Winter on the Way?

Three days into fall and unfortunately the talk is having much more to do with the coming weather than about the fall fishing.

Today might be the nicest day we’re going to see for some time.

A high wind watch is in effect for tomorrow with west winds 30-40 mph with gusts of 60 – 65 mph possible in portions of central, north central, southwest and west central Montana. The local forecast is calling for cloudy skies with a 40 percent chance of rain and a high near 64 with west winds 13 – 22 mph gusting to 30. A far cry from what the high wind watch is calling for but just be mindful of the potential for high winds if you’re planning on fishing tomorrow.

Friday looks like a classic fall fishing day with rain likely and a high near 50 with calm winds. Did someone say streamer fishing?

Saturday things get interesting with rain and snow, becoming all snow after 3pm. High near 37. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible and it doesn’t stop there.

We’ll see snow all weekend with highs in the 30’s and lows in the 20’s right on into the early part of next week. The snow will taper off on Monday but it looks like we’re settling in to high temps in the mid 40’s through the end of next week. Will we see an Indian summer to follow? We hope so. Winter is fine but we’ve been really looking forward to fall and hope to see plenty of it before winter takes hold.

Again, most of the chatter this week has had to do with the weather but that’s not to say that folks aren’t fishing. It’s been a moderately busy week on the river with less-than stellar reports overall but fear not, better days are ahead. As sure as day follows night good fishing will return though sometimes I feel like simply adjusting one’s expectations can go a long way in turning things around.

You aren’t always going to have 30 fish days, and you probably wouldn’t enjoy them all that much if you did. Sure, everyone loves to have those days once in a while but it’s the work you put into it that brings the reward. Crack the code and its game on. Sometimes the code can’t be cracked. Sometimes the fish simply aren’t eating. It’s the challenge that keeps us coming back.

And it’s not as though the fishing sucks. It doesn’t. There are plenty of fish being caught and plenty of fish being hooked and lost. They’re hot right now and will give you a fight. You may lose more than you land and some of those lost are likely going to be the biggest trout you’ve ever hooked, that’s the beauty of losing them. No fish, no proof either way. They can be as big as you want them to be.

Nymphing as always is generating the numbers but we’re getting them on top as well and those willing to play the streamer game in the autumn weeds are occasionally getting rewarded with a Missouri River fall trophy.

Traffic has been concentrated from the dam to Craig though there’s no reason you shouldn’t be fishing the rest of the river…the fish are everywhere.

Best bets for nymphing have been status quo with Zebra Midges and Tailwater sows leading the charge. We’ve also continued to have good luck with weight flies and tung darts as well as Rainbow Czechs. Don’t hesitate to throw some small mayflies in the mix. #18 Green Machines, pearl lightning bugs, olive WD 40’s, Jujus and BWO Magic Flies are all good options.

We’re in-between on the dry fly scene as we await fall baetis but in the meantime try ants, beetles, caddis, October Caddis, pseudos and Callibaetis. You can’t go wrong with a Purple Haze or October Caddis trailed with an ant, a buzzball or a cdc caddis emerger. Get creative and show them something they haven’t seen.

Streamer guys have been getting them on small black buggers (are those even streamers?) but as always, fish the bugs you believe in. Confidence is the X Factor and it can make all the difference in the world.

If you’re coming out to fish the MO this weekend bundle up and if you happen to get caught unprepared for winter weather stop by WCA for layers upon layers of Simms cold weather gear. We’ve got you covered from base layer to outerwear, literally from head to toe. Gloves a plenty, socks, hats, Cold Weather shirts, guide flannels and of course a full lineup of G3 and Freestone waders and boots.

We’re not expecting much traffic this weekend but we’ll be here regardless, 7 AM daily. Rain, Snow, Sleet….whatever the case may be, we are your full service Missouri River fly shack.

Cruising through Summer

It’s that time of the season when things go quiet.

Dry fly fishing remains prime with an abundance of opportunities available to feed your top-water addictions.

Whether you like targeting specific fish with tiny trico patterns or blind fishing a meaty (and highly visible) terrestrial this is your time.

