Weekly Update

PMD’s are what’s on the menu. Stop by Wolf Creek Angler for the widest selection of Missouri River flies ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

When I posted late last week we were hoping to see the switch flipped on bugs and dry fly action by the early to middle part of this week but then Christmas came early and we were treated to an epic day of blanket PMD hatches and sipping trout on Friday. I was more than happy to be wrong.

We did endure yet another cold front with some parts of the state even seeing substantial snow over the weekend but the weather didn’t seem to have as adverse of an effect on the fishing as I thought it might. Friday was definitely the best PMD day I’ve experienced so far this season. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the switch has been flipped but if you are looking to make a day of dry fly fishing you should have ample opportunities from here on out.

Some days are better than others but there are varying amounts of bugs and you can usually find at least a few willing players if you look hard enough.
Nymphing is still your numbers game but expect to have to work at it…it hasn’t been easy but it’s all good once you crack the code. Mind you the code changes daily, and sometimes even hourly but it’s the challenge that keeps you coming back.

Deep nymphing has been productive and when it’s not the short leash has performed (for some). We’re finding fish in faster water, shallow to medium depths and also suspended in the go-to swirly spots. Green Machines have been the most consistent bug (size matters, #16’s, #18’s and #20’s all getting some love depending on the day). Split Case PMD’s , PMD Psycho May, S & M, Redemption, Frenchies, Gold Lightning Bugs, Crack Backs, Military Mays, Peep Shows are all good choices for PMD nymphs. Keep those Tailwater Sows close at hand as well. Some days it’s all they’ll eat, other days they’re hit and miss but keep in mind that there are ALWAYS sow bugs in the river so they are NEVER a bad call. We’ve had a bit of success with Weight Flies and Tung Darts but the Caddis game has not yet been great. Zirdles and Crays are getting the occasional eat but we’ve yet to see the fish really key in on them. We’re hoping it happens soon. After last season’s Zirdlepalooza we went DEEP on the Zirdle stock so come replenish your supply….we’ve got piles of zirdles in all colors and sizes.

Best bets for dry fly fishing include Rusty Spinners, PMD Spinners, Sprout PMD’s , Flash Cripple PMD’s, Hellen Keller PMD’s, Film Critics, CDC PMD Emergers, Nyman’s DOA Cripple and the like. Might we also suggest trailing your PMD pattern of choice with a CDC Caddis Emerger. Mix PMD’s and Caddis you ask? Yes. Do it. You’ll thank us later.

And speaking of Caddis, don’t forget your Elk Hair Caddis, Bloom’s Parachute Caddis, X Caddis, Outrigger Caddis, Cornfed Caddis, Extended Body Caddis and more all available now at WCA.

Streamers? Maybe worth a shot before the weeds take hold but fading fast. Get dialed on your dry fly and nymphing game and fall streamer fishing will be here before you know it. And before that happens don’t forget HOPPER season will soon be upon us. We’ve already had some success on ants and beetles and we’re hoping it shapes up to be a great terrestrial year.

The river is busy and there are plenty of folks around but with 30 plus miles of fishable water there’s plenty of room to spread out and if you think outside of the box regarding launch times/locations you can often have vast stretches of river virtually to yourself. (Think EARLY or LATE start).

These early weeks of summer are homecoming time at WCA with our regulars from around the world returning once again to enjoy their home away from home. It’s my favorite time of the season with familiar faces all around.

Look for summer sales to start soon at WCA as we begin to clear the way for fall arrivals and don’t forget our third annual Make America Fly Again Half Price Fly Sale coming July 4th.

We hope you make us your first stop on your way to the MO’ for guides, drift boat rentals, shuttles, ice, sun protection, Simms wading gear and sportswear and the much ballyhooed largest selection of Missouri River flies every assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

The Wait

We teased you last week with some hopeful optimism.

Expectations were that following the weekend cold front and the return to normal weather conditions early in the week that the dry fly fishing could very well explode.

Prior to the cold front things were looking promising with increasing numbers of PMD’s showing up on the upper stretches and an occasional caddis here and there sparking the interest of many who’ve been patiently awaiting a decent caddis season on the Missouri.

Mid way through the week and well into warm weather conditions the waiting continues. Those in search of surface action have had to work extremely hard to find bugs and harder yet to find rising fish. They’re out there but it ain’t easy.

And while the Dearborn has continued to rapidly drop, bringing the canyon into near-perfect water conditions…the dry fly game down there has been nearly non-existent this week. Nymphing and streamer fishing the lower stretches hasn’t been anything to write home about either though there has been a fair amount of traffic  seeking the inevitable.

And so the wait continues.

