Five Years In

Wolf Creek Angler has a birthday coming up. This April 1st we turn 5 years old.




In some ways it feels like yesterday we opened up our doors but looking back there’s no denying we’ve come a LONG way.

Five years ago we spent the month of March transforming this old shack into the shop we’d dreamed up over years of frequenting fly shops. We still love the look and feel of this place though we are definitely space-challenged and doing our best to fit an ever-growing product line into our limited, but well utilized, space.

Just to highlight how much things have changed, there was actually a discussion early on of putting a raft in the shop just to take up space since we didn’t have enough merchandise to fill the shop. That’s not an issue today!

Enjoy this walk down memory lane….

Montana River Outfitters interior….where it all started

Another Time, Another Place


Montana River Outfitters Exterior

Inside the empty shell…winter 2014

Changing of the Guard (and the sign)

Taking Shape

Digging In









WCA 2019





Since we opened, it’s been our goal to make continuous improvements to the shop and to our lodging units. Sometimes its little things, sometimes its big things. Sometimes its things you’ll notice, often times its things that go unnoticed but which you’d definitely notice in a bad way if we didn’t do them.

This fifth year was no different. Some of our birthday gifts to you this year include;
• A Full Line Simms Dealership at Wolf Creek Angler
• Reels from Waterworks/Lamson
• New and improved Wi-Fi Access property-wide
• Fully remodeled motel rooms (just completed #11, the last of them)
• New carpet in Cabin #4
• New water heaters in all of our cabins

With the exception of the water heaters and the Wi-Fi these are all very visible improvements which are the fun ones to make and even though you’d probably never have occasion to notice things like water heaters, we love making these improvements almost just as much as they make it so much easier to sleep at night.

You can expect continuous change and continuous improvements as long as we’re around because as long as you keep coming back we want to do everything we can to enhance your experience shopping, fishing and staying with us.
We hope you join us this season at Wolf Creek Angler, it’s definitely a mile stone but honestly, we’re just getting started.
We are your FULL SERVICE Missouri River fly shop and we’re getting better with age. Come experience CHILL in Wolf Creek, far removed from chaos. You’ll be glad you did.

Wintering in Wolf Creek

I often get asked the question what do you do in the winter?

I think there’s a misconception out there amongst some that if you work in the Montana fly fishing industry then you must spend your winters in exotic tropical destinations,  living on all of that money you made during the season, roaming the flats in search of tarpon and permit and bonefish and sipping on pina coladas on the beaches at night as you await the return of spring time in Montana.

I’m not saying there aren’t those who actually do this but I sure haven’t figured out how to pull it off.

It’s true that Wolf Creek and Craig are transformed into near ghost towns during the long winter months. There are plenty of days during the dead of winter we won’t see a customer come through the door so why even stay open?

It’s a good question, and one I often ask myself as I’m white knuckling it out to Wolf Creek from Helena. The answer is that there’s a little more to it than selling flies and telling lies in the shop. What goes on behind the counter is much more than ringing up sales. All the product hanging on the walls and all of the flies sitting in the bins don’t just magically appear. Someone has to order all of it, trying not to order too much (or too little). Someone has to figure out what (and how much)  we should carry based on predicting what will sell during the coming season.

Someone has to negotiate favorable terms with vendors to maximize profitability and go to battle with reps to try to bring in more of what you expect and demand from your Missouri River fly shop.

Someone has to write blog posts and maintain social media.

How about lodging and guide trips? The rooms and boats obviously don’t book themselves. Those summer mornings with a parking lot full of guide rigs and those nights of a full house of happy clients relaxing on the decks telling fish stories over cocktails all start behind this counter at this keyboard in the dead of winter. Someone takes those calls, answers those emails and books and confirms those reservations.

And speaking of lodging, it’s our intention to continuously improve on all levels but we’ve made a truly dedicated commitment from the start to tackle major lodging improvements  as time and money allow. Someone has to make those improvements and they can’t be made during the season.

In each of these cases that someone just happens to be me. Of course I have some help, especially with the lodging improvements as a handy man I am not, but the long and short of it is there are plenty of things to be done during the winter months. And while much of this could be done remotely from elsewhere,  there remains an amazing fishery here year round so why wouldn’t we be here to provide winter anglers with everything they need for winter fishing on the Missouri?

