Mid April on the Missouri

Well TAX Day has come and gone and the spring season is really starting to take shape. We’ve seen our best first half of April ever thanks to adverse water conditions elsewhere though now that things have settled on the west side traffic has thinned a bit for the time being.

We’re under a winter weather advisory once again today with light snow falling but it looks like we’re finally going to see some nicer weather with temps approaching 70 by Friday before returning to more seasonable 50’s for the weekend.I’m definitely ready for some 70 degree days but these cool spring temps are exactly what we need right now to keep things in shape going forward.

Flows on the MO are on the high side for April, currently at around 8600 CFS which isn’t ideal for the wade anglers but fishing from the boat has been good most days, great some days and tough on others which is usually how it goes. Overall though spring is delivering.

As you might expect, river conditions have been the hot topic as of late. Everyone wants to know what the flows will be when they get here. The jury is still out on that.

April max flow conditions from the Bureau of Reclamation have already been exceeded with our current flows but even so, snow pack is hovering in the average to slightly above average range so we aren’t expecting to see a repeat of last year’s 20,000 CFS.

Last year around this time

2019 – All about the averages

As always, the wild card will be precipitation. Snow to an extent but rain for the most part will determine where we end up.
Last year at this time we were looking at snowpack in the 180% of average range so we were expecting to see a high water event. Current snowpack isn’t telling that kind of a story but again, if we see an exceptionally rainy spring then all bets are off.

On the bright side last year’s high water provided a much needed scouring of the substrate and we’re optimistic that the river reaped huge benefits from this scouring. Will we see Caddis Nirvana on the MO this season? Only time will tell.

Dry fly opportunities have been minimal but nymphing and streamer fishing are a go. Tailwater sows, Fish Finder Worms, Caviar Scuds, Rainbow Czechs, Amex, Firebead Rays, UV Crush, Bubble Yum Scuds, Pill Poppers, Zebra Midges and soft hackle sows have all been go to choices as of late and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to try a green machine or a BWO Magic Fly just to switch things up.

Deep and slow is still a go but transitional water is in play. The water is still on the cold side but should start to bump up with warmer days and nights ahead which will get those fish moving around and spreading out. Rainbows may be scarce as spawning is in full swing (watch those redds when wading) but this is the perfect time to target those hungry browns with a streamer….just sayin!

We’re moderately busy this week with lodging and doing a fair amount of guide trips but we have rooms and guides at the ready if you’d like to come out and spend a day or two on one of the best trout rivers in North America. Look for things to steadily pick up as we hit the end of April into the heart of spring fishing in early May. You’ve got exactly two weeks to take advantage of $400 guide trips and $99 premium lodging. Starting May 1st that trip will cost you $550 and the rooms go up to $135/night.

Welcome to spring on the Missouri. We can’t wait to see you.

RIP Montana Jim

Montana Jim

We got the sad news last week that our friend James Savstrom (AKA Montana Jim) had passed away. Jim left us too soon but he went out doing what he loved, fishing his beloved Blackfoot River.

I met Jim the second year we were in business when he stopped by the shop looking for a new rod and some advice on where to fish the MO’. Looking back, I’m sure this was my audition and I guess I must have passed the test as Jim continued to frequent Wolf Creek Angler. He always had a kind word to say about our shop and he even started a Facebook group called Friends Who Like Wolf Creek Angler.

Jim started to book guide trips with us the following year and I really enjoyed taking him and his friend Paul fishing. We had some great spring days on the Missouri and while Jim has now been reunited with Paul who passed away last year I will miss fishing with both of them.

Many knew Jim from his “Montana Jim” blog where he chronicled his angling adventures primarily on the Blackfoot near his home in Lincoln. Jim and I often talked about getting out and fishing the Blackfoot together…unfortunately it never happened.

You can check out his blog here

Jim was not only supportive of Wolf Creek Angler but also took an interest in the events and organizations we support. More than one time he made the drive from Lincoln to Helena in January to attend the Pat Barnes Trout Unlimited presentation of the Fly Fishing Film Tour and I could always count on him to share and promote whatever events we were promoting on social media.

