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.

Spring Special

Photo – Rob Weiker

Do we have a spring special you ask?

It just so happens we have THE BEST DEAL on the MISSOURI… PERIOD.

Most are running specials, some are not and while we may not have been the first ones on the river to run a spring special we appreciate and are happy to participate in the market which has been created and we’re confident that you’ll be much more interested in the details of our amazing offer than in how long we’ve been doing a spring special.

Here’s what we’re offering…

$500 (plus tax) for a full day on the water with one of our exceptional guides AND two (2), that’s right, two nights of premium lodging at Wolf Creek Angler. No rushing to get here the morning of your trip. No driving home tired after hauling in trout all day. We invite you to try to find a better deal…you won’t!

Get here the night before your trip and relax. You can wander down to Shotgun Annie’s for dinner and cocktails or prepare your own dinner in your fully furnished kitchen. We’re still waiting for the last of the snow to disappear but it will soon be gone and we’re getting to the point where you’ll probably enjoy spending some time on the porch just taking it all in. We’re nestled in the heart of the Big Belt Mountains, surrounded by gorgeous views of rugged canyon landscapes. We’re definitely biased but we believe we’ve got the best views around and while being a stone’s throw from the MO would be nice, as far as we’re concerned there’s not a more perfect setting for a fly shop and cabins than Wolf Creek Montana.

Spend an awesome spring day on the water with the best guides on the river and return to WCA for another evening of R & R.

Don’t need the lodging? No problem. Our guide trip only price is an amazing value at just $400.

Just looking for a room? We’ve got you covered. $99 for premium lodging (kitchen and private bath) through the end of April.

So yeah, we’ve got a spring special and it’s the best deal on the Missouri.

Late April Water and Fishing Report

Old School High Water. Holter Dam circa 1928 – photo Helena as She Was

The Missouri has become a VERY busy place this week with displaced anglers, guides and outfitters arriving in droves.

There has been plenty of discussion recently about how high flows will end up going this season on the MO’, but the fact is it’s about the only game in town at this point so if you had plans to fish in Montana in the near future chances are you’re going to end up here.

We’re still not comfortable making predictions so we’ll leave that up to the experts but what we do know is that we’re currently sitting at around 120 – 180% of normal Snow Water Equivalent in western Montana. There’s plenty of snow in them there hills though it sounds like we’ll begin to see a reduction in snowpack as we get our first real heat wave of the season at the end of this week. It won’t be quite so warm in the high country but down here they’re calling for 80 degrees on Friday and Saturday. Things will return to more seasonable conditions on Sunday and early next week as we return to daytime highs in the 50’s.

The current flow on the Missouri below Holter Dam is 9670 CFS.  The flows have increased steadily over the past week as Canyon Ferry prepares for the imminent spike in inflows coming soon with runoff. How much water will we see? Again, we’ll leave the predictions to the experts but what we can tell you is that you have nothing to fear at these flows.

We wouldn’t necessarily recommend wade fishing at this point but you’ll be fine in a boat and there are plenty of fish being caught our there, primarily on nymphs and streamers, but we’ve heard of some successful dry fly outings as well. Look for these trends to continue as that water continues to warm.

It’s time to break out the split shot, the long leaders and the wire worms. Things have been consistently inconsistent out there due in large part to the frequent changes in flows but your best bet for the time being is definitely going to be deep nymphing.

I’d recommend starting out with something in the 7 – 8′ overall length. Go with a firebead wire worm or something on the large (#10 or #12) side with a tungsten bead (Amex/Weight Fly/Rainbow Czech) paired with a Tailwater sow, Pill Popper, Caviar Scud or something BWO ish like a Grey Little Green Machine, a dark Peep Show or a Psycho May. Add a bb or two and start probing your way through the likely runs. Which runs are the likely ones? The fish are going to be in many of the runs you’ve historically found them in but daisy chains of guide boats are a pretty good indicator of where the fish are.

Go deeper than you normally would and make sure you’re occasionally touching the floor. Start tighter to the bank than you’d normally be, fishing inside out and work your way out. Row arounds can be a challenge in these flows but not always. There are plenty of spots where the extra water actually creates easy row arounds where before there were none.

Bug selection has been a challenge with a bunch of different patterns catching fish here and there and nothing really lighting them up. You’ll want to make frequent changes until you find what works but make sure you’ve got the depth thing figured out before you start changing your bugs. Stop by the shop on your way to the water and we’ll tell you what we know whether you buy bugs from us or not. We’re always here to help you find success on the water. Whether that’s guiding you or just giving you honest information about where to go or what to use you can always count on Wolf Creek Angler for open, honest and up to date Missouri River intel.

