The weather in Crowsnest Pass continues to be absolutely gorgeous! We’ve been receiving above seasonal temperatures for the past couple of weeks and it looks like there’s more to come. Our forecast is calling for the warm, sunny weather to continue for at least the next week or two. Temperatures are expected to reach 26°C on Saturday, the first day of autumn. Amazing!

Yesterday, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and went fishing with Ernie, a friend from Bellevue. We headed south of Crowsnest Pass, in search of cutthroat trout. Our first stop was a tiny creek, where fish are not very large. We weren’t looking for big ones, anyway, nor did we catch any. Ernie and I spent  a couple of enjoyable hours, sight-casting to 10 – 12 inch cutties. Every pool held at least one or two fish and we took turns casting to them. We also took turns removing our flies from bushes and trees behind us. Oh, the joys of fishing a small mountain creek! 

Ernie hooks into a cutthroat trout

Later in the afternoon, we headed to another spot to fish bigger water. It was getting on in the day, so we wouldn’t be able to stay long. There wasn’t much going on, in terms of insect activity, and we only encountered a few rising trout. In one pool, I caught a cuttie on an Elk Hair Caddis. The fish was about the size of the ones we were catching on the small creek, earlier in the day. I always thought bigger water meant bigger fish, but I guess it’s not always the case. Ernie had fished this stretch of river a couple weeks earlier and caught some larger fish on dry flies. I switched to a nymph and it wasn’t long before a nice fish decided it was time to eat. I got a glimpse of it, just before it broke my tippet. In another pool, I was able to sight-cast to a number of trout, by hiding behind some bushes along shore. The water was crystal-clear, allowing me to watch the fish move in the current to take my nymph. A couple of times, I was so absorbed in watching the trout, I forgot to set the hook. On the times I remembered to strike, I was rewarded with a fish. All in all, it was a great day!

Fishing for cutthroat trout

Time to head for home

Where did our summer go? June and July disappeared before I knew it, and August quickly turned into September. Kids are back in school and family vacations are all but done for another year. For many anglers, including myself, this is the time of year we enjoy most. It’s a great time to be on the water. There’s less people fishing now and trout are beginning to feed eagerly, in preparation for winter.  Oops … did I say “winter”? 

Thus far, the weather has been really nice this month. Although evenings are becoming cool, afternoons are warm and pleasant, with temperatures climbing into the mid 20° Celsius range (70° Fahrenheit). Leaves on trees are starting to change color. Within a week or two, the Crowsnest River valley will be decked out in full autumn splendor. 

There are a few caddis flies present on the rivers and blue-winged olive mayflies are beginning to interest trout.  As September progresses, the best hatches of BWOs will occur during early to mid-afternoon. Currently, there’s lots of terrestrial insects along the stream banks. If you’re heading out fishing soon, be sure to carry a few grasshopper, ant and beetle imitations. 

Fishing the Castle River in July

It was a late start to the season, due to cool weather and rain. Most of the rivers in southwest Alberta remained high and discoloured until mid-July. Fishing was good, though, once water levels dropped and the rivers cleared. 

Waiting for the evening hatch to begin and the wind to end

Some of the best dry-fly fishing on the Crowsnest River can occur at dusk, providing the wind cooperates. In the photo above, taken during the September long weekend, Rolf and I were waiting for the strong gales to subside. They never did. What happened a few minutes after I took this photo made up for the lack of fishing opportunities that evening. We watched in amazement as a large black bear suddenly jumped into the water from the bushes on the left, before swimming to the other side of the river. We remained calm, quiet and still, and watched to see what it would do. The bear didn’t realize we were less than 50 feet away. Once the bruin crossed the river, it didn’t stop. It kept going, heading through the trees in a northerly direction. Rolf and I breathed a sigh of relief and were glad we didn’t need to pull out our cans of bear spray. The fishing may not have been great that evening, but we returned home with an exciting story, nevertheless.  

Landing an Elk River cutthroat

Lately, I’ve been guiding on the Elk River. The cutthroat trout are truly amazing on this river, and it’s a lot of fun catching them on dry flies. However, contrary to what some people say, Elk River cutthroats can sometimes be as challenging to catch as Crowsnest River rainbows. After trying nearly every fly in his box, this angler was rewarded with a nice cutthroat trout that wanted a foam ant pattern.