Tricos, Caddis, the last of the PMD’s, beetles, ants, hoppers…it’s a top-water extravaganza with something for everyone but as luck would have it everyone has rapidly transitioned to no one.

The crowds have disappeared. The fish have not, though we’re certain they’re enjoying the break.

If the fishing is so good, you may be asking yourself, then why have the crowds disappeared?

It’s a valid question and one which is tied to the normal cycles of the Missouri River summer season. These coming weeks are traditionally quiet ones as the prime timers have come and gone and many have started to set their sights on fall.

The exodus typically coincides with hot weather and weeds, neither of which ruin the fishing but suffice it to say that neither really add much to the enjoyment of your Montana fly fishing experience.

This year is a little different.

Yes, hot weather has arrived but it’s been a relatively cool summer up until now and the temps are still unseasonably cool at night which is helping to keep the river cool. These cooler temps along with summer flows in the 6000 CFS range thus far (though dropping now) have helped to keep us virtually weed free through the prime time and things are still in good shape. Expect more weeds as flows continue to drop.

The long winter and the slow march to summer has delayed our “normal” bug schedule by a couple of weeks which means that not only are we STILL fishing PMD’s but we’re just getting started on Tricos so we’re anticipating solid dry fly fishing for the rest of the summer season. Throw in respectable caddis activity and the option of fishing terrestrials and you’ve got a near-perfect time to fish the Missouri.

And as if that weren’t enough to make you change your late summer plans lodging has just become extremely available and extremely abundant and while our guides are enjoying a day or two off they’d rather be working than not so I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be booking yourself an August trip to THE best trout fishery in the country this summer.

Tons of bugs plus tons of fish minus crowds of anglers = the perfect time to fish the MO’.

Best Dry Flies this week – Rusty Spinner, Brook’s Sprout PMD, PMD Drowned Spinner, Hi Vis PMD Spinner, Double Wing Trico, Trico Indicator Spinner, Hi Vis Trico Spinner, Trina’s Hi Vis Sprout, Griffiths Gnat, Buzzball, Bloom’ Parachute Caddis, Outrigger Caddis, X Caddis, Front End Loader, CDC Caddis Emerger, Cornfed Caddis, Para Adams, Purple Haze.

Best Bets for Terrestrials – Moorish Hopper, More or Less Hopper, Water Walker, Cinnamon Parachute Ant, Hi Vis Beetle, Bloom’s Stealth Ant, Parachute Ant, Spruce Moth.

Not to be overlooked the nymphing has been good with a smorgasbord of bugs getting eaten.
Tailwater Sows, PMD Redemption, Frenchie, LGM’s, PT Black, Purple Lightning Bug, Weight Flies, Tung Darts, PMD Wondernymph, Doc’s Summer Bug, Juju purple, 2 Bits, Psycho Mays, Peep Shows and yes, even Zirdles are FINALLY getting noticed.

Fish on top, fish below, fish blind, fish deep, fish shallow, fish fast and medium fast water (skip the slow). Heck, take advantage of the relatively clean water and fish streamers…You know I am.

Your options are limitless right now on the MO.
W

e are your one stop shop for everything you need for your day on the water. The best guides on the river; clean and affordable lodging; Adipose Drift Boat Rentals; Simms waders, boots, sportswear and accessories; sunglasses from Smith and Suncloud; nets, packs and accessories from Fishpond and Rising; ice; fishing licenses; and much more including the largest selection of Missouri River bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

Open daily at 7 am.

Prime Time Flying By

It’s Trico Time on the Missouri – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Mid way through July we’re enjoying one of the better seasons in recent memory. Don’t look now but it’s soon to be behind us.

It’s been a strong month for dry fly fishing, I can’t recall a July with more optimal conditions. Near perfect flows, near perfect water temps, fairly consistent bugs and plenty of targets for those on the hunt.

Looking beyond the Missouri the weather has been keeping things green and cool throughout the region. It’s mid-July and we’ve yet to see any hint of Hoot Owl restrictions. That’s a good thing.