Jim had been dealt some major blows in his life from loss of loved ones to health issues but he remained eternally optimistic and his passion for the resource, the sport of fly fishing and introducing new anglers to the sport never faded.

Rest easy my friend. I’ll miss fishing the MO with you and I’ll always think of you when I’m wandering the Blackfoot.

Welcome April….The Season is Upon Us

And just like that winter was gone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Special

Photo – Rob Weiker

Do we have a spring special you ask?

It just so happens we have THE BEST DEAL on the MISSOURI… PERIOD.

Most are running specials, some are not and while we may not have been the first ones on the river to run a spring special we appreciate and are happy to participate in the market which has been created and we’re confident that you’ll be much more interested in the details of our amazing offer than in how long we’ve been doing a spring special.

Here’s what we’re offering…

$500 (plus tax) for a full day on the water with one of our exceptional guides AND two (2), that’s right, two nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler. No rushing to get here the morning of your trip. No driving home tired after hauling in trout all day. We invite you to try to find a better deal…you won’t!

Get here the night before your trip and relax. You can wander down to Shotgun Annie’s for dinner and cocktails or prepare your own dinner in your fully furnished kitchen. We’re still waiting for the last of the snow to disappear but it will soon be gone and we’re getting to the point where you’ll probably enjoy spending some time on the porch just taking it all in. We’re nestled in the heart of the Big Belt Mountains, surrounded by gorgeous views of rugged canyon landscapes. We’re definitely biased but we believe we’ve got the best views around and while being a stone’s throw from the MO would be nice, as far as we’re concerned there’s not a more perfect setting for a fly shop and cabins than Wolf Creek Montana.

Spend an awesome spring day on the water with the best guides on the river and return to WCA for another evening of R & R.

Don’t need the lodging? No problem. Our guide trip only price is an amazing value at just $400.

Just looking for a room? We’ve got you covered. $99 for premium lodging (kitchen and private bath) through the end of April.

So yeah, we’ve got a spring special and it’s the best deal on the Missouri.

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.

 

Frozen February

Following a week of subzero temps the forecast is calling for a bit of a respite these next few days with highs supposedly approaching the mid 30’s today before dropping back into the 20’s for the remainder of the week. Back to single digits on Sunday and then we’re hoping for that warm up which will get us back on the water.

There’s snow in the forecast for tomorrow and a chance of scattered showers and flurries throughout the week. The snowpack is moving towards average in most drainages so although it’s still very early to say with any degree of certainty what the water situation will be this spring we’re liking what we’re seeing at this point.

Current “most probable” flow predictions have us holding in this 5,000 CFS range for the next couple of months with a bump to around 6,000 in May and a peak of <7,000 in June and then back to around 5,000 for the summer season. If it plays out this way you really couldn’t ask for better conditions for summer fishing. We wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of a flushing flow at the peak but following last year’s 18-20K which kept the walk/wade crowd from coming and all but eliminated spring dry fly fishing, we’re good with the busy spring that these flows would bring.

Max Probable predictions have us creeping up towards a peak of 10K before dropping into the 6-7,000 range for the summer while the Minimum probable has us dropping into the 3500 CFS range by April and holding there for the season. Fingers crossed that this won’t be the case.

If you’re brave enough to venture out this week wading is likely your best bet as the ramps and the parking lots have not been plowed. If you’re wading there’s a fair amount of shelf ice out there, mostly in and around that slow water you’re going to want to be fishing so please use caution and also keep an eye out for those floating chunks of ice.

We’re starting to do a brisk lodging business with the hard water crowd now that Holter is fishing well so if you do see a weather window coming and you think you’d like to come out and fish with us try to call well ahead of time as the weekend lodging tends to fill up by the middle part of the week.

The shop is open from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Wednesday – Saturday and 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM on Sundays, weather permitting. We’re open EVERY DAY for lodging and guide trips and speaking of lodging and guide trips…don’t miss our winter guide trip and lodging special. That’s two nights of premium lodging and a full day guide trip for one or two anglers for just $500. You won’t find a better deal anywhere.

