Under The Influence Part One

A couple of weeks ago I shared a blog on our Facebook page from HATCH Magazine that asked the question “Which Anglers have influenced your Fly Fishing?” The post got a good response and got me thinking about my own fly fishing history and remembering all of those who played a role in my journey from curious observer to reluctant participant to sell it all and move to Montana to be a fly fishing guide and fly shop owner.

While I don’t have any TITANS of the industry in my history, there are a couple of individuals who come to mind when I ponder this and I’ll likely treat this in a couple of installments in order to do it justice.

Mike Lenahan

When I was attempting to make the transition from fishing conventional gear to fly fishing I stalled out because I was afraid of making a fool of myself on the water trying to cast a fly rod. My casting work on the lawn was coming along but my fear of being seen on the river flailing away kept me fishing conventional gear more often than not until I met Mike Lenahan.

Mike was CEO at Resource Recovery Corporation of West Michigan where I served on the board and he and I would get together and fish occasionally. I told him I wanted to learn to fly fish and he was happy to oblige. I don’t know that it was his favorite thing in the world but our next trip to the Pere Marquette River he convinced me to leave the spinning gear in the truck and then proceeded to spend the majority of that outing teaching me to fly cast and to mend.

I don’t believe there were fish caught on that trip but what I do remember about it was finally feeling like I could actually cast and just being so excited that I was really fly fishing after years of flailing around and being too embarrassed to take my fly rod on the water if there was even a remote chance that someone would be there who might see me making a fool of myself.

Mike and I fished a few times after that and he was there when I caught my first brown trout on a fly. It was a glorious experience! And while I don’t recall exactly what all Mike taught me about fly fishing I can say that had he not taken the time to go with me that day and had he not convinced me to leave my spinning gear in the truck I might still be fishing gear!

Paul Drewry

Once I started to develop some proficiency at fly fishing for trout I decided it was time to give Steelhead fishing a try.
Our veterinarian Paul Drewry was an avid fly fisherman and we spent a fair amount of time at dog appointments talking fly fishing. The subject of steelhead fishing came up and Paul told me exactly what setup I should purchase.

I drove to my local fly shop and bought a 9’6” #7 St Croix Avid and a Solitude reel. It was the sweetest rig and compared to my Cabelas trout setup, my first foray into what at the time felt like high dollar gear. Little did I know this was just the gateway drug but it was a great way to ease in to it.

I’d spent enough time fishing dry flies on a #5 that this #7 felt like a whole different world to me. At that time most of the folks fly fishing for Great Lakes steelhead were indicator fishing which was a completely foreign concept to me. Sure, I’d dropped a hare’s ear off of a hopper before but this was a whole different animal and while I was excited to learn something new, I could feel myself sinking back into intimidation paralysis. Paul was able to help!

We spent a few early spring days wade fishing the Pere Marquette where I had grown up fishing worms for trout and spawn bags for steelhead. Paul clued me in to how to nymph a steelhead run.

Those days were filled with snags, re-ties, bad casts and more bad casts and while I caught plenty of tree branches both on the river bank and the river bottom, after three or four outings I had yet to hook into anything that felt remotely like a fish.

And then everything in my fishing universe changed….

Paul invited me to float with him one spring day. I’d never set foot in a drift boat and wasn’t sure what to expect.
Nothing has had a bigger effect on my fly fishing life than stepping in that boat that day. The change in perspective from standing in the water to standing in the bow of that drift boat was life altering for me. That was the day I knew I’d be buying a drift boat and that was also the day my psyche underwent a transformation from reluctant participation to obsession.

As we made our way down the river I was captivated by every log jam, deep bend and shallow riffle. I’d spent more than my fair share of time on a boat on Lake Michigan and I’d been down the river a time or two in a canoe but this, this was something different. We floated probably 5 miles that day, a relatively short float, but it really struck me when I recognized a bend in the river as the start of the 1/2 mile or so of water I’d fished since I was a little kid. This short stretch of river was my entire fishing world for so many years. It WAS the Pere Marquette to me. Now, floating through my “world” in just a few minutes time I discovered just how small my world was and the idea that stepping in that boat opened up an entirely new frontier completely blew my mind.

I fished a bit that day but the fishing was not what was significant on that trip. It was all about the journey from wade fishing with all of its limitations to a new world of opportunities I’d never even considered.

Following that trip I immediately started looking into boats. I didn’t think I could afford to buy a drift boat so I bought a pontoon but as I assembled that boat all I could think about was how awesome that day in the drift boat was. All that room for all the gear you could possibly need. I disassembled the pontoon, put it back in the box and returned it and headed to Newaygo to order myself a drift boat.

I picked up my brand new Hyde in November and began to plot the future. However, one big obstacle did remain…I had no idea how to row a drift boat. I figured the best way to learn was to dump the thing in the water and figure it out. Looking back, launching the boat at Rainbow Rapids (the only stretch of water on the Pere Marquette even remotely resembling a rapids) was probably not the wisest decision but it did reinforce the fact that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, as if there was any doubt.

I think we ran into or over every boulder in the rapids but spun our way through without sinking the boat and once below the rapids, just when I was feeling like I was getting the hang of it I ran the bow of the boat into two steel posts while trying to power forward through a bend leaving a permanent reminder on the bow of my shiny new boat of that maiden voyage.

Following that trip I invited Paul to fish with me, asking him if he would give me some tips on rowing. He obliged, sitting behind me most of the day and teaching me with taps on the shoulders and audible commands of “push” or “pull”. It was slow going but by the end of that day I felt like I had at least a rudimentary understanding of rowing.

