A Different June

A Different June for sure but regardless, PMD’s have emerged on the MO’ – photo courtesy of montana-riverboats.com


We’re three days into June and while in some respects things seem to be approaching normal, in many others the sense of Covid weirdness still pervades.

The biggest stride towards normalcy we’ve seen in months happened on Monday as Montana entered Phase II of reopening which included the lifting of the mandatory 14 day quarantine for those coming from out of state. We did have some spur of the moment lodging and guide trip bookings from out of state residents on Monday and Tuesday but for the most part Phase II feels about like Phase One did with light traffic on the river and an eerily quiet atmosphere in Wolf Creek and Craig.

Weekends have been a different story, feeling much more like the heart of the season with overflowing parking lots and flotillas of drift boats, rafts and all manner of floating apparatuses. Montanans were out in force over the weekend taking advantage of the clean, controlled flows of the MO and also re-discovering the Dearborn River in droves.

We’ve always advised against scheduling your guide trips on weekends, particularly on Saturdays. It’s no different this season. There has been a well-documented shift towards outdoor activities since things began to open up and we’re expecting that this trend will keep things busy here on the weekends as Montana residents stay close to home.

Obviously, our hope is that things get steadily busier during the week as we transition into Phase II but at this point our loss of out-of-state business is your gain as this could be the least fishing pressure the Missouri River has seen in decades. Between the continued Covid restrictions around the country and the travel complications caused by a reduction in air traffic the MO will likely see a relatively quiet June so if you have avoided the Missouri in the past due to the crowds and you are within a day’s drive we would love to be your June destination on the Missouri.

Conditions couldn’t be better. The weather has been nice and the water is in great shape. Flows are currently at 5100 but will bump over the next two days, nearing 7,000 cfs on Friday. Water temps are ideal at around 57 degrees and the Dearborn and Little Prickly Pear are dropping rapidly and should not be a factor going forward unless we get a bunch of precipitation.
Snowpack is dwindling but we’re in good shape for a good water year.

Oh, and the fishing? The fishing has been consistently solid and is about to get super fun as PMD’s emerge on the scene. We’ve had some sporadic bugs but it’s just getting started so if you’ve ever wanted to fish the PMD hatches on the MO’ now is the time. We’re also seeing plenty of caddis around though the fish have yet to settle into surface feeding mode. Rising fish have been few and far between but fear not, it’ll happen soon. Make sure you’re out there when it does.

In the meantime, nymphing has continued to be the go-to with, you guessed it, tailwater sow bugs continuing to be the nymph of choice. Split Case and Crack Back PMD’s, PMD Magic Fly, PMD Redemption, Psycho Mays, Peep Shows, S & M’s, Frenchies all on the menu right now. Gold or Purple Weight Flies, Tung Darts and other Caddis pupae patterns are all good choices for a point fly and we’ve heard a few rumors of the Zirdle getting eaten as well. Medium depth, fast (ish) water with or without lead, depending on the day. Target those nymph runs while keeping an eye on those PMD flats for bugs and rising fish. Rusty Spinners, Buzzballs, PMD Sprouts, HI Vis PMD’s, Film Critics, Flash Cripples, Doc’s PMD all good PMD Go To’s. All these and more currently filling the bins at WCA.

Restock that caddis box as well with Outrigger Caddis, Cornfed Caddis, Bloom’s Hi Vis Caddis, Stockingfoot Caddis and the ALMOST ALWAYS EFFECTIVE CDC Caddis Emerger. The time is drawing near!

We haven’t heard much on the streamer front this week but with the bump in flows coming and hopefully at least a couple of weeks left before the weeds arrive you could do worse than bombing the banks with big bugs as you hunt for rising fish.

The bottom line is the fish are here, the bugs are here….the people really aren’t. It’s a rare and golden opportunity to enjoy some summer solitude on the Missouri.

The shop is open at 7:30 daily and while we may be a little skinny on T shirts and trinkets this season we’re fully stocked on the stuff that matters. Bugs, Bugs and more bugs. Lines, leaders and tippet a plenty.

We’ve got good availability on lodging and guide trips through around the third week of June and limited availability of both right on through prime time. Shuttles, sun protection, Air Lock Indicators, Simms wading gear and sportswear, Adipose drift boat rentals, essential tools and accessories and a sensible inventory of rods and reels from Loop, Echo, Redington, Ross and Lamson.

