Bugs, Pink Radiation Baetis, Rainbow Warriors, Pederson’s Sow, Cotton Candy, Firebead Sows… get the picture. Fish deep (7’ – 9’ overall) and make sure you completely cover the run, starting close and working your way out.

Streamer fishing is a go and while it may not generate the numbers you’ll likely catch larger fish swinging or stripping but not always.
Swing the tailouts with something in the leech realm and don’t be afraid to ply the depths either swinging or stripping. If you’re going to strip keep it slow with the occasional swing for good measure. We like Polar Leeches, Hot Head Kreelex, Buggers, Pine Squirrel Leeches etc on the swing or the strip and there’s no time I won’t fish a Sparkle Minnow or Mojo Minnow. A slow strip dredging the depths of the soft, lakey water could surprise you!

The walk/wade option often makes more sense this time of year with the seriously abbreviated daylight but a short float (Dam to Wolf Creek, Wolf Creek to Craig, Craig to Stickney etc) is very do-able and affords you vastly increased opportunities.

We hope to see you in Wolf Creek this weekend. We’ve got everything you need for you day on the water and almost all of it is on sale!
20 percent off bugs, lines, leaders, tippet and great deals on waders, boots and outerwear as well as layering and sportswear. And don’t forget our Holiday rod and reel sale – 25 % off ALL rods and reels and a FREE ARC fly line and backing when you buy a rod and reel combo. The BEST deals of the year just in time for Christmas.

Shop Hours 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM Monday – Saturday and 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Sundays through Christmas. We will be closed on Christmas Day and will play it by ear the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  Beginning the week of January 5th we will be closed on Mondays for the winter months.

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!

Sunshine and Mud on the MO’

Farewell (for now)  to Rainy Days on the MO’

Following what seemed like weeks of cloudy, wet cold days the clouds have parted, giving way to the soul-warming, psyche lifting giant yellow orb in the sky.

It’s a mixed bag of clouds and sunshine today but it looks like we’re headed for warmer temperatures and an abundance of sunshine over these next ten days with highs inching into the 70’s tomorrow and near 80 by the end of the week.

Sure it may have been the most epic early spring fishing we’ve seen in some time on the Missouri but I think everyone is ready for some nicer weather.
In spite of insane March Brown madness these past weeks in addition to some solid streamer days and off the charts nymphing more days than not, traffic has been somewhat light so while we’ve been loving the fishing this spring on a personal level we’re ready for business to blow up which it looks like it’s about to.

The assumption is that the bright skies ahead may put a damper on the dry fly fishing but regardless, PMD’s and Caddis await and it won’t be long before we’re in the summer dry fly groove on the MO.

Following the weekend rain event we’re seeing traffic concentrated at the dam again with Little Prickly Pear and the Dearborn dumping mud. We’re finally looking at a relatively precipitation free extended forecast but the warmer temps will obviously keep runoff moving.

Snowpack remains in the 120 percent of average range for the Missouri main stem and right around 100 percent for the Upper Clark Fork and Sun, Teton and Marias drainages. The Madison, Gallatin and Smith drainages are all in good shape at close to 140 percent of average while the Flathead is trending in the 80 percent range with only the Kootenai running low at 50 percent of average.

What’s this mean for your Missouri River late spring and early summer fishing plans? We’re expecting flows to hold in the 8,000 CFS range for the remainder of May and into early June. The Dearborn is dropping so look for things to clear over the course of the week and look for traffic to steadily increase from here on out.

Runoff will soon push much of Montana’s fly fishing traffic to the Missouri so if you’re headed here expect to have some company.
We do have limited availability on lodging and guides for the next two weeks so it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy great fishing and great weather on the Missouri.

We are your one-stop shop on the way to the MO with lodging; guides; shuttle service; lunches; Simms boots, waders and sportswear; rods from Loop, Echo and Redington; reels from Lamson, Ross, Nautilus and Echo; sun protection; lines, leaders and tippet from Rio; optics from Smith and Suncloud and don’t forget….we have the largest selection of flies ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana. And these aren’t cheap shop ties, these are the real deal highest quality bugs money can buy from Umpqua, MFC, Solitude and YFG.

You’ve found your new Go To on the MO and need go no further than Wolf Creek. If you’re starting at the dam or Wolf Creek and coming from anywhere other than Great Falls then why would you add 15 miles to your trip by driving to Craig for shuttles and provisions and then driving back to the dam or Wolf Creek to launch. There’s absolutely no need to do that because we’ve got everything right here that you’re driving to Craig to buy.