The Pere Marquette was a great river on which to learn to row a drift boat. Not much in the way of rapids but plenty of log jams and tight bends offering ample opportunities to sink a boat (which thankfully I’ve yet to do, though I’ve had a couple of close calls).

I’m eternally grateful to Dr. Paul Drewry for his excellent care of our pets during those years as well as for opening the doors to a new world for me.

Fred Davison

At 30 years old I was not really looking to make friends. I was busy with work and had a kid on the way and even though I was enjoying fishing it was something I enjoyed doing on my own.

I met Fred when he was doing drywall work in our house as we prepared a room for the coming baby. Fred’s wife worked in the same office as my wife Sheila and they arranged for him to do the drywall as he was running his own drywall company at the time.

The first day I talked to Fred was just for a couple of minutes when he was working on the house and I came home from work and grabbed my gear, heading for Canada for solo steelhead fishing.

I told him where I was headed and he mentioned that he liked fishing but didn’t like it THAT much, that he’d drive 8 hours to do what he could do in our back yard. I assumed he must not really be into it. Little did I know we would end up spending the next 11 years on a fishing odyssey, both trading in our conventional gear for fly gear and getting to know the Pere Marquette and other local waters intimately as we indulged our habit which turned us both into streamer junkies and eventually led us to leave what we knew behind and start a fly shop in Montana.

Fred is one of those people who is really good at everything he does and seemingly everything he tries and he seems to pick up most of what he tries on his own with very little formal instruction. Over those eleven years Fred picked up fly fishing, fly tying, hockey, home brewing, boat building…just to name a few, and was pretty damn good at all of them. The boat building may have been a stretch but it did float and even made it down the river a few times!

The first time I fished with Fred was on the Pine River with conventional gear. He pulled a 17” brown off the bank on one of his first casts with a gold Panther Martin and I noticed he could read the water better than most anyone I’d seen.

I don’t know how much we discussed the idea of fly fishing but we were definitely on the same page. I called him one day to tell him I had bought a fly rod…he had as well.

I was given a guide trip on the Pere Marquette for my birthday that summer and I asked Fred to join me. It was a fun trip though not one I would say had much of an effect on my fly fishing history. Neither of us was crazy about the guide and I can’t say that I learned much on that trip but what I do remember was an after-dark explosion on a mouse pattern, followed by a second which I actually connected on. I lost that battle much to mine and the guide’s disappointment but the after-dark thing grabbed hold and would eventually become an obsession. I also remember a thunder storm rolling in and the guide having to row out the last couple of miles through that storm which wasn’t pleasant for anyone involved but it was an experience to be sure.

The following spring I convinced Fred to go to Canada with me on the steelhead trip. If I recall correctly we stuck to conventional gear on that trip but on the way home we caught the BWO hatch on the Holy Water of the Ausable near Grayling and shortly thereafter we discovered the Gray Drake hatch on the Pere Marquette and went night after night. Then it was Hexagenia in the swamps, hoppers through the summer and salmon fishing in fall.

At that time we hadn’t yet attempted to fly fish for steelhead but we booked a guide trip that winter and each caught our first steelhead on a fly rod. We’d both been bitten hard by the bug though as was typical the obsession took hold in different ways.

I was attracted to the gear, the boats, the brands, and the destinations….everything about fly fishing. Fred liked tying flies and catching fish and could care less about Simms or Sage or Hyde or Orvis or any of it. He just wanted to fish and as was usually the case when he tried something new, he was rapidly becoming a very good angler and fly tier.

When I bought my first drift boat it opened up a whole new world of adventure for Fred and I and we spent countless hours on that boat, both of us developing proficiency on the sticks as well as learning the addresses of many a hefty brown as we picked apart the PM with sinking lines and streamers.

We fished every month of the year and covered the entirety of the PM.

During the summer months we would fish all night frequently, developing different patterns and techniques for fishing mice and learning to row and cast in the dark.

We would occasionally float the Ausable or the Upper Manistee but most of our time was spent on the Pere Marquette. It was an education by immersion.

We fished through a lot of life events during those years. There were good times, bad times, sad times, dark times… and the river was always there for us even when we were blind to it.

My focus started to turn towards going and fishing other places including Montana which I first fished probably around 2008. Once I’d done that my dreams got big and my mission became figuring out an exit strategy and a way to move to Montana.

Long story short we left Michigan in 2012 and I bid farewell to Fred and while I was thrilled to be in Montana it was tough losing my fishing partner of the previous decade.

As doors opened in Montana I got in touch with Fred to see if he would be interested in going into the fly shop, lodging and outfitting business. With nothing really holding him back in Michigan, he agreed to join us as a partner in Wolf Creek Angler.

His plan was to spend the seasons in Montana and go back to Michigan in the winter to be with his family though the year we bought the place he spent a good part of the winter here doing the remodel on the shop. It seemed like the perfect arrangement but things being what they are and adding up like they do, we opted to go our separate ways after a couple of seasons.

Times change, people change, circumstances change and ultimately things happen as they’re supposed to but that being said, regardless of how it turned out for us at WCA, I’ll always cherish those years Fred and I spent learning to fly fish and honing our skills while developing a wonderful friendship.

Winter Returns

And just like that winter is on its way once again.

You didn’t think it was over did you? It’s barely even begun!

Winter Storm Warning in Effect from 2 PM today through 11 AM Friday above 5500 feet, Winter Weather Advisory in Effect for areas below 5500 feet.

For the Winter Storm Warning heavy snow is expected. Total snow accumulations of 8 to 30 inches. Winds gusting as high as 40 mph. For the Winter Weather Advisory total snow accumulations of 1 to 6 inches possible.

Just the way we like it! Another big shot of snow for the high country adding to our snow pack which is already in decent shape and manageable accumulations (or possibly none at all) where we live. It’s the best of both worlds!