When will it happen? It’s anyone’s guess but I have a feeling it will be very soon.

We’re looking at daytime temps in the high 70’s and low 80’s for the next 10 days. Water temps are edging up, currently closing in on 57 degrees with flows at 6200 CFS. It’s been a frustrating couple of days for those seeking dry fly Nirvana but it’s got to be coming soon. Conditions still seem right for the convergence and creation of the proverbial perfect storm which will perhaps usher in a truly epic season of dry fly fishing on the Missouri River.

Don’t give up hope. You won’t know if you don’t go. What better way to spend your day than floating down the Missouri on an idyllic late spring day. Blue skies, hills covered in green, warm and gentle breezes, singing song birds and the occasional rising trout….can you imagine anything more Zen than this?

Don’t like Zen? There are other ways to endure the wait. As long as you’re out there why not feed the fish where they are which is UNDER the water.

Nymphing has continued to generate the numbers though even the subsurface game has had its challenges as of late. You can’t go wrong with a tailwater sow and a green machine but there are billions of other bugs you could be throwing as well. Sows and scuds will always find fish but the waters of the MO are teeming with a smorgasbord of fish food right now. Mayfly nymphs should most definitely be a part of your arsenal from here on out, particularly the PMD variety. PMD Magic Fly, S & M, Redemption, PsychoMay, Split Case, Crack Back…and on and on. Piles of PMD patterns filling both sides of the bins at WCA.

Likewise, you should also be representing the caddis we’re all eagerly awaiting. Bloom’s Weight Fly, Tung Darts, Nitro Caddis, Pulsating Caddis, UV Czech Caddis….throw the kitchen sink at them.

Streamer fishing has been hit and miss but as always, it’s worth the effort. Streamer junkies aren’t typically about the numbers, they’re looking for that one big fish and will happily endure a day of casting for a shot at a big fish or two.

If you’re thinking streamers think Sparkle Minnows, MK Ultras, Thin Mints, Clousers, Mojo Minnows, Montana Mouthwash, ZK’s Inflated Ego etc and don’t overlook the small stuff. Try a zirdle or a pine squirrel leech…you just might be surprised.

Start your day at WCA for shuttles and bugs and so much more.

Dry flies or not….it’s Prime Time on Montana’s Missouri River.

Sunshine and Mud on the MO’

Farewell (for now)  to Rainy Days on the MO’

Following what seemed like weeks of cloudy, wet cold days the clouds have parted, giving way to the soul-warming, psyche lifting giant yellow orb in the sky.

It’s a mixed bag of clouds and sunshine today but it looks like we’re headed for warmer temperatures and an abundance of sunshine over these next ten days with highs inching into the 70’s tomorrow and near 80 by the end of the week.

Sure it may have been the most epic early spring fishing we’ve seen in some time on the Missouri but I think everyone is ready for some nicer weather.
In spite of insane March Brown madness these past weeks in addition to some solid streamer days and off the charts nymphing more days than not, traffic has been somewhat light so while we’ve been loving the fishing this spring on a personal level we’re ready for business to blow up which it looks like it’s about to.

The assumption is that the bright skies ahead may put a damper on the dry fly fishing but regardless, PMD’s and Caddis await and it won’t be long before we’re in the summer dry fly groove on the MO.

Following the weekend rain event we’re seeing traffic concentrated at the dam again with Little Prickly Pear and the Dearborn dumping mud. We’re finally looking at a relatively precipitation free extended forecast but the warmer temps will obviously keep runoff moving.

Snowpack remains in the 120 percent of average range for the Missouri main stem and right around 100 percent for the Upper Clark Fork and Sun, Teton and Marias drainages. The Madison, Gallatin and Smith drainages are all in good shape at close to 140 percent of average while the Flathead is trending in the 80 percent range with only the Kootenai running low at 50 percent of average.

What’s this mean for your Missouri River late spring and early summer fishing plans? We’re expecting flows to hold in the 8,000 CFS range for the remainder of May and into early June. The Dearborn is dropping so look for things to clear over the course of the week and look for traffic to steadily increase from here on out.

Runoff will soon push much of Montana’s fly fishing traffic to the Missouri so if you’re headed here expect to have some company.
We do have limited availability on lodging and guides for the next two weeks so it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy great fishing and great weather on the Missouri.

We are your one-stop shop on the way to the MO with lodging; guides; shuttle service; lunches; Simms boots, waders and sportswear; rods from Loop, Echo and Redington; reels from Lamson, Ross, Nautilus and Echo; sun protection; lines, leaders and tippet from Rio; optics from Smith and Suncloud and don’t forget….we have the largest selection of flies ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana. And these aren’t cheap shop ties, these are the real deal highest quality bugs money can buy from Umpqua, MFC, Solitude and YFG.