We love Craig too but we want to save you the time, the money and the hassle.

We sincerely hope you’ll make Wolf Creek Angler your first stop on your next trip to the Missouri.

State of the Missouri 2018

The Pat Barnes Chapter of Trout Unlimited hosted FWP Fisheries Biologist Jason Mullen at Montana Wild in Helena Tuesday night for the Annual State of the Missouri presentation.

We eagerly anticipate this report each spring. It’s a snap shot of the previous year which gives us stats on fish populations as well as river flows and tells us where those stats fall in the historical record.

The takeaway from 2017 is that we saw a slight increase in the fish counts over 2016 in the Craig section and a decrease in the Cascade section. The real highlight though was the river flows which in 2017 were the highest they’ve been since 2011.

The Craig section yielded just over 5500 trout per mile of which 4,936 were rainbows and 576 were browns. This was pretty much on par with what we saw in 2016 for rainbows though it’s close to double the brown trout we saw in 2016. The rainbow population in the Craig stretch is still well above the 3394 average while the brown trout population is close to the 563 average.

Size wise, we’re still looking at a lot of big fish on the MO’ with over 2000 of those 4,936 rainbows per mile  in the 18″ – 20″ class and almost 150 browns in the 19″ – 24″ class per mile. Also of interest is the abundance of brown trout in the 6″ class as well as the 14″-15″ class.

The numbers in the Cascade stretch are very close to historical averages with 1592 rainbows per mile and 387 browns per mile. Historical averages are 1616 and 398 respectively.

Flows on the MO’ peaked at right around 12,000 cfs last year which we would expect to see again this spring but only time will tell.

A couple of interesting points that highlight just what an amazing resource we have in the Missouri are the relative weight of the fish and the water temps below Holter Dam relative to those in the Toston section which is not dam controlled.

This graphic shows the relative weight of fish in the Craig section from 1982 – 2016. FWP describes Relative Weight as the “plumpness” of the fish. The reported ideal relative weight is in the 95-105 range, which as you can see is pretty much where these fish have been most of that time. Our fish are well fed and consistently healthy.

The other graphic I found interesting was this water temp chart which shows temps holding steady in the 60 to 64 degree range throughout the heat of the summer, well below the 73 degree temp which triggers closures due to the stress those temps put on trout.

Once again, the great thing about the tail water is that temps are controlled. Take a look at Toston temps and you can see what happens absent of controls.

Perfect temps, controlled flows, an abundance of food….this is one special fishery, but you knew that already.

Here’s to a great 2018 on the Missouri.



Tips for Winter Launches and Take Outs

Ramps are in rough shape right now….use extreme caution when launching or taking out

The wait is over….we’re finally looking at some fishable weather for the week ahead. We’re looking at a high of 33 today with light and variable south winds increasing to 9-11 mph later today.

Conditions on the water couldn’t be more perfect but before you hook up the drift boat and come out for a late February float be aware that the conditions on the boat ramps are far from ideal.

Blowing and drifting snow have made a mess of things and as temps warm and the snow begins to melt expect icy conditions to prevail.

A quick tour of the Holter Dam, Wolf Creek Bridge and Craig launches this morning confirmed the reports we’ve heard from the past couple of days. If you’re going to float come prepared with plenty of rope and don’t expect a conventional launch or take out.

If ramp conditions are in any way sketchy or questionable DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BACK DOWN THE RAMP!  Four Wheel Drive is great but don’t expect it to do much for you on an icy ramp. We see it every year, four wheel drives stuck on the ramp. Best case scenario you’ll need someone to pull you up the ramp, worse case scenario you’ll end up sliding your vehicle into the river along with your boat and trailer which is NOT the way you want to start or end your day.

When floating in the winter or spring it’s always a good idea to keep a rope in your rig, in fact it’s ALWAYS recommended you have a rope in your rig, why wouldn’t you? I keep 150′ of 3/4″ nylon braided rope in mine at all times and keep another 100′  in my boat.

The majority of the ramps on the MO’ are not steep but they are steep enough to be a problem!

All you need to do is back your trailer as close to the top of the ramp as you can safely get, attach the rope to the bow eye of your boat, dump the boat onto the ramp using your winch and strap and then unhook the strap and rope your boat down the ramp to the water. Again, most of these ramps aren’t steep but it’s a good idea to wrap the rope around the back of your trailer frame to keep the boat from getting away from you.

Launching is the easy part! Maybe the ramp you launched at was clear, maybe you just dumped the boat on the ramp and slid it down without using a rope (not recommended). What if you get to your take out and you can’t safely back down the ramp to retrieve your boat? Now what?

