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.

Labor Day Sale at Wolf Creek Angler

Don’t miss our Labor Day  Sale happening all weekend long at Wolf Creek Angler.  Great deals to be had on flies and much more starting tomorrow and running through Monday.

THE BEST FLY DEALS OF THE SEASON

30% off all flies. Nymphs, dries, streamers, foam…..they’re all 30 percent off. Fill your boxes this weekend at Wolf Creek Angler.

FALL ROD SALE

We’re kicking off our annual fall rod sale tomorrow with great deals on rods from Loop, Echo and Redington. Clearance pricing on St Croix High Stick Drifters…..half off until they’re gone!

Pair your new rod with a Ross, Nautilus, Loop, Redington or Echo reel and we’ll give you special combo pricing. You’re obviously going to need a new line to go with your new rod and reel, we’ll give you 30 percent off of that as well!

SUMMER SOFT GOODS

We’ve got to move them out to make room for fall gear. Shorts, pants, shirts, select rain gear….all 30 percent off.

WADERS AND BOOTS

30% OFF all waders and wading boots.

Brave the smoke and take a trip to Wolf Creek this weekend. We’ve got limited lodging available if you want to make a weekend of it. We’ve also got RO and Adipose Drift Boats available for rent should you want to float the river. We are your Missouri River Labor Day Destination.

Tons of Bugs at Wolf Creek Angler

 

 

Mid May Missouri River Report

John and daughter Ellie were all smiles for a couple of wet days on the MO'.

John and daughter Ellie were all smiles for a couple of wet days on the MO’.

So far May has not disappointed.

The fishing has been good for most and Mother Nature continues to please with plenty of precipitation and cool temps keeping us optimistic about what we’ll see for water on the MO’ this season.

On the flip side we have heard a few complaints about the weather (and maybe even complained about it ourselves from time to time) with a lot of  folks ready for some warm, dry days on the water. We’re selling plenty of Kast Steelhead Gloves and we’ve yet to put away the Hand Warmers and it’s been a good spring for wader and rain gear sales so we’ll take it but it’s sure nice to see the sun shine every now and again! Don’t get me wrong – we’re thrilled to be getting the precipitation and the fishing in the rain is just fine but a bit of sunshine is good for the soul.

We fished through a rainy weekend and transitioned from rain and cold yesterday morning to a gorgeous afternoon/evening and a couple of  warm sunny days today and tomorrow before rain returns for the weekend. Expect plenty of traffic this weekend, rain or shine, with the 10th Annual Craig Caddis Festival and BBQ Cook Off  happening on Saturday. Come out and enjoy some great food along with awesome silent auction items including fishing trips, original art and gear from your favorite local fly shops. The festivities get underway at 4:00 PM.

Good nymphing out there the past couple of days with the stronger reports coming from the middle and lower stretches. The canyon has been fishing particularly well but there are plenty of fish and plenty of opportunities river-wide. Wire worms and sow bugs have been a good go-to combo but we’re starting to get some solid action on various caddis pupa as well. Weight flies in purple or gold are a great choice for a point fly right now, trailed with your favorite sow bug, mayfly or midge imitation. LGM’s, S & M’s in brown, Yum Yums, Tailwater Sows, Granato’s Snack Nasty Sows, Psycho Mays, Dark Peep Shows, black zebra midges, split case bwo’s, Hot Belly PT’s, Pearl Lightning Bugs and on and on.

Fish the bugs you have confidence in and think depth before you think bug changes. There are certainly some bugs that are consistently working out there but it’s funny how we all get caught up in fishing the “Hot Flies”. We are happy to sell you the HOT FLIES but it’s not uncommon to have people return to the shop after fishing these HOT FLIES having not had any luck with them. Fish what you like. If you thinks it’s going to catch fish you tend to fish it well and often times this is the difference between success and failure.

Dry-fly fishing has been hit and miss at best with BWO’s on the wane and caddis few and far between in the stretches below Craig. It’s been a great BWO spring as far as bugs go but more often than not we’re hearing reports of very few fish up on them. Not to worry though, there is plenty of dry-fly fishing ahead. Keep that dry fly rig at the ready.