It looks like highs near 40 for the remainder of the week with lows hanging right around 30 for the next few nights. We’ll see a blast of arctic air mid-week next week with high temperatures dropping back into the teens with lows in the single digits or colder. Now is the time to get on the water.

It’s on the breezy side today but the rest of the week could provide excellent fishing conditions with overcast skies, the potential for snow each day, moderate temperatures and relatively calm winds in the 6 – 8 mph range through Friday.

Often times the leading edge of these weather systems can flip the switch on the fishing. It’s been decent all week by most reports we’ve heard but it could be downright epic these next couple of days. There’s only one way to find out. You won’t know if you don’t go!

We offer the best winter lodging value on the MO at just $99/night (plus tax) for a cozy bungalow with full kitchen and private bath. Two twin beds and a Full pull-out sofa sleep 3 very comfortably and a rollaway will accommodate a fourth if need be.

And while a lot of the competition offers discount “Spring Special” trips come March, Wolf Creek Angler offers the best deal on the river ALL WINTER LONG. $400 for a FULL DAY GUIDE TRIP with the best guides on the water. And as if that weren’t enough we’re giving away FREE LODGING. That’s right….FREE as in ZERO Dollars!

Book two days of guided fishing and your second night of lodging is on us. Try to find a better deal…you won’t. And the best part…NO CANCELLATION FEES, NO QUESTIONS ASKED. Winter weather can change rapidly which makes planning a trip tough to do. If the weather turns or if you simply change your mind you’re off the hook.

We hope you take advantage of the weather these next couple of days and enjoy what could be the best fishing yet of 2020.

Even if you decide to pass on this amazing deal and do things on your own we hope you make us your one-stop on the way to the river. We’ve got anything and everything you need for winter fly fishing on the Missouri. The best and biggest selection of Missouri River winter bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek, Adipose Drift Boat Rentals, shuttles, Simms waders and boots, cold weather gear and the best deals of the winter on rods/reels and so much more.

January Thaw

Winter Solitude on the MO’

Just back from sunny Sacramento and the International Sportsmen’s Expo. We escaped the arctic blast just in time and have returned to a January Thaw so the timing couldn’t be better.

Photo by John Orzechowski

I spent the first part of last week just before we left for California crawling around under the shop thawing frozen pipes in the midst of the coldest temps we’ve seen in quite a while. Fast forward a week and we’re in the midst of a serious warm up that has us thinking spring.

High temps will be at or near 50 degrees all week long and while tomorrow looks to be breezy, conditions couldn’t be much better than they are today. Wind on these warmer days is to be expected but with the exception of tomorrow it really doesn’t look to be too bad. Even tomorrow at 19-24 mph out of the southwest, gusting to 32 mph I wouldn’t let that stop you.

After spending four days talking fishing with prospective clients and returning to this spring-like weather I can’t wait to get back on the water and I’m definitely ready for the season to get underway. I’m well aware there’s plenty of winter ahead but we’re definitely going to take advantage of these current conditions while they last and you should too!

The river is in great shape at 4220 CFS and 34 degrees….perfect winter water. Get out there and get your winter trout fix this week. We’ve got lodging available for just $99/night (plus tax) and full day guide trips for just $400 for one or two anglers all winter long. We’ve gotten a few bookings for the weekend already and I’m sure we’ll be full come Friday so don’t waste any more time. Call and book yourself a mid-winter trip to the Missouri before the cold and snow return.

And speaking of bookings, late June and most of July are rapidly approaching FULL so don’t put off those summer plans any longer if you want in on some of the best trout fishing on the planet.

We’ll delve into flow predictions in more detail in the coming weeks but for now all you need to know is that we’re looking good as far as far as snow water equivalent goes with everything sitting at, near or over 100 percent of average. The latest flow predictions are indicating a decent water year with flows most likely peaking at around 6500 cfs. It’s way too early to tell what we’ll actually see come spring but we’ll keep you posted throughout the winter months as a more accurate flow picture begins to come into focus.

We hope you’ll make us your first stop on the way to the Missouri this week. We’re fully stocked on all the hottest winter nymphs and streamers and we’ve got plenty of midge patterns as well if you’re looking for top water action. We’ve also got some great deals going on fall/winter inventory as we make way for spring gear arriving soon.

30% off all Simms winter outerwear and base layers and don’t miss our Mid-Winter Rod and Reel sale…25% off ALL RODS and REELS and a FREE ARC fly line when you purchase a rod/reel combo.

We’ve got everything you need and more for your day on the water including Adipose Flow drift boat rentals, Simms waders and boots, Hand Warmers, nets from Rising and Fishpond, lines, leaders and tippet from RIO, the best coffee in the canyon and so much more.

A Look Back

With tomorrow not only being the last day of 2019 but also the last day of the decade it’s time for our annual look back at the year that was as well as some reflections on the decade.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been this long but 2019 was the year we celebrated our fifth year in business at Wolf Creek Angler and while there were undoubtedly highlights to the season, I think the overarching theme was one of stability.

We never take ANYTHING for granted but as we wrap up another year it feels like we’ve done a decent job of establishing ourselves and at this point our focus has shifted more towards building and improving our brand rather than trying to make a splash as the new guys on the block.
And that’s not to say that we won’t be making splashes from time to time, some minor some more significant, but I feel like we’ve built a solid foundation over these six seasons and I’m hopeful for what the future holds.

