Finally…A Farewell to February

Coming Soon?

The shortest month of the year feels like it’s been the longest as winter drags on with no end in sight.

March will pick up right where February left off with single digit temps through the weekend and into the first part of next week but then it looks like something might just be starting to happen. Things could change between now and then but at this point it looks like we’ll be bathed in sunshine Sunday through Tuesday and while the temps will be far from warm we all know how good that late winter sun feels.

We’ll climb into the 20’s on Wednesday and Thursday and near 30 on Friday. Is it a warming trend? Here’s hoping so!

We’re thankful to have made up for winter’s slow start with plenty of precipitation throughout the last month but I for one have had just about enough. I’ve had enough of shoveling snow. I’ve had enough of fighting ice dams on the roof. I’ve had enough of NOT FISHING!

Snowpack has edged up to 110 – 120 percent of normal in our region and most of the state looks good right now at or near 100 percent of average. Only the Kootenai and the Sun, Teton and Marias drainages are lagging behind but  are currently right around 90 percent of average. We like the looks of this map and we’re remaining cautiously optimistic that high water will not be an issue however Mother Nature always gets the final say on this so no guarantees here.

Ideally we’d see a return to normal temperatures sooner rather than later. The average high for February is 39 degrees, we’ve seen highs in the single digits or below zero more days than not this month. The average high for March is 47. We obviously won’t see that the first week of the month but sooner or later it has to warm up and when it does we’re expecting an extremely busy spring as the throngs arrive to satisfy that long-delayed Missouri River Fix.

And speaking of spring fishing, don’t forget it’s time to buy your 2019 Montana fishing license. 2018 licenses expire tomorrow.

Sadly we still have no fishing report to share but as you look towards the eventuality of spring fishing here’s what you need to know.

Water temps are currently holding in the 33 degree range….COLD! We would expect much of March to be full on winter fishing as far as the nymphing goes. Slow, deep water is what you’ll want to target with winter fare. Pink should be in the mix along with firebeads, tailwater sows, Yum Yums, Caviar Scuds, Zebra Midges, Rainbow Czechs, Soft Hackle Sows, Lightning Bugs, Ray Charles etc. Fish deep with weight (tungsten bead nymphs or split shot or both) and cover the water from the inside out, shortening the depth of your rig until you find where they’re at.

Warming water will get them moving at which time we’ll start to key in on the traditional spring hot spots, typically a little faster current with a little less depth. We like to run sowbugs all season long as they’re a constant food source but as we move into spring we will typically swap out the winter fare for mayfly nymphs and maybe even a dirt snake. Little Green Machines and the like tend to shine as the water conditions hit the spring prime.

Spring is brown trout time as the spawning rainbows become scarce. Watch those redds and please don’t target spawning fish. Late March through April and into the first part of May are the prime weeks for streamer fishing on the Missouri. We can’t wait!

Spring is also dry fly time as the Midge Machine churns out piles of bugs. We typically start fishing midges in late February but since nobody has been on the river harassing and educating the fish this year, those first few fishable days could be lights out with relatively easy pickings.
Don’t care for fishing midges? Spring is also Skwalla time so if throwing big dries is your thing don’t miss this opportunity. Many of the larger browns we catch each spring fall for the Skwalla.

I think we could be in for one phenomenal spring if this weather ever breaks and while it’s tough to shift gears to fishing mode while winter continues to have a stranglehold, it’s coming soon so there’s no time like the present to prepare.
It’s time to dig out your gear and get it organized. It’s a great time to replace those old, worn fly lines and this is the spring you should treat yourself to a new pair of Simms waders and boots. We’d be happy to help you with that!

How about a brand new Lamson, Ross or Redington reel or maybe a new LOOP, Redington or Echo rod. We’ve also got a limited supply of Nautilus reels we’re clearing out at 25% off. Once they’re gone they’re gone.

Great deals on Simms winter wear including Cold Weather Pants and Shirts and guide flannels….all 25 % off. Help us make space for the new gear arriving daily.

Remember spring is also time for the WCA Spring lodging and guide trip special….we guarantee it’s the best deal you’ll find on the MO’ and it’s happening right now!

$500 for two nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler and a full day guide trip for one or two anglers through the end of April. This same package will cost you over $800 starting May 1st so don’t miss this opportunity.