Fishing conditions on the Crowsnest River and other trout streams in SW Alberta are shaping up … finally. Water levels are continuing to drop daily and the rivers are becoming wadeable once again. I like fishing the Crowsnest this time of year, because there’s so  much going on, in terms of insect activity. The river is quite clear and the trout are beginning to rise to dry flies.

Dry-fly fishing has started on the Crowsnest River

I was fishing on the Crowsnest River on Wednesday and there were plenty of adult golden stoneflies, yellow and lime Sally stones, caddis, pmd mayflies, and even some green drakes on the water. The best part, though, was I only encountered one angler the entire time I was out. Not bad, considering it’s almost the middle of July. The fishing was pretty good, too. I fished a hopper-dropper rig most of the day … a Stimulator or SA Hopper dry fly, using a Bead-head Prince or Copper John dropper. About half the fish I caught were on dries, the rest on nymphs. It was a great day!

Dry-fly fishing on the Crowsnest River

On Sunday, I travelled to Police Outpost Lake with my brother-in-law, Paul.  This lake is located southwest of Cardston, about an hour and a half drive from Crowsnest Pass. It’s stocked with rainbow trout. I had not fished here since the delayed harvest regulations were implemented about three years ago, and figured it was time to go back for a visit.

View of Police Outpost Lake

 We arrived just after 9:00 am and within thirty minutes had launched the boat and were fishing. It was a bit windy and cool most of the day, but not enough to make things too uncomfortable. From time to time, the sun would poke through the clouds and it would warm up nicely. We starting catching trout early on and by the end of the afternoon had landed a couple dozen fish, some measuring 18 inches. There were three or four float tubes on the lake and about a half dozen boats. It wasn’t very busy at all, considering it was a weekend. We caught most of our fish on Copper Johns and Glenn’s Leeches, under a strike indicator. There were a few chironimids (midges) hatching, but the fish didn’t seem too interested in feeding on them, at least where we were fishing. Later, we heard some anglers in the float tubes had good success “chronie” fishing. By three o’clock, the fishing tapered off and within an hour we were on our way back to the Pass. We’ll be back!

Paul netting a nice Police Lake rainbow trout

Lees Lake is a popular fishing spot in southwest Alberta. It’s located along Highway 507, about fifteen minutes from our shop. This lake provides decent fishing for rainbow trout and it’s a great place to fish in spring, once the ice melts. It’s not a large lake and is ideally suited to small boats, pontoon boats and float tubes. The rainbows are typically small to medium size and are usually very cooperative. There’s always a few larger trout around, too, just to make things a bit more interesting. After a long winter, it’s the perfect place to visit. And because it’s close to Crownest Pass, it’s handy.

Sunday April 1, 2012 - An angler in a float tube on Lees Lake.

 The lake had begun to open along shore a couple weeks ago, but cold temperatures returned, causing it to freeze again. While checking the Crowsnest River last Wednesday, I stopped at Lees Lake to see whether there was any change. It was still froze. On Saturday, a couple of anglers stopped in to say they had just passed by the lake and noticed there was some open water at the boat launch and in the small bay along the highway. I headed over on Sunday to see for myself. It was about 3/4 open, and with the way the wind was blowing, it probably wasn’t going to take long for the rest of the ice cover to disappear. It looks like ice-out on Lees Lake will be a month earlier than last year. On Sunday, there was one fly angler on the water in a float tube and another casting from shore. It doesn’t take long for word to spread, once the ice starts to come off. I checked again yesterday and there wasn’t very much ice left anywhere on the lake. Providing Old Man Winter doesn’t return, the lake should remain ice-free. I guess it’s time to put the pontoon boat together.

Sunday April 1, 2012 - Looking west from Lees Lake, toward Turtle Mountain in Crowsnest Pass.

It’s springtime in the Rockies, including here in Crowsnest Pass! We got off pretty easy this winter, compared to last year. I know we’re not out of the woods yet, and anything can happen between now and summer, but it didn’t seem like we received very much snow in Crowsnest Pass this winter. Yet, when you check the Alberta Environment website, their data indicates average to much-above-average mountain snowpack in southwest Alberta. It appears the snowpack is greater north of Hwy. 3, than it is in the south.