We saw a big change in the shop in January of 2019 as we rolled out our Full Line Simms Dealership, something we’d been working towards since opening our doors in 2014. It was a milestone for this shop and we are so grateful for the growth in our business which has been instrumental in allowing us to offer our customers more of what they demand each season. Having Simms show the confidence in our shop and in our brand to open us as a full-line dealer was and is a HUGE affirmation and while there are still brands we’re chasing we feel like the stamp of approval from Simms moves us ever closer to where we want to be as a fly fishing retailer.SIMMS DEALER

Unfortunately our hopes for early season sales were dashed by Mother Nature as we experienced record-breaking low temperatures throughout the winter. The average daily high temperature for the month of February was less than one degree so suffice it to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of fishing happening on the MO last winter.

We kept ourselves busy through those long winter months working on lodging improvements completing the renovations in our motel rooms and replacing carpeting in several of our cabins.

As it always does, spring finally arrived in late March/early April and we were treated to our best spring season to date as those weary of winter flocked to the MO’ to get that spring fishing fix. Wet conditions around the region made for high muddy rivers driving business to the Missouri throughout much of the spring season.

In May I had the privilege of participating in the pilot program for Guiding for the Future, an advanced guide and outfitter certification program being developed by the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana. This was an incredible experience and I hope to remain involved with the program going forward, perhaps on the teaching side.

The highlight in June was a personal one as our son John graduated from Helena High School. He has recently completed his first semester and made the Dean’s List at Helena College where he will attend one more semester before transferring to the University Of Montana next fall.

Cool, wet weather continued to delay the arrival of Prime Time dry fly fishing throughout much of June but when summer finally arrived we ended up with one of the best dry fly seasons we’ve had since opening the shop. Considering we essentially lost much of the dry fly season in 2018 due to high water, watching the dry fly bins empty out in 2019 was a welcome change!

Conditions remained favorable throughout the summer which kept the wild fires to a minimum and also gave us a second straight summer season of essentially ZERO Hoot Owl closures around the region.

Biding our time through the Dog Days of August we were anticipating a busy fall season but it wasn’t to be. Summer turned to winter in September as we were hit by an early winter storm followed by several more in October. The early cold snap robbed us of fall colors, killing the still-green leaves and also robbed us of a busy fall fishing season as the cold and snow persisted through October and into November.

Such is the nature of the business. There are no guarantees with the weather but we’re always hopeful.

Great Falls received a season’s worth of snow in the fall. We didn’t get quite that much but had snow on the ground more often than not since late September. It was looking like a brutal winter ahead (and it may still turn out that way) but we’ve had mild temps and no snow for the past several weeks and the long-term looks favorable for a somewhat busy winter season on the Missouri.

As I look back on 2019 and on the past seven years spent in Montana I can’t help but think about the early part of this decade which is about to come to a close.

My life couldn’t be much more different now from what it was at the start of this decade when my days were spent in the foundry, feeling the pull of the rivers and mountains of Montana and trying to find a way to heed the call.

And so the call was heeded. But it was not through any doing of my own that this happened but through the providential order which has played out in exactly the manner in which  it was supposed to.

I’ve traded my days spent in the chaos and dust and noise of the foundry with no hope for an exit for this new and amazing path which has much different challenges, opportunities and rewards, and for this I feel truly blessed.

I’m so thankful for where I’ve landed and for all of you who have become a part of my story and I can’t wait to see what this next decade holds.

Happy New Year!

The Countdown

As of today there are 16 days shopping days remaining until Christmas.

Have you finished your shopping?

Have you even started your shopping?

If you’re looking for some fly fisher appropriate gifts we’d love to help you out. We’ve got something to fit just about any budget and best of all, we’ve got some amazing deals happening now through the end of the year.

Deals include, but are not limited to, 20% off all fall and winter sportswear and outerwear as well as waders and boots; 25 % off all rods and reels and a free ARC fly line and backing with the purchase of any rod and reel combo (That’s an $80 value); 50 % off all remaining summer sportswear and 20 % off all lines, leaders, tippet and flies.

These are just a few of the deals happening now through December 31st at WCA.

We’ve definitely got something for everyone on your list and we’d love to help you find that perfect gift. Here are just a few ideas.

Simms G3 Stockingfoot Guide Waders
$549.95

These are undoubtedly the go-to wader for the majority of our guides and are the wader by which all others are measured.
Time on the stream is time well spent. And with the G3 Guide™ Waders – Stockingfoot, those precious hours can be comfortable and well-ventilated. Utilizing new GORE-TEX® Pro Shell, the G3 provides optimal balance of reliability, breathability and all-day comfort. The G3 has all the in-river essentials you need, with legendary Simms durability that can stand up to heavy use in rugged conditions. 3 chest pockets provide ample storage and hand-warming zones, while sore feet are a thing of the past with anatomically designed neoprene stockingfeet with a funk-fighting anti-microbial finish.
• Durable, breathable & comfortable GORE-TEX® Pro Shell 3-layer upper & 4-layer lower
• Top access zippered stretch pocket plus zippered, reach-through micro-fleece lined hand-warming pockets
• Attachment zipper for flip-out Tippet Tender™ pocket with retractor docking station & tippet spool sleeves
• Built-in low-profile belt loops with 2 in. stretch wading belt included
• Patented front & back leg seams deliver articulated fit, improved mobility & increased durability
• Patented abrasion-resistant built-in Gravel Guards with boot hooks
• Anatomically engineered neoprene stockingfeet with anti-microbial finish
• Custom options available
FABRIC TECH: 3-layer GORE-TEX® Pro Shell in upper; 4-layer GORE-TEX® Pro Shell in seat & legs
WEIGHT: 45 oz. (1275.8 g)

Korkers Darkhorse Wading Boot
$189.99


Korkers Darkhorse Wading Boot w/ Kling-On and Kling-On felt Soles is a fishing boot that is durable and functional. This boot comes with kling-on and felt kling-on soles.
• Traction: OmniTrax interchangeable sole system adapts traction on these boots to any fishing condition
• Closure System: BOA M2 lacing system for quick on/off and custom fit
• Fast Drying: Hydrophobic upper material with ultra abrasion resistance and tonal camo pattern
• Molded TPU toe cap for toe bump protection
• Protected stitching for longer thread life
• Internal Drainage: Water flows thru internal channels then out midsole ports, removing excess water and weight.
• 3PFS Achilles stabilization for the superlative fit and function.

