Weekend Report

Today is Day 2 of being under a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY which has thus far brought ideal fishing conditions to the MO.

When I took my morning drive to Wolf Creek Bridge yesterday before work, conditions were so incredibly perfect that I decided I needed to be on the water. Without too much arm twisting I was able to convince one of my regular clients to come out and spend the day on the water. It was the right call.

43 degrees, overcast, not a breath of wind and not a soul to be seen ANYWHERE! We did the go-to Wolf Creek to Craig section knowing that this time of year it’s all about staying put once you find the fish. Nymphing was good from the start with the Pederson’s Sow/Tailwater Sow rig continuing to produce. I haven’t changed my nymph setup in weeks!

The wind came up shortly after we launched with the bridge still well in sight, blowing upstream and rapidly transforming our perfect conditions. There was a brief discussion of calling it and blowing back up to the ramp but we quickly rejected that idea and decided to power through it.

It’s tough to hold a line in a north northwest blow but the upstream portion of the row around is definitely easy. The fishing actually picked up as the winds did the same and a slight adjustment from #18 to #16 on the Tailwater Sow made all the difference in the world.

We found fish in the majority of places I expected to find them and got them roughly 2 to 1 Tailwater Sow to Pederson’s Sow. A solid day of nymphing in spite of the deteriorating conditions and then, just like that the wind died and we were treated to glassy water and rising fish. My client is not a dry fly angler so he invited me to take a shot at them. A quick rigging and a couple of casts later I had my first dry fly eat of 2020, followed by another, both small browns hungry for midges. These were my earliest fish on dry flies in a couple of seasons so that was definitely a highlight of the day for me.

Conditions were again idyllic for the remainder of the day though the action slowed considerably in the afternoon but overall – not a bad day to fish the Winter Weather Advisory!

Today looks like it’s going to be a similar day weather-wise. Winds are calm and we’re holding steady at 39 degrees though there is a steady snow falling this morning. They’re calling for less than half an inch today and maybe around an inch tomorrow so it could be a good weekend to fish the Missouri though the respite from the wind looks like today only so if you’re looking to fish dry flies, today would be the day.

The Winter Storm Warning which was in effect through this morning for elevations above 5500 feet appears to have produced plenty of precipitation so it really is the best of both worlds with snow pack building while we enjoy spring-like weather and dry fly fishing on the Missouri.

We’ve seen a few people this morning but I wouldn’t expect any overcrowding out there. We do have lodging and guides available this weekend so let us know ASAP if you’d like to make it a Missouri River Winter Fishing Weekend.

Winter on the Way

Well it had to happen sooner or later.

Following weeks of mild weather with well-above average temperatures winter is about to arrive in Western Montana.

The 40 degree days we’ve been enjoying are soon to be replaced with single digits so count yourself lucky if you were able to make it out fishing over these past several weeks and if you didn’t you’ve got a couple of days left before the arctic blast hits.

Today looks to be the last best day but temperatures will linger in the 30’s for the next couple of days before plummeting into the teens on Sunday and colder yet early next week. The coldest day looks to be Tuesday with a high of -8 and a low of -17. It starts to tick upward later in the week and looks to be back to around 20 by next Friday. We’ll see if that turns into a warming trend or not but I wouldn’t plan on doing any fishing next week.

We’ve been getting a lot of calls from folks wondering if there is any ice on Holter Lake (which there isn’t) but that’s likely to change next week. We’ll keep you posted.

For those looking to make it out before the cold hits you need to know that the past couple of days have been the best nymphing action we’ve had in weeks. We can’t promise you that this will continue to be the case over these next couple of days but I think there’s a good chance it could be.

Winter bugs, winter water….as easy as it gets.

We did our first guide trips of 2020 yesterday and the day did not disappoint. This same group fished with us on January 3rd of 2019 and had a similar day so they really know how to hit it right.

