Mid July Prime Time Report

Caddis Sunset – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Rapidly approaching mid-July and everything is falling into place.

The flows have been cut in half since last week and are currently leveling off at a wade-friendly 5900 CFS. July operation plans from the Bureau of Reclamation are predicting most probable flows to be right about where they are for the month before falling in August and leveling out at around 4500 CFS for the remainder of 2020. Water temps are holding at around 63 degrees.
The late push of water had many singing the blues these last two weeks but to be honest with you, the conditions couldn’t be much better than they are right now as far as flow and water temperature go. The weeds are definitely starting to take hold but we’re in really good shape for Mid-July.

So it took a while but the water conditions which are the first piece of the puzzle just fell into place. Obviously the other critical component of the Missouri River dry fly extravaganza is the bugs and we’re happy to report that this component has also been shaping up nicely throughout the season.

This time of the season is what makes the MO a legend in the lore of western fly fishing. PMD’s? Check. Caddis? Check. Tricos? Check. And some pseudos in the mix for good measure. So many bugs, so many trout and nothing but time.

These are the days of pre-dawn launches and of picking boats after dark. These are the days of sleep deprivation amongst crazed dry-fly anglers and shop staff alike. These are the days of hunting heads, of blanket hatches, of putting pods of fish down with blown casts and with any luck, of artfully delivered casts being rewarded with the take and the fight and just maybe landing the fish of a lifetime. Big fish. Small flies. Delicate tippet and a highly developed combination of steely determination, resolve and finesse (as well as one hell of a well-rehearsed and more often than not, perfectly executed reach cast) culminating in an oddity known in our world as the DFO.

They’re a rare breed and the banks of the Missouri are crawling with them right now. That being said, “crawling” might be a stretch. After all, it’s the season of Covid and nothing is quite as it should be. Don’t get me wrong, there are folks here and we’re “busy” by 2020 standards but in a normal year with these bugs and these conditions you would expect the Missouri to be overrun with anglers which it is not.

That being said, we’ve been doing this dawn and darkness boat thing for years and while it’s definitely not every night, there have been a couple evenings at the ramp, the likes of which I’ve never seen with the parking lot at the takeout looking like 3:30 pm on a summer afternoon with nearly every trailer spot occupied.

Other days (and nights) it’s already feeling like the coming Dog Days of August with next to no one around.

Weekends are a different story as it seems Covid has kept folks close to home. A ton of rafts and SUP’s and all manner of floaty things assembled on all stretches of the river have made Saturday the day you probably don’t want to try to fish the MO.

Aside from Saturdays however, this is the season to be here if you want to experience the Missouri River at PRIME TIME like you’ve never experienced it before and hopefully won’t again with light to moderate traffic and an abundance of target-rich water there for the taking.

A recent lull in our lodging caused by Covid cancellations has ended and we’re back to full bore with a nearly full house for the remainder of the month.

Guide trips are filling in nicely and requests have reached a point where we’re having to turn down days because all of our guides are booked. This is a welcome development in a season we feared we might lose altogether.
We continue to play the fill-in game with inventory at the shop, walking the fine line between cautious purchasing and having everything on hand you might ask for. We still don’t know where this thing is going so we’re continuing to cautiously plot the remainder of the season but rest assured we do have bugs a plenty as well as a full stock of leaders/tippet/lines/tools/accessories/ etc. and we’ve also just placed a couple of logo orders to replenish our depleted stocks of WCA gear. New stuff coming soon.

The fly bins are full with all of the PMD, Caddis and Trico patterns (as well as the largest assortment of Missouri River nymphs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek MT) And don’t miss our drawer of foam fully stocked with all of the best hopper patterns for the rapidly approaching terrestrial season.

Summer hours 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM officially, and usually someone around before and after those hours. Shuttles, sun protection, Adipose Drift Boat rentals, Affordable lodging and the hardest working guide crew on the MO’.

We are your Missouri River summer fly fishing destination.

Welcome to Big Water July

Summer Days on the Missouri


2020 continues to confound.

It’s hard to believe but July is upon us, and with it, the continued peak flows of the season. 10,900 CFS at the time of this writing with a couple of more bumps to come today and tomorrow. We may in fact be bumping up against 13K by tomorrow and while that’s far from ideal for the legions of wade anglers currently either sitting on the sidelines or renting boats, it’s not all bad.