It’s easy to slide your boat down an icy or snow covered ramp. Pushing or pulling your boat up a ramp? Not so much!

Without a rope you could be in for trouble. The best way to retrieve your boat is to again back your trailer as close to the ramp as you can safely get, attach your rope to the bow eye of your boat and tie the other end of the boat to your trailer. Pull forward as far as you need to drag the boat safely to level ground and then back up to the boat and load it on your trailer with your winch and strap.

When pulling your boat up a ramp with a rope tell your fishing partners to stand clear and try to do it all in one smooth motion without repeatedly stopping and starting. Herky Jerky = Broken Ropes. Broken Ropes = A bad way to end your day.

You should have no problem with most of the ramps using these methods, though I would definitely avoid Mountain Palace and the Dearborn Launch for the time being. A couple of sunny warm days will go a long way in improving things. The Wolf Creek Bridge ramp is on it’s way to being clear though it looks like someone backed down it recently and came perilously close to the edge of the ramp. I would recommend sliding your boat down for the time being. Just because there are tire tracks on the ramp it doesn’t mean it’s safe.

The Holter and Craig launches are definitely in slide/rope condition and from what I’ve heard conditions down river aren’t much better. I’ll probably take a run down river today and check them all out, which incidentally is never a bad call if you have time to do it prior to your float. The shops will generally have a pretty good idea of conditions but it’s always best to check for yourself to avoid any end of day unexpected surprises at the take out.

Spring is rapidly approaching. The fish are hungry after this long, cold winter which means it’s about to get really good out there.  There’s no reason you shouldn’t be here fishing it, just please use common sense when you do.

Stay Safe !

Wintering in Wolf Creek

I often get asked the question what do you do in the winter?

I think there’s a misconception out there amongst some that if you work in the Montana fly fishing industry then you must spend your winters in exotic tropical destinations,  living on all of that money you made during the season, roaming the flats in search of tarpon and permit and bonefish and sipping on pina coladas on the beaches at night as you await the return of spring time in Montana.

I’m not saying there aren’t those who actually do this but I sure haven’t figured out how to pull it off.

It’s true that Wolf Creek and Craig are transformed into near ghost towns during the long winter months. There are plenty of days during the dead of winter we won’t see a customer come through the door so why even stay open?

It’s a good question, and one I often ask myself as I’m white knuckling it out to Wolf Creek from Helena. The answer is that there’s a little more to it than selling flies and telling lies in the shop. What goes on behind the counter is much more than ringing up sales. All the product hanging on the walls and all of the flies sitting in the bins don’t just magically appear. Someone has to order all of it, trying not to order too much (or too little). Someone has to figure out what (and how much)  we should carry based on predicting what will sell during the coming season.

Someone has to negotiate favorable terms with vendors to maximize profitability and go to battle with reps to try to bring in more of what you expect and demand from your Missouri River fly shop.

Someone has to write blog posts and maintain social media.

How about lodging and guide trips? The rooms and boats obviously don’t book themselves. Those summer mornings with a parking lot full of guide rigs and those nights of a full house of happy clients relaxing on the decks telling fish stories over cocktails all start behind this counter at this keyboard in the dead of winter. Someone takes those calls, answers those emails and books and confirms those reservations.

And speaking of lodging, it’s our intention to continuously improve on all levels but we’ve made a truly dedicated commitment from the start to tackle major lodging improvements  as time and money allow. Someone has to make those improvements and they can’t be made during the season.

In each of these cases that someone just happens to be me. Of course I have some help, especially with the lodging improvements as a handy man I am not, but the long and short of it is there are plenty of things to be done during the winter months. And while much of this could be done remotely from elsewhere,  there remains an amazing fishery here year round so why wouldn’t we be here to provide winter anglers with everything they need for winter fishing on the Missouri?

Along those lines, why wouldn’t we be here to enjoy this amazing river all winter long when we can have it virtually to ourselves on any given day?

For the past three winters we’ve kept limited lodging open to provide a place to stay for those braving the cold and fishing the river and in doing so we’ve  become a destination for hard water anglers from around the region who come to fish Holter Lake. Our lodging has been full more weekends than not this winter which has been a pleasant and much welcomed surprise. Obviously things are a little lean during the winter so we’re thankful for anything we can generate to help offset heating and other operational costs incurred during the offseason.

Consequently, when people stay rooms need to be cleaned and while we’ve been busy enough this winter to warrant some help with housekeeping, I’ve spent more than a couple of days cleaning rooms and doing laundry. Just another aspect of living the dream!