Streamer fishing has been decent but you’ve got to choose your spots. Many of the go to banks are just too fast right now making it virtually impossible to get down where you need to be. That being said, if you know what you’re looking for there’s an abundance of great streamer water to be fished and these bigger flows often give up some monster browns seeking a soft water respite. Swing by WCA for the best streamer selection on the Missouri including a bunch of bugs you wont’ find anywhere else.

Like the streamer fishing, the dry fly fishing is somewhat limited right now for the same reason…too much water but once again, if you know where to look you could be in for some phenomenal dry fly fishing over the next couple of weeks as the water warms and the BWO’s flourish. Think quiet water…that’s where you’ll find the sippers.

Once again, if you’re planning to fish in Montana over the next month or so then you should plan on fishing the Missouri. As you might expect we are very busy with lodging and guide trips but we definitely have openings and we’d like nothing better than to get you booked and on the water. We’re full this weekend but things open up on Sunday and we do have availability next week.

Keep in mind you’ve only got a few days left to take advantage of the best deal on the Missouri. Two nights of premium lodging and a full day guide trip for just $550 (plus tax). We invite you to look for a better deal…you won’t find one.

Regular season rates resume on Tuesday, May 1st.

We hope to see you soon at Wolf Creek Angler. We are your Full Service Missouri River Fly Fishing Destination.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Fishing Heating Up

It’s finally starting to feel like spring this week. The weather has been trending in the right direction with some nice days in the mid to high 50’s though there’s snow in the forecast yet again for today and tomorrow and we’re actually under yet another Winter Weather Advisory through tonight and we could see up to three inches of heavy, wet snow.

Traffic has picked up with a lot of folks taking advantage of some great spring deals. It’s been so nice to have a shop full of people again. We’re bursting with new gear arriving daily and still trying to clear out some of the old. Great deals on all kinds of premium  cold weather gear for everyone!

The fishing has been consistently good sub-surface with nymphing and streamer fishing heating up. We’ve seen river flows increase all week, a trend which will likely continue. As of this writing we’re sitting at 7260 CFS.  and while we’re anxiously awaiting a bump in water temps to bring the BWO’s into play we’re currently holding at a chilly 38 degrees.  Look for the water temp to bump up this weekend and into the first part of next week. Fingers crossed for 40+ degree water, overcast skies and BWO’s coming soon.

In the meantime the nymphing will bring the numbers. The status quo pinks and firebeads have continued to be effective  though we are definitely seeing a transition to a spring diet. Tailwater Sows are in play as are Pill Poppers, Caviar Scuds, Worms, Lightning bugs of the purple and pink variety,  Rainbow Czechs, Rainbow Warriors and if we do see that bump in the water temps the baetis nymphs will definitely come in to play. Think Green Machine!

This is a favorite time of year for the streamer addicts on the hunt for hungry browns and while the action has been hit or miss it’s tough to resist those soft edges and transitional zones created by the higher flows. Work those banks, keeping the strip on the slow side with plenty of pauses…they love to hit it on the pause. Whites, Greys, Olives, Blacks….lots of bugs getting noticed right now. MK Ultras, Circus Peanuts, Polar Leeches, SPARKLE MINNOWS, Baby Gongas, Kreelex, Clousers… etc. As always, fish the bugs you believe in changing patterns and colors until you find one that works.

Lodging is 100 percent open and our spring special runs through the end of the month. Shotgun Annie’s and Izaak’s are open for business and Upland Angler is a great option as well but their schedule varies so call ahead for reservations at (406)468-0080.

Don’t let the lingering winter weather get you down…plenty of nice weather ahead including what looks to be an awesome weekend. We hope to see you out here.

 

Out like a Lion

 

It’s hard to believe but March has all but passed us by and while  we traditionally expect March to come in fiercely like a lion and go out gently like a lamb it looks like the winter lion is going to stick around for a while yet.

Rain and snow are likely tomorrow with gusty south southwest winds in the afternoon ushering in a cold front which will drop us into the teens tomorrow night. We’ll see a high of only 32 on Saturday with a chance for some snow but Sunday looks better with temps back near 50. Maybe not the ideal weekend to fish the Missouri but sooner or later we’ll get there.

We definitely saw an increase in traffic this week with spring breakers taking advantage of some decent weather and enjoying the sunshine on the windy MO’. Fishing reports have been inconsistent but overall I’d say it’s been fair for most. As you would expect those who fish here often are having pretty good luck out there while those who are here for the first time or only hit it once or twice a year have been having a tougher go of it.