We are the preferred fly fishing destination operation on the Missouri, close enough to the action but far removed from the chaos. We are closer to Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge than any other shop and it won’t take but a few minutes spent on the porch at cocktail hour, scanning the hillsides for roaming critters, to realize that what the town of Wolf Creek lacks in publicity it more than makes up for in genuine Montana Ambiance.

Shotgun Annie’s is open daily from 11 AM to 8 PM and serving breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30 am – 11:00 am and our friends at Izaak’s just down the road in Craig is open Wednesday – Sunday from 3:00 PM – 9:00 PM. We urge you to support them both.

We’re also loving the breakfast and dinner delivery right to your door from MO’ River Eats. Call your order in the night before and have an amazing breakfast delivered to your door. Order the morning of and Kelli will return in the evening with absolutely delicious dinner once again delivered right to your door.

Are things weird this season in Wolf Creek and Craig? Of course they are, but we can’t stress enough the opportunity this is presenting to those in close proximity to enjoy relative solitude on one of, if not THE BEST fishery in the lower 48.

Book it!

Phasing Out Phase One this week on the MO’

As we close out the month of May this week I dare say things around here are actually starting to feel something close to normal.

There’s no doubt, the seemingly parallel universe of life under Covid19 has thrown all of us off. It seems like yesterday we were doing our late winter plotting and strategizing in anticipation of the coming season and then, just like that, time stopped but at the same time accelerated to the point where we’re now looking back at spring and wondering where it went as we begin to approach prime time on the Missouri River.

We got a taste these past couple of days of what’s hopefully to come with holiday traffic streaming into Wolf Creek and Craig. Nice weather, good fishing and the unofficial start of summer brought the crowds to the river this weekend.

A perfect way to end the week which brought us the best news we’ve heard in a long time as Governor Bullock announced that Phase II of Montana’s reopening would begin on June 1st. Included as part of phase II is the lifting of the mandatory 14 day quarantine for out of state travelers which was cause for celebration amongst not only fly shops, fishing guides and outfitters but also amongst the collective outdoor tourism industry in Montana. We spent last week passing the good news on to our out of state clients who’ve been anxiously awaiting a verdict on their summer travel plans.

Mind you we’re not abandoning safe practices and social distancing measures but the continued downward trends in the numbers along with news from the CDC late last week that the virus does not spread easily on contaminated surfaces as had previously been thought, is cause for optimism and yet another step closer to normalcy.

In keeping with the good news, it looks like it’s going to be an absolutely beautiful week on the MO’ and with the Dearborn and Little Prickly Pear on the drop we’ll look forward to spreading out again and seeing what’s happening in the canyon once the mud clears.

The Holter Dam to Craig beat was busy over the weekend but traffic has been light during the week. Make it a point to get out there this week and enjoy the Montana solitude before the out of state traffic returns next week.

Mid 70’s to mid 80’s on tap all week long with plenty of sunshine and highs near 90 on Saturday. I expect we’ll see a busy river again this weekend.

BWO’s and March Browns in the rear view but there have been caddis around and PMD’s won’t be long.

Nymphing has been good to great most days with the best action in the faster water, medium to shallow in depth. The Tailwater Sow Bug continues to rule the day but we’ve also had good action on worms, Rainbow Czechs, Pill Poppers and Little Green Machines. I’ve been cycling in some PMD standards like the Magic Fly and Crack Back PMD but we’re not quite there yet. Keep them in the mix but don’t spend too much time on them it they’re not producing.

Streamer fishing has continued to be inconsistent but could be good this week as things start to clear. Water temps are in the low 50’s and will be on the rise this week so don’t be afraid to move those bugs. Mix it up with short, fast strips with plenty of pauses and a few long strips thrown in for good measure. Switch up your bugs, your colors and your retrieve until you find what works (or until you hit the takeout, whichever comes first)! We’ve got a few weeks left before the aquatic vegetation becomes an issue. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Per the Covid retail protocol we’ve been trying to run as lean as possible but we’re stocked up on essentials with our focus on flies and terminal tackle this season. Plenty of Simms waders, boots and sportswear on the shelves and a workhorse lineup of rods and reels from Loop, Echo, Redington, Ross and Lamson. We’re also stocked up on sun protection from Blackstrap, Buff and Simms (which double nicely as masks) and we’ve got enough packs, tools and accessories to meet most, if not all of your needs. Anything we don’t have we’re more than happy to order for you.