Canyon Ferry is currently 100 percent full with the flood control pool currently 14.5% full. Inflow is 10,377 with outflow at 10,040 CFS. We’re approaching equilibrium with plenty of water for the season ahead. That’s good news.

Soon enough the flows will be reduced and conditions will again approach perfection. In the meantime we’re already looking at flows exceeding 12K below the Dearborn but after cresting yesterday things are on the drop and it shouldn’t take long to clear.

Water temps are still holding at around 59 degrees thanks to below average temps during the day and downright chilly nights which have been dipping into the 40’s regularly. It doesn’t feel much like summer but it will soon enough. Our extended green season will soon be behind us but thankfully healthy flows should maintain for the season.

Despite the higher flows the fishing has actually continued to be fairly consistent both for the dry fly crowd and the nymphing set alike and the hard core streamer contingent continues to thwart convention, taking advantage of the extended clean-water season. We’ve been exploiting these higher flows and the color being added by the LPP and Dearborn to put together some respectable days on streamers and it looks like we could have at least another week of it.

We’d recommend concentrating your efforts sub-surface for the remainder of the week as the additional couple thousand CFS promised for the next two days may effectively shut down dry fly fishing for the time being. If you simply can’t accept that then focus on the side channels and soft water locales for your dry fly fix. We’re not sure when she’s coming down but it shouldn’t be long. If I had to venture a guess I’d say that we should see flows start to fall by the weekend and certainly by next week.

Dry Fly options still PMD’s and Caddis. Tricos on deck. Best bets – Rusty Spinners, PMD CDC Spinner, Buzzball, Film Critic, Flash Cripple, Blooms Parachute Caddis, Outrigger Caddis, Cornfed Caddis, CDC Caddis Emerger. We’ve gotten a few calls inquiring about Terrestrial Fishing this week and while it’s not quite prime-time for terrestrials you could certainly do worse things than throw an ant these days.

Best bet for nymphing – PMD nymphs (Crack Backs, Split Case, PMD Redemption, Frenchie, Psycho May, S & M PMD, Magic Fly, LGM) Caddis Pupae (Purple or Gold Weight Fly, Tung Dart, Nitro Caddis) and general purpose staples like Fish Finder Worms, Pheasant Tails, Sow Bugs and Czechs.

Streamers – Olive buggers, Lil Kim, Sparkle Minnows, MK Ultras, Dirty Hippie (Brown), Mini Dungeons, MoJo Minnow etc. Fruit Rollups and Pine Squirrel Leeches are never a bad call and crayfish have had their moments as of late.

Boat rentals have blown up this week so you’ll definitely want to call ahead if you’re thinking you’re going to rent a boat. We’re in the thick of it with guide trips but do have openings for those last minute plans. Lodging is full of holes due to Covid cancellations. We’re busy with lodging but not nearly as busy as we should be during the first week of July so if you’re thinking of changing summer travel plans and possibly putting together a trip to the MO give us a call. It’s likely we can get you set up with guides and lodging in the weeks to come.

The balancing act continues in the shop, trying to keep things somewhat minimal while at the same time making sure we have all the staples you need and thus far I feel like we’ve done a good job with it. Flies, leaders, tippet, fly lines, tools and accessories are fully stocked. Hats and T’s and gifty things….not quite so much.

Official summer hours are 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily. Guide trips have been going out around 8 AM and Rental Boats have been being delivered at the crack of dawn.

We’re keeping a close eye on the Covid situation and doing everything in our power to operate in the safest possible manner for our clients as well as our employees. You can rest assured we’re committed to our cleaning/disinfecting protocols in the shop and we’re leaning heavily towards requiring masks for our customers. Not quite there but we’ll keep you posted.

Summertime

Summertime on the Missouri River

And just like that summer (and big water) arrived.

Here we are with but a week left in the month of June which doesn’t seem quite possible but alas, it is so.

These last couple of weeks have been as good as it gets for PMD’s and the Caddis have been making a strong showing as well providing a wealth of opportunities daily for the dry fly angler. A week ago water conditions were optimal with flows at around 6500 CFS and no expectation of increases.

Fast forward to today and we’re sitting at 9300 CFS with a couple more bumps on the way this afternoon and tomorrow which will likely take us to around 10,500 CFS. Needless to say, those here for the wade fishing are not pleased.

