Healing Waters – guest blog from Shalon Hastings

One to the Net – photo by Amber Cassidy

Full disclosure: I was one of those teenagers that avoided the call to military duty in every way possible. Back in 1993, recruiters were doing the hard sell via phone and in person. Being the nice person I am, I went to lunch where the recruiter tried to “wine and dine” me, obviously no wine but plenty of soda. I dodged the bullet, if you will, and avoided the, in my mind, unbearable pain & suffering of boot camp and basic training by leaving for college with no forwarding address for the recruiter.

Fast forward to present day: I have 2 small businesses that I call my own in downtown Helena and just recently added fly fishing guide to my list. Over the last couple of years I had found that being on the water was the only time my mind shut off completely to the point of calm. Never before had I experienced such a quiet. It was an addictive break from my never ending worries about my businesses, my struggles and my musings of “Am I good enough?”

Earlier this year with help from some girlfriends, I started a women’s fly fishing networking group, Last Chance Fly Gals (LCFG). It was enlightening to meet so many local women who shared the same passion for fly fishing and to hear shared stories of frustrations and accomplishments on the water that only other women could relate to. Yes, both men and women will share similar experiences but in addition there are some that men just won’t experience. I don’t think I’ve heard a guy admit that he’s cried because his spouse tried to teach him to fish. But I hear it a lot when women talk about their first trials of learning to fly fish.

Through an article written about the formation of Last Chance Fly Gals, an old acquaintance and Project Healing Waters board member reached out to me to see if I would be interested in working with female veterans that would be participating in a Project Healing Waters fishing trip on the Missouri. I jumped at the chance to be a part of this outing. I am in awe of those that have the balls to sign up for military duty and serve our country so that I can freely choose my entrepreneurial path and quite frankly do whatever I so desire. My heart breaks when I hear of the trauma that our veterans have brought home with them. And I get frustrated and angry that they face struggles outside of our cushy civilian life after they have risked life and limb. If I could help any of these women get to the point where they find that peace in mind on the water that I get, I was going to be there.

I joined two phenomenal female guides, Kelly Harrison and Kimberly Smith, and met the women in Craig. We were towing the Project Healing Waters Adipose boats that Wolf Creek Angler holds at the shop for veterans to use for free. The afternoon was spent doing introductions, then Kelly jumped into instructing basic knots, basic flies and basic casting. Each of the ladies was given a starter rod and reel package with miscellaneous small wares to get them started on the fly fishing journey. The lodge that was hosting us had a small casting pond. The pre-dinner entertainment was the girls catching little and mid-sized brookies on dry flies. The smiles, laughter, encouragement and commands to “hit it!!!” were raucous, heartfelt and contagious. After dinner was sharing of Jameson and White Claws, poop jokes, graphic bikini line mishaps and mentions of injuries sustained in service.

The next day was breakfast served by several PHW board members that waited on us hand and foot. After breakfast we gathered at the boats to rig up rods and review knots and flies with the ladies. Then it was to the river. Each gal caught fish. F bombs were dropped, cheering heard from one of the three boats across the river as one of the ladies in another boat would get a fish on, more F bombs when a fish broke off complete rigs, all 3 boats gathering to snap pictures of a fish landed in the boat. At one point, the gal in my boat had an epic fish arcing out of the water right after she set the hook, it was mad. It briefly showed its ginormous jawline at her before taking off and charging so fast it broke her nymph rig well past the split shot in a flash. That beast will haunt her.

At the takeout phone numbers were shared, promises to stay connected were made and sharing of pictures promised. The excitement, the frustration, the glee all shared and celebrated by an amazing group of women will be remembered forever. I expect and hope that I get calls and texts from these women sharing with me their future trips onto new rivers and the new found knowledge they will gain. I’m already looking forward to the next event, hoping that the guests will gain as much as I do in being a part of this honor of their service to the United States of America.

Fish on, ladies. Fish on.

Meet our 2017 Guide Crew

We’re pleased to introduce you to our 2017 guide lineup.

If you’ve fished with us before then most should be familiar faces but we are excited to introduce a couple of new additions in Kelly Harrison and Jeff Jennings.

If you’ve already booked a trip and you don’t see your guide here not to worry. These are our mainstays but we do utilize the services of many other fine guides, all of whom we feel represent our commitment to our clients as well as to ethical and sustainable resource utilization.