Along those lines, why wouldn’t we be here to enjoy this amazing river all winter long when we can have it virtually to ourselves on any given day?

For the past three winters we’ve kept limited lodging open to provide a place to stay for those braving the cold and fishing the river and in doing so we’ve  become a destination for hard water anglers from around the region who come to fish Holter Lake. Our lodging has been full more weekends than not this winter which has been a pleasant and much welcomed surprise. Obviously things are a little lean during the winter so we’re thankful for anything we can generate to help offset heating and other operational costs incurred during the offseason.

Consequently, when people stay rooms need to be cleaned and while we’ve been busy enough this winter to warrant some help with housekeeping, I’ve spent more than a couple of days cleaning rooms and doing laundry. Just another aspect of living the dream!

So what do I do in the winter? I do the same thing I do the other three seasons of the year, I run my business (and try to not let it run me). Wolf Creek Angler is a living, breathing, ever-growing, ever improving outfitter owned and operated business. It is my life’s dream and it is the way I feed my family. This ain’t no hobby shop, this is how I make a living.

Come see us this winter at Wolf Creek Angler, we’d love to have you as our guest.


Mark Your Calendars: Bugs & Suds Tying Night with Vince Wilcox.


If you’ve fished the Missouri in the last 4 or so years you’ve probably heard of a little mayfly nymph named Wilcox’s Little Green Machine. If you big northernsean hall 4haven’t heard of it, I don’t know what to tell you except you should probably reconsider your choice of fly shop. The LGM is pretty much a must have for your box and is now a standard, go-to Missouri River fly once the smaller techy bugs start getting some attention. The man behind the Green Machine, Vince Wilcox will be joining us all the way from his home in the Adirondack Mountains of New York for a relaxed evening of fly tying and food during his yearly pilgrimage to Western trout waters. The grill will be cranking out burgers and dogs and we’ll supply some beverages to go along.  Bring your tying vice, materials, tools and pull up a chair along side on the most creative tiers of our time. The fun begins on May 5th at 6 p.m. at the shop with a sit down, question and answer period  fish stories and other lies, probably. In all seriousness folks, this is not an instructional course, all skill levels are welcome to attend and share techniques, tips and just enjoy some, what I would imagine to be, decent company and good beer at the least.

~Cheers, Chewy. 

green-machine (1)

Why Wolf Creek? 10 Reasons you should make Wolf Creek your Missouri River fly fishing destination


10. Location, Location, Location


Wolf Creek is located just 3 miles from the Wolf Creek Bridge and 4.5 miles from Holter Dam. Chances are if you are traveling by car to fish the Missouri from much of Western, Southwestern and Central Montana and beyond you will be passing through Wolf Creek before you reach the river. Whether you are coming from Helena, Missoula, Kalispell, Billings, Bozeman, Butte or a host of other cities Wolf Creek is your first access to the Missouri River. Since Holter Dam to Craig is the most popular section of the river to float/fish it only makes sense to exit at Wolf Creek, buy your flies and arrange your shuttles at Wolf Creek Angler and proceed to your adventure on the MO. We will shuttle your rig to Craig or wherever you choose to float and you will have saved yourself all kinds of time and substantial mileage. If you choose to bypass Wolf Creek and start your day in Craig you have already added eight miles to your trip. Not the end of the world but by the time you travel eight miles back to Holter Dam or Wolf Creek Bridge you’ve added roughly 15-20 miles to your trip and shaved 30 minutes to an hour off of your fishing time. If you come out once a week to fish you are looking at 60-80 extra miles and a loss of several hours of fishing time over the course of the month. If you fish every month of the year it could be costing you up to several hundred dollars (depending on gas prices) and up to two days of lost fishing time over the course of a year! That’s a steep price to pay and we would love to help you save your time and money.

9. Food, Gas and Lodging


Wolf Creek Lodging

Looking to have access to amenities during your trip to the Missouri any time of the year? Wolf Creek is your destination. With two bar/restaurants and the ONLY gas station/convenience store and the ONLY US Post Office between Helena and Cascade, Wolf Creek is your first choice. Need lodging? Wolf Creek Angler has you covered with affordable lodging options year round. We’ve got units with full kitchens and full baths which sleep up to four comfortably and during the warmer months we’ve got no-frills motel rooms for under $70/night. We are dog friendly, we offer guide discounts and all of our units are clean and comfortable and right next door to a first-rate Missouri River fly shop.