We’ve got plenty of lodging available these next couple of weeks and guides are standing by. We’re happy to be resuming our out of state bookings next week but we have had substantial cancellations and we’d like nothing better than make up some of that ground and get some folks back in our guide boats and cabins. Give us a call if you’re interested in booking lodging, guides or drift boat rentals for PMD season…I think it’s going to be a good one!

Spring Fishing Heating Up

Spring is streamer time on the Missouri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Shape of Water 2020

It’s that time of year again when we take a closer look at current snowpack, long-term weather and precipitation forecasts, current flow conditions and current reservoir data at Canyon Ferry to come up with some kind of prediction of what you might expect to see for water conditions on the Missouri this spring and summer.

Five days into April we’re still looking at snow on the ground in Wolf Creek, left over from last week’s spring snow storm but heading into this week it looks like we’ll be seeing some more spring-like weather with temps in the 50’s through the middle of the week and possibly climbing into the mid 60’s on Thursday before another cold front moves through next weekend. I would bet we haven’t seen the last snowfall of the year but hopefully we’re on our way to those warm, sunny spring days on the MO.

The snow water equivalent is looking good with everything in the region in the 100 to 140 percent of normal range and the majority or locations at right around 120 percent of normal. This is right where we like to see things at this point in the season though snowpack fails to tell the whole story. It looks good now but a sudden warm up could rapidly deplete that snowpack and leave us well below average and similarly we could still see plenty of high country precipitation accumulating and setting us up for the possibility of higher flows depending on what we see in the way of spring rains.

Missouri River flows below Holter Dam are currently at 5180 CFS and have remained relatively steady all winter in the 4500 CFS – 5000 CFS range. I would expect to see that pattern remain over these next couple of weeks and then tick up in late April as the spring flows begin to take shape.

Canyon Ferry is currently 73% full with inflows at 3395 CFS and outflows of 5283 CFS. March weather resulted in near normal precipitation, while cooler temperatures occurred throughout the Missouri River Headwaters.
The one-month outlook forecast, dated March 31st, is an equal chance for normal, above, or below normal precipitation and a 50 percent chance that below normal temperatures will occur during April in the Missouri Headwaters.

Based on these factors the current model for April is predicting most probable flows holding right about where they’re currently at with the minimum probable at around 4500 CFS and the max probable at right around 6K. Not a lot of variation in April which will make for ideal fishing conditions.

The show starts in May as run-off begins and while we’re always hoping for at least a few days of flushing flows (over 15K) it looks like the most probable model has us bumping up to just 8000 CFS with the minimum being right around 4,000 and the maximum at just over 10,000 CFS which we would gladly take.

Looking beyond May this far out isn’t all that practical but at this point the best guess is for most probable flows holding at that same 8K before leveling out in the 5,000 cfs range while the max probable peaks around 14K and the minimum probable holds steady at around 4,000 CFS. At this point it’s really anyone’s guess so we try to steer clear of making any bold predictions about June this far out.

It’s all dependent on spring precipitation which we’re assuming at this point will be at or slightly below normal but again, it’s a bit like trying to predict what will happen with the Coronavirus, the models are only as good as the data that goes into them. The more data, the more accurate the model so we’re content to just sit and wait and see and hold off on any prime-time predictions until we have more data. (For both the Coronavirus and the water conditions).

All that being said, I will make the same bold prediction I make every year. There will be water (how much or how little we don’t know) and there will be fish (plenty) and we will be fishing.

Stay tuned for up to date reports and conditions from Wolf Creek Angler.

Welcome to March on the Missouri

 

Fred Davison Wolf Creek Angler Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mid September on the Missouri

Autumn is starting to take hold

September is rapidly disappearing as the 2019 season continues to fly by. The lonely days of late August/early September are gone and the river is getting to be a very busy place again. The official start of autumn is just a few days away and if this week is any indication it’s going to be one busy fall on the MO’.