Thanks to a bunch of rain and a substantial snow event in the high country last week the SNOTEL chart is once again in play. Canyon Ferry Reservoir is currently 100 percent full so it doesn’t look like there will be any shortage of water on the MO in 2020.

So what’s that done to the fishing?

I haven’t heard a report post 9000 CFS but with things on the rise yesterday we found ample dry fly opportunities in the Craig to Mid stretch and from what I understand the caddis in the canyon yesterday evening hearkened back to days of old. Hopefully more of this to come!

This past week also seems to have ushered in the Prime Time traffic and while it may be short of what we are used to seeing in late June it’s a drastic change from what has been. The river is busy, the ramps are bustling with activity, the restaurants are full (by Phase two standards) and traffic in the shop is steady all day every day.
There are a lot of folks around right now coming from all corners and while we’re thrilled to be doing something close to normal business we are mindful of the fact that the Coronavirus is still a thing and we’re still having to operate with restrictions in an effort to prevent the spread.

Our “new normal” routine includes cleaning and disinfecting the shop throughout the day. We’re masked up and we’re strongly encouraging our customers to wear masks in the shop as well. Our housekeeping procedures continue to reflect the seriousness of the present circumstances and you should know that we are continuing to make the safety and health of our employees and our customers and guests our number one priority.

Our guides continue to take extra measures to clean and disinfect boats and equipment as well as their vehicles and while we’re confident we can safely deliver you to and from the river in our guide rigs, you are always more than welcome to meet us at the put in and have your vehicle shuttled to the takeout if you don’t feel comfortable riding in our vehicles.

We’ve definitely observed a softening of adherence to safety measures among the public over the past couple of weeks as things continue to open up and as we move towards what is actually beginning to feel like “normal” but we encourage you to remain vigilant. Case numbers continue to increase in many areas of the state, likely due in large part to the tremendous increase in testing but that being said, people are still getting sick so we’re 100 percent committed to doing everything in our power to keep this thing held in check and keep our shop and lodge open and our guides on the water.

Hot and sunny summer days on tap this week through Saturday. We’ll see things cool down again and likely some precipitation starting Sunday and into the first part of next week.
Lodging and guide trips are in full swing right now and the phones have been EXTREMELY busy with folks looking to book dates later this summer. We are approaching our busiest time of year but we do still have some holes in the schedule due to cancellations.

Give us a call if you’re interested in a trip to the MO this summer and we’ll see if we can make it happen.

June 9th Bugs and Water Update

The Bureau of Reclamation made liars out of us last weekend as flows bumped to near 9500 CFS on Sunday and Monday thanks in part to a storm system which brought a fair amount of precipitation to the area in the form of both rain and snow. This, just after we’d gone on record in our blog a few days earlier, stating that our most probable peak flows would top out around 7K. Such is springtime in the Rockies. We’ve seen a couple of decreases in flows since and at the time of this writing we’re sitting back near that proclamation at 7730 CFS and with another drop scheduled for tomorrow morning that should take us right back where we started.

Friday was one of the tougher days we’ve had out there this year as we saw those flows bump throughout the day shutting the fishing down for all intents and purposes and mobilizing a steady flow of woody debris river-wide.

The bump in flows and some rainy and cold weather discouraged much of that local weekend traffic we’ve been seeing but with the river on the drop, the PMD’s popping and the return of warm weather later this week and into the weekend I’d expect we’ll be seeing the start of summer traffic soon. Believe it or not the first day of summer is just a week from Saturday which I’m having a difficult time even comprehending but be that as it may, it’s time to settle in and salvage this 2020 season as best we can.

The aforementioned PMD’s should help in that endeavor as we are feeling like the current conditions and trends are pointing towards what could be a phenomenal PMD event. A return to flows in the 5-7K range and water temps hovering around 58 degrees are exactly what we need and if yesterday’s proliferation of bugs is any indication we’re in for some excellent days of hunting heads from here on out.

While you’re waiting for bugs and rising fish focus your efforts sub-surface. Tailwater sowbugs will always catch fish but that being said, it’s definitely time to take advantage of what’s going on down below which is PMD nymphs struggling to make their way to emergence. Split Case PMD’s, Crackbacks, Magic Flies (Rusty or PMD), Angelcase Emergers, Military Mays, Psycho Mays, Redemptions, Frenchies, plain old BH PT’s and many more will cover your bases as you anxiously await surface opportunities.