Nymphing is your best bet for numbers and not much has changed on the bug front. Anything with a pink bead works more often than not and firebeads are getting it done as well. The hottest bug of the spring thus far has been Pederson’s Sow (available exclusively at Wolf Creek Angler and currently in short supply but more are on the way). Pill poppers, Lucent Bead Rays, UV Crush, Bubble Yums, Pink Radiation Baetis and Wayno’s Cotton Candy have all been catching plenty of fish. Don’t shy away from black Zebras, tailwater sows, firebead rays etc. I’m still sticking with a #12 Pink Amex for a lead fly more often than not but Tungsten Rainbow Czechs, Casne’s Pinkalicious, Pink Weight Flies and Bubble Yums work too. Some have gone to the worm and done well.

Fish are still holding in the slower, deeper runs but we are starting to see a migration to transitional water so  fish the slow stuff but don’t be afraid to hit that medium fast, medium depth water as well. Some are fishing deep rigs and doing fine, we’ve been sticking with a 7′ – 8′ overall depth, sometimes with no weight, sometimes with a bb.

Streamer fishing has been hit or miss but if you stick with it throughout the day you should encounter at least a hot stretch or two. Kreelex, Craven’s Dirty Hippy, Sparkle Minnows, Lynch’s Drunk and Disorderly, Baby Gongas, Polar Leeches, Montana Minnows, Clousers and ZK’s Son of Bunny in pearl and MK Ultra in grey (both available exclusively at WCA) have all been effective. Greys, whites and olives have been good but as I say often fish what you like and what you have confidence in…it makes all the difference in the world.

Midges a plenty daily. Some days the fish are on them, some days they aren’t. Keep that dry fly rig at the ready. I’ve been running a hi-vis para adams with a Bucky’s Midge Cluster and haven’t seen any reason to switch it up but any Griffiths gnat or midge cluster ought to do the trick.

Overcast days have definitely been better overall (especially for streamer fishing) but we’re catching plenty of fish in the sun as well. Fish when you can.

Our spring lodging and guide trip special has been gaining in popularity as folks come to realize what an absolute STEAL of a Deal it is. Once again, that’s two nights of premium lodging and a full day guide trip for one or two anglers for just $550. We challenge you to find a better deal on the MO’.

We’re at about 50% open on our lodging just waiting for temps to stabilize before we open the rest but hopefully it won’t be long. Cabins and bungalows available now, motel rooms open soon.

The shop is rapidly filling up with new gear from Simms, Redington, Echo, Ross and more and we’re thrilled to announce that we are now your Exclusive Missouri River dealer for Damsel Fly Fishing, an AWESOME line of women’s fly fishing gear and apparel made right here in Montana. Check them out at www.damselflyfishing.com. We’re also excited to announce that we are now featuring Douglas Fly Rods. More on this soon but in the meantime check them out at   douglasoutdoors.com We’ll let you know as soon as we have them in. We’re sure you’re going to love these rods and we’re hearing  nothing but good things from the other dealers around the region.

It may not feel like it and it may not look like it just yet but spring is definitely here and we can’t wait to see you back on the Missouri.

Remember Izaak’s opens Thursday, April 5th and we can’t wait!!

 

 

 

 

The March Toward Spring

The spring streamer game on the MO’ has commenced – photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Last week I proclaimed that winter was loosening its grip. Winter countered my proclamation with yet another round of cold and snow.

Today I repeat my proclamation.

The sun is shining and the forecast is calling for highs in the 40’s for the next several days, trending towards 50’s next week.

Like the weather, fishing has been improving over the past several days though the ramps are still a problem and will likely continue to be for the next few days. Hopefully by the weekend the warmer temps and plentiful sunshine will have things in better shape but we encourage you to check out your put in and take out prior to committing to a float. At the very least give us a call before you come out and we’ll tell you what we know.

We did Craig to Spite Hill yesterday after hearing Mid Canon was a no – go. Both Craig and Spite were fine but they may get worse before they get better. We’ll keep you posted.

Nymphing was so-so yesterday and will be the preferred method for most for the next while. You’ll still want to concentrate your efforts on the slow, deep winter water…typically working inside out. Pill Popper was the bug of choice yesterday but you should do fine with anything pink. For my money it’s hard to beat a pink Amex trailed with a pill popper or a firebead anything but black zebra midges should also be a staple in your spring nymph arsenal. Tailwater sows, Bubble Yum Scuds, Rainbow Czechs, Rainbow Warriors, Wayno’s Cotton Candy, firebead rays, Rainbow Weight fly, Pinkalicious, Pederson’s Sow…you get the idea…status quo.