8. A River Runs Through It

Much of Norman MaClean's A River Runs Through It ws set in and around Wolf Creek.

Much of Norman Maclean’s novel A River Runs Through It takes place in and around Wolf Creek. Wolf Creek is mentioned in the story many times – other Missouri River fishing destinations are not.

7. Little Prickly Pear/Wolf Creek Canyon

Postcard view of Little Prickly Pear Canyon

Postcard view of Little Prickly Pear Canyon

Our awe-inspiring canyon goes by both names. Whatever you choose to call it it’s an amazing place. Please keep your eyes on the road as you wind your way through the canyon along Little Prickly Pear Creek. More than a billion years ago,during the Precambrian Era, an ancient inland seaway deposited these shales and sands, which over time,became these vibrant red and green mudstones called“Spokane Shale”. Many of our guests enjoy relaxing times on the porch gazing at the rugged hillside across from the shop where we often see mule deer and big horn sheep and the occasional black bear.

6. The Oasis


Located within walking distance of Wolf Creek Angler, The Oasis offers dining during the season and is a great place to unwind anytime of the year with a game of pool or just watching the game and relaxing in the bar.

5. Welcome to Wolf Creek MT


Wolf Creek is made up of an eclectic mix of residents, some with deep Montana roots spanning generations, others who’ve arrived here from anywhere and elsewhere and have fallen in love with all that Wolf Creek has to offer. It might get a little weird around Wolf Creek sometimes but that’s part of what we love about it. Come discover for yourself the charm of Wolf Creek MT.

4. Wolf Creek Bridge


Thinking about summertime... photo by Wolf Creek Angler


To call the Wolf Creek Bridge iconic is an understatement. Everyone who has fished the Missouri knows the bridge. It is probably our most photographed local landmark and images of our bridge often appear on the blogs and facebook pages of local fly shops and outfitters. We love our bridge so much we made it a part of our logo and while we love to see pictures of our bridge on social media, Wolf Creek Angler is the only shop with a rightful claim to the Wolf Creek Bridge.

3. Shotgun Annie’s


A Wolf Creek institution, Shotgun Annie’s (formerly The Frenchman and Me) is the only year-round restaurant between Helena and Cascade. It is a classic small town Montana saloon and is a favorite amongst our guests. Enjoy breakfast, lunch and  dinner and Shotgun Annie’s. They serve up great steaks, ribs, burgers and more.

2. Montana Microbrews at The Canyon Store


Rivaling the Montana-Made beer selection of large grocery stores in the bigger cities, The Canyon Store has fully embraced the Montana Microbrew craze. Check out their great selections from Lewis and Clark, Bitterroot Brewing, Bayern, Mighty Mo, Bozone and more.

1. Wolf Creek Angler

Wolf Creek Anglers Services

On the move and at your service since April of 2014, we are here for the long haul and fully intend to do our part to put Wolf Creek back on the map as a Missouri River fly fishing destination. We are your full service Missouri River fly shop offering lodging, guided fly fishing, drift boat and equipment rentals, shuttle service and a first-rate shop with an ever-growing inventory of everything you need for success on the Missouri River including the largest selection of Missouri River flies ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

This season make Wolf Creek your Missouri River fly fishing destination!

Spring Fever – guest blog by WCA Guide Eric Mondragon


Higher flows on the MO are perfect conditions for the worm!

Higher flows on the MO are perfect conditions for the worm!

On March 29th I fished the Missouri from Wolf Creek to Craig with a friend. With flows over 6,000 CFS I wanted to get out and do some recon to see where the fish are holding and what they are interested in eating. Well, they were where I thought they would be and with a little adjustment of leaders, indicator and weight, we were busy hooking up most of the day.

I’d be lying if I said the hatch was pretty precise. I spent about a half hour with a silver skittish smolt on the line and moved about six fish. They were hitting that streamer, but I was more focused on nymphs because I have some guide trips scheduled in the near future and I want to be prepared for clients. The fish hit on anything with a hot bead and the infamous extended red-bodied nymph (a.k.a red San Juan worm). We didn’t really try any other nymphs.