A short leash rig comprised of an adequately buoyant PMD adult trailed with a pheasant tail or Split Case PMD nymph in the shallow flats can be deadly as the trout move into those feeding lanes and set up for the duns.

Busier days lie ahead with lodging filling up and more and more trips hitting the water each week. That being said, we do have openings for both and we’d like nothing better than to play host to your adventure on the Missouri River.

See you soon for Prime Time, PMD Edition on the greatest river in the lower 48!

Rainy Day Blues

Have it all to yourself (for the time being) this spring on the MO’


We’re three days into a dreary, wet and cold week on the Missouri with likely a couple more on the way. Welcome to springtime in the Rockies!

Our forecast for the remainder of the week looks to be much of the same with cool temps and a chance for rain and or snow most days but we should start to see some peeks of sunshine starting tomorrow. The grey days can be a little tough to take sometimes but on the bright side things are greening up nicely and it looks like we’ll see a bit of a warm up this weekend.

We’re still dealing with a mandatory 14 day quarantine for all out of state travelers which is substantially limiting our business right now but thankfully as things continue to open up in Montana we’re seeing business start to pick up as many look to get out of town and take advantage of having one of the premier trout rivers in the world right in their back yard. Lodging has really started to pick up and we’re managing to do a few guide trips here and there as well. All of this has us feeling cautiously optimistic about the future as we continue to adapt to the new normal.

Obviously things are far from normal but the hope is that if we continue to work hard at doing things right through these early phases of the re-opening then hopefully we’ll be able to expedite the easing of restrictions.

We’re still obsessively cleaning and sanitizing in the shop and limiting customers to four at a time. We’re wearing our masks and we appreciate when you do as well. I don’t see getting away from these practices anytime soon and whether we’re actually dealing with exposure to coronavirus or not it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a clean and germ-free shop.

Ditto with our enhanced housekeeping procedures. We’ve essentially doubled the time it takes to clean a room with the additional steps we’re taking to clean and disinfect so you can rest assured your health and safety, along with that of our employees, is our number one priority.

Guide trips look and feel a little different these days as well with a lot of disinfecting of surfaces and equipment happening as well as more attention paid to keeping our boats and our rigs clean. We’re wearing our masks in the vehicle on the way to the river as well as in the boat and asking our clients to do the same. Some aren’t crazy about the mask thing but it’s not so bad once you get used to it and if it allows us to get out there and put our clients on fish we’re happy to comply.

Slowly but surely it’s starting to look more and more like an actual season. Shotgun Annie’s and Izaak’s are open for business (with social distancing directives in place) so the food challenges are becoming less so. Annie’s is open Monday – Friday from 11 AM – 11:30 PM and 7:30 AM – 11:30 PM on Saturday and Sunday. Please note, closing time is dependent on how much business they are doing so I wouldn’t wait until 10 pm and head there for dinner, at least not without calling first. Izaak’s is open Wednesday – Sunday from 3 PM – 9 PM. We’re super-stoked to have them both back and we encourage you to support them through the challenges of limited capacity re-opening.

One more food option we’re super excited about this season is Mo’ River Eats. Kelli is providing us with exceptional lunches for our guide trips this season and also offering breakfast and dinner DELIVERED to your room at Wolf Creek Angler. You’ll find menus in all of our rooms with contact information so if you want a great dine-in option for dinner or want to start the day with an amazing breakfast burrito, breakfast sandwich, sausage biscuits or a Greek Yogurt Parfait all you need do is let Kelli know by 9 pm the night before and she will deliver items right to your room. I’ve sampled breakfast, lunch and dinner and highly recommend them all and the fact that she delivers is a game-changer. I’m expecting a busy season for MO’ River Eats as word gets out and hope you’ll give them a try.

So there you have it. We’ve got all kinds of lodging available AND you have a multitude of options for dining, including bringing your own food and preparing it in your fully furnished kitchen AND THE FISHING IS GOOD AND GETTING BETTER.

Dry fly fishing, nymphing, streamer fishing…all solid options right now.

So while things are still weird out there we are happy to provide you with an escape from the weirdness. Fresh air, moving water, wild trout….I can’t think of a better escape. And while we’re definitely hoping for a rapid return to being able to host out of state clients, at this point their absence is your gain as traffic is but a fraction of what it would normally be this time of year.