No more sitting around drinking coffee and staring at the computer screen all morning…its go time again.

Traffic has been heavy in the shop this week with a bunch of guide trips and drift boat rentals and more and more folks just stopping by for shuttles and bugs having heard about us and wanting to check out the shop. The word is out, especially for those coming in from Helena, Bozeman, Billings, and Missoula…really anywhere other than Great Falls. We are your first stop on the way to the Missouri and we are closer to Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge than any other shop. And even if you’re coming from Great Falls, if you’re planning on fishing at the dam, WCA is the most logical place to stop for your shuttles and flies and anything else you need for your day on the water.

We are your outfitter owned and operated full service Missouri River fly shop. We’re your one stop shop for guides, affordable lodging, drift boat rentals, Shuttles, Simms waders and boots, Loop rods, Lamson reels and so much more including the largest selection of Missouri River bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana. Don’t miss our Annual Fall Rod and Reel sale going on now. 25% off all rods and reels and deeper discounts up to 40% off on clearance items from Ross, Redington and more.

Fishing has been good enough and it’s about to get much better.

Some slow days out there last week (and this week as well depending on who you ask) but things seem to be trending in the right direction as we await Autumn Splendor and Fall Fishing Nirvana on the Mighty Missouri.

Holter Dam has been crowded this week, both with anglers and with trout. It’s where most will be concentrating their efforts from here on out but just because most people are fishing at the dam that doesn’t mean you have to.

There are plenty of fish from Craig down as well so don’t limit yourself. If you’d prefer a more solitary experience then by all means spread out and try something new.

Nymphing has been and will continue to be your best bet for numbers. Purple weight flies, black Zebra Midges, LGM’s, Tailwater sows, Olive Redemptions, Peep Shows, 2 Bits, Tung Darts, Nitro Caddis, Radiation Baetis, Purple or Pearl Lightning Bugs, Rainbow Warriors, Juju’s….lots of bugs on the menu right now in the sub-surface game.

Hoppers have peaked and will continue to fade, ants are where it’s at. Caddis are getting eaten as well with the standard tan elk hair caddis and the larger October varieties all getting looks. Tricos on some days, with pseudos and callibaetis also in the mix. Fall BWO’s still a few weeks away. Dry Fly tip of the day – try trailing a CDC Caddis emerger when you’re targeting those sipping trout. They might not like your dry fly game but a CDC Caddis emerger fished in the film gets eaten way more often than you’d think even by the most discerning fish.

Streamer fishing has been heating up and will only get better as we move through the fall. If you’re a streamer junkie this is your time. A detailed report coming soon but suffice it to say that Wolf Creek Angler is your Missouri River Streamer headquarters. We’ve got the right streamer lines for any and all situations and while we don’t like to brag we have heard it said that we’ve got THE BEST STREAMER SELECTION on the MISSOURI. A word of caution for those just getting into the game….weeds, though not as bad as they could be, are an ever-present challenge when fishing the MO in the fall. Anticipate the challenge and STAY CALM. Streamer fishing is hard work. Weeds make it harder work and can drive even the most patient angler to the brink. Just try to stay focused on the hoped for results….the big payoff…the BEHEMOTH dwelling in the hidden depths of the MO.

Fall shop hours are 7 AM to 5 PM daily.

We hope to see you soon for the best of Montana fall fishing.

Farewell to Summer Days

Autumn is a magical time on the Missouri – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Summer is rapidly coming to a close. And as always, it’s bittersweet.

After all, we do LOVE summertime in Montana. It’s in large part what brought us here and what keeps people coming back.

Long days. Blue skies. Wet wading or floating your favorite stream while soaking up the sun. Warm nights, barbeques, beers on the deck, live music under the stars, visits from friends and family and spending time together before the world clocks back in.

Summer number six at Wolf Creek Angler was a good one and flew by faster than the rest as they tend to do.

Soon we will sadly bid farewell to summer as autumn takes hold but there’s really no need to despair.

Sure, summer is amazing but autumn runs a close second as far as I’m concerned.

The transition has already begun. The days are growing short, so much so that it’s actually dark when I’m driving to work in the morning and again before I go to bed.