It’s been so good we’ve had to resort to complaining about frequent thunderstorms (which, in actuality haven’t been all that frequent) and a couple of hundred CFS bumps in flows here and there bringing us 6400 ish – still well within the “optimal” summer flows we hope for each season.
Some prefer something closer to 3000 CFS for increased wading opportunities but 3000 CFS means warmer water and a serious reduction in prime trout habitat. The river is in great shape at 6000 and the fish are healthy and happy.

It looks like the weather pattern will continue through this week, with high temps holding below average in the mid 70’s and lows in the high 40’s at night keeping things cool. Expect breezy conditions beginning this afternoon and over the next couple of days. Things begin to heat up early next week with sunshine and low 90’s on tap through mid-week. A little more what you would expect in mid to late July in Montana and just what we need to get those Tricos going.

Clouds have started to form and we expect to be fishing Tricos perhaps today and if not today then definitely by the end of the week.  Stock up on your Indicator Spinners and double wings now while you can. All indications are that it’s going to be a good, long Trico season which means we’ve got another month at the least of potentially phenomenal dry fly fishing.

PMD’s still going strong (Rusty Spinners are the ticket) though we expect we’re reaching the end. Caddis in very fishable numbers…just like the days of old. (Maybe not quite but good nonetheless). Best bets include Outriggers, Cornfed, JazzCabbage and CDC Caddis Emergers.

Don’t like tricos? Terrestrials are soon to be in play. I’ve yet to see a hopper but ants are getting eaten and whether you see them or not it’s never a bad call to throw a hopper from here on out. If nothing else it beats the bobber as far as I’m concerned and the ever-present potential for your hopper getting slammed by a hungry trout should hold your interest.

So while the focus has definitely been on dry fly fishing these past weeks nymphing should not be overlooked. PMD nymphs and Caddis pupae have been good options as well as Tailwater Sows and black Zebra midges. Much to our disappointment the Zirdle has yet to turn on. After last year’s Zirdlepalooza when we couldn’t keep the bins stocked we went HEAVY on Zirdles on our pre-season orders and here they sit. Sooner or later they’ll start to get eaten again and when they do we’ve got you covered. If per chance they don’t there may just be some screaming deals on Zirdles by season’s end.

Hot sellers continue to be primarily of the PMD variety. Psycho Mays, Split Case, Crack Back, Magic Fly, Frenchies, Little Green Machines, S & M’s. On the Caddis front Pulsating Caddis Pupae, Weight Flies, Nitro Caddis Pupa, Tung Darts and the like have all been effective. Throw in some of the aforementioned Zebra midges and Tailwater sows and you should have your bases covered.

We’ve hit our peak and we’re now on our way to the Dog Days of August and early September. The bugs will be here, the fish will be here…the crowds will not.

In the meantime July is pretty well spoken for on the lodging front, though there are a few holes here and there and guides are starting to become available again so make it a point to get out here and enjoy one of the better seasons we’ve had in recent years.

The peak may be over but we’ve got months of great fly fishing ahead of us on the Missouri.

Weekly Update

PMD’s are what’s on the menu. Stop by Wolf Creek Angler for the widest selection of Missouri River flies ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

When I posted late last week we were hoping to see the switch flipped on bugs and dry fly action by the early to middle part of this week but then Christmas came early and we were treated to an epic day of blanket PMD hatches and sipping trout on Friday. I was more than happy to be wrong.

We did endure yet another cold front with some parts of the state even seeing substantial snow over the weekend but the weather didn’t seem to have as adverse of an effect on the fishing as I thought it might. Friday was definitely the best PMD day I’ve experienced so far this season. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the switch has been flipped but if you are looking to make a day of dry fly fishing you should have ample opportunities from here on out.

Some days are better than others but there are varying amounts of bugs and you can usually find at least a few willing players if you look hard enough.
Nymphing is still your numbers game but expect to have to work at it…it hasn’t been easy but it’s all good once you crack the code. Mind you the code changes daily, and sometimes even hourly but it’s the challenge that keeps you coming back.