Wolf Creek Angler guides are among the hardest-working and fishiest guides out there and our number one priority is making your day on the water with us one you won’t soon forget.

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert or somewhere in between we’ve got the perfect guide for you.

Matt Hargrave Wolf Creek Angler Guide

MATT HARGRAVE

Matt has been obsessed with fish for as long as he can remember. Growing up he fished the lakes and streams of the Eastern Sierras and the coast of Southern California. Matt realized his goal to become a fishing guide in Montana in 2011 and since that time he has fallen absolutely in love with the Missouri River. The diversity of a day on the MO is a challenge that Matt loves to tackle. He enjoys the grace of dry fly fishing and the chess match of figuring out the nymphing game but his preference is fishing streamers for the larger fish that inhabit the Missouri.

Brian Scott Wolf Creek Angler GuideBRIAN SCOTT

Entering his 28th season of guiding on the Missouri, Brian Scott is a native Montanan who suffers from a life-long addiction to fly-fishing. He learned to fish on the Missouri and Big Hole Rivers in the 1970’s and got his first guiding job in Alaska in 1981. Brian prefers the challenge of the dry fly but can nymph for numbers if required. He tailors each day to fit the client’s individual needs. Brian lives on the Big Hole River near the town of Dillon, MT but you will usually find him on the Missouri during the summer season pursuing the wild rainbows and browns that make the Missouri River one of the finest fisheries on the planet.

JASON ORZECHOWSKI

Jason left a life-long career in the metal casting industry to pursue a dream of owning a fly shop and guiding in Montana. He has been honing his angling skills for over thirty years starting at the age of 8 when he was introduced to trout fishing on Michigan’s White and Pere Marquette Rivers. Jason officially began his career in the industry in 2013 as the manager of and guide for Montana River Outfitters. Following that first season on the Missouri he and his wife purchased the business and opened Wolf Creek Angler. In 2015 Jason got his Outfitter’s License and has since worked tirelessly on the water, behind the counter and behind the scenes growing the business and earning Wolf Creek Angler a reputation as THE up and coming year-round Missouri River fly shop and lodging destination. He enjoys working with new and experienced anglers alike and loves introducing first time visitors to the Missouri River and to Montana. Jason loves hunting heads and chasing bobbers but streamer fishing is his true passion and while the MO’ is his first love the Blackfoot is a close second and he loves exploring new water.

Luke Koerten Wolf Creek Angler Guide

Luke Koerten

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Luke headed west in 2002 in search of steep mountains and deep snow. Originally a ski bum with a fishing habit, these days you’re more likely to find Luke knee deep in the Missouri than in mountain snow, even in January. Having lived in Bozeman, Missoula, and Helena, Luke has spent countless hours exploring the waters of western, central, and southwest Montana. His knowledge combined with a flexible and upbeat attitude makes him an excellent choice whether you are a first time angler or a seasoned vet.

KELLY HARRISON

Kelly was born and raised in Missoula, Montana. As a young girl, she loved the outdoors and spent much of her time camping, hiking, horseback riding, and fishing all around the northwest part of the state. She has found success guiding new and intermediate anglers, with an emphasis on female anglers. Her positive reinforcement, guidance, and talents also benefit experienced anglers who are interested in fishing with an accomplished up-and-coming female guide. Kelly’s background is on the Bitterroot, Clark Fork, Blackfoot, and Missouri Rivers. And while Kelly feels at home on any water, the Blackfoot River is her specialty. Book a Blackfoot River trip with Kelly today.

BROCK LONG

Fly Fishing found Brock Long 16 years ago on The Current River in southern Missouri. He moved to Montana in 2009 and fell in love with the daily challenges of this big spring creek, The Missouri River. Whether posted up on a dry fly flat, stripping streamers or floating the bobber, Brock enjoys all the challenges presented by the Missouri however his favorite way to fish the MO is to blind dry fly fish the banks, runs, riffles and many side channels. Currently in his fifth season of guiding on the Missouri, Brock is eager to share his passion for fly fishing and his knowledge of the river with you.

Wolf Creek Angler Guide Eric Mondragon

Photo Credit Landon Mayer

ERIC MONDRAGON

Eric has been a professional fly fishing guide for sixteen years. He started his career in Colorado and New Mexico and has been guiding on the Missouri River for the past 11 seasons. Eric enjoys fly fishing and fly tying and he brings more than thirty years of expertise in these arts. Eric lives in Cascade with his wife and two golden retrievers, Trout Dog (TD) and Rio. Eric loves dry fly fishing with clients and also likes to chase bobbers and strip streamers. He is an excellent teacher and doesn’t pass up the opportunity to work with anglers of all ages.