The calendar shows summer for another three weeks but there’s a chill in the air (40 degrees in Wolf Creek as I write) most mornings and evenings. We will unofficially say goodbye to summer this Labor Day weekend and close the books on a great summer season while we gear up for the “second season” on the Missouri coming soon.

For many who call this part of the world home, the change in seasons shifts the focus away from fishing to hunting which maintains the late summer and early autumn solitude on the river but for others fall is considered THE best time of the year to fish.

In several weeks we’ll celebrate the arrival of the autumn equinox and with it, a second round of busy chaos as anglers from all around once again set their sights on the Missouri.

Of course Mother Nature has the final say on when the second season begins and ends but we’ve come to expect good fishing and good commerce generally through early November.

We’re open through all of it and beyond. We are your four season Missouri River fly shop. Lodging options dwindle as the temperature drops and we’re forced to winterize but we’ve always got at least a few rooms available, even in the dead of winter. In fact late fall into winter is when Wolf Creek shines as much of the fly fishing infrastructure in and around Craig starts to shut down making Wolf Creek the place to be with two bar/restaurants, a gas station/convenience store and a first rate full service fly shop with onsite lodging all just minutes from Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge.

The feeling must be in the air as the phones have been busy and we’ve been booking a lot of fall trips these past few days. October is prime by fall standards but don’t hesitate to book September dates as well. November is hit and miss but can often deliver the best fishing of the fall as the shift to winter begins ushering in epic days of BWO’s.

Nymphing is always a good bet on the Missouri and fall is no exception but for those of us addicted to the streamer game fall means one thing and one thing only….big cantankerous browns on the prowl. They’re angry and aggressive and colored up in autumn splendor and there’s no better time to target them. Strip through the autumn, swing through the winter….it’s about to be streamer time on the MO (and every other stream in Montana).

So enjoy these last weeks of summer to the fullest but embrace the arrival of fall. It’s a magical time on the MO!

Late Summer on the Missouri

Hopper Time on the MO!

As expected, things on the Missouri have gone from quiet to crickets as August grinds on.

Wolf Creek has become a lonely place, especially on a Monday morning with no rec floaters and just a few anglers around.

It’s the time of the season when we like to catch up on summer projects and also the time when many in the Missouri River fly fishing industry like to take advantage of the slowdown and escape for a spell. Summer is coming to a close and for many of us this is the best opportunity we have to unplug, relax and enjoy some summer downtime.

For some that means getting out of town for late summer vacation. For others it means more time fishing or perhaps a bit of both. In any case it’s a great chance to recharge and reset in preparation for the second season which is soon to be upon us.

Painting, cleaning, watering, washing, mowing, procrastinating, dusting, fixing, scrolling, planning ….all happening daily at Wolf Creek Angler.

And how’s the fishing you ask?

Fishing has ranged from slow to good to great depending on who and when you ask but overall I’d say it’s been solid.

Tricos have been hit or miss which is kind of the nature of the beast but even so, there have been ample opportunities for those willing to put in the time and believe it or not we’re still seeing PMD’s in fishable numbers almost daily. How long will they last? I wouldn’t expect much longer but I’ve been saying that for about three weeks now so take it for what it’s worth and fish em’ while you can.

There are piles of hoppers around this year and so far hopper fishing has not disappointed. We’ll always preface our hopper reports with the disclaimer that the MO is not known as a great hopper river but we’ve got no complaints about this year’s hopper action. Pair your hopper with an ant or drop a small nymph or just throw solo and avoid the wraparound issues the hopper rigs seem to be so prone to.

We’ve had good action most everywhere we’ve fished them so don’t limit yourself to any one stretch. There are hoppers everywhere. Fish the banks, fish the riffles, fish the flats…you might be surprised where those fish will eat a hopper.

Nymphing has been very productive, especially at the dam. Split Case and Crackback PMD’s, Tailwater Sows, Peep Shows, Purple Lighting Bugs, Frenchies, PT’s, 2 Bit Hookers, Weight Flies, Zebra Midges, Zirdles, Claws R and Snapping Crays all getting eaten consistently. We’ve been running deep (6’ – 8’ overall) and getting plenty of action but the word is that the short leash has been productive as well.

Blue skies and sunshine on tap all week long with highs in the 80’s and low 90’s. Cool nights continue with lows in the 50’s. Enjoy these lazy late summer days on the Missouri.