Streamers have continued to produce for us to the point where I will say it’s been a pretty damn good couple of weeks. Not exactly HOT but definitely worth committing to  for a day, or at least for a couple of hours. Zach and I share a passion for streamer fishing and it shows in our bug selection. Stop by and see what’s new. We’ve got a bunch of new bugs including some WCA/Chewy Exclusives you won’t find in any other shop. We’re happy to set you up with everything you need for streamer fishing on the MO’ and beyond. We’ve got a wide selection of specialty lines from RIO , SA and Airflo and we’ve got some great streamer sticks from LOOP, Echo and St Croix. We’ve been referred to by some as having the best streamer selection in the canyon. Whether or not this is the case we definitely take great pride in our selection and we hope you make WCA your Missouri River Streamer Fishing Headquarters.

We do have a few vacancies in the motel this week and we’ve always got top notch guides at the ready. Give us a call today and book a Missouri River Fly Fishing getaway you won’t soon forget. We’ve also got Adipose and RO drift boat rentals, shuttle service and a shop full of everything you need for fly fishing the Missouri River and beyond. We are your full service Missouri River Fly Fishing destination.

Welcome Spring

Spring is beginning to show itself on the MO. Photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Spring is beginning to show itself on the MO. Photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Spring officially arrived yesterday with sunshine and 60’s, a nearly perfect day. We were happy to soak it in yesterday, but we’re looking at another week of winter-like weather ahead and we’re happy to have it.

We’re very pleased to report that the snow pack is continuing to build and should be maintained with slightly below average daytime highs and cold nights in the high country.

Here on the Missouri we’re looking at a chance of snow showers every day this week starting tomorrow with temps in the high 30’s and low 40’s. Consequently, we’re going to hold off on opening up more lodging for the time being but we expect to have all the cabins open and available the first week of April and will likely have the motel units up and running by mid to late April, depending on the weather.

Spring lodging and guide dates are filling rapidly so don’t put it off any longer. Book your spring dates with us now. It’s an awesome time to fish the Missouri River with light to moderate traffic and great opportunities no matter what your fly fishing game. Nymphing has already started to really heat up, dry-fly opportunities are becoming more consistent and with the water temp flirting with 40 degrees, the streamer game is also starting to turn on and will only get better from here on out.

Come spend a few days with us and see why we consider spring to be one of the best times to fish the Missouri. Spend a day or two on the water with one of our expert professional guides and then spend a few more on your own either taking advantage of the abundant walk in access or perhaps renting a RO or Adipose Drift Boat to explore the 30 plus miles from Holter Dam to Cascade. Ask about our spring special. We’re offering great prices on lodging, guide trips and boat rentals through the end of April. You can’t afford to pass these deals up!

$99 gets you cozy and quiet accommodations in Wolf Creek with a full kitchen, private bath, access to barbecue grills and to THE UP and COMING Missouri River fly shop fully stocked with everything you need for your day on the water.

New gear arriving daily including LOOP, Echo, St Croix and Redington rods and reels, a bunch of cool new Simms WCA logo gear, tons of bugs added to an already impressive and expansive selection and the most laid-back, ego-free, customer service committed atmosphere you’ll find anywhere.

The Hell Razor Jacket from Kast available at Wolf Creek Angler

The Hell Razor Jacket from Kast available at Wolf Creek Angler

Don’t miss Extreme deals on Extreme Fishing Gear from KAST. The calendar may say spring but the weather will continue to say winter for a while ( we hope). Pick up a Hell Razor prima-loft jacket at 40% off and you’ll be laughing at the cold as you experience the hottest fishing of the season.

Your dining options will greatly increase this week as the legendary Izaaks in Craig opens for the season this Thursday, the 24th. We can’t wait!  Izaaks will be open Tuesday-Sunday at 4 PM through April and will be open daily come May.

The Oasis in Wolf Creek will continue to be open Thursday – Monday from 8:00 – 7:00 PM serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Please support our local businesses.

The shop will be open seven days a week beginning April 4th, from 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM.

Yes the season is upon us! We hope to see you soon at Wolf Creek Angler!

 

Valentine’s Weekend Outlook

jboat

The spring weather continues and the migration to the Missouri will be in full effect this weekend as people from all around the state take advantage of the opportunity to leave winter behind and get an early start on spring fishing. The Missouri River is without a doubt the hottest fishing destination in Montana right now.

It’s been our busiest lodging week of the season so far and the shop has been abuzz daily with folks getting shuttles and stocking up on flies and other Missouri River essentials.

We’ve got one cabin left for the weekend and we expect it will be gone by lunchtime. It’s not exactly the Honeymoon Suite but it would still make a great place to spend your Valentines Day weekend with your significant other. Throw in a $400 Missouri River Guide Trip or do it yourself with a RO Drift Boat rental and watch the romance bloom!

Wolf Creek Angler Lodging Options

Nothing says Love like a new fly rod, particularly a new LOOP Cross S1 or Opti Stream fly rod and reel to match. If you are in the market for a new rod be sure to stop in and check out our new expanded selection from LOOP, ECHO, ST CROIX and REDINGTON along with reels from ROSS, LOOP, NAUTILUS and more including the acclaimed BEHEMOTH reel from Redington, an awesome value at $110.

Valentine Deals to be had store-wide.

Wolf Creek is the nexus of Missouri River winter fly fishing with the only OPEN restaurant and the only gas station/convenience store between Helena and Cascade. Pair that with an up and coming Missouri River fly shop and guide service offering clean and comfortable rooms complete with full kitchens all minutes from Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge and you’ve got yourself a Montana winter fly fishing destination like no other.

Expect a fair amount of traffic at the dam this weekend and don’t be afraid to spread out as we’ve been hearing decent reports from the dam down to Mid. I wouldn’t hesitate to go even lower, the fishing should be fine, we just haven’t heard much from the lower stretches as of yet.

Stop in for up-to-date info on the what to use when and where.

Weekend Outlook

DSC_0040

The mild weather continues this weekend with highs near 50 expected today and temps in the 40’s on Saturday and Sunday with a favorable wind forecast and a chance of rain and or snow each day.

The fishing has been good throughout the week by winter standards and there’s no reason it shouldn’t continue to be. Nymphing has been the best bet but we’re hearing some solid streamer reports as well, particularly in the Wolf Creek Bridge to Craig stretch.

A super slow retrieve is often the key this time of year as the fish are on the lethargic side with those water temps hanging in the low 30’s. For the most part they aren’t going to give chase but if you present them with the opportunity for a high calorie target moving slowly enough they will eat it. A slow strip or a swing is always the best bet under these conditions which is going to mean you’re going to want to use an intermediate line or a slow sinking VersiLeader from Rio. I always tend toward the heavier/faster sinking streamer lines just out of personal preference but a fast-sinking line presents challenges when you are looking for a slow retrieve. Not that you can’t effectively fish these lines but there’s definitely a skill set involved in figuring out how to fish them in cold water.

The best action has been on the slender side with the Kreelex, various clouser-type bugs, polar leeches and ZK’s Iced Out Grill all getting some attention. The streamer bins are loaded up at Wolf Creek Angler and Chewy has been feverishly tying to keep up with demand. Check out the go-to patterns in all sorts of flavors as well as a bunch of custom creations you won’t find in any other shop. We love the streamer game and we appreciate and understand your addiction. The Missouri is not a streamer river in the classic sense, with a bunch of structure to throw to but it can be nothing short of phenomenal on the right day. It’s a little different game than what you may be used to but always worth your time. Interested in streamer fishing the MO?  Make Wolf Creek Angler your first stop.

We’ll get you rigged with the right line and the right bugs and we’ll talk you through technique and tell you where to go to optimize your experience. If you’re thinking you need a new streamer stick we’ve got awesome deals happening right now on the St Croix Bank Robber designed by Kelly Galloup and we’d love to get you rigged with everything you need.

If you’re sticking to the nymphing game it’s status quo. Pink Amex, Rainbow Czech or Casne’s Pinkalicious trailed with firebead softhackle sows, pink lightning bugs, firebead rays, black zebra midges, etc. Slow and deep to medium deep water, adjusting depth and weight as necessary.

If you’re waiting for dry-fly action it’s getting to be that time where you should have your midge rig at the ready. We’ve seen a few bugs around each day and a few sporadic rises but I wouldn’t plan to make a day out of it just yet.

We’ve seen more traffic out there today than we’ve seen in a while. Expect company and be on your best behavior. It’s been a while since we’ve had to do much sharing of the water and this is definitely sharing by winter standards. Still plenty of solitude to be had.

We’ve got a full house this weekend but it looks like the mild weather will continue into next week. $99 Lodging available starting Sunday night and $400 guide trips available all winter long.

See you in the shop and on the water.

 

Weekend Report

Winter Fare at Wolf Creek Angler

Winter Fare at Wolf Creek Angler

We’ve got a nice weekend on tap here on the Missouri River, especially by mid-January standards with temperatures in the high 20’s and to low 30’s, relatively calm winds and a chance for snow showers each day. We are under a winter weather advisory beginning this afternoon at 2 pm and ending tomorrow morning at 11:00 AM. We could see 2-4 inches of new snow tonight.

The fishing could potentially be pretty good on the river and there was a fair amount of traffic headed up the lake again this morning. We’ve got a full house tonight but things open up on Sunday. If you’ve got Monday off for MLK day it wouldn’t be a bad call to book yourself a bungalow for Sunday night and a $400 full day guide trip on Monday. We’re supposed to see temperatures in the 40’s Monday.

Good reports from the past couple of days both from the nymphing set and the streamer guys. The go-to flies have been Pink Sows, Pink Scuds, Pink Lightning Bugs, Pink Amex…..notice a pattern? We’ve also done well with a few firebead patterns. Rainbow Weight Flies, Firebead Sows, Firebead Rays….. there are plenty of bugs that are working well these days, you just have to put them in the right place. With water temperatures in the 33-34 range those fish simply aren’t going to move much so you need to make sure you are putting it right in front of them. Generally you’ll find that where you pick one up you will pick more up as they are congregating in those spots right now.

Hot Head Kreelex, Hot Head Buggers, Polar Leeches in Brown and also Olive/Copper, Sparkle Minnows and Skiddish Smolts are all getting some action on the streamer side. We’ve got all of these and many more including a bunch of new patterns just begging to be fished. Stop by and check out the undisputed best streamer selection in Wolf Creek Montana.

There will definitely be some traffic out there this weekend with the weather being what it is. It’s a great weekend to fish! It’s also a pretty good weekend to watch playoff football with the Chiefs and Pats playing this afternoon and the Packers and  Cardinals tonight. Seahawks and Panthers tomorrow morning followed by Steelers and Broncos tomorrow afternoon. They should all be great games.

Be sure and stop at Wolf Creek Angler if you are coming out to fish. We’re your one stop for everything you need for winter fly fishing on the Missouri. Shuttles, cozy lodging, cold weather gear, closeout deals on St Croix and Echo fly rods, RO Drift Boat Rentals, all the best winter bugs, Kast Steelhead Gloves, great coffee and much more.

The Oasis is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Thursday-Monday so you’ll definitely have a place to eat as well as have a cocktail or two while you watch the football games this weekend.

Fishing the Thaw

IMG_5540

Bins Overflowing with new bugs at Wolf Creek Angler

Busiest day of the year by far this mid-January Wednesday at Wolf Creek Angler. Full house on the lodging side last night and more bugs out the door today than we’ve seen since November.

There’s plenty more where those came from so make sure you swing by on your way to the river and check out the largest selection of winter-specific Missouri River flies ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.

We’ve also done more shuttles in the past two days than we’ve done in the past three weeks combined. It’s not too surprising though considering we’re pushing the 50 degree mark today with partly cloudy skies and some isolated rain showers in the mix. Ridiculously nice weather for winter fishing on the Missouri.

Most are opting for nymphing these days though there are plenty throwing streamers as well. Speaking of streamers, our streamer bin is overflowing with tons of new patterns, some of which have been consistently producing both on the swing and the strip. Stop by on your next trip through and check out our ever-expanding streamer selection.

New to the streamer game? Grab one of our St Croix Bank Robber demo rods and a handful of streamers and give it a go. If you find you like it we can get you set up with a complete package (rod/reel/line) tailored to suit your needs for a great transition season rate. We’re clearing our St Croix inventory to make room for something new and exciting…more on this soon.

I did make it out for a couple of hours yesterday and have a full report as promised.

#10 Casne’s Pinkalicious trailed with a #18 firebead pink soft hackle sow. 6′ give or take from point fly and occasionally from single bb. Slow deep winter water. A couple  whiteys and a couple  trout. The whiteys love the Pinkalicious. Same old story but a solid couple of hours for sure. Some spots which produced very well last season for me have yet to turn on while others which I overlooked in the past seem to be holding plenty of fish. The warm air feels good. The wind keeps things on the chilly side so dress appropriately. The water is cold (33-34) so layer up and have at it. Leaky waders may cut your outing short – they did mine!

Things are melting rapidly but there is plenty of shelf ice around yet so please use caution out there. Boat traffic is increasing so the ramps are definitely getting used but some pre-drift recon or a quick call to the shop to check ramp conditions is always advisable and if you don’t have four-wheel drive maybe leave the boat home for another time.

Continued above average temps tomorrow with a high near 40 and a 50% chance of snow showers. Sounds like a streamer day to me. Colder as we head into the weekend with temps closer to average in the high 20’s and low 30’s. Monday looks nice with temps back near 40. Three-day weekend for some with MLK Day on Monday. Why not spend it fishing the Missouri. $99 lodging and $400 guide trips all winter long. Give us a call and book yours today.

 

 

Weekend Report

Gorgeous Missouri River Winter Bow  - photo Eric Mondragon

Gorgeous Missouri River Winter Bow – photo Eric Mondragon

Last week’s snow has all but disappeared with temps close to 50 yesterday and more of the same for this weekend and the week ahead. We may see 60 by mid-week. Given a choice we would prefer snow and cold but we’ll take it either way.

The traffic has been very light even with the warm temps. The winds are keeping some away but those who have been out there have been enjoying some good to great days both nymphing and swinging/stripping. Water temps have been hanging right around 38 for the past couple of days with flows stable at around 3030 cfs. The colder temps have caused the fish to move to the slow, deep winter water which can make things easy if you know where they are. A #12 Casne’s Pinkalicious or Pink Amex trailed with a firebead softhackle sow or a tailwater sow or a pink lightning bug or something of the sort will get you into the action and keep you there. We’ll often run the same rigs for days, even weeks at a time during the winter months with or without split shot. I prefer no split shot opting instead to use a heavy tungsten bug as my weight but it’s all a matter of preference. We typically aren’t doing much with depth adjustment either as the fish are generally concentrated at the same depth in each of these winter runs.

While nymphing is our go-to this time of year it’s also never a bad call to swing or slowly strip a streamer. Our bins are overflowing with all kinds of new streamer patterns. The Hot Head Kreelex, Skiddish Smolt, Sparkle Minnow and various Polar Leeches have all been getting some attention. Stop in and check out our selection, you won’t be disappointed.

Lodging has filled for this weekend and there will be a little more traffic out there than there has been  but you will still have plenty of options for solitude on the water. Stop by the shop on your way to the river for shuttles, winter bugs and everything you might need for your day on the water and then some. While you’re here take the opportunity to get your Christmas Shopping done. We’ve got something for all the fly fishers on your list and if you can’t decide what to get them we’ve got WCA gift cards good for everything we sell.

Today we’re highlighting rods and reels. We’ve got some great deals going on Echo and St Croix rods and select Nautilus and Ross reels as we clear the way for some redesigned Echo rods and the launch of a soon-to-be announced new product line in the rod/reel department that we’re super excited about .

bankrobber-main-images

St Croix Bank Robber – The Ultimate Streamer Stick

If Anyone Starts Talking About Getting Sensitive Around Here,
They Better Just Be Talking About Light Tippets.

There’s stepping up to the plate, and then there’s stepping up to the fly rod and casting like a big boy. If you want to know more about it, just spend a day with Kelly Galloup. If you plan on chasing trophies with huge streamers, here’s a little tip – bring a big boy rod. Something like the Bank Robber.™ Simply put, they are the ultimate streamer rods. Forged from high-modulus / high-strain SCV graphite blanks with SCVI graphite in the lower sections for added power with reduced weight and St. Croix’s proprietary ART and IPC® technology, it’s something Kelly would approve of. Especially since he helped design them.

s-l1000

Can a fly rod really change your life?
Depends on how much of a life you have outside of fishing.

When it comes to understanding the latest sub-surface fishing techniques, few people know more than Kelly Galloup – which is why we asked him to help us develop the High Stick Drifter. Designed specifically for today’s advanced nymph fishing methods, they feature a unique lightweight tip that reduces angler fatigue when the rod is held high for long periods of time, while emphasizing sensitivity for better strike detection. High Stick Drifter rods also feature SCVI graphite in lower sections for added power with reduced weight and St. Croix’s proprietary ART and IPC® technology. And the balance? Incredible. Can these rods change your life? Yea. We think so.

Pick up a Bank Robber or High Stick Drifter today for 20% off the regular price. We’ll also match either one up with the appropriate reel and line for additional cost savings.