Dry fly fishing opportunities abound right now with an abundance of midges on the water and plenty of fish up. Yesterday was the most fish I’ve seen up so far this season. Keep your midge rig at the ready.

You won’t be surprised to hear that yesterday’s focus was streamer fishing. We fished some water I don’t spend a lot of time streamer fishing as well as some go-to spots and had a pretty good day overall. Slower, deep water and drop offs were productive. A slow and varied retrieve  was effective but we got some action with a little more aggressive and active retrieve as well.

Olive, natural and white variations have been getting noticed. Slender, leechy patterns are a good bet but don’t be afraid to try something different. The browns are hungry and seem to be on the hunt. One rainbow and one mammoth whitey yesterday, all of the rest were browns.

If you haven’t done so yet this season it’s time to break out the streamer stick and go to work. Granted there are likely more fish still being caught on the swing right now but stripping season is upon us. We’ve got what is considered by some to be the best streamer selection on the Missouri and while we love dry fly fishing and nymphing, there are few things we are as passionate about as the streamer game. Stop in and check out our bugs and pick our brains…we’d love to feed your streamer addiction.

Our Spring Special has been on for weeks though the weather has kept trips to a minimum. That’s all about to change.

Shake that cabin fever and get out there. It’s time for spring fishing on the Missouri. $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 and longest running special on the MO hands down.

Look for more lodging to open up within the next week or two as traffic continues to increase. It’s been a long cold winter (and is likely not over) but spring is definitely in the air. Book your spring trip with Wolf Creek Angler today.

Welcome March

Just a quick follow-up on Monday’s ramp report. I did check all the launches yesterday and everything I said in that report holds true. A rope and a 4 x 4 for all of them, avoid Dearborn and Mt Palace altogether.

Mid Canon

Mountain Palace

Stickney

Prewett Creek

Prewett Creek

It felt like February would NEVER end but here we are, March 1st and it actually feels like winter may FINALLY be loosening its grip. It’s still cold and we’re still looking at snow in the forecast but those single digit temps seem to be gone for now, replaced with mid 30’s. The days are noticeably longer and it just feels like the shift is underway.

Traffic has increased ever so slightly both on the river and in the shop and we’re actually moving some bugs again. Lots of folks stopping in for their 2018 fishing licenses this morning. Don’t forget to purchase yours before you hit the water again.

There’s still plenty of ice on Holter and most of the fishing traffic continues to be out there but that will all change soon enough. March is midge madness month on the MO’ so dust off that dry fly rod and get out here. I’ve made it a point to try to catch a fish on a dry fly by the end of February each year but it got away from me this year. It was a brutally cold month for the most part so I barely fished and the couple times I did make it out I stuck to streamers and nymphs.

Nymphing will always be your best bet for numbers but streamer fishing and early spring dry fly fishing are definitely worth your time. Hot nymphs for March….status quo. Black Zebra midges, Rainbow Czechs, Pink Amex, Pill Poppers, Pinkalicious, Firebead anything, pink lighting bugs, UV Crush…you get the idea.

There’s really no time I don’t like to streamer fish but Mid March through April is probably my favorite time to throw streamers on the Missouri. Swinging and slow stripping is fine but once the water warms up you can really start to move those bugs and the fish will chase them down, sometimes following them all the way to the boat.

We’ve still been doing well with polar leeches, kreelex and clousers but it’s time to show them something they haven’t seen. Try some different patterns and some different colors and don’t be afraid to go big. It’s been a long, cold winter with very little fishing pressure…those big browns will soon be on the move looking for calorie rich targets, give em’ what they want.

Best bets for dry fly selection include Bucky’s Midge Cluster, Hi Vis Midge, Black Sipper, Hi vis Sprout, Adams Midge, Griffiths Gnat, Grizzly Midge Cluster…really any midge cluster will do. I like to lead mine with a parachute Adams just to provide a visual as most of these midge patterns are a little tough to see.

Once again, it’s still winter fishing but our sense is that things are about to change so get ready for the 2018 season to officially get underway soon.

Make us your first stop on the way to the river for licenses, flies, great deals on winter gear and the friendliest service and most laid back atmosphere you’ll find anywhere.

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!

 

Late April on the MO’

 

Are there any bugs you ask? Ummm….just a few! photo by Luke Koerten

As we close out the month of April and head into the heart of the spring season things are shaping up nicely on the Missouri with plenty of water (but not too much), plenty of bugs and plenty of hungry trout.