 

Weekend Outlook

 

Game On – Photo by Jim Murray

Mild conditions persist as January draws to a close.

River traffic remains surprisingly light and while our lodging has been extremely busy this month, the majority of those staying have been ice guys who’ve been cleaning up on the perch on Holter.

Speaking of lodging, we’re full for the remainder of this week but next week looks like continued nice weather with highs near 50 on Monday. We should see a gradual increase in river traffic from here on out so if fishing the Missouri is on your to do list then make that call today and book your lodging and/or guide trips. Weekends have been booking up generally by Monday or Tuesday.

Waiting for our spring special? The wait  is over.

Spring may be two months away but the WCA Spring Special is here! $550 for two nights lodging and a full day guide trip now through the end of April. There are other deals out there…nobody, and I mean NOBODY can touch this one! It’s the BEST DEAL on the MO hands down and the best part is you don’t have to wait until spring.  As if that weren’t enough there are NO CANCELLATION FEES for these trips. Book today, if the weather turns or if you simply change your mind you’re off the hook.

If you’re looking for a guide trip this weekend we won’t be able to do the lodging but we’ll do the trip for $400. Guides are getting HUNGRY. Book the best today.

Spring merchandise is starting to trickle in, look for great deals on winter gear soon as we make room for the new.

Good reports from the ice, decent reports from the river though the wind has been ever-present lately making things a little unpleasant out there. Expect more of that the next several days and deal with it. Nymphing has been good, definitely better on some days than others. Status quo on the bugs. Streamer fishing has not disappointed. Strip or Swing…the choice is yours. Midges in small numbers but that will ramp up soon if you’re itching for dry fly action.

Don’t forget to stop by the shop if you’re out here this weekend. We are your Missouri River Winter fly fishing one stop shop with everything you need for your day on the water. Shuttles, hand warmers, cold weather gear from Simms, the largest selection of Redington gear on the river, Adipose and RO drift boat rentals (including a brand new Project Healing Waters Adipose Flow free to all vets and active duty military) and the near legendary largest selection of Missouri River flies ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

We’ve also got a few tickets left for Tuesday’s Fly Fishing Film Tour in Helena. Get yours before they’re gone!

 

Weekend Report

March means midge madness on the MO photo by Wolf Creek Angler

The weather is on the chilly side this weekend with a chance for some snow tonight and into tomorrow and Monday but the river is in good shape with flows holding just shy of 3500 cfs with water temps in that 35-36 degree range.

We’ll see that west wind pick up throughout the day today but we’re definitely looking at fishable conditions with highs near 30 today and tomorrow.

We saw some decent midge action earlier this week so keep an eye out for that. Look for the calm water in areas protected from the wind and have your midge rig at the ready. Some of our go-to midge patterns are Bucky’s Midge Cluster, Black Sipper midges, Adams Midge, Grizzly Midge Clusters and the tried and true Griffiths Gnat. I like a Hi Vis Parachute Adams paired with a Bucky’s Midge Cluster.

We are well-stocked with all of these patterns and many more. We are your source for midges on the MO’!

Nymphing remains your best shot at putting a bend in the rod with bug selection remaining status quo though I would definitely think about adding a black or red zebra midge into the mix.  A #12 Tungsten Rainbow Czech with a gold bead trailed with a #18 black zebra could be the ticket but don’t turn your back on the pink stuff or the firebeads, it’s just been a little hit and miss as of late.

We recommend continuing to concentrate your efforts on the slow winter water but there are definitely fish being picked up in more transitional water (slightly faster, 4′ range) so don’t overlook those runs. The winter runs will produce but it’s time to start thinking outside of that box on occasion just to see.

It won’t be long before we’ll be trading in the nymph rigs for streamer rigs. Many have been sticking to swinging all winter long and while the swing is still the way to go, hitting the banks with a slow retrieve has been somewhat effective as well and will continue to improve as those water temps start to increase, hopefully soon. It is true that with the water being as cold as it is the fish will continue to be on the lethargic side but a well-placed streamer can change all that as instinct (and hunger) kick in and lethargy turns to aggression. Stick to the smaller patterns (buggers, clousers, leeches) for now and experiment with your retrieve. We like to combine the swing with a slow strip and plenty of pauses.