We noticed a midge hatch around noon in some of the quiet water back eddies. However, we only saw a few fish up so the midge are nothing to get excited over yet. Water temperature is in the high thirties, but I think when we hit the low forties, we will see more midge and blue winged olive hatches. Then the fish will rise.

I am really excited about what I think will be a nice water year, or maybe a normal water year. There has been a lot of talk about what is the ideal water flow number. I don’t necessarily think there is an ideal. It is sort of like discussing fish counts. In reality, fish need to eat to live. As a guide, it is my job to find out what they are interested in on any given day. The conditions and flows are largely out of my control anyway. When I am out there I am not thinking about flows or counts. I am just concerned about the fish on the end of my fly line.

More recently, I fished with the boys from Montana Fly Company. They were shooting footage for a new short film. The working title is “The Purist” and it is projected to be released in a year or two. A camera operator shot footage from my boat. Another camera operator filmed from a second boat manned by Rob Weiker, a guide from Whitefish, Montana. Montana Fly Company sales representative Stirling Ross Tyler fished from Rob’s boat during filming.

I got to throw a line in the water during breaks. It was cold all day, but fishing was good. We started with green machines and juju baetis nymphs along with some hot beads and black zebra midge and floated the stretch from Holter dam to Craig. It was a busy day chasing indicators. We had so much fun and didn’t even break out the streamer box. We caught quite a few rainbows and a few brown trout and they looked really good and healthy. The MFC film crew were cool cats and I hope to fish with them again.

Opening Day!!!



The new fly cave at Wolf Creek Angler is filled with the patterns you need for success on the Missouri River

After. The new fly cave at Wolf Creek Angler is filled with the patterns you need for success on the Missouri River


What was….



What is. We are fully stocked with new gear from Redington, Rio, St Croix, Echo, Fishpond, Ross and much, much more.


Yesterday was the official opening day of Wolf Creek Angler. It’s been a busy couple of weeks trying to get everything done and ready for the big opening day and while it’s still definitely a work in progress, the doors are open and we are ready to do whatever we can to earn your business and to hopefully become your Missouri River fly fishing destination

Most of our lodging units are open for the season and are available at discounted spring rates of $99/night for a cabin or bungalow and $59 for Cabin #3 which is the only one of the open units which does not have a full kitchen. We are keeping a close eye on the weather but with 60’s in the forecast for next week it won’t be long until our Motel units are up and running and ready to rent.

We are pleased to announce that Wolf Creek Angler will feature a brand new fleet of Montana made RO Drift Boats

We are pleased to announce that Wolf Creek Angler will feature a brand new fleet of Montana made RO Drift Boats

We are proud to announce a brand new fleet of RO drift boats which will be available for rent at a rate of $150/day. The first of our three new boats is scheduled to arrive tomorrow with the other two to follow by May 1st. In the meantime whether it’s a drift boat or a raft or a kayak you are looking for we can help!

Last but certainly not least, the shop is open and we are anxious to serve you. Flies, shuttles, terminal tackle, waders, boots, cold weather and rain gear, rods, reels, accessories and plenty of Wolf Creek Angler logo gear and much, much more. We’ve worked hard all winter long assembling our inventory and creating the space in which to present it and we think you’re going to like what we’ve done.

Oh…and by the way, the fishing has been just fine. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the water ourselves, but we’ve had boats out the last couple of days working on an episode of Big Sky Outdoors which will be airing in June. We will keep you posted on this. All reports have been positive where the fishing is concerned, though we are still waiting on the warm sunny days that get the baetis going but it looks like they will be here soon. Pink anything, sow bugs, Rainbow Czechs….you know the routine. It’s all working and it’s just a matter of finding the right depth/weight combination and the right water which continues to be the slower winter fare. Streamers have been producing as well worked slow and deep. Try a swing through the deeper water rather than a strip. Darker colors are working well and you can’t go wrong with the Sparkle Minnow!

Having trouble figuring it out? Book a Wolf Creek Angler guide trip today at the ridiculously affordable rate of $300 for a FULL day through the end of the month.

See you in the shop and on the water!   ~ Jason O.


Play Time – guest blog from Wolf Creek Angler Guide Eric Mondragon



Wolf Creek Angler Co-Owner Fred Davison getting it done with streamers on the MO


Streamer season is here! Wolf Creek Angler Guide Eric Mondragon with a nice brown from last weekend.