The fishing has been tough on some days, pretty damn good on others. Overall I would still call it “spotty” but there are stretches which are consistently fishing pretty good and some go to areas within said stretches which are holding good concentrations of fish as you would expect them to in mid to late spring.

We’ve still seen better numbers of fish being caught in the canyon but we’ve also had some fair days in the dam to Craig stretch which seems to be improving by the day.

Flows have stabilized in the 7000 cfs range but we are still seeing drops and bumps of a couple of hundred cfs on a fairly regular basis which may be contributing to the spottiness. Water temps are on the rise and are currently holding in the 45 degree range which has the trout on the move.

Streamer fishing has been inconsistent but if you hit it right you can expect plenty of chases and some aggressive takes. The  same could be said for the dry fly action. There has been no shortage of bugs with gobs of midges and plenty of BWO’s in the mix but finding feeding fish has been a challenge on most days. Again, if you hit it right you could be in for some epic dry fly fishing….the best of this young season. Obviously “hitting it right” is the key and therein lies the challenge. Our advice….fish early and fish often. You may or may not hit it right but we can say with 100 percent certainty that if you aren’t on the water you aren’t going to catch fish. It’s as simple as that.

Nymphing has been less of a roll of the dice and will continue to be the best bet for numbers. With the increase in flows some of the slots you may be used to holding fish may have moved so if you come up empty fishing your usual line go back and do it again, changing your path rather than the depth of your rig, generally moving towards the bank a foot or two to find your desired water column.

We’ve found most of the fish in the top section are still concentrated in slower, deeper, winterish water which has been producing good results river-wide however we have definitely begun to see a transition to shallow, faster water in the canyon stretch. Fish the slow stuff down there and if you can’t  find them then try shortening up your rig and fishing the faster shallow summer water.

Sow bugs have been our go-to as of late with the Tailwater sow leading everything else in my box. We’ve also had good luck with soft hackle sows, yum yums and Firebead sows. Caviar Scuds, Bubble Yums, Rainbow Czechs, LGM’s, Rainbow Warriors, black zebras, Pink Amex, Radiation Baetis, S & M’s , Juju’s, pink or purple Lightning Bugs and hot bead wire worms have all been good options depending on the day.

Keep your midge clusters and BWO’s at the ready as well just in case you happen upon some heads. A hi vis parachute Adams or a Purple Haze paired with a Griffiths Gnat or midge cluster is hard to beat but we’ve also had BWO rigs at the ready. Sprout Baetis, Nyman’s DOA Cripple Baetis, BWO Film Critic, Wilcox’s Micromay BWO’s , No Hackle BWO’s, Flash Cripples and Hackle Stackers are all good dry fly options you have at your disposal.

On the streamer side we haven’t seen any one bug leading the charge. It’s kind of been all over the place but greys, whites and olives have been producing in various sizes. I’ve had good luck lately  with ZK’s Bunny Wailer in olive and in white and we’ve also been moving fish with brown Dirty Hippies, Sculpin and JJ Sparkle Minnows, Godzilla Sculpins, Baby Gongas in rust, tan and olive Circus Peanuts and black and olive Dolly Llamas. I say it all the time…fish what you like because you’ll fish it with confidence and if you are fishing with confidence you’ll up your odds. Give it a solid hour or more. Change colors, change patterns, vary your retrieve. Streamer fishing requires a commitment which often times leaves you blanked but when you see that chase or feel that slam you’ll definitely want more.

Come on by the shop and check out our much talked about amazing fly selection. We’ve got bugs you won’t find anywhere else as well as plenty you’ll find everywhere else. We pride ourselves on our extremely well-stocked fly bins and we’re confident that if you’ve never shopped our bins you’ll likely be shocked and awed by our selection and if not shocked and awed than at least pleasantly surprised. Buy your Missouri River flies where many of the best guides on the river  do…Wolf Creek Angler!

We’re open daily at 7:30 am for all of you Missouri River fly fishing needs. Shuttles, Adipose and RO Drift Boat Rentals, LOOP rods and reels, Redington wading gear, Simms outerwear and accessories, clean and affordable lodging, the best guides on the water, the aforementioned biggest and best selection of bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek MT and much more.

We’ll be looking at cloudy skies and a chance of precipitation (rain and snow) most of this week. BWO and Streamer weather to be sure. We did have a couple of cancellations for the weekend which has been booked solid for some time. If a last-minute trip to the MO sounds like something you’d be interested in give us a call and book today. It’s the final weekend to take advantage of our spring lodging and guide trip special….2 nights and a full day on the water for the ridiculous price of  $500.  You heard right. Don’t let this opportunity slip away. Starting Monday this same trip will cost you over $750.