You’ll likely have more action with your nymph rig but you can’t beat that streamer tug.

Stop by the shop and check out what some consider to be the best streamer selection in the canyon.

We’ve got plenty of lodging available for the weekend and next week is wide open. I’m still seeing a good number of rigs headed to the lake but it seems we’re definitely on the waning side of Holter Lake ice action which means we’re anxious for the next warming trend and the business it will bring. By the looks of things it appears as though we’ll see those 40 degree temps return mid to late week next week.

Remember we’re offering the best deal on the river this winter with two nights of lodging and a full day guide trip for just $500 and NO CANCELLATION FEES. Don’t miss out. Book your trip with us today.

 

Weekend Outlook 4.01.16

baetis

April Fools Day here in Central MT, lots of you fools missing out on some awesome fishing, I pity you. If you’ve been calling or swinging by the shop over the last week you’ve probably noticed a strange absence. No joke, someone is missing. Not to say that we miss him, I’m getting along just fine; but with that said, single handing the shop has had one major drawback: It’s really cutting into my fishing time. In case you’re wondering, the big boss is on Spring Break somewhere in Michigan getting some family time in and of course fishing. So while Jason is having a blast chasing Great Lakes Steel, drinking, what I’m told is some of the best beer in the nation and cruising around in a wicked awesome mini-van (rental), I’m at the shop finding new homes for flies, booking lodging, pimping trout guides and generally, just making sure the place doesn’t burn down. It’s all fun and games until you get a #22 trico spinner buried in your finger, alone, bleeding on the floor. Hopefully the weekend will treat me better.

Weekend ahead is looking good as far as the weather is concerned and based on the reports we’ve been getting, the fishing should follow suite. Still waiting to see the blue wings in mass but I did get into a few yesterday in the canyon. Nothing to go crazy for just yet, but soon. Midges have been out consistently and the dry-fly fishing is picking up. Small, make your eyes bleed size midges have been getting it done when the wind permits. Nymphing is still the main game for now with lots of success being had on a multitude of  patterns. Transitional water and the slower runs have been fishing well but remember to keep an eye out for the Redds! Streamer fishing has been hit or miss depending on the stretch and time of day but is still a viable option. Hard banks and deep slower water paired with an intermediate sink tip has been fishing best for me. Leeches, buggers and bait fish all doing getting some attention.

Boss man will be back Monday so keep an eye out for another On The Road Report from, well, wherever the hell I decide to go. I’ll be checking fishing reports over the next few days in between spring cleaning and fly slinging. As for the self impalement with the trico, it was successfully removed and the bleeding was stopped before the situation became dire. As far as a workman’s comp claim, I think some of that fine MI oat-soda and few days fishing with the boys will do, that’s fair right?

Flies to get your fourth month of 2016 off right….

Dries: Q’s Cluster Midge, Baetis Sprout, WCA Trude, Parachute BWO, Cripple Thorax BWO, Black Sippers & Q’s Hackle Stacker BWO.

Nymphs: Amex, Pinkalicious, Firebead Sow, Firebead Rays, Zebras, Split Case Blue Wing, LGM, Olive Psycho Mays & Rainbow Warriors.

Streamers:  Polar Leeches, Sparkle Minnows, Ganagas, Kreelex, Iced Out Grills, & Skiddish Smolt.

~Cheers, Chewy.

Thursday Missouri River Fishing Report

IMG_5666

Chewy with a fine Missouri River winter specimen

The river has been quiet this week despite spring-like temps in the high 40’s and low 50’s . There’s been a bit of wind to contend with but overall the weather has been very conducive to winter fishing.

Those who have been out have been reporting varying degrees of success on nymphs, streamers and even a bit of dry-fly action with the midges starting to get going. If winter dry-fly fishing is your game you can expect those opportunities to present themselves with more frequency and more consistency from here on out.

The flows are up to almost 3800 today which we’re definitely happy to see and with the water temperature having bumped to just shy of 35 degrees you might expect an uptick in the action as sometimes all it takes is a degree or two to flip the switch and get those fish eating.