Fred Davison and I fished the Missouri just a few days before flows went up. Fred is a new friend and co-owner of  Wolf Creek Angler, the new fly shop located in Wolf Creek MT. We spent the week before working pretty hard demolishing the interior of WCA’s new shop. We decided that Saturday would be a great day to get out. All work and no play isn’t good for the soul or the mind, so we loaded up the Adipose and an arsenal of streamer rods and hit the water. We floated from Stickney to Prewett Creek.

The morning started out slow but by 11:00 a.m. or so, we started moving fish on black colored and copper brown shaded streamers. Fred is from Michigan, so he was in his element with an eight weight streamer rod. He has a lot of time invested in the Au Sable, Pere Marquette and Manistee rivers where he stripped streamers for big browns back East. He can get it done, I’ll tell you.

I was surprised at how he was able to move fish. He didn’t really strip the bugs back toward the boat, but let the fly hit the water and then took one or maybe two strips. Then he jigged the rod tip back to an upright position. It looked almost like setting up for a roll cast. Then he would roll back out. I asked him about that technique. Fred explained that is how they roll back home in Michigan because of all the brush and trees overhanging the water. It worked great and I don’t think he got tired using an eight weight rod with a full sink line.

I, on the other hand, like a fast six or slow to medium speed seven weight rod. I prefer either a floating line or an intermediate sink tip line. When the water is cold like it was on Saturday (35 degrees or so), my technique is: small strip, pause, small strip, pause. Usually a hit comes during the pause.

By 3:00 p.m. we were moving fish above Mountain Palace in what I would call “kind of moderately skinny fast water” maybe 18” to 24” deep. In that section, a faster strip was more effective. Fred tied on a smallish black pattern a friend turned him on to and I used that copper colored sparkle minnow thingy. We caught some fish and even chased an indicator with good success. Xavier hot beads and pink lightening bugs were a good choice when we chose nymphs over streamers in the canyon stretch. All in all it was a fine day to be fishing (and not working). I hope to enjoy another day like that before I start making my living on the water this spring when guide season gets started.

Interested in streamer fishing the Missouri? Give Wolf Creek Angler a call at 1-800-800-4350 and take advantage of their $300 full day spring guide trip special through April.

Digging In

Tearing into the old walls at Wolf Creek Angler

Tearing into the old walls at Wolf Creek Angler


Out with the old and in with the new. Walls framed and drywall in process on Day 2.

These are busy and exciting days at Wolf Creek Angler as we begin the heavy lifting of transforming an old and tired structure into a first rate Missouri River fly shop.

Fred has been busy with the help of Wolf Creek Angler Guide Extraordinaire/master craftsman Eric Mondragon. The first days have been spent tearing out the old walls and lights and fixtures etc. and we are now on our way to creating what we hope will be your favorite Missouri River fly shop. Soon the old shop will be completely transformed as we make our vision a reality. We can’t wait to show you our new shop!

We took a break from shop work last weekend and traveled to Missoula for the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM) annual meeting. It was a great turnout and a great opportunity to meet colleagues and get the word out about Wolf Creek Angler.

This week has been busy at the shop as Fred and Eric work diligently towards completion of the remodel while I spend much of my days on the phone with customers, vendors, reps and the powers that be who regulate things like motels and fly shops. It’s all coming together and soon the property will be abuzz with activity as fishy folks from all over the state descend on the Missouri to escape their raging local waters.

And speaking of water – I did my first guide trip of the season yesterday and learned that 5400 cfs is considerably different from 3000 cfs which I had become so accustomed to over the past year. Predictions about the flow for this season are all over the place but the last correspondence we received from the Bureau of Reclamation is predicting average flows of 4100 for the year and if they are anywhere close to being accurate – we LOVE it! Stay tuned! As of today she’s flowing at 5550 and holding at 35 degrees. The weather is beautiful and it’s time for spring fishing. Pink everything, firebeads, san juan worms, zebra midges and streamers should all be in your mix right now.

Give us a call today and take advantage of our Spring Special guide rates. Full day $300 (Regular Price $495). Put us to work!