We hope to see you all very soon.

Spring Fishing Heating Up

Spring is streamer time on the Missouri

As we emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown the timing couldn’t be better as spring fishing is just starting to hit its stride.

Bumps and drops in flows along with plenty of color coming from the Little Prickly Pear and Dearborn have made things somewhat inconsistent for the past week or so but with the creeks on the drop for the moment and the anticipation of stable flows and water temps for the next while we should be in good shape for the weeks to come.

Per the norm for this time of year the numbers (both fish and boats) have been at Holter Dam. The dam to Wolf Creek run has been the most consistent. Wolf Creek to Craig has had its moments but has been hit or miss for sure. Traffic below Craig is sparse and almost non-existent below the Dearborn save a few of those streamer guys plying the mud for prowling giants.

Nymphing is without a doubt your best bet for numbers right now with all of the usual suspects in play. Point flies of choice in my boat have been Ninch’s Pill Popper, Caviar Scud, Pink Amex, Tan UV Czech, Firebead Steelie Worm and Rainbow Weight Fly. Trail with #16 Tailwater Sow, #18 PT Green Machine, #16 UV Yum Yum Scud Pink, #18 Olive Lightning Bug, #18 Olive S & M, #18 Black Zebra, Soft Hackle Sows, #16 Pink Ray, #18 Magic Fly BWO etc.

The fish are on the move and we’re typically finding them in medium depth, fast (ish) water. Start around 5’ bobber to bb and adjust accordingly. Most of the known hot spots are producing, at least in that dam zone. Follow the traffic flow, observe adequate social distance between boats (much much more than 6’ please) and please don’t anchor up in the middle of the run. If you’re not getting into fish take a look around you and see what’s going on. If others are hooking up and you aren’t watch what they’re doing, where they’re going etc and follow their lead. And those boats with the red and white stickers – those guys generally have a pretty good idea of what’s happening and the vast majority of them are happy to help. Whether you’re having trouble cracking the code or encountering more serious (non-fishing) issues, don’t be afraid to seek help from those with the red and white tags.

Dry fly opportunities are not abundant at this point though there have been BWO’s around. It’s a right time, right place situation so keep that dry fly rod rigged and ready for action. We’ve been doing well with Sprout Baetis, Olive Para Adams or Para BWO’s trailed with your emerger or cripple or choice. Midges are abundant though finding fish eating them has been a challenge. If you find a sipper or two try feeding them a Bucky’s midge cluster or Griffiths gnat. We’ve also had good luck with Black Midges and Black Sippers….all available now at Wolf Creek Angler.

The streamer game should be good right now. It isn’t great. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into it these past two weeks and have come away disappointed more often than not. A few flashes here and there and the occasional hook up but overall not what you’d expect. We did find some success yesterday with a couple of shallow water explosions right on the bank which makes it all worthwhile but it’s important to keep your expectations in check.

I’m not saying you can’t mix streamer fishing with nymphing or dry fly fishing but you can’t crack the streamer code when you’re chasing bobbers or head hunting. Get serious. Grab your streamer boxes and leave the rest behind. Change size, color, retrieve, target water and any combo of these variables often until you crack the code and keep your expectations in check.

The fishing forecast for this week looks good. We’ll see a storm system move through the area tomorrow afternoon into Wednesday bringing cooler temps and some precipitation in the form of rain and a rain/snow mix Wednesday.The weekend looks good with partly sunny conditions and temps in the low 60’s with a slight chance of rain each day.

We’ve got plenty of lodging available and we’re also continuing our spring guide trip special as well as our lodging and guide trip special. $400 Full day guide trips through the end of the month and get a second night of lodging on us when you book two days of guided fishing and a night’s lodging. Please note, due to the 14 day mandatory quarantine for out of state visitors at this time we can only offer our services to Montana residents and those who have met the 14 day quarantine requirements if traveling here from out of state or returning to Montana from out of state travels.

While we’re definitely happy to be back at it this new normal will definitely take some getting used to for all of us. We’re wearing masks in the shop and on the boat and we are encouraging our clients to do the same.We are frequently cleaning and disinfecting in the shop and if you’re fishing with us you can expect your guide’s boat and vehicle to be clean and disinfected prior to and following your trip. We are health screening all guides and employees daily and will not allow anyone to work if they are showing any symptoms of being sick. We’re also health screening clients and we ask that you please not come if you are showing any symptoms of being sick. This goes for lodging guests, fishing clients and everyone shopping with us.