If you follow the various Missouri River blogs year-round you know that there is a fair amount of space devoted to  fluctuations in flows and water temps as well as current weather and what’s in the forecast during the winter months. With the exception of midge activity there’s not much to say about bug life and while the nymph report may seem like a cut and paste job it really is a status quo fishery during the winter months so that list of effective flies simply doesn’t change a whole lot.

The streamer report can provide some variation but even the streamer guys tend to stick to a pattern for a long while once they find something that is working. I fished a brown polar leech for a month straight last winter and it worked most days. The winter fishing reports may be lacking in excitement but the winter fishing is not!

We love fishing this time of year, partly because of the solitude it affords, partly because it’s status quo nymphing but mostly because it can be really good on any given day. That being said, it can also be really slow but when it’s 45 degrees and sunny in January what else would you possibly want to be doing? You don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what it is they are eating, you just need to figure out where they’re at and hope they are hungry. Once you find fish willing to eat you can often times do very well working that same run over and over again. Mind you, I’m not talking about 40 fish days. I’m sure people have  them but we’re generally happy with a couple of hookups and if we boat a dozen or better it’s been an awesome day.

So…with that long-winded defense of regurgitative  winter blogging the winter nymphs you should STILL be using are Pink Amex, Rainbow Czechs, Casne’s Pinkalicious, Pink Lightning Bugs, any kind of firebeads  (particularly of the soft hackle sow variety) and if you’re feeling adventurous a tailwater sow, a rainbow warrior or the good old black zebra midge will all catch fish right now. With all that pink you can expect to catch your share of whitefish but there’s no shame in that. Full Disclosure – I do include whiteys in my fish counts, why wouldn’t you? I happened to put on a whitey clinic on Monday. It’s winter fishing on the Missouri!

The water you should STILL be fishing is the slow to semi-slow medium depth winter water. The last few times out the fish have been in a little bit faster water than what they had been but this changes from day to day. They are somewhere in those winter runs, work them until you find them.

Hot streamers have been the gold and silver Kreelex, Olive and Copper or Brown Polar leeches, and all kinds of Clouser variations. Fish the slender bugs SLOW and you should find some willing players. Don’t be afraid to try other streamers either. The ones we list are the ones we’ve been selling a bunch of and that we’ve heard have been effective but there are all kinds of streamers that will work. Fish the bugs you like, fish them with confidence and sooner or later you will be rewarded.

Buzzballs, Griffiths Gnats and Quigley’s Peacock Clusters are all good midge imitations. I like to rig any of them in tandem with a parachute Adams and have that rig at the ready just in case.

We’re going to close out the week with another 50+ degree day today, 40’s tomorrow and into the weekend and a return to somewhat more seasonable temps early next week in the low 30’s.

We’ve still got lodging available for the weekend but it will more than likely fill by tomorrow. Give us a call today and book your $99 room and $400 guide trip.

 

 

 

Mid Week Missouri River Fishing Report

Enjoying a brief January Thaw on the Missouri - Photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Enjoying a brief January Thaw on the Missouri – Photo by Wolf Creek Angler

It’s been a nice couple of days here on the Missouri by January standards and the river has been predictably busier with people taking advantage of warmer temps, calm winds and sunshine.

Cold and snow return tomorrow. Highs in the teens and night-time lows in the single or negative digits through the weekend with an 80% chance of snow tomorrow and a good chance of snow each day through Saturday. Sunday looks to be mostly sunny and cold and it looks like things warm up heading into next week.

I couldn’t resist the pull yesterday. Having not been out for quite a while it was a great day to do the Wolf Creek to Craig float and hit all the reliable winter runs.

No big changes to report. Slow water, anything pink and firebeads! Pink Amex, firebead pink soft hackle sow and pink lightning bugs all drew a favorable response.

There were quite a few midges on the water yesterday though I only saw a couple of sporadic rises but it won’t be long before there are swarms of midges and fish keying on them so it’s never a bad idea to have your dry-fly rig at the ready.

Only one other boat out there yesterday but plenty of wade anglers around. I like to float if I have time just so I can quickly get from spot to spot. If there is someone fishing the spot I want to fish I just float on past to the next one. The drawback of course is that you are committed and even on the nicer days like we’ve been having, once that sun goes away it gets cold quickly. Even so – if I have the time I would almost always rather float than do the walk/wade thing on the Missouri. The right cold weather clothing, a thermos of coffee, a thermos of hot soup and in extreme cases a propane heater or two go a long way in making your winter float an enjoyable experience.