7fb6d258-7699-4ab7-8d7d-97a99b4268e5.jpg

Echo Carbon Rods

When Tim Rajeff set out to create the next generation of affordable trout rods he had no idea they were going to turn out so darn good-looking. Getting the action and power correct was his main goal. Tim dedicated a full year of product development to make sure every model in the ECHO Carbon family has a smooth action and is easy to cast. All but a few of these rods have smooth Medium Fast actions and possess power that would be considered close to “average or normal” for each line rating. So you get no surprises when choosing an ECHO CARBON rod. “Not too stiff, not too soft, juuuuuuuust right!!!” With a matte brown finish and a custom Rajeff Sports / ECHO man reel seat the ECHO CARBON rods stand out as the best looking rod under $200 that has ever been made.

Echo has redesigned the Carbon for next season so we’re clearing this year’s models out at 30 % off the regular price. Let us match your new Carbon with the appropriate reel and line for an additional cost savings.

Nautilus-FWX-Red

Nautilus Feather Weight Xtreme
The Nautilus FWX (Feather Weight Xtreme) series is the most technologically advanced and the lightest machined aluminum disc drag trout fly reel on the market.

The award-winning FWX reels feature our Sealed Carbon Fiber (SCFTM) drag system with the proprietary TORQ-XTM clutch drive and TPX bushings. This completely sealed, maintenance-free draw bar type carbon fiber disc brake delivers the smoothest drag on the market in a light fly reel. No sand, gravel, water or snow will affect the flawless performance of this amazing disc drag.

Come check out these rods and reels and many more today. We’ve also got some great starter kits from Redington which include everything you need to get started fly fishing. Rod, reel and line and a lifetime warranty on the rod for under $200.
untitled

A moderate-fast action rod great for beginner casters or those who have a more relaxed casting stroke. 2-piece and 4-piece models offer flexibility for the traveling angler.

  • All water, moderate-fast action rod
  • Durable anodized aluminum reel seat, ideal for all fresh and saltwater applications
  • Alignment dots for easy rod setup
  • Rods come with black cloth rod tube
  • Combo includes: Path rod, Path reel pre-spooled with RIO Mainstream® WF fly line, and zippered carrying case
  • 8 and 9 weight, saltwater application, available with RIO Saltwater® Floating Line
  • Lifetime warranty *Rod only

Not sure what kind of rod to get them? We’ll walk you through all of your options and explain the differences and get you set up with exactly what you need.

First Snow

welcometowolfcreek

We got a couple of inches of snow overnight though it’s rapidly disappearing with temps in the high 30’s today. As predicted yesterday’s grey skies and intermittent snow/rain/sleet made for a great day on the water with plenty of bugs and plenty of fish willing to eat. Similar conditions this morning though the clouds are rapidly dissipating. They’re calling for mostly sunny skies by this afternoon so now is the time!

Things are quiet on the river which is great for those who are around. Plenty of real estate to work with if you’re hunting heads and if you’re floating and throwing streamers or nymphing as you look for rising fish you’ve got miles of prime water virtually to yourself.

There have been a few folks around taking advantage of our winter lodging rates and while it certainly hasn’t been what we would consider busy we’ve had enough going on here to keep us occupied throughout the day. It’s that time of year when things slow down enough that part of the daily duties in the shop include laundry and housekeeping (and shoveling snow)!

We’ve got two rooms left for the weekend which looks like it’s going to be nice. Give us a call today and book one for yourself and while you’re at it why not book a guide trip? $99 gets you a cozy cabin or bungalow with private bath and a full kitchen.

Plenty of deals to be had in the shop as we clear out the items slated for obsolescence. Great deals on Ross and Nautilus Reels and Echo and St Croix rods. 30 % off summer logo wear from Simms and select Guide Wear from Kast and much more. Don’t forget we’ve got WCA Gift Cards good for everything we sell. They make the perfect gift for the fly anglers on your list.

The coffee is on and the shop is open at 7 AM daily, earlier than all the rest, for all of your Missouri River fly fishing needs. Bugs, shuttles, Hand Warmers, hats, gloves, RO Drift Boat Rentals, Cold Weather gear from Kast and Redington and plenty of honest advice on the where, when and how. Stop in and say hi next time you’re in Wolf Creek, we’d love to visit with you and Jake would love for you to pet him and rub his belly. He’s suffering from neglect and attention deprivation since the arrival of the quiet time!

IMG_4170