We’ve got an abundance of lodging available and while many guides are enjoying the downtime most would rather be working. Don’t miss out on our Dog Days guide trip and lodging special through the end of the month. Book a full day guide trip and a night of lodging and your second night of lodging is on us.

We are your go- to full service Missouri River fly shop with everything you need for your day on the water and we are closer to Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge than any other shop…we’re right on your way!

We’ve got clean and affordable lodging, the hardest working guides on the water, vehicle shuttles, Adipose Drift Boat Rentals and a fully stocked shop with the best products from the best brands in the industry including Simms, Rio, Smith, Lamson, Ross, Loop, Fishpond, Umpqua, Montana Fly Company, Korkers, Echo and many more.

We’ve also got an open RV spot available now through October 1st. $25/night – Full Hookup AND free WiFi.

And don’t forget we are the Exclusive host of the Mending Waters Montana drift boat program providing drift boat rentals FREE OF CHARGE each and every day to all vets and active duty military members. Book your boat today at mendingwatersmontana.org

Come enjoy the Dog Days with us at WCA.

Not so fast…

Streamer Eaters on the Prowl

Just when we were getting used to spring sunshine and temperatures in the 50’s Mother Nature shows us again that she’s in charge and she’s not quite done with winter weather.

We’re currently in the midst of a good soaking rain and under a WINTER STORM WARNING starting tonight, primarily for elevations above 5,000 feet where 6-12 inches of new snow is expected. We won’t see that here but we’re bracing for a cold, wet snowy day on the water tomorrow.

Lucky for you we’ve got plenty of Simms cold weather gear still hanging around the shop and better yet it’s all 30 percent off!

And speaking of SIMMS – spring is definitely wader weather and there are no better waders in the world than Simms waders so if you’re in the market for a new pair we’d love to sell them to you. We stock G3’s, Freestones and Tributaries (something in every price range) and the boots to go with them and we’re happy to order absolutely anything else you might want including boot foot models or G4’s or G4Z’s, which are the ultimate in wader technology and quality.

It’s a busy week here at WCA in spite of the soggy weather. The west side blew out Sunday night bringing an influx of guides and outfitters and their clients in search of fishable water and it just so happens the Missouri fits the bill and we’re happy to host the migration.

The river is fishing well, with the majority of traffic in the Holter Dam to Craig stretch. LPP and the Dearborn are adding some color but not so much that it’s having a negative impact on the fishing. Most are opting to fish the clean side but don’t be afraid to work the mud line with a worm and a sow bug or better yet a streamer if you are so inclined.

In my mind there is no better time to fish streamers on the MO than April and these soggy/cloudy/snowy days can be lights out. Sparkle Minnows, MK Ultras or Ultralites, Mojo minnows, Clousers, Skiddish Smolts…..angler’s choice this time of year. Fish what you like and stick with it.

Nymphing the dam down is your best bet for numbers. The aforementioned worm and sow bug are key. Pill poppers, UV Crush, Caviar Scuds, Lucent Bead Rays, Soft Hackle Sows, Pinkalicious, Rainbow Czechs, Bubble Yums, Cotton Candies, Amex…..all good choices.

The water is still on the cold side at right around 37 degrees so the majority of the fish are continuing to hold in the deeper, slower water but we’ve picked plenty up in the transitional water as well so don’t limit your options.

Flows have bumped to the 6500 range….we love 6-8K and the river does too.

It’s game-time…are you ready?

The Missouri River awakening continues this week as Izaak’s opens on Thursday, April 11th for season number nine. We can’t wait! Brisket Sandwich and Smoked Wings oh how I’ve missed you.

Izaak’s will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for the time being but open for divinely delicious dinner offerings Wednesday-Sunday 4 PM – 9 PM. Dinner at Izaak’s is a highlight of the trip for many and we are thrilled to have this world-class dining option here on the Missouri.

It’s going to be a soggy week here on the MO but it looks like we’ll see a return to more seasonable conditions by the weekend.

We’ve got lodging available for the weekend ($99 for a kitchenette, $75-$85 for non-kitchen rooms) and our $400 spring special guide trips are in full swing. Book yours today!

 

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.