It’s been a lonely February so far at Wolf Creek Angler. Here’s hoping for warmer weather and mild winter days on the water. We hope you make us your first stop on the way to the MO for lines, leaders, tippet and shuttles. Simms waders, boots and cold weather gear. Loop, Echo and Redington rods. Ross, Nautilus, Lamson, Echo and Redington reels and of course the largest selection of Missouri River flies ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

The Window is Open

Winter Bows on the MO – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

As we close out the first month of 2019 we’re emerging from a cold snap but the window of fishing opportunity will be open for the rest of the week before we plunge back into arctic air starting on Sunday.

We’ll see temperatures in the low to mid 40’s for the next several days with a very manageable south southwest wind forecast in the 10-15 mph range. It looks even better on Saturday.

No need to weigh watching the Super Bowl against fishing on Sunday…with highs in the teens and snow in the forecast the Super Bowl party is where you’re going to want to be.

Prior to that however you should make every effort to get out and fish between now and then. We’ve currently got lodging available through the weekend but it will more than likely fill by the end of the day today.

This would be the PERFECT opportunity to take advantage of our Winter Guide Trip and Lodging Special. $500 gets you a full day guided Missouri River float trip for one or two anglers and two nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler. We challenge you to find a better deal ANYWHERE.

Don’t need the lodging? Full Day float trip is just $400. Don’t need the guide? Winter lodging is just $99/night (plus tax). Wolf Creek Angler offers the BEST WINTER FISHING DEALS on the MO’ Hands Down!

Swinging, stripping and bobber fishing should all be good for the next several days and with a drastic weather change happening on Sunday fishing could be prime on Saturday on the edge of that system. It could also be a bust but there’s only one way to find out. You won’t know if you don’t go!

Nymphers should target the SLOW, DEEP winter water. Pink anything, firebead anything, sowbugs, Zebra midges, Pill Poppers, Pederson’s Sow, Caviar Scud, soft hackle sows, UV Crush, Bubble Yums, Rainbow Czechs, Ray Charles….the usual suspects.

Swingers and strippers you know what you like but best sellers have been Polar Leeches in Olive and Copper, Kreelex and Hot Head Kreelex in gold and brown or silver and gold. Mojo Minnows, Skiddish Smolt and Sparkle Minnows should also get the job done.

Stop by for bugs and shuttles and while you’re here don’t forget to check out our best deals of the year on winter wear as well as blow out pricing on all of our Redington waders and boots. These deals are too good to pass up and won’t last long.

Men’s and Women’s Sonic Pros and a few pair of Sonic Pro HD and HDZ’s left as well as women’s Willow waders and boots and a good assortment of Skagit and Prowler boots. Call ahead and we’d be happy to see if we have your size and hold it for you.

We’ve also got Adipose boats for rent and if you happen to be in the market for a new (used) boat this season we’re selling our 2014 RO Deville as well as my 2013 Clackacraft Eddy. Give a call or message us on FB for more info or to make an offer.

We are your pre Super Bowl Missouri River fly fishing destination!

Late January Report

The 2019 Season is Coming Soon

It’s hard to believe but we’re a week out from closing the books on the first month of 2019. The coming season looms large and the December doldrums have been replaced by days filled with a lot of time on the phone booking and confirming trips and lodging.

Lately we’ve also spent some time shoveling snow which we haven’t had to do much of so far this winter. While we’re keeping a close eye on the snow pack and spending some time on the water battling ice in the guides we know that the season will soon be upon us and winters cold will be but a distant memory. After all, spring is a mere 55 days away. Can you feel it?

I’ve admittedly become less of a fan of winter fishing over the past several years, perhaps I’m getting soft in my old age. But I do love this time of year. There may be snow on the ground and the thermometer may be hanging south of 20 degrees but spending time on the phone much of the day talking with clients about their upcoming fishing plans has a way of transporting you to hot summer days in the rowers seat. As the rooms and the guide days fill in the season begins to take shape, once again shifting gears from contemplating what was to preparing for what’s coming SOON.