We’re doing our best to adjust and to make the best of these bizarre times in which we’re living. We encourage you to do the same and remind you that there’s no better way to escape the madness, if only for a few hours, than being on moving water with a fly rod in hand.

Welcome to March on the Missouri

 

Fred Davison Wolf Creek Angler Guide

As I drove in this morning it sure felt to me like spring was in the air. 40 degrees with a mix of clouds and sun and a light rain…quintessential early spring conditions. If it wasn’t for the howling wind it might be the perfect day to be on the water.

Fast forward two hours and I’m staring out the shop window at sheets of snow blowing across the horizon. And then, just like that, there’s the sun again. Yes, this is spring time in the Rocky Mountains.

If it wasn’t for the high wind warning I suspect there would be some traffic today. This is the kind of weather that gets people thinking about spring fishing and the forecast going forward this week is likely going to bring them out in droves.  After all, with temps expected to be in the low 60’s on Friday, who can resist?Sure it’ll likely be breezy but once you get into the 60’s the wind is much easier to tolerate.

Lodging is starting to book up for the weekend, we’ll have more available possibly by this weekend but for sure by next week so give us a call if you’re thinking of coming out. And don’t forget our spring guide special is in full effect. $400 Full Day guide trips for one or two anglers. Book two trips and a night of lodging and we’ll throw in the second night of lodging for FREE. That’s right – FREE LODGING at Wolf Creek Angler.

If you’re inclined to DIY – we’ve got two fancy new Adipose drift boats for rent (a Runoff and a Flow) and the Mending Waters Montana boats are once again available for rent via mendingwatersmontana.org FREE to all vets and active duty military personnel.

The water is in great shape with flows currently at 4480 cfs and water temp bumping up against 36 degrees. It’ll get there soon. Flows will bump over the next two days, back up to around 4900 cfs by Friday.

Nymphing and streamer fishing will be your methods of choice but don’t count out dry fly fishing. Breezy conditions typically take this option off the table but you never know. Sometimes you come upon that perfect spot, shielded from the wind where the midge feast is occurring. If I were wade fishing I probably wouldn’t go through the trouble of bringing the extra rig unless conditions were just right,  but you’d be a fool not to have a dry fly rod at the ready in your boat from here on out as spring fishing commences.It’s on the early side but if you’re fishing from a drift boat I wouldn’t hesitate to spend some time prospecting with a Skwalla or chubby. You just might get surprised.

Likewise, nymphing is still in the winter zone but it’s about to undergo a transformation as the water warms and the fish start to move and the spring bugs begin to emerge. I’ve been sticking with the Bubble Yum/Rainbow Czech/Amex/Pederson’s Sow/Pill Popper/Caviar Scud point fly trailed with a tailwater sow/soft hackle sow/zebra midge/Yum Yum/Ray Charles etc but there’s no reason you shouldn’t start to work some baetis nymphs into the mix. Jujus’, Radiation Baetis, BWO Wondernymphs, Olive S & M’s, Split Case BWO’s, Magic Flies, LGM’s, Olive Lightning Bugs etc. would all be good options going forward but if you’re happy with your winter rig’s performance then by no means should you change it up. You do you!

There’s been plenty of talk about the streamer action as of late and the talk has been that if streamer fishing is your thing and you’re not out there, then you’re missing out right now. It’s been primarily a swing game but don’t let anyone tell you you can’t strip. I wouldn’t get overly aggressive with your strip just yet but a nice slow strip with plenty of pauses in between has been very effective. Polar leeches, Mojo minnows, Kreelex, Clouser-type minnows and buggers have been steady movers out of the bins these last few weeks and will continue to be good options. Don’t be afraid to go bigger, bulkier and flashier though. The big browns seem to be on the hunt and on the right day don’t seem to be overly selective. Fish what you like. Again…you do you!

Reports have been good for most sections though I haven’t heard much from Pelican down. It’s likely on the cold side down there. Wolf Creek to Craig is a great go-to and Craig to Dearborn has been my preference as of late. I’ve heard decent reports from the canyon and Holter Dam will likely be a busy place very soon so go where you like and do what you like to do…it’s time for spring fishing on the MO’.