Simms Coldweather Shirt
$119.95


Hands down – our favorite winter shirt.

A hardworking mainstay featuring the boosted warmth of waffle-lined micro-fleece internals. Quick-dry performance and chafe-free, off-shoulder seaming for added comfort. Stash gear in two cargo top load pockets to stay on the water until last light.
• Flannel, waffle fleece‐lined shirt to keep you warm during winter fishing
• Two fly box compatible chest pockets with hook and loop closure
• Off‐shoulder seams for comfort
• Slight drop tail
• Resized in 2018 for a better fit
FABRIC TECH: 100% Polyester flannel, 100% Polyester waffle fleece

Loop Evotec Cast Rods
$475.00


EVOTEC CAST FAST ACTION SIGLE-HAND RODS
Fast action progressive casting styles mean pushing for the limits of performance in modern day fly fishing. Finished in deep pearlised blue, Evotec CAST Fast fly rods are available in single-handed models for both fresh and saltwater fishing and double-handed models for the pursuit of anadromous fish. Evotec CAST Fast fly rods deliver flies quickly to the taking zone without compromising on the positive ‘feel’ response that anglers have come to expect from LOOP fly rods.

Redington Path Fly Fishing Outfit
$199.99


Ready to fish!
The new PATH rod is a smooth-casting, medium-fast action graphite fly rod, offering classic performance for all levels of anglers. Rods through 6 weight have a half-wells handle with a wood reel seat for a classic look and feel, and 7 weights and above feature a full-wells grip with anodized aluminum reel seat that is ready for salt or fresh water conditions.
• All water, moderate-fast action rod
• Wooden reel seats on rods weights through 6 weight models
• Durable anodized aluminum reel seat on rods 7 weight and above
• Alignment dots for easy rod setup
• Durable cordura rod tube with built in rod dividers
• Combo includes: PATH rod, CROSSWATER reel pre-spooled with RIO Mainstream WF fly line, and cordura rod tube
• Lifetime warranty *rod only

LAMSON LIQUID 3-PACK FLY FISHING REEL & SPOOLS
$169.99


All together now. The Liquid 3-Pack includes one Liquid reel and two spare spools in a nylon carrying case all for the price of one reel and one spool. Liquid offers everything you need in a fly reel at an absolute bang for your buck—and this new combo pack opens up easy interchangeability for the multifaceted angler at even more of an extreme value.

Fishpond Cross-Current Chest Pack
$149.95

THE CROSS-CURRENT CHEST PACK IS DESIGNED TO KEEP ALL YOUR ESSENTIALS AND BOXES ORGANIZED, KEEPING THEM HIGH ON YOUR BODY AT THE READY.
When the fishing is hot there is a lot going on and you have to be able to multitask to keep up with all the activity. The Cross-Current Chest pack is designed to keep all your essentials and boxes organized, keeping them high on your body at the ready. Slide your net out of the integrated net slot, scoop your fish, release it, grab your dry shake out of the magnetic drop down workstation, and get back those moments we all love to celebrate.
FEATURES
• Compatible with all Fishpond backpacks
• 210D Nylon Cyclepond Fishpond fabric
• Front magnetic closure pocket for small fly boxes, pucks, and other quick access items
• Front main zippered storage compartment for large fly box storage
• Two small stretch mesh pockets on the front for quick access items
• Exterior VELCRO® attachment for foam attachment (foam patch included)
• Exterior Hypalon® tabs for tool and accessory attachment on each side
• Integrated net slot on backpanel holds a long handle net
• D-ring on top center back for attaching a net release for short handle nets
• One large pocket on the backpanel with a zippered entry on each side
• Magnetic front pocket has velcro interior on one side, and 4 small stretch mesh pockets for organization
• Main front zippered pocket includes one interior zippered pocket

 

Rising Lunker Net
Starting at $159.99

With three handle lengths to choose from and available handle extensions these nets have become the go-to amongst our guides. The 10” and 24” handles make for great wading nets and the 38” net is the perfect boat net. The 14” handle extension converts any net to the next model up so no need to buy multiple nets.

Stocking Stuffers A Plenty
$$


We’ve got piles of unique stocking stuffers…From flasks to lanyards to fly boxes to tools and accessories and more, we’ve got something for all the fly fishers on your list.

Wolf Creek Angler Gift Cards
$-$$$

.

Not sure what to get them? Wolf Creek Angler Gift Cards are the perfect option. They are available in any amount and good for anything we sell.

Can’t find the time to make the trip to Wolf Creek? No problem. We’re happy to ship anything anywhere. Just give us a call and tell us what you need and we’ll take care of the rest.

Happy Shopping!

 

 

 

 

Great Expectations

The Crew from Schultz Outfitters

In between winter storms we hosted one of the bigger groups we’ve ever had last week and while the weather provided for some nice days on the water the fishing remained somewhat challenging.

With four days to fish we spread out far and wide from Land of the Giants to Cascade and while we did manage to find everyone a decent fish or two the fish gods were stingy, giving us just enough action to keep things interesting and to entice the majority of the group into making at least a soft commitment to return to the Missouri for another go around next year.