Deep nymphing has been productive and when it’s not the short leash has performed (for some). We’re finding fish in faster water, shallow to medium depths and also suspended in the go-to swirly spots. Green Machines have been the most consistent bug (size matters, #16’s, #18’s and #20’s all getting some love depending on the day). Split Case PMD’s , PMD Psycho May, S & M, Redemption, Frenchies, Gold Lightning Bugs, Crack Backs, Military Mays, Peep Shows are all good choices for PMD nymphs. Keep those Tailwater Sows close at hand as well. Some days it’s all they’ll eat, other days they’re hit and miss but keep in mind that there are ALWAYS sow bugs in the river so they are NEVER a bad call. We’ve had a bit of success with Weight Flies and Tung Darts but the Caddis game has not yet been great. Zirdles and Crays are getting the occasional eat but we’ve yet to see the fish really key in on them. We’re hoping it happens soon. After last season’s Zirdlepalooza we went DEEP on the Zirdle stock so come replenish your supply….we’ve got piles of zirdles in all colors and sizes.

Best bets for dry fly fishing include Rusty Spinners, PMD Spinners, Sprout PMD’s , Flash Cripple PMD’s, Hellen Keller PMD’s, Film Critics, CDC PMD Emergers, Nyman’s DOA Cripple and the like. Might we also suggest trailing your PMD pattern of choice with a CDC Caddis Emerger. Mix PMD’s and Caddis you ask? Yes. Do it. You’ll thank us later.

And speaking of Caddis, don’t forget your Elk Hair Caddis, Bloom’s Parachute Caddis, X Caddis, Outrigger Caddis, Cornfed Caddis, Extended Body Caddis and more all available now at WCA.

Streamers? Maybe worth a shot before the weeds take hold but fading fast. Get dialed on your dry fly and nymphing game and fall streamer fishing will be here before you know it. And before that happens don’t forget HOPPER season will soon be upon us. We’ve already had some success on ants and beetles and we’re hoping it shapes up to be a great terrestrial year.

The river is busy and there are plenty of folks around but with 30 plus miles of fishable water there’s plenty of room to spread out and if you think outside of the box regarding launch times/locations you can often have vast stretches of river virtually to yourself. (Think EARLY or LATE start).

These early weeks of summer are homecoming time at WCA with our regulars from around the world returning once again to enjoy their home away from home. It’s my favorite time of the season with familiar faces all around.

Look for summer sales to start soon at WCA as we begin to clear the way for fall arrivals and don’t forget our third annual Make America Fly Again Half Price Fly Sale coming July 4th.

We hope you make us your first stop on your way to the MO’ for guides, drift boat rentals, shuttles, ice, sun protection, Simms wading gear and sportswear and the much ballyhooed largest selection of Missouri River flies every assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

Weekend Outlook

If you’ve been waiting for spring to take hold it looks like this is the weekend it’s going to happen.

The warm-up is underway and while we may see some scattered showers and thunderstorms today it looks like we’re in for a gorgeous Mother’s Day weekend with plenty of sunshine and highs reaching into the 70’s tomorrow and near 80 on Sunday and Monday.

We’re expecting a VERY BUSY weekend on the MO.

Blue Wing Olives and March Browns are popping and these past couple of days we’ve actually had the opportunity to target a few rising fish. The water is still on the chilly side at 44 degrees but with the warm up underway we’re expecting the fishing to heat up this weekend. We may even start to see some Caddis soon if we’re lucky so be prepared.

Nymphing will continue to be where the numbers are at but dry fly season is upon us so bring your dry fly rigs and your A Game and get back to hunting heads on the MO. It’s been too long! Sprout Baetis, Olive Para Adams, Flash Cripples, Wilcox’s Micromay BWO and Quigley’s Film Critic are all good calls. We’re stocked up with more BWO patterns than you can shake a stick at and we’ve also got plenty of options for your March Brown and Caddis offerings.