Farewell to February


We’re closing out February with another spring-like weekend and even though I’m pretty sure there’s bound to be some winter to come I can’t help but shift gears.

Conditions are still favorable with snow water equivalent still at over 120 percent of average in most areas but at the same we’re looking at bare ground and mild temps here on the Missouri. As I’ve been saying for most of the winter, it’s the best of both worlds with snow in the high country to feed our flows and mild conditions where we’re at giving us ample opportunities to get out on the water.

Winter/Spring Special in FULL EFFECT as we speak. $400 Full Day Missouri River Guide Trips and the most affordable lodging option around at $99 (plus tax) for a clean and cozy bungalow with private bath and full kitchen facilities. Now through the end of April book two days on the water and one night of lodging and we’ll throw in a second night of lodging for free. I challenge you to find a better deal ANYWHERE on the MO!

The winter slumber is about to come to an end, slowly but surely. We’ll soon be opening additional lodging as required and while we don’t have a firm date, I know Shotgun Annie’s will be opening in March.

The fishing has been consistently strong over these past weeks with very little in the way of traffic. Saturdays have been busy but only by winter standards. It’s been the perfect winter to fish the Missouri and there haven’t been many doing it so we urge you to get out here and enjoy the solitude while it lasts.

Warm, sunny days will be here before you know it and with them the crowds which, from the shop perspective, can’t come soon enough but we have definitely been enjoying good fishing and an abundance of solitude on the river.

If you’re on the fence, wondering if it’s worth fishing this time of the season, wonder no more. Every day you’ve got the potential for excellent nymphing, ever-improving streamer fishing and even some good top water action on the right days when the wind stays down. And it’s only going to get better from here on out.

As the water warms the fish will start moving out of those deep winter runs, expanding your opportunities both sub-surface and on top.

It’s still a winter nymph game and will continue to be so for the next month. Anything with a pink or orange bead is a good start and a little soft hackle is never a bad call. Pill Poppers, Caviar Scuds, Rainbow Czechs, Hot Bead Rays, UV Crush, Pink Amex, Pederson’s Sow, Bubble Yum Scuds, Pink Weight Flies, Tailwater Sows, Cotton Candy, Yum Yums Pink Lighting Bugs and don’t forget your Zebra Midges. All of these and many more available now at WCA.

Top Water – it’s a midge game. Fish your favorite midge cluster paired with an Adams or single midge. Griffiths gnats, black sippers, Grizzly Midge Clusters, Bucky’s Midge Cluster, Hi Vis midge etc.

The streamer set has started to mobilize. Action has been decent and is trending upwards. Still a lot of swinging happening which may be your best bet but strippers don’t despair, it’s about to turn. A couple of degrees and it could blow up.

When will that happen? It’s anyone’s guess but this weekend looks prime with temps back into the 50’s Friday and Saturday. It’ll be on the breezy side but it definitely looks to be fishable.

We do have limited lodging available which I expect will fill for the weekend so don’t wait to make that call.

Also – if you’re out and about, stop in and see Chewy this weekend. After a long winter on the IR he will be back in the shop all weekend.

Call ahead for up to the minute reports and conditions.

The Countdown is Underway

With spring just 29 days away we can’t help but turn our thoughts to what’s soon to come.

And while it wasn’t very spring-like this morning with temperatures in the single digits, the early dawn and the sunshine and clear blue skies today have us thinking spring fishing on the Missouri.

Spring ranks high as one of our absolute favorite times to fish the MO’. As winter loosens is grip the water temps begin their slow ascent awakening our hungry trout from their cold-weather stupor and igniting the instinct to feed with reckless abandon.

The rainbows are looking to stockpile calories for the upcoming arduous spawning season while the brown trout key in on high calorie targets like baitfish. Couple this aggressive feeding with the least amount of aquatic vegetation you’ll see all season long and you can see why spring is THE absolute best time to fish streamers on the Missouri River.

The fish are hungry for nymphs, they’re hungry for streamers and as if that weren’t enough, they’re more than willing to eat a dry fly as midges and later BWO’s provide great top water action and pave the way for the coming summer dry fly smorgasbord.

You might think that with all these fishing opportunities available in the spring we’d charge a premium for guide trips but if you thought that you’d be wrong. Quite to the contrary, spring just so happens to be the time when we offer the best rates of the season for guide trips and lodging.