A fat and happy Missouri River Spring Bow

A fat and happy Missouri River Spring Bow



Starting to look like a fly shop


Signs are up at Wolf Creek Angler, your newest Missouri River Flyshop

We are starting to see more signs of the coming season daily. A few more boats on the water, a few more cars at the walk-in spots, a little more daylight each day and a slow but steady transformation from what was to what will be at Wolf Creek Angler.

The signs are up on the building and we have started work inside. We can’t wait to show off our new fly shop and we are confident you will be pleased with the changes we are making inside and out. It’s such an exciting time for us as we embrace the evolution, reject the status quo and strike off into uncharted territory with hopes and dreams of becoming your Missouri River fly fishing destination.

We have sought the help of many and will continue to do so as we move towards our “opening day”. Dave Hartman of Strip’n Flywear in Whitefish MT deserves a huge thanks for visualizing our concept and helping us to create an awesome logo and Tim Husted of Surface Expressions in Ludington MI has spent countless hours with Fred working his magic to turn our fly bin concepts into a reality. We are so proud of these fly bins and we know you are going to love the bins themselves almost as much as the great selection of flies that will reside in them.


Fly bins all our own with the bridge we love


Soon to be filled with the best selection of Missouri River flies ever to be seen in Wolf Creek Montana

A big thanks also to Peggy Jablonski of Cutting Edge Image and Design for outfitting our Michigan contingent with awesome Wolf Creek Angler logo gear. We’ve got all sorts of product arriving daily and we continue to search for the perfect mix of inventory which will not only satisfy our current customers but which will also broaden our appeal by offering you more of the products and services you expect from your Missouri River flyshop.

It looks like cold and snow for the weekend and cold right through next week with temperatures below freezing. Perfect conditions for staying inside and building a flyshop!

Stay tuned…

Spring Fishing in February


Spring is in the air. A gorgeous Missouri River Rainbow


The clouds retreat over the Missouri River at Holter Dam.

Spring-like weather arrived in Wolf Creek this week and with it some much needed time on the water and some damn good fishing.

I made my weekly run to the post office in Wolf Creek on Tuesday and threw the rod in the rig just in case. Driving out of Helena I ran into wintry weather all the way to Wolf Creek but about the time I got there the snow stopped and the clouds began to move out. intrigued by the moody skies hanging over the mountains I decided to take a drive to the dam to see if I could get some good pictures. When I got to the dam the clouds were in full retreat, the sun was shining and the 40 degree temps felt like 70’s after more than a week of sub-zero temps and wind chills.

I snapped a few pictures and geared up and talked myself into two hours max as there is no shortage of Wolf Creek Angler business to attend to. That being said, fishing is the business of Wolf Creek Angler and this is why I came here in the first place so office work be damned (at least for a couple of hours). I took a stroll into a frog water winter haunt and hooked whitey on the second cast…not what I had hoped for but better than  many other things I could be doing. I spent the next little while searching for the sweet spot and once I found it it was lights out. Half a dozen fish in 30 minutes – I’ll take that ANY day. Firebeads and pink and no reason to try anything else on this particular outing. Crazy midge activity but very few fish keyed into them at this point. I saw one or two rises but would personally rather rope them in on nymphs all day than play that game.


Midges aplenty on the Missouri River

What a great way to spend a couple of hours on a warm February day. I pretty much had the water to myself save for a boat full of comrades from downstream out enjoying the thaw and I did run into Wolf Creek Angler guide and shop veteran Matt Hargrave who was out doing R & D with some sexy new bugs he has created.

I followed that up with a visit to Hauser on Wednesday which resulted in various minor contusions and my typical fishing luck on that water which is not very good. FYI – though the thaw is certainly underway much of the ground is still frozen solid and very slippery. Not a good combination on a steep slope when one is hiking in wading boots. Ouch!

Spring Like conditions on the Missouri River at Hauser Dam

Spring Like conditions on the Missouri River at Hauser Dam

Back to work today. Lots of product ordered and starting to come in as we prepare for our April 1st opening. We will have all kinds of Wolf Creek Angler logo wear available when we open the doors as well as a HUGE selection of flies and plenty of surprises to keep you coming back.

Expect a fair amount of traffic on the water this weekend as the weather looks like it’s going to be awesome with temps in the mid to high 40’s and plenty of sunshine before things cool down again the middle part of next week.