If you’re going to stick with nymphing keep rolling the tailwater sows, pill poppers, Yum Yums, Firebead Rays, Cotton Candies, Pederson’s Sow, Soft Hackle Sow etc but you’d do well to mix in some baetis nymphs like LGM’s, Psycho Mays, Redemptions, Radiation Baetis, LB’s, PT’s, Split Case BWO’s, Olive 2 bits….I could go on and on. And don’t forget the weight flies, Tung Darts, UV Czech Caddis etc as Caddis pupae will soon be in the mix. You might even want to try the Zirdle…just sayin’.

Streamer fishing has FINALLY started to heat up. These next two to three weeks could be PRIME TIME. Fish your favorites, get em’ deep and give them some life. Strip fast with plenty of pauses, both short strips and long and make them irresistible with plenty of aggressive twitches.
Sure you might prefer a little less sun but from the WCA eternal optimist perspective you couldn’t ask for much better conditions than what we’re going to see this weekend.

Flows are holding at around 9,000 CFS and are projected to continue to drop throughout the month of May. The latest Intel from the Bureau of Reclamation has us likely holding around 7500 CFS for the months of May and June. Max probable has us at 10,000 in May with a peak just over 12K in June and minimum probability has us at 6500 CFS this month and down to 4000 in June. Looking beyond June we’ll likely see flows holding somewhere in the 5,000 CFS range for the remainder of the summer season. Sounds good to us.

Snow pack is still holding around 100 percent throughout much of the region. A little higher in the Yellowstone drainage and right around 90 percent for the Missouri main stem. Now as we’ve made clear in the past precipitation is the X factor when predicting spring flows. Should we see a bunch of rain then all bets are off but from where we sit conditions seem favorable for a damn good water year. Not too high, not too low. The wade anglers would of course like to see those flows in the minimum probable range but if we do see flows in the 6-7K range as is being predicted there will be plenty of wade fishing opportunities.

We’ve got limited lodging available through the weekend and into next week though things are filling fast so don’t wait too long to make your plans.

We’ve got guides available most days and we’ve also got Adipose Drift boat rentals if you prefer to do it yourself.

Missouri River fly fishing trips make the perfect Mother’s Day present (depending on the mom) and we’ve also got plenty of other gift ideas from Simms waders, boots and sportswear to packs, tools, accessories and of course….flies.

We’d be more than happy to assemble an assortment of Missouri River bugs for mom. Through this weekend we’ll throw in a free WCA fly box when you purchase three dozen flies or more.

We wish all the moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day and we hope to see moms and dads and kids alike on the MO this fine weekend.

Springtime in the Rockies

Frozen Pipes in April?

Ahhhh…..May in Montana. Singing birds, sunshine, greening grass, budding trees, freezing temps, frozen pipes, broken plumbing…it’s springtime in the Rockies.

Following some moderately mild spring weather in mid-April, winter returned last Sunday. You never know when the weather will turn but you’d think by late April we’d be done with the risk of frozen plumbing. Not so this year.

We dipped back down into the teens last night but it appears as though a warm-up is underway and with any luck the nervous nights spent worrying about frozen plumbing are behind us for the season.

We’ll see temperatures back in the 50’s for the next couple of days, 60’s by the end of the week and up to 70 by Sunday. More importantly, overnight lows will be hanging in the high 30’s and low 40’s. Good for slowing snow melt and for maintaining water in its liquid form.

Fishing has been fair though not as consistent as we expect it to be this time of year.

Status quo fishing report with the best fishing still happening from the dam to Wolf Creek Bridge. Nothing much new to report on the nymphing scene. Tailwater sows still ruling the day with Pill Poppers, Bubble Yums, Pederson’s Sow, Yum Yums, UV Crush, Caviar Scud, Rainbow Czech, Pink Amex, Firebead Sows, Cotton Candies and the like all finding their targets. I mentioned last week that it might not be a bad idea to start mixing in some BWO nymphs and it bears repeating. LGM’s, S & M’s, Psycho Mays, Radiation Baetis, BWO Magic Flies, and 2 Bits should all be in the mix.