Bookings for the prime season are up from last year which means a lot of you have fishing on your minds. If you’re thinking of fishing and staying with us this season it’s probably time to stop thinking about it and make those reservations. It feels like it’s going to be a busy year on the Missouri, especially after we lost a good part of the dry fly season last year due to the high water. There are a lot of folks who skipped last year who’ve already secured their dates for 2019 so don’t let this one get away from you.

There’s so much to do to get things ready for the coming season and not a lot of time left to get things done. Time has run out on putting off winter projects…its go time for property maintenance and also for shop stuff.

The cold weather gear needs to move to make way for spring shipments which will be arriving soon. We’ve already received our big SIMMS wader and boot shipment and while those waders look great hanging in the shop, they’d look even better leaving the shop on you so if you’re in the market for new waders this spring we’d love it if you got them from us.

It’s also time to review preseason orders and make sure we didn’t miss anything.

Rest assured we’ll have everything ready to go come spring. Our major project is completing renovations in the motel which will commence next week. Upon completion of #11 all motel rooms will be fully renovated and while some of you have only ever stayed in the renovated version of the rooms those who have been with us from the start will appreciate what I’m talking about when I say it’s nice to be able to be proud of these motel rooms because I definitely wasn’t prior to the renovations.

Another winter project was getting the WiFi situation figured out. This has been a constant issue and one which we’ve made several attempts to fix. The problem was that the WiFi signal was not reaching the bungalows (#12,#13 and #14). Well, it is now. Mind you we don’t have the fastest internet in Wolf Creek but we have the best that is available to us and now that signal is covering the whole property.

As always you can expect continuous improvement at Wolf Creek Angler. It’s our mission to do everything we can to provide you with an excellent experience and one which you’ll hopefully remember for all the right reasons. It won’t happen all at once but we’re chipping away at things and judging by our annual growth and by the vast majority of the feedback we receive our efforts are making a difference.

January Water Report

Perhaps it’s a little early to start talking about what we’ll see for water this spring but since we’ve already been fielding plenty of calls on the subject here’s what we know.

Snowpack across western Montana is currently sitting in the 80-90% of normal range. It could be much worse but the fact is we could use some precipitation. Following record precipitation last year, this winter has been a return to what has unfortunately become somewhat of the new normal.

The January long term forecast is for above average temperatures and below average precipitation which could translate into a busy month of fishing on the Missouri while those waiting for the ice to form on Holter Lake may be waiting all winter long.

We’re thankful for any business we get during the long winter months so we’ll take the traffic but here’s hoping for some major precipitation over the next couple of months.

Regardless of snowpack, we’re anticipating a great year ahead on the Missouri. River flow predictions are calling for a likely scenario of flows holding steady in the 4,500 CFS range through the winter months and peaking in the 6,000 CFS range in May and June.  This is great news to the wade anglers who missed out on fishing the Missouri last spring.

Max flow predictions show flows holding in the 4500 CFS range through February and then bumping up around 1000 CFS each month through June with a peak in the 10,000 CFS range while the minimum flow predictions show a steady drop in flow over the winter, leveling off in the 3500 CFS range beginning in April and holding there for the remainder of the season. This is not ideal. Let’s hope we see the most probable scenario (or max probable) play out.

We’re anxious to see what effect last season’s high water scrubbing is going to have on the hatches this year. It could be an epic dry fly year on the Missouri! Will we see the caddis explosion that has occurred following high water years in the past? Only time will tell. One thing looks fairly certain however, that being that we will actually have dry fly fishing before July. We missed much of the traditional dry fly prime time last season so we’re anxious for some BWO and PMD activity.

As per usual this is all speculation. We’re using the best information we have available to loosely predict what we might see this spring but Mother Nature always has the last word.

We’re not climatologists, we just sell fish hooks for a living so we’re content to leave the actual business of forecasting to the experts. We’ll keep you up to date on snowpack and flow conditions all winter long but at this point it definitely feels like it could be a return to dry fly nirvana on the MO in 2019.

In the meantime winter fishing is HOT right now. The nymphing is good to great depending on the day and streamers have been effective both on the swing and the strip. We’ve seen some midge activity with sporadic feeding. If we continue to see mild conditions throughout the winter expect good midge fishing as early as late January and throughout February and March.