The group we were hosting was put together by Schultz Outfitters in Ypsilanti Michigan so it was a real treat for me to be around a group of Michiganders all week. I also had the pleasure of teaching some rowing basics to one member of the group who had driven out ahead of the rest in order to pick up his new boat which he had delivered to the shop. What a great group and what a fun experience. I can’t wait to have them back again.

So back to the fishing report, yes on the slow side but hope springs eternal and we’ve got Great Expectations for the days and weeks ahead.

We’re enjoying the post-storm sunshine today and we’re glad to see the snow disappearing yet again, hopefully at least for a few weeks this time.

We’re back in the 40’s and 50’s starting tomorrow and maybe even up in the 60’s again by mid-week next week. Plenty of sunshine on tap over the 10 day and night time lows holding in the 20’s and 30’s, keeping water temps on the drop. Water temps are currently sitting at around 52 degrees.

Random BWO sightings being reported each day but I don’t believe we’re there yet. Keep those epic BWO days in your Great Expectations file and get out there on those cloudy days, preferably when it’s spitting rain and snow. It’ll happen sooner or later. In the meantime there are plenty of pseudos and caddis around to keep you busy if your idea of fall fishing on the MO involves dry flies only.

Nymphing has been moderately effective, depending on the day. There are fish congregating in the grass flats though they aren’t as grabby as we’d like them to be which has caused many to skip the dam and go in at Wolf Creek or lower.

The canyon has been fishing pretty good, relatively speaking and we’ve heard some decent reports from the lower as well. Don’t be afraid to spread out and try some different water. When things are on the slow side it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and explore parts of the river you aren’t as familiar with. You might be surprised what you find.

Best sellers from the nymph bins continue to be purple weight flies, Little Green Machines, Split Case BWO’s, Olive and pearl Lighting Bugs, Rainbow Warriors, Rainbow Czechs, Tung Darts, Tailwater Sows, Nitro Caddis Pupae, Black Zebra midges, Olive S & M’s, BWO Magic Fly, Dark Peep Show, Olive Psycho May and still moving a fair amount of Zirdles (tan or natural as of late). I’ve not had much luck with the zirdles lately but they’ve definitely had their moments based on what we’ve been hearing.

Streamer fishing should be heating up soon. I’ve heard a couple of solid reports but those have been few and far between. I ran an exclusive streamer trip on Friday and boated one really good fish, only moving a few others the entire day but take that for what it’s worth and get out there and strip.

Weeds are an ever-present hindrance though I’ve seen them MUCH worse. Prepare mentally ahead of time. Stay Calm and strip.

Best bets on the streamers have been Sparkle Minnows (shock), Mojo minnows, Black buggers, JJ Specials, Circus Peanuts, MK Ultralights, Dirty Hippy in brown or black and we’ve also had some action on Mini Dungeons, Baby Gongas, D & D’s and Inflated Egos.

As with the nymphing the fish have not been collectively grabby on the streamers but the ones we’ve picked up have been aggressive. If streamers are your thing put in your time and have great expectations. It’s the right time of the year for hunting unicorns and that next cast could be the one.

We’ve got a few more weeks of fall prime time ahead but the end of the season is in sight. We’ll likely start closing/winterizing some of our lodging soon and while there are folks around you can expect some relative solitude out there going forward.

The shop is still open from 7 AM – 5 PM daily for shuttles, bugs, cold-weather gear, Simms boots and waders and so much more.

After a busy week last week the guide calendar is thinning out so if you’re thinking of booking yourself a fall guide trip on the Missouri this wouldn’t be a bad time to do it.

Winter specials for lodging and guide trips coming soon and we’ll update you as soon as we know the winter schedule at Shotgun Annie’s. Expect fewer dining options in the area as the fall progresses but remember we offer lodging with kitchens so you can cook for yourself.

It’s been a weird one weather-wise and fishing wise but we’re still optimistic that there’s some great fall fishing ahead.

Mid September on the Missouri

Autumn is starting to take hold

September is rapidly disappearing as the 2019 season continues to fly by. The lonely days of late August/early September are gone and the river is getting to be a very busy place again. The official start of autumn is just a few days away and if this week is any indication it’s going to be one busy fall on the MO’.

No more sitting around drinking coffee and staring at the computer screen all morning…its go time again.

Traffic has been heavy in the shop this week with a bunch of guide trips and drift boat rentals and more and more folks just stopping by for shuttles and bugs having heard about us and wanting to check out the shop. The word is out, especially for those coming in from Helena, Bozeman, Billings, and Missoula…really anywhere other than Great Falls. We are your first stop on the way to the Missouri and we are closer to Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge than any other shop. And even if you’re coming from Great Falls, if you’re planning on fishing at the dam, WCA is the most logical place to stop for your shuttles and flies and anything else you need for your day on the water.

We are your outfitter owned and operated full service Missouri River fly shop. We’re your one stop shop for guides, affordable lodging, drift boat rentals, Shuttles, Simms waders and boots, Loop rods, Lamson reels and so much more including the largest selection of Missouri River bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana. Don’t miss our Annual Fall Rod and Reel sale going on now. 25% off all rods and reels and deeper discounts up to 40% off on clearance items from Ross, Redington and more.

Fishing has been good enough and it’s about to get much better.

Some slow days out there last week (and this week as well depending on who you ask) but things seem to be trending in the right direction as we await Autumn Splendor and Fall Fishing Nirvana on the Mighty Missouri.

Holter Dam has been crowded this week, both with anglers and with trout. It’s where most will be concentrating their efforts from here on out but just because most people are fishing at the dam that doesn’t mean you have to.

There are plenty of fish from Craig down as well so don’t limit yourself. If you’d prefer a more solitary experience then by all means spread out and try something new.