You’ve found your new Go To on the MO and need go no further than Wolf Creek. If you’re starting at the dam or Wolf Creek and coming from anywhere other than Great Falls then why would you add 15 miles to your trip by driving to Craig for shuttles and provisions and then driving back to the dam or Wolf Creek to launch. There’s absolutely no need to do that because we’ve got everything right here that you’re driving to Craig to buy.

We love Craig too but we want to save you the time, the money and the hassle.

We sincerely hope you’ll make Wolf Creek Angler your first stop on your next trip to the Missouri.

Guiding For The Future

Tom Miner Creek – a classroom like no other

Entomology 101

Hydrology 101

Guide Ethics – Campfire Discussion

Home away from home at the B Bar Ranch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the pilot program of Guiding for the Future, an Advanced Guide Training Program established “to inspire dedicated stewardship of aquatic ecosystems while increasing knowledge, professionalism, and ethics of fishing guides, outfitters, and the fly-fishing industry.”

The program came about in part as a reaction to the PKD outbreak which closed down the Yellowstone River during the summer of 2017.

I first heard about G4F in the winter of 2018 while attending a Montana State Council Trout Unlimited meeting in Livingston. Montana TU Executive Director David Brooks mentioned the program to me and asked if he might pass my name along to Brant Oswald and Sean Blaine who were in the early stages of creating the program, as an outfitter and active member of TU who might be interested in participating.

I was intrigued with the concept but also somewhat suspicious of the motives behind it as it seemed very possible that it was simply a ploy to add more regulation to what is already a heavily regulated industry.

Blaine and Oswald presented the concept later that spring at the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana Annual Meeting. Still somewhat skeptical, I jumped at the chance to participate in the Steering Committee meeting held last April in Craig MT.

It was here we discussed the nuts and bolts of what Guiding for the Future would be and as it became clear to me that the vision was for guides and outfitters in Montana to have the opportunity to separate themselves from the pack through this continuing education program my skepticism turned to optimism as we discussed putting together a program unlike any other  out there.

The program would be offered annually by application only and would fill the void in our industry which is met by continuing education in most every other trade or industry. Rather than being just another requirement for a guide or outfitter license like a First Aid/CPR certificate, Guiding for the Future would be an opportunity for a guide or outfitter to separate themselves from the pack by receiving a well-rounded education going well beyond the basics.

Guiding for the Future would not be a guide school. The assumption would be that a guide or outfitter interested in this program would already be an experienced guide or outfitter looking to take things to the next level. The course would consist of an On-line curriculum followed by a three-day practicum to give students hands on training in the field.

In March this year the program was announced via FOAM and those interested were invited to apply. One look at the curriculum and I was sold.

Online coursed included;
– A History of Fish and Wildlife Conservation in the United States
– Laws and Regulations
– Hydrology and River Ecology
– Entomology
– Fish Ecology
– Water Users and Challenges
– Guides as Stewards
– Beyond Flies and Drifts

Happily, I was accepted into the Pilot Program and delving in to that first online module I was pleasantly surprised by the scope and depth of the material.

With just a few weeks to complete the online portion of the course time constraints were a challenge, though a challenge is exactly what I had hoped Guiding for the Future would be.

Last week we were invited to the B Bar Ranch in Tom Miner Basin near Gardiner for the 3 day practicum which included both classroom and field instruction.

This portion of the course had me out of my comfort zone but it didn’t take long to settle in. A few familiar faces and a bunch of new ones made for an awesome opportunity to network with others in our industry and after a couple of days of sharing the classroom and the dinner table with these folks it soon evolved into a very comfortable and friendly setting.

Standing high above Tom Miner creek observing the glacially carved valley through which the creek flows the significance of the Guiding for the Future program couldn’t have been more evident. While a group of us discussed hydrology and stream morphology a group of students waded into the stream below us, overturning rocks in search of the nymphs that provide forage for the trout we chase. Still another group stood on the bank of the creek near a head gate of an irrigation diversion listening to a surface water hydrologist from DNRC explain how stream flows are calculated, bringing life to those graphs and numbers we follow so closely all year long.

Back in the classroom, topics ranged from candid discussions with an FWP Warden Captain regarding laws and regulations governing our industry to leveraging our role as outdoor industry professionals to advocate during public comment opportunities.

An in-depth look at water rights in Montana was a highlight of the program for me but I also very much enjoyed a look at fish biology and ecology and the role required of us as guides and outfitters and as stewards of this resource.