Dry Fly fishing? Coming soon. Widespread reports of BWO’s making an appearance. We like Sprout Baetis, MicroMay BWO, and Olive Para Adams etc trailed with a cripple or an emerger. Film Critics, Flash Cripples, and DOA Cripple Baetis should all get it done. Surface activity has been sporadic at best but it’s only going to get better so keep your dry fly rod rigged and ready….be prepared.

Streamer fishing has been tough, I’m not going to lie. We’ve been working extremely hard at it without much to show for our efforts. Some are discouraged. I am not. Keep at it. Sooner or later it’ll happen. Or not. Try different colors, different sizes, switch up your retrieve. It’s hard work but the payoff is so worth it when it happens.

Good news from the Bureau of Reclamation this morning, it looks like flows are going to drop by around 1000 cfs tomorrow. It might make fishing weird for a day or two but we’re optimistic that things are about to come into fine shape. Water temps are holding in the 43 degree range and should start to increase over the next couple of weeks. Snow pack is average to slightly above so with the current weather pattern of mild days and cool nights continuing we’re cautiously optimistic that things are about to get really good.

Spring special is OVER but spring fishing is just getting started. We’ve got guides at the ready and lodging available most nights so if you’ve been on the fence about doing a spring trip get off the fence and book a trip today. NOW is the TIME!

We are open daily from 7:30 – 5:00 pm for all of your Missouri River fly fishing needs. Shuttles; fishing licenses; Adipose Flow Drift Boat Rentals; waders, boots, outerwear and accessories from SIMMS; packs, tools and accessories from FISHPOND and the largest selection of Missouri River Bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana. We are your GO TO, Full Service Fly Shack on the MO.

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.

Late October Missouri River Fishing Report

Wolf Creek Bridge FAS is OPEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Season is Back”

Caddis Sunset – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

I overheard some folks at dinner the other night proclaiming that the season is back after apparently having had a particularly good dry fly day, and while I’m not sure it ever really started to begin with it does seem as though things are coming into shape….just in time for the late summer lull.

There are bugs (tricos a plenty, lingering PMD’s and caddis in the evening). The water is perfect for wading (right around 5K and holding) and most importantly, there are pods of rising fish.

It’s happening much later than what it usually does but better late than never!

As luck would have it the summer traffic cycle has been normal. Prime Time traffic is over but Prime Dry Fly Fishing has just begun.

The boat ramps are quiet (relatively speaking), there’s an abundance of lodging and guide availability and the river is calling.

As if that weren’t enough, starting tomorrow we’re running our Dog Days of Summer Lodging and Guide Trip special. For the entire month of August when you book a full day guide trip and a night of premium lodging we’ll throw in a second night of lodging for FREE.

Does it get any better?

Keep in mind prime time usually books out a year in advance. Now you’ve got a golden opportunity to fish prime conditions on the Missouri at a huge cost savings with a last minute call.

We can’t make any promises about the fishing. It’s been good these past several days and hopefully will continue to be but there are no guarantees. The conventional wisdom is that tricos will continue through the month of August. PMD’s are all but done but terrestrials are about to become a major player. Caddis activity has been somewhat sporadic but is always a possibility.

Will we see epic dry fly days throughout the month of August? Time will tell. I expect we will see some good days and some not so good days, as always.

Give us a call today to book your Dog Days Special. You’ll have the potential for some awesome Trico fishing  and there is no better month to fish hoppers on the Missouri. Some of our biggest browns of the season are always caught on hoppers.  I haven’t even mentioned the nymphing since most of the focus seems to be on top right now but should you want to fish the bobber you’ll likely do just fine.

Best bets for nymphing right now include Little Green Machines, Weight Flies (gold or purple), Tung Darts, Psycho Mays, PMD and/or Rusty Magic Fly, Black Zebra Midge, PMD Redemption, Purple Lightning Bug, WD 40’s, Soft Hackle PT jigs, Red Headed Step Child, Dark Peep Show, Doc’s Summer Bug, Nitro Caddis Pupa, Pulsating Caddis Pupa, 2 Bits and various crayfish patterns (Claws R, Snapping Cray, Zirdle etc.)