Nymphing has been and will continue to be your best bet for numbers. Purple weight flies, black Zebra Midges, LGM’s, Tailwater sows, Olive Redemptions, Peep Shows, 2 Bits, Tung Darts, Nitro Caddis, Radiation Baetis, Purple or Pearl Lightning Bugs, Rainbow Warriors, Juju’s….lots of bugs on the menu right now in the sub-surface game.

Hoppers have peaked and will continue to fade, ants are where it’s at. Caddis are getting eaten as well with the standard tan elk hair caddis and the larger October varieties all getting looks. Tricos on some days, with pseudos and callibaetis also in the mix. Fall BWO’s still a few weeks away. Dry Fly tip of the day – try trailing a CDC Caddis emerger when you’re targeting those sipping trout. They might not like your dry fly game but a CDC Caddis emerger fished in the film gets eaten way more often than you’d think even by the most discerning fish.

Streamer fishing has been heating up and will only get better as we move through the fall. If you’re a streamer junkie this is your time. A detailed report coming soon but suffice it to say that Wolf Creek Angler is your Missouri River Streamer headquarters. We’ve got the right streamer lines for any and all situations and while we don’t like to brag we have heard it said that we’ve got THE BEST STREAMER SELECTION on the MISSOURI. A word of caution for those just getting into the game….weeds, though not as bad as they could be, are an ever-present challenge when fishing the MO in the fall. Anticipate the challenge and STAY CALM. Streamer fishing is hard work. Weeds make it harder work and can drive even the most patient angler to the brink. Just try to stay focused on the hoped for results….the big payoff…the BEHEMOTH dwelling in the hidden depths of the MO.

Fall shop hours are 7 AM to 5 PM daily.

We hope to see you soon for the best of Montana fall fishing.

Welcome September

Big Game Season coming soon

Good bye summer, fall is on the way and with it our “second season” on the Missouri.

Soon the empty parking lots at the boat ramps and the empty beds at WCA will be filled again as the crowds return to experience what many feel is the absolute best time of the year to fly fish in Montana.

Mind you “crowds” is a relative term and while there will be a marked increase in traffic over what we’ve seen for the past month or so it won’t be anything like what we see during the height of the season in June and July.

Fall is busy, but not CRAZY busy which is a large part of the appeal for those who skip the summer months and reserve autumn for their Missouri River pilgrimage.

Chilly mornings and evenings separated by an abundance of blue sky and sunshine (with a few dark and cloudy days mixed in) and temps that are not too hot, nor too cold. It’s the PERFECT season as far as I’m concerned.

And the fishing? The fishing can be absolutely phenomenal (and sometimes not) but if I had to choose a favorite time to fish the Missouri (and actually to fish in general) this is the time!

Flannel shirt hot coffee mornings followed with a good soaking of autumn sunshine…does it get any better? Why yes, actually it does. Pair the above with a good long float, your favorite streamer stick and colored up browns on the prowl….it’s NIRVANA. We live for this!

Or, if you prefer the top water game Tricos are sporadic but still going  strong and there’s plenty of hopper and ant fishing ahead of us. It won’t be long before we see October Caddis in the mix followed by the eagerly anticipated fall baetis hatch but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. After all, it’s just barely September.

Nymphing has been hit or miss but overall we’ve enjoyed pretty damn good nymph fishing all season long and while we may have hit a late summer lull things should start to pick up from here on out. Keep focusing your efforts on the medium fast to fast water as well as the swirly water where you’ll likely find the fish suspended.

Keep fishing those crayfish along with beatis nymphs, zebra midges and sow bugs. Best sellers as of late have been 2 Bit Hookers, Peep Shows, LGM’s, Jujus, Tailwater Sows, Black Zebra Midges, purple Lightning Bugs, Pheasant Tails, tan UV Czechs and for some reason Crack Back and Split Case PMD’s. Split Case BWO’s, BWO Magic Flies and Soft Hackle Sow bugs should get it done as well.

Rooms are starting to fill and last minute guide trips have been the norm as of late which works out great during the lull but that’s all about to change. Starting around mid-September our guide calendar gets pretty full so if you’re thinking of a fall guide trip on the Missouri or Blackfoot don’t wait any longer.

Lodging availability is good through early October when we hit the prime of our second season but even then we’ve got some holes to fill so call and book your guides, rooms and drift boat rentals today.

We’re fully stocked for fall with new cold weather gear and waders and boots a plenty from Simms. And don’t miss out on the best deals of the season during our second annual Fall Rod and Reel sale…25% off all rods and reels. It’s the perfect time to treat yourself to a new Loop, Echo or Redington rod and Lamson or Ross reel.

Fall shop hours are 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM daily.

Dog Days of Summer Special Happening NOW at Wolf Creek Angler

Dog Days on the MO’

The long-awaited Dog Days of Summer Special has returned, giving you yet another reason to drop everything and make your way to Wolf Creek and the amazing Missouri River.

Now through the end of August book a night’s lodging and a full day guide trip and we’ll throw in a second night for FREE.
The Dog Days have arrived but don’t let anyone tell you the fishing is no good in August.

Can we guarantee phenomenal fishing? Of course not, but the fishing has been consistently good with enough tough days mixed in to make it challenging and keep things interesting.

We make it a point to give you honest and up to date reports based on our own real-time experiences as well at the feedback we’re getting from other guides, customers and guests. The last few reports we’ve shared have been very positive for good reason, but we should take this opportunity to mention that there have been a couple of days where things were slow from start to finish. As you might expect this time of year, under the heat of the summer sun, there have also been plenty of days that started strong but shut off during the height (and the heat) of mid-day.

We’re occasionally called out for making things out to be better than they are but you can rest assured that our reports are always honest and we’ll be the first to tell you when things are tough. There’s nothing to gain by painting a rosy picture when the fishing is tough. You’ll find out soon enough for yourself if that’s the case and will likely disregard anything we’re saying as dishonest going forward.