Risk assessment and CPR training kept us grounded in the realities of having clients in our charge every day and the absolute necessity of being proactive when it comes to client safety and health and field work with Yellowstone Ecological Research Center taught us how we, as guides, can play a direct role in monitoring stream health through water sampling.

This was not nail knots and casting clinics (although there was some of that as well). This was big picture education on a broad range of topics which I believe are of vital interest to all of us who work in this industry.

As G4F proclaims… Montana’s rivers are undergoing increased demands for water, recreation, and environmental services. These demands, in the face of increased periods of drought and other stressors, impact the rivers’ resilience and fisheries, while also translating into increased potential for conflict among users. In response, Guiding for the Future (G4F) is part of a new continuing education program led by the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM) that provides advanced levels of knowledge and skill development for professional fishing outfitters and guides throughout the state.

To me it’s a No Brainer and the general consensus amongst those of us who participated is that we hope G4F certification eventually becomes the norm, rather than the exception.

When you see this sticker on your guide’s boat you can rest assured that you are with a guide who not only cares about putting you on fish but who has also gone the extra mile to provide you with a safer, richer experience that goes far beyond flies and drifts.

At Wolf Creek Angler we’re Guiding for the Future

And while the fishing is, and should always be, the primary focus, wouldn’t it be nice to go deeper? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk with your guide about how rivers work, how water rights work, how conservation has evolved, how the life cycle of different bugs has a bearing on the fishing day etc. all the while having the confidence in your guide’s knowledge of the rules and regulations AND knowing they have the skills to respond in an emergency if called upon?

We hope and expect that this program will gain popularity not only amongst guides and outfitters but also amongst our clients. Keep an eye out for the G4F logo in sticker form on your guide’s boat or on the website of your favorite outfitter or fly shop and know that when you fish with those who have gone through this certification program you are fishing with individuals who take their profession very seriously and who have gone the extra mile to better themselves and the industry as a whole through advanced education and training.

There is nothing else like this in the country right now and I for one feel privileged to  have been a part of the pilot program and I plan on doing whatever I can to contribute to the program in the future.

Springtime in the Rockies

Frozen Pipes in April?

Ahhhh…..May in Montana. Singing birds, sunshine, greening grass, budding trees, freezing temps, frozen pipes, broken plumbing…it’s springtime in the Rockies.

Following some moderately mild spring weather in mid-April, winter returned last Sunday. You never know when the weather will turn but you’d think by late April we’d be done with the risk of frozen plumbing. Not so this year.

We dipped back down into the teens last night but it appears as though a warm-up is underway and with any luck the nervous nights spent worrying about frozen plumbing are behind us for the season.

We’ll see temperatures back in the 50’s for the next couple of days, 60’s by the end of the week and up to 70 by Sunday. More importantly, overnight lows will be hanging in the high 30’s and low 40’s. Good for slowing snow melt and for maintaining water in its liquid form.

Fishing has been fair though not as consistent as we expect it to be this time of year.

Status quo fishing report with the best fishing still happening from the dam to Wolf Creek Bridge. Nothing much new to report on the nymphing scene. Tailwater sows still ruling the day with Pill Poppers, Bubble Yums, Pederson’s Sow, Yum Yums, UV Crush, Caviar Scud, Rainbow Czech, Pink Amex, Firebead Sows, Cotton Candies and the like all finding their targets. I mentioned last week that it might not be a bad idea to start mixing in some BWO nymphs and it bears repeating. LGM’s, S & M’s, Psycho Mays, Radiation Baetis, BWO Magic Flies, and 2 Bits should all be in the mix.

Dry Fly fishing? Coming soon. Widespread reports of BWO’s making an appearance. We like Sprout Baetis, MicroMay BWO, and Olive Para Adams etc trailed with a cripple or an emerger. Film Critics, Flash Cripples, and DOA Cripple Baetis should all get it done. Surface activity has been sporadic at best but it’s only going to get better so keep your dry fly rod rigged and ready….be prepared.

Streamer fishing has been tough, I’m not going to lie. We’ve been working extremely hard at it without much to show for our efforts. Some are discouraged. I am not. Keep at it. Sooner or later it’ll happen. Or not. Try different colors, different sizes, switch up your retrieve. It’s hard work but the payoff is so worth it when it happens.

Good news from the Bureau of Reclamation this morning, it looks like flows are going to drop by around 1000 cfs tomorrow. It might make fishing weird for a day or two but we’re optimistic that things are about to come into fine shape. Water temps are holding in the 43 degree range and should start to increase over the next couple of weeks. Snow pack is average to slightly above so with the current weather pattern of mild days and cool nights continuing we’re cautiously optimistic that things are about to get really good.