JEFF JENNINGS

Jeff has been a fly fishing guide in the great state of Montana for over twenty years. In his off-seasons, he has guided in Argentina and during the winter run of native steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Jeff has also been a professional fly tyer for as many years and loves to share his unique creations with his clients. Feeling very fortunate to call the Missouri River his main office these days, Jeff provides a fun and relaxed environment where he teaches fly fishing basics to the novice fisherman or helps advance the abilities of even the most seasoned angler. If you are looking for a fun and memorable day on the river, Jeff is always friendly and accommodating to ensure your experience on the Missouri is exactly what you would expect.

 

Book a Missouri or Blackfoot river trip with Wolf Creek Angler today!

 

 

 

 

As Always….Change is Underway at WCA

WCA – New and Improved as Always

It’s been a busy winter behind the scenes at Wolf Creek Angler and while we haven’t had a whole lot going on in the shop day-to-day we’ve been plenty busy with all that goes on to make your WCA experience better every year.

Whether you’re lodging, fishing, shopping with us, simply visiting our website or all of the above you’ll find plenty of changes as we maintain our commitment to continuous improvement in every part of our business.

Some of these changes are obvious, some you’ll probably never notice though you would if we didn’t make them.

Let’s start with lodging.

Lodging is definitely a huge part of our business and while we would love to update and remodel everything at once we have chosen instead to plot a more gradual course.

If you’ve been a guest over our first three seasons you’ve probably noticed some of these changes. New towels, new furniture, new paint, the occasional new mattress…these are the types of changes on which we’ve focused our efforts. We’ve got an infinite list of improvements for each room and our strategy has been to address major issues and then make small improvements on the amenities side to make your stay with us as comfortable as it can be.

Visitors this season will find significant improvements in many of our rooms ranging from fresh paint, to new shower heads, to new carpet to new linens etc. and if you’re fortunate enough to be booked in #8 you’ll find a complete room renovation which  is the model for renovations in the remaining motel units in the not too distant future.

What’s new in the shop?

As always, the challenge of bringing new product lines into the shop is an uphill battle to say the least. The Missouri has no shortage of fly shops and while we are removed from the self-proclaimed epicenter of Missouri River fly fishing we definitely operate in the shadow of Craig and therefore must navigate with caution as we lobby to earn the privilege of being able to offer you products from  the best name brands in the business.

We’ve come a long way from where we were when we started and you can rest assured we will not give up the fight. Last fall we scored a HUGE victory in this fight with the addition of Simms sportswear, outerwear and accessories to our product offerings.

This spring you’ll find all sorts of new gear from great names like Simms, Fishpond, Redington, Smith Optics, Kast, Echo, LOOP, Ross, Nautilus, ARC, RIO, Trout Hunter, and more. We’re also excited to announce we’ve added Korkers wading boots to our product line and we’ve added a bunch of new logo gear featuring our new logo which debuted last spring.

We stand behind all of the products we sell and we wouldn’t be selling them if we didn’t believe in them. We are also well aware of what we don’t have and you can rest assured we are working on it. In the meantime, as I’ve said before, if we don’t have it or can’t do it we are happy to connect you with the folks who do or who can. There are a lot of resources between Wolf Creek and Cascade and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to get exactly what you want when you want it. Don’t get me wrong, we want your business but more than that, we want to serve you and if that means sending you to another shop to get something we can’t offer you we’re happy to do it.

Have you checked out our website lately?

If you’re reading this then the answer is yes and we appreciate your being here.

We try hard to keep things current and to freshen up the site with new images on a fairly regular basis. Please take some time and look around. A couple of new highlights include the LUNCH section on our Services page and some changes to our guide roster.

We’re excited to partner with The Hub Coffee in Helena to offer you the best guide  lunches on the Missouri and we will also be offering these same amazing lunches for our unguided lodging guests.

Look for a blog about our great guides in the near future but for the time being we’re super stoked to introduce you to Jeff Jennings and Kelly Harrison who have joined our team this season.

 

We hope you like the changes and we’re excited to see you soon in Wolf Creek Montana.