That being said, if our overall experience for a given time period (generally a week in our case) has been good and if we’ve gotten mostly positive reports overall from our guides and guests during that time, we’re going to report that the fishing is good but since we are talking about fishing it’s not to say that you won’t show up and have a slow day out there. It’s the nature of the beast. There are many factors involved, a few of which we have some control over, most of which we do not so the bottom line is that you should utilize our reports for what they are which is a snap shot of the overall productivity of the fishery in a given time frame, but know that no matter how great things may have been it doesn’t mean they’re going to stay that way.

What we can say is that dry fly opportunities have been abundant. PMD’s have all finally come to a close (for the most part) but Tricos and Caddis are filling in the gaps and terrestrials are starting to shine. We always like to throw in a disclaimer when talking hopper fishing as the Missouri is not known as a great hopper river but, that being said, naturals are plentiful out there right now and hoppers are getting eaten daily. So while the MO may not be known as a great hopper river it’s always worth your time to throw them. Some of the biggest browns of the season always fall prey to the hopper. Run in tandem with an ant or drop a nymph to increase your odds. My go to as of late….#10 More or Less Hopper in Peach.

Fish tight to the banks in the hopper zones but don’t overlook those mid-river flats and riffles. The fish are there.

Nymphing remains good with zebra midges, lighting bugs, PT’s, LGM’s, Tailwater Sows, Czechs, Weight Flies, Tung Darts and the rest of the usual suspects all producing with proper placement. Short leashing has had its days though fish are in the depths as well so fish the water you believe in….the fish are there.

We’re open daily at 7 AM for all of your Missouri River fly fishing needs. We’ve got the hardest working guides on the water, clean and affordable lodging, Adipose drift boat rentals and a shop full of everything you need for your day on the water. Check out our great deals on summer sportswear from Simms as we clear the way for fall gear arriving SOON.

Cruising through Summer

It’s that time of the season when things go quiet.

Dry fly fishing remains prime with an abundance of opportunities available to feed your top-water addictions.

Whether you like targeting specific fish with tiny trico patterns or blind fishing a meaty (and highly visible) terrestrial this is your time.

Tricos, Caddis, the last of the PMD’s, beetles, ants, hoppers…it’s a top-water extravaganza with something for everyone but as luck would have it everyone has rapidly transitioned to no one.

The crowds have disappeared. The fish have not, though we’re certain they’re enjoying the break.

If the fishing is so good, you may be asking yourself, then why have the crowds disappeared?

It’s a valid question and one which is tied to the normal cycles of the Missouri River summer season. These coming weeks are traditionally quiet ones as the prime timers have come and gone and many have started to set their sights on fall.

The exodus typically coincides with hot weather and weeds, neither of which ruin the fishing but suffice it to say that neither really add much to the enjoyment of your Montana fly fishing experience.

This year is a little different.

Yes, hot weather has arrived but it’s been a relatively cool summer up until now and the temps are still unseasonably cool at night which is helping to keep the river cool. These cooler temps along with summer flows in the 6000 CFS range thus far (though dropping now) have helped to keep us virtually weed free through the prime time and things are still in good shape. Expect more weeds as flows continue to drop.

The long winter and the slow march to summer has delayed our “normal” bug schedule by a couple of weeks which means that not only are we STILL fishing PMD’s but we’re just getting started on Tricos so we’re anticipating solid dry fly fishing for the rest of the summer season. Throw in respectable caddis activity and the option of fishing terrestrials and you’ve got a near-perfect time to fish the Missouri.

And as if that weren’t enough to make you change your late summer plans lodging has just become extremely available and extremely abundant and while our guides are enjoying a day or two off they’d rather be working than not so I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be booking yourself an August trip to THE best trout fishery in the country this summer.

Tons of bugs plus tons of fish minus crowds of anglers = the perfect time to fish the MO’.

Best Dry Flies this week – Rusty Spinner, Brook’s Sprout PMD, PMD Drowned Spinner, Hi Vis PMD Spinner, Double Wing Trico, Trico Indicator Spinner, Hi Vis Trico Spinner, Trina’s Hi Vis Sprout, Griffiths Gnat, Buzzball, Bloom’ Parachute Caddis, Outrigger Caddis, X Caddis, Front End Loader, CDC Caddis Emerger, Cornfed Caddis, Para Adams, Purple Haze.

Best Bets for Terrestrials – Moorish Hopper, More or Less Hopper, Water Walker, Cinnamon Parachute Ant, Hi Vis Beetle, Bloom’s Stealth Ant, Parachute Ant, Spruce Moth.

Not to be overlooked the nymphing has been good with a smorgasbord of bugs getting eaten.
Tailwater Sows, PMD Redemption, Frenchie, LGM’s, PT Black, Purple Lightning Bug, Weight Flies, Tung Darts, PMD Wondernymph, Doc’s Summer Bug, Juju purple, 2 Bits, Psycho Mays, Peep Shows and yes, even Zirdles are FINALLY getting noticed.

Fish on top, fish below, fish blind, fish deep, fish shallow, fish fast and medium fast water (skip the slow). Heck, take advantage of the relatively clean water and fish streamers…You know I am.

Your options are limitless right now on the MO.
W

e are your one stop shop for everything you need for your day on the water. The best guides on the river; clean and affordable lodging; Adipose Drift Boat Rentals; Simms waders, boots, sportswear and accessories; sunglasses from Smith and Suncloud; nets, packs and accessories from Fishpond and Rising; ice; fishing licenses; and much more including the largest selection of Missouri River bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

Open daily at 7 am.