So what do I do in the winter? I do the same thing I do the other three seasons of the year, I run my business (and try to not let it run me). Wolf Creek Angler is a living, breathing, ever-growing, ever improving outfitter owned and operated business. It is my life’s dream and it is the way I feed my family. This ain’t no hobby shop, this is how I make a living.

Come see us this winter at Wolf Creek Angler, we’d love to have you as our guest.


Welcome Spring

Springtime on the Missouri – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

The long, cold winter has finally come to an end.

Spring arrived yesterday in a seasonably average fashion with temps in the 40’s and a mix of sun and clouds.

Traffic on the river was virtually non-existent following what was definitely the busiest weekend we’ve seen in 2017. It remains on the quiet side today though there are a few west-siders around seeking respite from their own raging waters.

It looks like it’s going to be a nice week to fish the Missouri with temps in the 50’s and 60’s throughout the week with plenty of sunshine and the ever-present, though minimal chance for rain and snow most every day.

Spring is an awesome time to fish the MO’ as the water temps rise and the fish get active and go to work stockpiling calories in preparation for the rigors of spawning happening now and in the immediate future. More on this to come but PLEASE mind your steps when wading out there taking care not to trample the redds.

So how’s the fishing? It’s definitely been a mixed bag of reports over these past few days but overall I would say it’s leaning towards being on the slow end of things. That being said, what could you possibly rather be doing than shaking off the winter with a trip to the MO’, regardless of the fishing conditions?

Firebeads, pink scuds and sows, Rainbow Warriors, Rainbow Czechs, Pink Amex, Casne’s Pinkalicious, LGM’s, Lightning Bugs, Tailwater sows, Bubble Yums, soft hackle sows, zebra midges….they’re all worth a try. How about a San Juan Worm fished in the dirty water? The currently gauge-less Little Prickly Pear is pumping some mud as is the Dearborn so don’t overlook the worms and definitely don’t shy away from throwing streamers. The water remains on the cold side,  still in that 37 – 38 degree range but it’s world’s away from the sub 35 degree temps of the past few months and it’s only going to get warmer so expect things to improve dramatically very soon.

And as if the possibility of good to great nymphing and streamer action weren’t enough we have had some solid dry fly action as well depending on the day with good midge hatches and hungry fish eager to rise to a well-presented midge cluster. We’re stocked up on midge patterns with plenty to choose from but having your dry fly rod rigged up and ready with a Hi-Vis Parachute Adams and a Griffiths gnat or Bucky’s Midge Cluster is about as close to a sure-thing as you’re going to find should you be lucky enough to encounter those sipping trout.

Wolf Creek and Craig are still in winter mode where services are concerned but that’s all about to change as Izaak’s returns this Friday evening. The bar opens at 4 pm and they will be serving dinner from 5 pm – 9 pm six night’s a week. They will be closed on Mondays. It sounds like John and his crew have been hard at work this winter making improvements to their already awesome space. We can’t wait to see (and taste) what’s new.

Should you find yourself here on Monday in need of dinner make your way to The Oasis  in Wolf Creek. Breakfast, lunch and dinner served Thursday – Monday. We’ll have yet another dining/drinking option here in Wolf Creek this season with Shotgun Annie’s, formerly The Frenchman and Me. They were hoping for an April 1st opening day but that has been pushed out to June 1st. We can’t wait!

The shop is open daily  from here on out with hours changing as the season progresses but for the time being you’ll find us here at 8 AM every day anxious to help you out in whatever we can on the Missouri and beyond.

Piles of new gear arriving daily. A full reel case, a full rod rack, more clothing items than we know what to do with, waders and boots piled high and bins overflowing with all the bugs you need, no matter where you’re fishing.

Lodging options are about to double as we open the remaining cabins today and tomorrow and we’re aiming to have EVERYTHING open by the first week of April, including the completely renovated and soon to be much coveted room #8.

Don’t forget our Spring Lodging and Guide Trip special running through the end of April. $500 for two night’s lodging and a full day on the water with one of our expert guides. You won’t find a better deal ANYWHERE! There are other deals out there….NOBODY can touch this one.




Wolf Creek is your Holter Lake Winter Destination

It may be too cold to fish the river right now but lodging at Wolf Creek Angler has become a hot commodity these past two weeks as the perch fishing on Holter Lake continues to heat up.

The word is out and the hard water anglers have discovered the hidden gem of winter lodging at Wolf Creek Angler.