Best Dries- Indicator Spinner Trico, Hi Vis Trico Spinner, RS2 Trico, Drowned Trico, Barr’s Trico Emerger, Trinas Hi Vis Sprout Black, Bloom’s Parachute Caddis, Outrigger Caddis, CDC Caddis Emerger, X Caddis, Front End Loader and your grass hopper or ant of choice. We like More or Less, Moorish and White Cloud hoppers just to name a few.

It’s also time to take advantage of the best deals of the season on  Simms sportswear during our Annual Summer Sale. 25% – 30% off men’s and women’s sportswear from Simms, Ouray and more.

This could be the best August we’ve seen in years. Will you be here for it?

 

 

June Delivers

Missouri River Awesomeness Underway

2018 has proven to be a new experience for me in the world of Missouri River Fly Fishing.

Higher than average flows have presented challenges we’ve not had to deal with thus far at Wolf Creek Angler. Not really fishing challenges mind you but shop challenges which require a bit more creativity and finesse and faith.

The high water fishing challenges are easy. Longer rigs and more split shot make the world go round. That doesn’t do much for the Dry Fly crowd but they’ll get theirs soon enough. The flows will come down and the dry fly fishing will happen  but it’s the promise of the future that really has us stoked following the scouring we’ve gotten this spring. Flushing Flows for sure!

Unfortunately shop challenges are not as easily met. We’ve muddled through however and it feels like the worst is behind us. Sure we’re still getting plenty of calls about the flows and we’re still having to have the unpleasant discussions pertaining to cancellations but as of yesterday it’s all starting to feel better. Pair this with the return of a full house of lodging and some very busy mornings in the shop and everything seems right with the world again.

Granted we may see some precipitation which could slow the drop in flows but yesterday’s notice from the Bureau of Reclamation that the peak inflow into Canyon Ferry Reservoir from the snowmelt runoff has occurred in the Upper Missouri Basin was sweet music to our ears. Yesterday’s 1000 CFS drop will be followed by another 1000 by tomorrow afternoon. It’s doubtful they’ll continue with such drastic decreases but it’s definitely on the drop and we will keep you posted on what we’re hearing is coming.

The fog of  high water trauma has lifted. I can’t help but think that we’ll be renting out drift boats again  soon (15,000 cfs) and look for the Project Healing Waters boat to be available before long as well (12,000 cfs).

As you would expect, the big drops tend to have a temporary adverse effect on the fishing which has been widely reported as off the charts as of late but which slowed a bit yesterday.

Obviously nymphing is going to continue to be the game for the time being but that dry fly  light at the end of the tunnel you see…that’s PMD’s coming soon! Accordingly you should start adding PMD nymphs to your arsenal. We like the PMD Magic Fly, Split Case, Crack Back, PMD Wondernymphs, Doc’s PMD, Superflash PMD’s and PMD S & M’s (amongst many more). Worms and sows are still the staple and will be for the near future but we would definitely recommend getting some mayfly nymphs in the mix. Green Machines, Psychomays and PT’s could be the ticket.

As the flows recede you could do worse things than throw a streamer. Heavy sink is the key for the time being. Get it down fast and give it some life. The target zones will begin to expand and if you hit it on the right day (preferably overcast) you may just stumble into some excellent streamer fishing over these next couple of weeks. Olives, whites, naturals, black…..try the ones you like and see what happens.

Rooms and guides will be a little harder to come by from here on out but there’s been enough shuffling of the schedule that you’ve still got a good shot at both so give us a call today to book your Missouri River fly fishing trip of a lifetime.

Stop by the shop on your way to the river for everything you need for your day on the water. Shuttles, ice, licenses, sun protection, wading gear, rods, reels, rain gear, tools and accessories, lines, leaders and tippet a plenty, tons of split shot and of course the largest selection of bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

We hope you stop in no matter where your are fishing but if you’re starting at Holter Dam or Wolf Creek Bridge you’d be foolish to go anywhere else. We are closer to these launch sights than any other shop. Come discover the best Missouri River Fly Shop you never knew was here.