Wolf Creek to Craig, deep buckets, pink bugs, hungry trout, and rods bent. That is the report from yesterday and the previous several as well.
Days like these make winter nymphing the worst kept secret on the Missouri. The wind can be a nuisance but outside of that, when it’s on like this it doesn’t get much easier. The choice of bug is typically not critical. Pill Poppers, Pederson’s Sow, Amex, Bubble Yum, Cotton Candies, Tailwater sows, Caviar Scuds…all the same stuff we’ve been pushing for the past month or so. Again, when it’s ON the specific bugs don’t seem to matter all that much which makes it nice because you can roll with the same rig all day rather than feverishly swapping out bugs and racking your brain trying to figure out what they want.

Run deep in the buckets with a bb split or two and hot spot your way down.

We did see a few folks around yesterday but for all intents and purposes the river is VOID of traffic which is another reason winter fishing can be such a blast.

Again, we can’t promise you great fishing every day but at just $400 for a guide trip  you can’t beat the price and as is always the case with winter trips, if the weather turns or if you simply change your mind, no harm no foul…NO CANCELLATION FEE! You won’t find a better deal ANYWHERE so why not book a winter day on the MO with us now? You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.

If you prefer the wait and see approach that’s ok too. We can generally accommodate your request with as little as a day’s notice. Keep in mind we can also provide quality lodging at an affordable price so you can spend your time on the water, not on the road. $99 (plus tax) for a cozy bungalow with full kitchen and private bath. Bungalows sleep three very comfortably.

Hunker down for the coming arctic blast and then make a plan to get out and fish the Missouri this winter when things warm up.

We have shifted into our winter schedule at the shop. We’re open from 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM Wednesday – Saturday and 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Sundays BUT there’s a very high probability that we will be closed on days when the temperature is at or below 20 degrees so please call ahead on those really cold days if you’re planning on us being open.

Accordingly, we will likely be closed most of next week or will just be here for limited hours.

That being said, we are open for lodging and guide trips EVERY day and calls are forwarded when the shop is closed so don’t hesitate to give us a call any day to book.

Thursday Update

Moody Missouri Sky - Craig Montana. photo by Wolf Creek Angler

Moody Missouri Sky – Craig Montana. photo by Wolf Creek Angler

It was a little tougher out there yesterday than it’s been. Still good but we definitely had to work for them. The Tailwater Sow still won the day but I ended up doing a fair amount of bug and rig changes throughout the day. Rainbow Czechs, Tan UV Czechs and Bubble Yums were all ignored for the most part while the grey LGM, purple lightning bug, tailwater sow, grey soft hackle sow and purple Hi-Def baetis all caught fish.

A few bigger bugs on the water and a few fish in the places you would expect to find them but definitely far from a dry-fly extravaganza.

Traffic? Non existent!

You know what I love about November (and the rest of the late fall and winter) on the MO’? I love miles of empty water as far as the eye can see and being able to fish every place I want to fish, and more often than not being the first one through. Of course it’s not always this way but if you can have this experience on a 50 some degree gorgeous day in early November then you can bet the more seasonable (colder) weather will usually yield the same results.

You know what I like least about this time of year? Paradoxically its miles of empty water and the drop in traffic that ushers in the lean times for Missouri River fly shops. One in the same! It’s a fun time to fly fish the Missouri but on the shop side we’re ready for spring!

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to do in the shop right now. We’re busy counting flies, checking in winter product booking trips and lodging for next year, winterizing lodging units, forecasting and planning for next season….we’re plenty busy. What we miss is seeing and chatting with all of you every day.

Keep your eye on the forecast and keep us in mind for a late fall/early winter getaway. At $99/night for a cozy cabin or bungalow just minutes from the river you can’t afford to pass up this opportunity.

Remember the winter months are when the town of Wolf Creek shines with the only services available between Helena and Cascade. Need fuel, food, groceries, a post office? Wolf Creek is where you’ll find them all in addition to affordable lodging and the fastest growing fly shop on the MO’ Wolf Creek Angler.

We are your Missouri River fly fishing one stop shop with more on-site lodging than anyone; the hardest working guides on the river; vehicle shuttles; RO and Adipose Drift Boat Rentals;  cold weather gear from SIMMS, KAST and Redington; packs, bags and accessories from Fishpond and Simms; LOOP rods and reels; lines, leaders and tippet from Rio, ARC and Trout Hunter and of course, the largest and best selection of flies ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana.