2020

The Holiday Haze is lifting and we’re excited 2020 is finally here.

While there was a fair amount of couch time I spent much of yesterday taking down Christmas decorations at home and am doing more of the same here at the shop today. With the holidays falling mid-week this year it feels like two weeks of the world on hold and as enjoyable as I’m sure that is for those fortunate enough to have all this time off, I for one am ready for a return to the normal routine.

As much as I enjoy the glow of the Christmas tree, the day the tree comes down always feels like a psychological weight lifted as we move on from the holiday haze and start engaging in the everyday again. We’re not quite there yet as these next several days will round out the break but with the decorations put away we’re that much closer to normalcy.

Obviously, for me normalcy is restored when traffic returns to the river so by the calendar we’ve got a long winter ahead before the 2020 season gets underway but judging by the mild extended forecast I’m optimistic we may see that traffic begin to trickle in sooner rather than later.

Whether this happens or not, the days are getting longer and with the holidays in the rear view people are already shifting their focus springward judging by the number of calls we’ve received the last couple of days for spring and summer lodging and guide trips. Have you booked your dates yet? There’s no time like the present.

2020 is starting much like 2019 did weather wise with very mild temps in the immediate forecast. High 30’s and low 40’s this week but breezy as you would expect and much of the same for next week. River flow is currently 4460 cfs with a water temperature of 34.5 degrees. Winter water conditions to be sure.

If you’re looking to get out you’ll want to target the slow winter water. It’s officially the season of pink if you’re planning on nymphing so check your stock on Pill Poppers, Bubble Yums, Pink Rays, Pederson’s Sow, Rainbow Czechs, Pink Lightning Bugs, Caviar Scuds, Cotton Candy, Pink Amex, Rainbow Warriors, Firebead Sows and more. We’re fully stocked on all of these and many more of your winter water essentials so stop in and replenish your winter nymph boxes before hitting the water.

As we’ve been reporting these last couple of weeks traffic has been MINIMAL. Many of the anglers I have seen out there have been swinging reportedly with varying degrees of success. Polar leeches, Kreelex, MoJo Minnows, buggers and leeches are all viable options. Swing those troughs and tailouts. If you’re unsure of where you should be fishing a quick drive up and down the river corridor on a moderately busy day can be extremely helpful (or you could just stop by the shop and ask us where you should be fishing). Take note of where you see people fishing and return to those spots when you can. It’s not that those are the ONLY place you can catch fish but there’s definitely a reason you see people in those same runs, day after day, season after season.

And don’t feel like you HAVE to swing. There are always fish to be caught stripping as well. I can’t think of any conditions in which I wouldn’t strip, save perhaps the weediest of summer days but even then I’ll at least give it a try. I’ve caught plenty of fish on the strip every month of the year, regardless of water temp. Obviously conventional wisdom dictates the colder the water, the slower the strip and that’s something you need to be mindful of but that being said you just might be surprised what happens with a moderately fast retrieve (with plenty of pauses) in 34 – 35 degree water. I’ll generally do a strip/swing/pause mashup during the cold water months but I’ve had plenty of trout smash a streamer in cold water with a moderately fast retrieve so don’t rule it out. Switch up your retrieve and your bugs until you find what works and keep your expectations reasonable. You aren’t likely to have any off-the-charts action days during the winter months but you never know. To me, a chase or two and maybe a nice fish to hand beats a bobber any day but that’s just me.

Along those lines of low-percentage winter techniques I’ve seen enough midge activity every time I’ve been out lately that it might warrant having a dry fly rod rigged up. Most of what I’ve seen for rises have been sporadic but I think if you were to put a lot of effort into finding feeding fish you would likely be able to avail yourself to numerous opportunities and maybe even fool one or two into eating.

Remember we’ve got great winter lodging and guide trip rates and with the mild weather ahead I expect we’ll start to see some people around again and while the holidays are over the great deals in the shop are still going strong. Do us and yourself a favor and take advantage of some amazing deals on great gear while you help us clear the way for spring arrivals coming soon.

Our normal winter schedule goes into effect next week. Shop hours will be 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Wednesday – Saturday and 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Sundays. We will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for the time being but that could change based on the weather and the traffic. We’ll keep you posted.

A Look Back

With tomorrow not only being the last day of 2019 but also the last day of the decade it’s time for our annual look back at the year that was as well as some reflections on the decade.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been this long but 2019 was the year we celebrated our fifth year in business at Wolf Creek Angler and while there were undoubtedly highlights to the season, I think the overarching theme was one of stability.

We never take ANYTHING for granted but as we wrap up another year it feels like we’ve done a decent job of establishing ourselves and at this point our focus has shifted more towards building and improving our brand rather than trying to make a splash as the new guys on the block.
And that’s not to say that we won’t be making splashes from time to time, some minor some more significant, but I feel like we’ve built a solid foundation over these six seasons and I’m hopeful for what the future holds.

We saw a big change in the shop in January of 2019 as we rolled out our Full Line Simms Dealership, something we’d been working towards since opening our doors in 2014. It was a milestone for this shop and we are so grateful for the growth in our business which has been instrumental in allowing us to offer our customers more of what they demand each season. Having Simms show the confidence in our shop and in our brand to open us as a full-line dealer was and is a HUGE affirmation and while there are still brands we’re chasing we feel like the stamp of approval from Simms moves us ever closer to where we want to be as a fly fishing retailer.SIMMS DEALER

Unfortunately our hopes for early season sales were dashed by Mother Nature as we experienced record-breaking low temperatures throughout the winter. The average daily high temperature for the month of February was less than one degree so suffice it to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of fishing happening on the MO last winter.

We kept ourselves busy through those long winter months working on lodging improvements completing the renovations in our motel rooms and replacing carpeting in several of our cabins.

As it always does, spring finally arrived in late March/early April and we were treated to our best spring season to date as those weary of winter flocked to the MO’ to get that spring fishing fix. Wet conditions around the region made for high muddy rivers driving business to the Missouri throughout much of the spring season.

In May I had the privilege of participating in the pilot program for Guiding for the Future, an advanced guide and outfitter certification program being developed by the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana. This was an incredible experience and I hope to remain involved with the program going forward, perhaps on the teaching side.

The highlight in June was a personal one as our son John graduated from Helena High School. He has recently completed his first semester and made the Dean’s List at Helena College where he will attend one more semester before transferring to the University Of Montana next fall.

Cool, wet weather continued to delay the arrival of Prime Time dry fly fishing throughout much of June but when summer finally arrived we ended up with one of the best dry fly seasons we’ve had since opening the shop. Considering we essentially lost much of the dry fly season in 2018 due to high water, watching the dry fly bins empty out in 2019 was a welcome change!

Conditions remained favorable throughout the summer which kept the wild fires to a minimum and also gave us a second straight summer season of essentially ZERO Hoot Owl closures around the region.

Biding our time through the Dog Days of August we were anticipating a busy fall season but it wasn’t to be. Summer turned to winter in September as we were hit by an early winter storm followed by several more in October. The early cold snap robbed us of fall colors, killing the still-green leaves and also robbed us of a busy fall fishing season as the cold and snow persisted through October and into November.

Such is the nature of the business. There are no guarantees with the weather but we’re always hopeful.

Great Falls received a season’s worth of snow in the fall. We didn’t get quite that much but had snow on the ground more often than not since late September. It was looking like a brutal winter ahead (and it may still turn out that way) but we’ve had mild temps and no snow for the past several weeks and the long-term looks favorable for a somewhat busy winter season on the Missouri.

As I look back on 2019 and on the past seven years spent in Montana I can’t help but think about the early part of this decade which is about to come to a close.

My life couldn’t be much more different now from what it was at the start of this decade when my days were spent in the foundry, feeling the pull of the rivers and mountains of Montana and trying to find a way to heed the call.

And so the call was heeded. But it was not through any doing of my own that this happened but through the providential order which has played out in exactly the manner in which  it was supposed to.

I’ve traded my days spent in the chaos and dust and noise of the foundry with no hope for an exit for this new and amazing path which has much different challenges, opportunities and rewards, and for this I feel truly blessed.

I’m so thankful for where I’ve landed and for all of you who have become a part of my story and I can’t wait to see what this next decade holds.

Happy New Year!

Mid December on the MO

Sunshine and clear blue skies this morning in Wolf Creek. It’s a chilly 26 degrees warming to the mid 30’s later today with calm winds. It sure looks like the perfect day to fish the MO but entering this final week before Christmas you aren’t likely to find any crowds at the boat ramps.

I’d bet there may be a college student or two taking advantage of the time off and of the mild weather this week but if winter solitude is what you are seeking I’m confident there will be an abundance of that to be found here all week long.

We’ll see temperatures in the 40’s all week and near 50 on Saturday but expect gusty winds with the warmer temps. That white Christmas is looking unlikely with only a slight chance for snow on Thursday night and Friday morning and nothing after that but we shall see.

We’re open at 8 am every day with great deals on almost everything in the shop. We are running shuttles most days and even if we’re not, we’re always more than happy to help you get one scheduled with another shop.

We do have prime lodging available for just $99/night (plus tax) and guide trips are just $400 for a full day for one or two anglers, all winter long. We’re also offering a second night of lodging free with the purchase of a night’s lodging and a full day guide trip. It’s the best deal you’ll find on the Missouri this winter…hands down!

Dining has become a bit of an issue with Shotgun Annie’s closing for the winter and The Oasis only serving Friday through Monday but not to worry. All of our winter lodging units have a fully furnished kitchen with a full size fridge, an oven with cooktop and all the pots, pans, dishes and utensils included.

So as you prepare for the coming holidays we hope you keep us in mind whether it be for helping you complete your Christmas shopping or getting you set up for your day on the water.

We LOVE being your Full Service Missouri River Fly Shop and we can’t wait to see you again.

December on the MO

Welcome to December on the Missouri.

This is traditionally our slowest month of the year in the shop as people get distracted from fishing by the onset of winter and the busy holiday season.

Be that as it may, we’re here, anxious to help you in any way that we can.

While we don’t typically see a lot of traffic in the shop this time of year we are busy on the phones and busy at the keyboard booking trips and lodging for the coming season.

Prime dates are filling quickly so don’t put it off any longer if you plan on booking with us for 2020, especially June and July which are rapidly approaching capacity.

The Thanksgiving winter storm pretty much shut things down out here over the weekend with folks opting for food and football and couch time rather than battling single digit temps and snow. The weather has improved and fishing could be good this week though if you’re planning on coming out to float keep in mind the ramps could be a challenge. We sold a couple of Wolf Creek to Craig shuttles this morning which were abruptly changed when the guys got down there and found there was a vehicle stuck on the ramp.

It’s never a bad call to have tire chains this time of year or a tow strap or rope at the least just in case the ramps are a problem.

We’re currently sitting at 42 degrees with partly cloudy skies and it looks to be much of the same throughout this week. Expect breezy conditions with this warmer air but don’t let that deter you. This could be your last, best week to fish the Missouri in 2019!

We’ve got plenty of lodging availability and we can definitely find a guide or two if you want to get in a trip before winter really sets in.

Seeing as today is Cyber Monday perhaps you’re online getting all of your Christmas shopping done. If so, good for you. That leaves you three weeks to fish. If not, maybe we can help with that Christmas shopping.

We’re not much for cyber shopping here. We prefer the brick and mortar and while we may not be offering cyber deals we are offering plenty of great deals nonetheless.

Now through Christmas we’re offering 25 percent off all rods and reels and if you buy a rod and reel combo we’ll throw in an ARC fly line and backing for free.

We’ve got soft goods on sale from 25% – 50% off as well as holiday deals on flies, lines, leaders, tippet and so much more.

WCA Gift Cards also make great gifts for all of the fly fishers on your list.

We’re open daily at 8 AM and hope to see you this holiday season at Wolf Creek Angler.

By |2019-12-02T18:57:18+00:00December 2nd, 2019|Categories: Shop Life|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Pre-Thanksgiving Fishing this weekend on the MO

There are all sorts of reasons you ought to include fishing the Missouri in your weekend plans, not the least of which is the fact that these next few days of 50 ish degree weather could in fact be the last of the nice weather for a while.

Add to that the certainty that we’re all about to be swept up into a busy holiday season starting next week and I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t try to get out for one last Missouri River hurrah before the holidays (and winter) are upon us.

Oh, and it just so happens we do have limited availability for lodging this weekend as well as a number of guides still hanging around who’d like nothing better than to log another day or two before calling it a season.

And while the Mending Waters Montana boats for veterans are in dry dock for the winter we do still have Adipose Flow drift boats available for rent all winter long.

So if you’re not interested in watching Saturday’s Brawl of the Wild and you’re not going to take advantage of the nice days to put up those Christmas lights before the snow flies again then I’d expect you might want to be on the water this weekend.

Angler traffic has been sparse to say the least which means you can have it all to yourself. I expect we’ll see some folks around this weekend but it’s doubtful you’ll be waiting in line at the boat ramp and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a piece of water to call your own.

We’re still dedicating most of our time on the water to streamer fishing with mixed results but nymphing continues to be productive and you may still encounter some dry fly opportunities though that window is rapidly closing.

Water temps are continuing to drop (currently 40.5 degrees) which will get those fish moving into the slow winter water. I wouldn’t say they’re all there yet but they are likely moving in that direction so don’t overlook those spots.

What traffic there is seems to be favoring the Wolf Creek to Craig stretch but there’s no reason you shouldn’t fish the dam and we also really like the Craig to Mid (or even just to Stickney) float this time of year. Just keep in mind that our daylight is continuing to shrink so don’t over commit or you’ll be rowing out in the dark.

We’re here at 8 am daily, anxiously waiting to help you out with whatever you need. Whether that’s bugs, leaders, indicators, hand warmers, gloves, socks, hats, waders, boots, sunglasses, free coffee (the best in the canyon), advice, a room, a guide….whatever it is, we’re happy to help. And while our shuttle service can be hit or miss this time of year we’re always happy to help hook you up with a shuttle whether we’re the ones doing it or not.

How about Christmas shopping? We can help you out there as well.

Great deals on rods and reels and something for all of the fly anglers on your list including Wolf Creek Angler gift cards in any amount good for anything and everything we sell from merch to guide trips to lodging and so much more.

Mid November on the MO’

The schizophrenic fall weather has continued this week on the Missouri. We started out at 2 degrees on Monday and made it into the 30’s later that day, it’s been in the 50s every day since.

This weather pattern should hold through the weekend and we’ll see temps approaching 60 on Sunday and Monday. Our next chance for snow will be mid-week next week when things return to more seasonable conditions.

What does this mean as it relates to fishing the MO’?

While we can’t predict with any level of certainty how good (or bad) the fishing will be here’s what we do know. 50 degree days in November are days you should fish. Winter is on the way so enjoy it while it lasts.

I may have jumped the gun on closing cabins for the winter as we’ve had to turn several people away the last couple of days which leads me to believe that there will be some traffic out there this weekend but that being said, things have all but grinded to a halt these past couple of weeks so I think it’s a safe bet that you’ll have plenty of water all to yourself should you decide to come out for a Missouri River fix.

Reports have been a little hard to come by as of late but Zach and I have made it out just enough to confidently report that there are indeed fish to be caught any way you like to catch them. Nymphing and streamer fishing have been good enough….not great…but definitely worth your time. Dry fly fishing has been sporadic but has definitely had is moments. Look for a decent day of top water action tomorrow with extensive cloud cover. BWO’s and midges are the game. Swing by the shop and stock up on best bets for flies.

A couple of things to note for the coming weeks….

Mending Water Montana free boat rentals for vets program will be on hold for winter starting this Saturday, November 16th. The reservation system will be inactive but boats will be available again in March.

Shop Hours are getting a little weird. We’re open at 8 AM EVERY DAY. Closing times vary. Sundays are a definite 8 AM – 1 PM. We’ll keep you updated should we decide to nix a day or two from the weekly schedule but for the meantime count on us being here every morning and call ahead if you’re coming out later in the day just to make sure someone will be around. Along these lines, we’ll be closing at 1 pm this Saturday.

Lodging is full for the weekend but we do have availability beginning on Sunday.

Fall Rod and Reel Sale still going strong. 25% off all rods and reels and deeper discounts on select models.

All remaining summer sportswear 50 percent off.

Gift Cards make great stocking stuffers and are available in any amount and are good for anything and everything we sell.

We will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (November 28th).

Things are quiet most days in the shop so I’d love it if you would stop by and say hello. Jake is starved for attention and I always enjoy talking to someone other than myself!

Reflections on Fall Fishing

It’s no secret. If you follow this blog and others covering the Missouri River and Montana fly fishing in general then you know that this has not been one of our better fall seasons.

The weather has been unseasonably cold and the fishing did in fact start slow. Fishing has picked up but business has remained slow. The consensus is that once we had our second or third winter weather event earlier in October people pretty much pulled the plug on fall fishing plans…and who can blame them?

Dealing with cold weather conditions when you’re fishing is one thing in March when we’re coming out of months of winter’s Deep Freeze but when we’re only a few weeks beyond the end of summer frozen guides and frozen fingers are a little tough to take.

I know, I Know…Forget the Forecast right? We’ve got gear to cover any and all conditions and to theoretically remove adverse weather from the equation. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age but to me the prospect of battling through extreme weather to fish for trout becomes less and less appealing every year.

Now that’s not to say that I won’t fish in cold weather. I most definitely will but the cold weather parameters in which I’ll fish have narrowed considerably to the point where it’s a safe bet that if the temperature is less than 28 degrees it’s going to need to be otherwise perfect or I’m likely not going. Throw in some blowing snow and wind, especially a north wind, and I’m out.

Part of this has to do with the fact that I’m blessed with the opportunity to pretty much fish all winter long so I can pick and choose my days. I understand that this isn’t the case for everyone and I appreciate and applaud those who stick it out and fish through it, whatever “it” may be.

If you’ve made your fall fishing plans well in advance and it happens to be cold and snowy when your flight arrives in Montana then you’ve got a choice of either battling through or sitting in your room and waiting it out. I get it, and once again, I respect and applaud those who battle through it.

Two weeks ago one of our fall regulars who comes every October from Maine arrived to the coldest conditions we’ve seen this fall and he didn’t miss a beat. Snow, Wind, Cold…nothing stopped him. He bundled up and did his thing and caught plenty of trout and was even rewarded with the “best BWO day he’s ever had here”. You’re a legend Bob!

I on the other hand was content to sit in the shop and count flies and wait for a better day but as Bob proved, sometimes even the most miserable conditions can end up being amazing days on the water.

Truth be told, for me it’s getting up the motivation to go. Once I do that, I’ll fish through some pretty gnarly conditions. It’s just a matter of overcoming the temptation to stay inside where it’s warm and the wind is not beating you up.

Once out there it’s rarely as bad imagined and once you throw a couple of good fish into the mix it makes it all worthwhile. But what about when it is as bad weather wise as you had imagined it would be and there are no fish in the mix? Well, as I found out recently, depending on the company you keep, it’s actually possible to still have an amazing day on the water.

It ended up being a great lesson for me because when you’re immersed in this industry culture you tend to drift from some of those attitudes and ideas and states of mind that brought you here. It’s important to not only fish, but to connect with friends while fishing so that you can rediscover the magic that drives our business. The magic involved in planning a fishing trip with your friends and then spending amazing days with people you love doing what you absolutely LOVE doing which is fishing.

Weather be damned. An outing with your best fishing buddies has a way of emboldening no matter what the conditions to the point where you magically might not even notice the weather. Despite the fact that I have the tremendous blessing of being surrounded by this magic all season long sometimes the grind can cause a disconnect. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, being a part of your fishing experience…of your Magic, is an honor and a privilege and there’s no better job in the world than the one that I have. I truly believe this and any time I feel the drift I can step back and snap out of it and realize just how lucky I am.

That being said, it’s one thing to acknowledge and realize how blessed I am to do what I do for a living, but it’s an entirely different thing to reconnect as a participant rather than as just an observer and that’s exactly what I was able to do several times this fall which has got me high on fishing again, more so than in quite some time.

I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I absolutely LOVE to fish and I fish A LOT. Usually at least twice a week, and more often than not I fish alone. It’s how I decompress. It’s how I strategize. It’s how I get my head straight and I love every minute of it but it does lack fellowship and camaraderie and while I usually don’t think too much about such things any time I have the opportunity to fish with others I’m reminded of just what a critical element of the overall experience these things can be.

Two weeks ago I headed down to the Yellowstone for my annual fall streamer trip. I’ve been doing this trip for five or six years and the last several years it’s really blossomed as it’s become just as much about hanging out with friends I don’t get to see often as it is about fishing.
Just prior to leaving Helena my friends sent me a picture of the river…the slushy, icy Yellowstone. For about three seconds I considered bailing but thought better of it and made my way to Mammoth. The river was full of ice flow from Livingston to Yankee Jim but looked better from Yankee Jim to Gardiner so our plan was to float the top stretch.

We awoke to temps in the teens but it was calm in Mammoth. As we entered the valley however the howling wind became apparent and worse yet, the river was now full of ice flow from Gardiner down leaving us with no options to float the Yellowstone.

Brent and Sara suggested we go fish the Madison between the lakes, a stretch of water I’d never fished but about which I’d heard plenty of stories of giant browns caught on streamers. We made our way through the park which was pretty well absent of any traffic. It was a beautiful ride. I’d never been in the park when it was this snowy or this empty so I thoroughly enjoyed it.

When we got to the river the temperature was hovering right around 20 degrees and snow was beginning to intensify. We suited up and hit the water and proceeded to freeze for a couple of hours. Frozen fingers and frozen gear but awesome looking water nonetheless. A few tailing fish here and there. I had a brief battle which I lost and Brent nymphed up a couple of whiteys….that was it for the fishing but disappointment was the furthest thing from my mind as it was an awesome couple of days hanging out with a couple of my favorite people in one of my favorite places in the world.

A couple of weeks prior I had journeyed with the family to Calgary for a long weekend. We went to check out a Wings and Flames game and to spend some time checking out a city we’ve come to enjoy immensely. Prior to our going I had reached out to a fishing contact I knew in the area to ask about streamer fishing on the Bow.

Dana Lattery www.flyfishingbowriver.com had paid us a visit at Wolf Creek Angler last spring and had told me that if I was ever in Calgary I should look him up and he’d take me fishing. We all say this a lot in the business and it’s usually sincere, but it rarely comes to fruition.

Dana responded as promised and we ended up spending a great day floating the Bow and getting to know each other. We talked shop and began to put together plans for future group trips going both ways. It seems everyone likes to visit different water on occasion and the relatively close proximity of the Bow River to the Missouri River make for the perfect fly fishing exchange.

Fishing was marginal but hanging out on new water with great company was a highlight of my fall fishing experience.

So a little bit of rambling on here but the point of all this is that in spite of less than ideal fishing conditions this fall I’ve had some great fishing experiences which I wouldn’t trade for anything. A busier late season at Wolf Creek Angler would have been nice but these are the ebbs and flows of business and besides… it ain’t over yet!

Fall Returns

November on the Missouri

November is upon us and it looks like we could be in for a great week of fall fishing ahead and if we’re lucky, maybe even a couple of more weeks of chasing trout before the holidays take over our collective schedules.

Expect good BWO action this afternoon and throughout the week and don’t miss out on what could be our last, best weekend of the season. We’ll see sunshine and highs near 60 on Friday and perfect BWO weather through Veteran’s Day on Monday with a chance or rain and snow each day and temperatures somewhere in the 40’s.

With a forecast like this we’ve decided to delay our closing of the cabins for at least another week so if a weekend retreat to the MO’ sounds appealing give us a call and book your room and while you’re at it why not grab a guide and leave the rowing to us?

Winter rates are now in effect which means you can get a cozy cabin or bungalow for just $99 plus tax. Rooms sleep 3 comfortably and include a full kitchen and private bath. Shotgun Annie’s is open for dinner and is a great dining option during your stay in Wolf Creek but it’s also nice to have kitchen facilities so you can do breakfast etc on your own.

We’ve got plenty of availability from here on out but I expect we’ll book up for the weekend.

Following another round of winter weather last week we’re thrilled with the fishing forecast and can’t wait to get on the water.
Potentially epic dry fly fishing, solid nymphing and good to great streamer fishing are all a possibility so there’s something for everyone right now.

I always have a nymph rig at the ready but this is the time of year I like to roll the streamer rig all day long, only taking breaks for major bugs and irresistible pods of feeding fish. Fall brown trout are among my favorite things in the world!

And speaking of all day long….Daylight Saving Time has ended and while we loved getting that hour of sleep back on Sunday morning the days are now short, and for the meantime, getting shorter. We’ve not been in any rush to get on the water early so with an 11 or 12 o clock start you don’t have a whole lot of time before darkness falls, currently around 5 pm. Keep this in mind when choosing where to float.

Wolf Creek Bridge to Craig (or something in the 5 mile range) is perfect for this time of year though I wouldn’t hesitate to do something a little longer, in the 7-9 mile range, if you want to dedicate your day to streamer fishing.

Best bets for bugs this week are as follows:

Dries – Brook’s Sprout Baetis, Olive Parachute Adams, Wilcox’s Micro May BWO, Para BWO, Drown Spinner BWO, Nyman’s DOA Cripple Baetis, Flash Cripple BWO, Quigley’s BWO Hackle Stacker, CDC Caddis Emerger, CDC Baetis Emerger, RS2, Bucky’s Midge Cluster, Buzzball.

Nymphs – Rainbow Czech, Bubble Yum Scud, Tungsten Tailwater Sow, Caviar Scud, Little Green Machine, Olive or Pearl Lightning Bug, Juju Baetis, Juan’s Hi-Def Baetis, Firebead Ray, Pill Popper, Black Zebra Midge, Redemption BWO, Split Case BWO, Olive S & M, BWO Magic Fly, Soft Hackle Sow

Streamers – Polar Leech, Hothead Kreelex, Lil’ Kim, MK Ultralite, Craven’s Dirty Hippy, Galloup’s Mini Dungeon, ZK’s Inflated Ego, Circus Peanut.

Best colors on streamers have been olive, tan, natural, brown and black but don’t limit yourself. Throw what you like and switch often until you find what’s working. I’m guilty of running the same bug until I find a fish that wants it rather than the other way around and would probably do well to heed my own advice.

We’re on late fall/early winter hours at the shop opening at 8 am daily and it’s starting to get a little lonely out here so we hope you make us your first stop on your next trip to the MO.

Sun Setting on Season Six

It’s been a weird fall here on the Missouri.

We were robbed of fall colors and the gradual transition from summer heat to autumn chill by snowstorms and arctic air in September and early October.

October is traditionally one of our busier months and this year is no different but that being said I do get the sense that things are coming to a close a little prematurely.

The river is quiet, the streets of Wolf Creek and Craig are quiet and while we’re still getting a fair amount of nice days one just gets the sense that winter is starting to take hold, at least in a psychological sense.

The fishing has been hit or miss these past weeks and while we have seen a couple of BWO events we’ve yet to experience an epic day of dry fly fishing. I think the best is yet to come which will work out well for those of you maintaining your Missouri River fall fishing schedules.

Nymphing and streamer fishing have been so so depending on the day but it seems like we’ve had more than our fair share of challenging days this fall. Maybe that all turns around this week. There’s only one way to find out for yourself.

Go-to water has been Wolf Creek down with better reports consistently coming from the canyon. We’re running medium depth rigs, occasionally shortening up for the shallow fast runs. Good point fly options have been Rainbow Czechs, Pill Poppers, Rainbow Weight Fly, Bubble Yum Scuds, Tungsten Tailwater Sows and Tungsten PT’s all in the #14-#16 range. We’re trailing soft hackle sowbugs, Tailwater Sows, Little Green Machines, Zebra Midges, BWO Magic Fly, Split Case BWO, Olive lightning bugs, rainbow warriors, olive S & M’s and other miscellaneous mayfly nymphs and generally running with a single split shot.

It varies by the day and by the section you are in but we’ve found the fish are predominantly in medium depth, faster water. Don’t rule out the slow stuff but it hasn’t been great. When you hook up take note of the water you’re fishing and target that type of water throughout your day. Chances are that’s where you’ll find them….or not.

Streamer fishing requires a lot of work and some commitment but has been worth the effort for the most part. Weeds are still an issue and will continue to be for some time but they are localized and you can find plenty of clean water in which to strip. Stick to your favorites and fish them like you mean it. Best colors for us have been olive, black, natural or gray.

Bombing the bank and stripping through the shallows has been effective for me but from what I hear they’re getting them on the swing as well.

Dry fly opportunities seem to present themselves daily but you need to be ready to go at any given moment. Rig up that dry fly rod and keep it within reach while you’re nymphing and/or streamer fishing. Pseudos, maybe some BWO’s and the occasional caddis are all a possibility. We’ve had luck fishing a caddis blind when fish are up and eating but that seems to be fading so my suggestion would be to rig with your favorite BWO set up and hope for bugs.

Solitude is in abundance right now and will be from here on out. You can expect to see some boat and wade angler traffic on the nicer days but even on the busier days you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a piece of water to have all to yourself.

The forecast is calling for snow tomorrow and again on Saturday. Could we be treated to an epic day of BWO dry fly fishing? I wouldn’t rule it out!

In between we’ll see another couple of days of Indian summer with highs approaching 65 on Friday but expect the mild temps to be accompanied by breezy conditions. And speaking of breezy conditions, a high wind warning is currently in effect through 7 pm tonight for west winds 30-40 mph, gusting as high as 60 mph. Batten down the hatches!

Next week looks chilly but definitely doable. Cold on Monday and Tuesday with highs in the high 20’s/low 30’s but warming into the 40’s by the middle of the week.

We’ve still got plenty of lodging options available though we are closing the motel for winter this week and will follow suit with the cabins when it makes sense to do so. As always, our bungalows will remain open all winter long for the die-hards out there.

Guide trips are winding down and guides are beginning to disappear but there are still enough of us around that we shouldn’t have any problem filling those last minute guide trips.

Great deals still to be had at the shop with our Second Annual Rod and Reel sale still going strong and we’ve got all the gear you need for Cold Weather fishing.

Shop hours are 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday – Saturday and 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Sundays.

Welcome October

The return of autumn on the Missouri River

The winter storm that brought historic September snows and cold to Montana last weekend has come and gone and despite the lingering cold these last two days, it looks like we’re on our way to more seasonable fall weather as the week goes on.

We’ll see temps climb back into the 50’s starting today and it appears as though we may see a bit of Indian summer the first part of next weeks with temps near 70. Night time lows in the 30’s will keep things chilly for those early morning and late evening outings but a far cry from the low teens we saw Tuesday morning which took a toll on our psyches as well as on some of our exterior plumbing.

We did lose a few trips to cancellation over the weekend but those who kept their dates and fished through a couple of cold mornings were rewarded as the plummeting water temps and dramatic weather change seemed to have perhaps flipped the switch on fall fishing.

We had some good streamer and dry fly reports from yesterday, just in time for our big group trip from our friends at Schultz Outfitters in Southeastern Michigan happening all this week. Of course these Michigan folks are no strangers to cold weather fishing but we’re all stoked to see fall weather return and I’m sure they are as well.

Hopefully we’ll lose the rest of our snow here at the shop today and fingers are crossed that water will again be flowing through our aforementioned exterior plumbing in an orderly manner (not spraying out of cracked pipes) by this afternoon. Unfortunately we’ve embarked upon the season of long shadows here in the Wolf Creek canyon and while we do still have a parking lot full of sunshine we won’t see sun in the back yard until spring and it won’t be long before we lose our sunlight in the front so suffice it to say, we’re enjoying it while it lasts.

But enough about the coming winter woes…..right now the warm up is underway and we’re in the midst of our busiest three weeks of the fall season. The empty lot is empty no more and the quiet shop is now abuzz with activity, at least for the next few weeks. We do have a few vacancies here and there but for the most part rooms are going to be hard to come by until late October. If you’re planning on coming out over these next few weeks I’d recommend you call sooner rather than later as things are rapidly filling up.

Expect plenty of traffic out there (though nothing like during the summer season) if you’re headed this way and make sure to make us your first stop on your way to the river for shuttles, bugs, cold weather gear and so much more including the best streamer selection in the canyon.

Nymphing will continue to provide the numbers but there are plenty of other options if bobber fishing doesn’t excite you. Streamer fishing is heating up and is definitely worth your time though weeds will be an ever-present frustration. Keep calm and strip!

Pseudos and caddis have been providing plenty of top water action in a target-rich environment. The cool water temps should facilitate BWO action soon. In the meantime terrestrials will be back in play on the warm sunny days so make sure you’re stocked up on ants and beetles and the like.

Fall fishing is underway and it’s about to go off!