If you haven’t experienced winter fishing on the MO you really should. We’ve got all the cold weather gear and all the winter nymphs and streamers you need and we’re more than happy to tell you exactly where to go to find the fish.

Keep your eye on the weather and do it yourself or book  a $400 full day float trip some time this winter. Dress appropriately and leave the hot soup,  hot coffee and heaters to us. Better yet, book a cozy bungalow for $99 and do a day with a guide and a day or two on your own.

Our bungalows are fully equipped with kitchens so you can cook your own meals.  If you prefer to eat out, The Oasis is currently serving breakfast, lunch and dinner Thursday – Monday from 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM.

Don’t miss a great opportunity to experience winter solitude on the Missouri.

Final fishing report for March 2015

Leslie with one of many from Sunday's float. Things are heating up on the MO. - photo by Jim Murray

Leslie with one of many from Sunday’s float. Things are heating up on the MO. – photo by Jim Murray

Guest Blog from WCA Guide Jim Murray

 

Things are heating up on the Missouri. Literally. With the water temperatures pushing past that 40 degree mark, the river is really turning on. I had a chance to get out on the river Sunday with my girlfriend fiancé, and the Mighty Mo did not disappoint. Fellow WCA guide Matt Hargrave had told me that the fish were keying in on mayfly nymphs, and boy was he right. It seems with the warmer water temperatures, the baetis nymphs are getting really active subsurface and the fish are keying in on them. Little Green Machines, Micro Mays, Hogan S&M, and the Ju Ju Baetis in sizes 16-18 all produced fish. And don’t forget the Zebra Midge. We managed to bring one fish to the boat on a Firebead Rainbow Weight Fly, but the fish definitely seem to be moving off the pink/firebead stuff for the time being.
Along with bugs getting active, the warmer temps have the fish feeling a little more feisty and moving out of those deep winter holes. Fish were found primarily in 2-4 of water. Soft bends and shelf lines seem to be the key.
Adding to the fun is the fact that the dry fly bite is really turning on as well. Heads were spotted up between Wolf Creek and Craig, with trout willing to eat a well presented midge pattern. Rumors of big bugs being spotted in the canyon have started to be discussed over beers at the end of the day, and I know of a few anglers who have had some success giving it a try.
The streamer bite still seems to be hit or miss, (many times dependent on the angler) but only figures to improve in the coming days and weeks as the fish start to really shake off the winter doldrums and get a little nasty and aggressive. I know I have a new 8 weight rod that I’m just itching to get out and throw.
All in all, the Missouri is fishing well, and figures to only get better as conditions continue to heat up. It should be a great Spring on the Missouri. Now if we can just get some precipitation to keep it a great summer…

les3 les1

Spring Fishing this week on the Missouri

Spring is on the way - photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Spring is on the way – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Looking at the 10-Day forecast it looks like daytime highs in the 60s all this week and right on through next weekend. Is winter over? It’s hard to say. Do we have enough snowpack? Time and weather conditions over the next couple of months will tell.
What we do know is that the sun is shining, the water is warming and there is no place we’d rather be than floating the Missouri on days like this.
The fish have been up on midges, mostly in the early afternoon, in most of the spots you would expect and we’re hearing some solid streamer reports from down stream way. Nymphing is producing the numbers and should continue to improve as we move towards spring. Firebead soft hackle sows in pink,pink Lightning Bugs, Pinkalicious (notice a trend here?) and black zebra midges have all been effective.

A couple of ticks up on that water temp and the streamer fishing could blow up so there is definitely something for everyone right now.
Lodging available this week though the weekend is starting to fill. Things get serious next week with lodging coinciding with the start of our $300 Spring Special Guide Trips on March 20th. We will be opening up more lodging this week to accommodate.
Take advantage of the nice weather and the off-season lodging rates and come out and enjoy the river before the crowds arrive. We love this time of year due in large part to the relative solitude, especially during the week. Crowds are not an issue and the fishing just keeps getting better from here on out.
Book your cheap guide trips and rooms now. Both the spring special and the winter lodging rates run through the end of April.