The town of Wolf Creek is your base camp for ice fishing on Holter Lake as well as winter fly fishing on the MO’ if it ever warms up enough for us to get back to it and while we’re used to living in the shadow of Craig during the season winter is when the town of Wolf Creek really shines.

Whether its ice fishing or fly fishing that brings you here, Wolf Creek is where you want to be. We’ve got the only open restaurant and the only gas station /convenience store between Helena and Cascade.  As a matter of fact we also have the only US Post Office between Helena and Cascade which may not seem like much but it’s interesting to note that all that mail addressed to the self-proclaimed “center of the fly fishing universe” in Craig MT actually ends up right here in Wolf Creek MT.

As if that weren’t enough we’re excited to announce that come April we’ll once again be able to boast of having 2 bar/restaurants in Wolf Creek MT with Shotgun Annie’s Eatery and Tavern (formerly The Frenchman and Me)  joining Uncle Joe’s Oasis to offer you more dining and night life options.

Throw in an up and coming Missouri River Fly Shop with cozy, clean and affordable lodging just minutes from Holter Lake , Holter Dam and the Wolf Creek Bridge river access sites and it’s easy to see why Wolf Creek has become THE destination for winter fishing on Holter Lake and the Missouri. Once you discover all that Wolf Creek has to offer you may just make us your year-round Missouri River fly fishing destination. Many have.

Give us a call today to book your winter lodging. $99 (plus tax) gets you a cozy bungalow complete with a full kitchen and private bath. The bungalows sleep three comfortably with two twin beds and a pull out couch. Our shop hours have been a little less than consistent this winter with the dangerously cold weather but rest assured, we are OPEN EVERY DAY, 365 days a year, for lodging (and guide trips).

Make that call today and discover the secret!








Weather (and Winter Rate Guide Trips) On The Way

Winter pic

Enjoy the sunshine and warm weather this weekend. It sounds like we’re finally going to see some more seasonable conditions by the middle of next week with clouds and rain and snow and highs in the 30’s and 40’s and lows in the 20’s. This is what we’ve been waiting for!

Get your cold weather gear together, get your streamer rigs ready and keep that dry fly rod rigged. With any luck you may just get your fall BWO fix after all though many of us have moved past that possibility and are concentrating our efforts on winter nymphing and Streamers!

Some are stripping, some are swinging. Both methods are producing and are a great way to spend a day on the water. Our streamer bins are fully stocked with the best bugs in the canyon including many ZK Exclusives you won’t find in any other shop.

Need a new streamer rig? We’ve got great options from Loop, Echo and Redington and a full range of streamer specialty lines from Rio and Airflo. Stay tuned for our Winter Rod Sale happening soon.

If nymphing is your game stick with the sow bugs and scuds and it may be time to start working in some pink and some firebeads as well. Pink Weight flies, Casne’s Pinkalicious, Ninch’s Thunderbug, Pink Lightning bugs, Pink AmEx…..they’re all winter staples and while we aren’t there quite yet it won’t be long.

Water temps are dropping and the fish are on the move making the transition away from the fast (ish) shallows to the slower, deeper winter water.

If you’re going to play the streamer game then I would suggest you still spend plenty of time bombing the banks but don’t overlook the slower, deeper runs where you’ll want to slow that retrieve way down or just let it swing.

Look for a slight increase in traffic out there on the weekends but expect to have it pretty much to yourself during the week, especially when that colder weather rolls in.

Daylight is becoming scarce so you’ll want to keep your floats on the short side from here on out. Wolf Creek to Craig (or something in that 5-6 mile range) is perfect. Late starts and short floats are the winter program so a couple of nights at Wolf Creek Angler make perfect sense. We’ve got plenty of rooms available and at just $99/night plus tax you’ll have more than enough left over for Christmas shopping which, depending on who is on your list, you may be able to take care of while you’re here.

Looking for a great deal on a guided trip? Beginning November 15th and running through March 15th we’re offering full day Missouri River  float trips for one or two anglers at the obscenely reasonable rate of $350. Sound too good to be true? Wait, there’s more! We assume you’ll need lodging as long as you’re coming over to fish so we’re offering a guided fishing/lodging package. Two nights lodging and a full day of guided fishing for one or two anglers for $500 + tax! You won’t find a better deal ANYWHERE!

We are well aware that winter can be a sketchy time to book a float trip due to changing weather conditions so for that reason we’re charging NO CANCELLATION FEES for winter lodging and guide trips.

We hope to see you soon at Wolf Creek Angler, your Missouri River late season fly fishing destination.