Spring special is OVER but spring fishing is just getting started. We’ve got guides at the ready and lodging available most nights so if you’ve been on the fence about doing a spring trip get off the fence and book a trip today. NOW is the TIME!

We are open daily from 7:30 – 5:00 pm for all of your Missouri River fly fishing needs. Shuttles; fishing licenses; Adipose Flow Drift Boat Rentals; waders, boots, outerwear and accessories from SIMMS; packs, tools and accessories from FISHPOND and the largest selection of Missouri River Bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana. We are your GO TO, Full Service Fly Shack on the MO.

RIP Montana Jim

Montana Jim

We got the sad news last week that our friend James Savstrom (AKA Montana Jim) had passed away. Jim left us too soon but he went out doing what he loved, fishing his beloved Blackfoot River.

I met Jim the second year we were in business when he stopped by the shop looking for a new rod and some advice on where to fish the MO’. Looking back, I’m sure this was my audition and I guess I must have passed the test as Jim continued to frequent Wolf Creek Angler. He always had a kind word to say about our shop and he even started a Facebook group called Friends Who Like Wolf Creek Angler.

Jim started to book guide trips with us the following year and I really enjoyed taking him and his friend Paul fishing. We had some great spring days on the Missouri and while Jim has now been reunited with Paul who passed away last year I will miss fishing with both of them.

Many knew Jim from his “Montana Jim” blog where he chronicled his angling adventures primarily on the Blackfoot near his home in Lincoln. Jim and I often talked about getting out and fishing the Blackfoot together…unfortunately it never happened.

You can check out his blog here

Jim was not only supportive of Wolf Creek Angler but also took an interest in the events and organizations we support. More than one time he made the drive from Lincoln to Helena in January to attend the Pat Barnes Trout Unlimited presentation of the Fly Fishing Film Tour and I could always count on him to share and promote whatever events we were promoting on social media.

Jim had been dealt some major blows in his life from loss of loved ones to health issues but he remained eternally optimistic and his passion for the resource, the sport of fly fishing and introducing new anglers to the sport never faded.

Rest easy my friend. I’ll miss fishing the MO with you and I’ll always think of you when I’m wandering the Blackfoot.

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.

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.

 

Frozen February

Following a week of subzero temps the forecast is calling for a bit of a respite these next few days with highs supposedly approaching the mid 30’s today before dropping back into the 20’s for the remainder of the week. Back to single digits on Sunday and then we’re hoping for that warm up which will get us back on the water.

There’s snow in the forecast for tomorrow and a chance of scattered showers and flurries throughout the week. The snowpack is moving towards average in most drainages so although it’s still very early to say with any degree of certainty what the water situation will be this spring we’re liking what we’re seeing at this point.

Current “most probable” flow predictions have us holding in this 5,000 CFS range for the next couple of months with a bump to around 6,000 in May and a peak of <7,000 in June and then back to around 5,000 for the summer season. If it plays out this way you really couldn’t ask for better conditions for summer fishing. We wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of a flushing flow at the peak but following last year’s 18-20K which kept the walk/wade crowd from coming and all but eliminated spring dry fly fishing, we’re good with the busy spring that these flows would bring.

Max Probable predictions have us creeping up towards a peak of 10K before dropping into the 6-7,000 range for the summer while the Minimum probable has us dropping into the 3500 CFS range by April and holding there for the season. Fingers crossed that this won’t be the case.

If you’re brave enough to venture out this week wading is likely your best bet as the ramps and the parking lots have not been plowed. If you’re wading there’s a fair amount of shelf ice out there, mostly in and around that slow water you’re going to want to be fishing so please use caution and also keep an eye out for those floating chunks of ice.

We’re starting to do a brisk lodging business with the hard water crowd now that Holter is fishing well so if you do see a weather window coming and you think you’d like to come out and fish with us try to call well ahead of time as the weekend lodging tends to fill up by the middle part of the week.

The shop is open from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Wednesday – Saturday and 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM on Sundays, weather permitting. We’re open EVERY DAY for lodging and guide trips and speaking of lodging and guide trips…don’t miss our winter guide trip and lodging special. That’s two nights of premium lodging and a full day guide trip for one or two anglers for just $500. You won’t find a better deal anywhere.

It’s been a lonely February so far at Wolf Creek Angler. Here’s hoping for warmer weather and mild winter days on the water. We hope you make us your first stop on the way to the MO for lines, leaders, tippet and shuttles. Simms waders, boots and cold weather gear. Loop, Echo and Redington rods. Ross, Nautilus, Lamson, Echo and Redington reels and of course the largest selection of Missouri River flies ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.