February on the Missouri

February Midge Madness on the MO - photo by Wolf Creek Angler

February Midge Madness on the MO – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

February can be an excellent time to make a trip to the MO and while the weather can sometimes be a challenge if you hit it right you could experience some absolute spring-like conditions and some great fishing. While nymphing is by far the most productive and widely utilized technique during the winter months don’t overlook the streamer action (swung or slowly stripped) or the dry-fly action as the fish target the tiny midges that are present more often than not when the sun is shining on the Missouri.

It looks like we’re in for a pretty decent stretch of weather starting on Thursday with temperatures climbing into the 50’s and near 60 on Friday. As it stands now the long-range has us holding in this weather pattern through the middle of the month so it’s the perfect time to plan a trip to Wolf Creek Montana. We would love to take you fishing.

As if the spring weather weren’t enough to bring you here, we’re offering an awesome deal this month only where if you book a full day guide trip at our ridiculously reasonable winter rate of $395, we’ll throw in a night’s lodging in one of our bungalows for $59! A guided day on the river includes expert instruction from one of our world-class guides, all the flies you need, a hot lunch and hot and cold beverages and transportation to and from the river. Take advantage of this offer while it lasts and don’t worry about being locked in. If the weather is unfavorable or if you just decide you don’t want to do it you are free to bail with no penalty.

Not looking for a guided trip? Come stay with us at Wolf Creek Angler and do it yourself. Our warm and cozy bungalows are priced right for the winter at $99/night. Start your day with a hearty breakfast at The Frenchman and then stop in the shop for a shuttle and whatever you need for your day on the river. We’re loaded up with winter bugs, cold weather gear, terminal tackle, licenses, RO drift boat rentals and some great deals on merchandise we need to move to make way for spring shipments.

No need to rush – you are just minutes from Holter Dam and the Wolf Creek Bridge. Spend your day on the water and return to your home-away from home where you can either utilize the full kitchen in your bungalow and make your own meal or head to The Frenchman for a night out in Wolf Creek. Don’t miss Uncle Joe’s Oasis for a night-cap and stop by the Canyon Store for provisions including an excellent selection of Montana Microbrews.

Wolf Creek is the place to be for winter fishing in Montana  and Wolf Creek Angler is proud to be your  full service Missouri River fly shop. Book your trip today!

Wolf Creek Angler is your full service Missouri River Fly Shop - photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Wolf Creek Angler is your full service Missouri River Fly Shop – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

It’s time for spring fishing on the MO

January on the MO?

cabins Spring Time on the MO

A fat and happy Missouri River Spring Bow

A fat and happy Missouri River Spring Bow

Winter continues to come and go here in Wolf Creek Montana, but the time has come to get out and fish our world class Missouri River and we’ve got some ridiculously affordable spring deals on lodging and fishing you can’t afford to pass up. $300 full day guide trips and lodging starting at $59/night – it’s almost too good to be true.

The river is currently flowing at 6570 CFS and is holding at around 36 degrees – perfect conditions for nymphing and streamer fishing and there are plenty of midges on the water every day if you just can’t wait to throw a dry-fly. More dry-fly opportunities coming very soon! The weather is pleasant for this time of year with temps in the high 30’s and low 40’s and it looks like we’ll be back towards 50 early next week. Traffic is very light during the week though the weekends have been bringing out a fair amount of anglers especially from the dam to Craig. Fishing has been good in that section for sure but don’t be afraid to try your luck further down river if you want to avoid the crowds, there are plenty of hungry fish throughout the system.

The shop is getting close to being ready and will be open for business on April 1st. We are open now for guided fishing and lodging. Give us a call today and book your $300 full day guide trip and while you’re at it, book a cabin. We’ve got cabin #3 available for $59/night + tax and if you need a little more space and a kitchen we’ve got cabins 2 and 4 available for $100/night + tax.

This is an awesome opportunity to experience spring time on the Missouri at a fraction of the cost of normal rates.  A full day of guided fishing on the MO and a night of lodging for as low as $359? The same thing will cost you just shy of $600 during the season! Worried about the weather? Don’t be!  We are well aware of the ever-changing weather conditions and we don’t expect you to fish in the cold and snow  (unless you want to).

See you on the water!

Jason O.