Like trout emerging from a somewhat dormant winter existence, outfitters, guides and fly shops are also emerging from winter dormancy. As is the nature of the business, we’ve expended substantially more than we’ve taken in over the winter months and it’s time to start feeding again! Spring trip specials are our way of enticing you into getting an early start on your season. Dust off those cobwebs and get dialed in for the coming season.

At Wolf Creek Angler we’re thinking spring all winter long so unlike some of the other shops who make you wait almost until it’s technically spring by the calendar, we offer our spring special ALL WINTER LONG! $400 FULL DAY GUIDE TRIPS and great deals on lodging. And speaking of great deals, we’ve got the best lodging/guide trip deal on the river hands down. Book two days of guided fishing and a night of lodging and your second night’s lodging is on us. That’s right – FREE LODGING at Wolf Creek Angler. Try to find a better deal…you won’t. I guarantee it.

So while you might think February is a little early to start talking spring fishing, we disagree. If the weather allows for it, why wouldn’t you come get an early start on your 2020 season?

Case in point – the coming weekend looks pretty darn good with temps nearing 50 each day. It will likely be breezy but not enough to prevent you from having a great day on the water.
Things have been quiet so far this week with the colder temps and snow but I’m expecting we’ll see a fairly busy weekend. At this point we do have lodging available but I expect that will book up for the weekend. Guides are chomping at the bit, ready to get back to work.

The fishing has been consistently good these past couple of weeks and should continue to hold steady. Water temps are holding at around 35 which will continue to dictate winter locations/techniques but a tic or two up could make a huge difference, especially if you’re itching for the streamer game.

Give us a call for real-time updates and conditions or to book your spring special lodging and guide trips.

Weekend Report

Today is Day 2 of being under a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY which has thus far brought ideal fishing conditions to the MO.

When I took my morning drive to Wolf Creek Bridge yesterday before work, conditions were so incredibly perfect that I decided I needed to be on the water. Without too much arm twisting I was able to convince one of my regular clients to come out and spend the day on the water. It was the right call.

43 degrees, overcast, not a breath of wind and not a soul to be seen ANYWHERE! We did the go-to Wolf Creek to Craig section knowing that this time of year it’s all about staying put once you find the fish. Nymphing was good from the start with the Pederson’s Sow/Tailwater Sow rig continuing to produce. I haven’t changed my nymph setup in weeks!

The wind came up shortly after we launched with the bridge still well in sight, blowing upstream and rapidly transforming our perfect conditions. There was a brief discussion of calling it and blowing back up to the ramp but we quickly rejected that idea and decided to power through it.

It’s tough to hold a line in a north northwest blow but the upstream portion of the row around is definitely easy. The fishing actually picked up as the winds did the same and a slight adjustment from #18 to #16 on the Tailwater Sow made all the difference in the world.

We found fish in the majority of places I expected to find them and got them roughly 2 to 1 Tailwater Sow to Pederson’s Sow. A solid day of nymphing in spite of the deteriorating conditions and then, just like that the wind died and we were treated to glassy water and rising fish. My client is not a dry fly angler so he invited me to take a shot at them. A quick rigging and a couple of casts later I had my first dry fly eat of 2020, followed by another, both small browns hungry for midges. These were my earliest fish on dry flies in a couple of seasons so that was definitely a highlight of the day for me.

Conditions were again idyllic for the remainder of the day though the action slowed considerably in the afternoon but overall – not a bad day to fish the Winter Weather Advisory!

Today looks like it’s going to be a similar day weather-wise. Winds are calm and we’re holding steady at 39 degrees though there is a steady snow falling this morning. They’re calling for less than half an inch today and maybe around an inch tomorrow so it could be a good weekend to fish the Missouri though the respite from the wind looks like today only so if you’re looking to fish dry flies, today would be the day.

The Winter Storm Warning which was in effect through this morning for elevations above 5500 feet appears to have produced plenty of precipitation so it really is the best of both worlds with snow pack building while we enjoy spring-like weather and dry fly fishing on the Missouri.

We’ve seen a few people this morning but I wouldn’t expect any overcrowding out there. We do have lodging and guides available this weekend so let us know ASAP if you’d like to make it a Missouri River Winter Fishing Weekend.