We’ve been busy with lodging and have been getting a lot of calls about our winter lodging and guide trip special. The rumors are true! $500 for a full day guided float trip on the MO and TWO nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler. Our lodging options are quite limited during the winter so things tend to fill up quickly. If the mild weather persists and the demand is there we may look at opening more lodging up sooner rather than later. We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime – give us a call and book your cure to cabin fever today and while you’re at it, make those spring/summer plans if you haven’t done so already. Prime dates are filling fast.

2019 Off to a Fishy Start

New Year on the fly. Photo by Matt Hargrave

One week into 2019 and we’re off to a fishy start having done our earliest ever guide trips on January 3rd. It looks like we’re in for a mild winter so hopefully we’ll be running a bunch more trips and while we may be losing out on some lodging for the ice fishing crowd (zero ice on Holter to date) I think we’ll more than make up for it with river traffic.

The Wolf Creek Bridge parking lot looked like July this weekend with rigs filling the pretty yellow lines. It’ll be interesting to see how that all works out this spring when things are going full bore. At this point, with around a dozen rigs in the lot (roughly half full), it felt a little crowded but I’m sure everyone will adjust just fine this spring when it’s all about the peace and harmony.

The forecast is calling for highs in the 40’s for the majority of the ten-day outlook with no high wind warnings and zero chance for precipitation in the mix (though it is howling today with 40 mph gusts). The January outlook is for above average temperatures with below average precipitation which means there’s no time like the present to book yourself a winter guide trip with Wolf Creek Angler.

$500 for a full day Missouri River guided float trip for one or two anglers AND two nights of premium lodging all winter long! Guide trips only with no lodging are $400 and lodging with no guide trip is $99/night plus tax. Try to find a better deal on the Missouri…. I guarantee you won’t.

Winter fishing techniques are a go. Deep nymphing and swinging or slow stripping streamers are what you should be doing from here on out.

Deep, slow water…. double nymph rig 7’ – 9’ overall with or without split shot (your call). I like a #12 Pink Amex or Rainbow Czech paired with a #16 or #18 caviar scud, Petersen’s Sow, Pink Lucent bead Ray, Tailwater Sow, soft hackle sow, Zebra Midge, Pill Popper, UV Crush, Cotton Candy etc. They’re all good. They’ll all catch fish if the time is right and you get them in the zone.

The best time of day has been in the 10:30 am – 2:30 pm zone. Nighttime lows are dropping into the 20’s so no point in starting any earlier than 10 am. Let things warm up a bit, you’ll be glad you did. Predictably, most of the traffic has been in the upper stretches but with things being as mild as they are there’s no reason you shouldn’t be fishing below Craig or right on down through the canyon.

Hot head Kreelex, Brown and Yellow Kreelex, Skiddish Smolt and Polar Leeches in various flavors have been the go-to options for swinging. I’m still stripping Sparkle Minnows, MK Ultra and Ultralites, Dirty Hippies and D & D’s and occasionally trailing a Polar Leech off any of them and moving plenty of fish.

There have been plenty of folks staking out their claims and swinging out there and there’s been no shortage of walk/wade nymphers as well. If you’re fishing from a boat, be courteous and grant them their space. It may be busy by winter standards but there’s miles of good water. No need to crowd anyone.

The water temperature is holding steady in the 35-degree range which is right about where it should be. The fish are not going to expend a lot of energy chasing down a meal whether it’s a nymph or a streamer though I’ve found that you’re much more likely to entice the chase with a streamer when they’re looking for a quick calorie fix.

Once again, whether nymphs or streamers you’ll want to get them deep enough that the fish don’t have to move much for them. If streamers are your thing you should be dredging right now and stripping ever so slowly.

Embrace winter fishing on the MO’. After all, spring is still a long way off and you can’t sit inside all winter long. Make plans to escape to Wolf Creek and enjoy winter solitude on the Missouri. The shop still closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for the time being but we’re always open for lodging and guide trips and speaking of that…have you booked your dates for spring and summer yet? If you haven’t you should. Prime dates are filling fast.