The section of the Crowsnest River between Lundbreck Falls and Highway 3 is closed to fishing from April 1 to June 15.

I went for a drive yesterday to check conditions on the Crowsnest River. I stopped in at Lundbreck Falls and chatted with a couple of anglers who had driven down from Edmonton. They were going to fish the day, then head home. They had only been on the water a short time when I caught up with them. One of the anglers mentioned he had already caught a nice rainbow trout. Making a six hour drive to fish for eight hours, and then driving another six hours to get home at the end of the day is what I call dedication. At least, they wouldn’t be going home skunked!

Below are a couple more photos of places I checked yesterday. I also headed over to Lee Lake. About a week ago, there was a bit of open water at the boat launch, but cooler temperatures over the weekend caused it to freeze again. I’ll update conditions, once they change.

If you’re planning to go fishing on the Crowsnest River soon, remember the section between Lundbreck Falls and Highway 3 is closed April 1 to June 15. The section upstream of the East Hillcrest Bridge is also closed until June 16. If you’re in doubt about what sections are open, check the fishing regs. Watch out for ice shelves along the river and fish with a friend.

Yesterday, as I was leaving the parking lot at Lundbreck Falls, a robin flew in front of my truck. I guess spring has arrived to Crowsnest Pass, after all!

The Crowsnest River downstream of Hwy. 3


Downstream view of the Crowsnest River from the Hwy. 507 Bridge.

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens

It’s hard to believe the fishing season on the majority of the rivers and streams in SW Alberta has been closed for more than a month and that Christmas is only two weeks away. Unlike last year at this time, we haven’t had to deal with much snow, at least not yet.  But rest assured, winter is coming. Although there’s not a lot of snow on the ground at the moment, we’re bound to get our first good snowfall sometime before Santa pays his annual visit. We haven’t had a lot of snow, but we’ve sure been receiving a lot of wind lately. A couple of anglers who had been fishing on the lower Oldman, downstream of the dam, stopped by the shop this afternoon to say they had been blown off the water. I guess the 100 km per hour winds made it tough to stand up, let alone trying to casting into it.

Crowsnest River at Highway 507 Bridge

I went for a drive the other day to check water conditions on the Crowsnest River. Ice is beginning to form along the edges, but there’s still plenty of open water in the stretch between the Highway 507 and East Hillcrest Bridges. If you’re planning to check it out for yourself in the coming months, this section generally has the most ice-free, fishable water.

On another note, our 2012 Fly-Fishing Schools have been scheduled. We’ll be offering a couple of Beginner Schools in May and June. In addition, Jim & Lynda Mclennan will be returning next season to instruct a couple of schools. Gift certificates are available for any of these classes, and make a great “stocking stuffers” for Christmas. Click here for information regarding our Beginner Schools. Click here for info regarding Jim and Lynda’s Schools. Certificates are also available for our guided fly-fishing trips. Call the shop at 403-564-4333 or 1-800-267-1778 for more information.

In my last post, I mentioned Jim McLennan was going to be playing at The Tin Roof in Blairmore, Crowsnest Pass. Well … last night was the night and the place was packed, despite the snowy weather. A crowd of 40+ people were on hand to see Jim perform with his guitar. The food was excellent and the audience was treated to some great musical entertainment. Jim played two sets and included some of the tunes from his CD, “Six-String Gumbo” in his performance.

Jim playing guitar. Photo courtesy of Shirley Ann Schwabe.

Jim and Lynda McLennan performing at the Tin Roof, Blairmore. Photo courtesy of Shirley Ann Schwabe.

We also heard from Lynda McLennan, as she performed a number of beautiful songs throughout the evening. As an added bonus, Joe Cunningham, a musician from Pincher Creek, was in attendance. Joe accompanied Jim on a couple of songs, by playing a drum.

The evening flew by and it ended all too soon. We enjoyed a great meal, conversed with friends and had a lot of laughs. We also listened to some great music. A good time was had by all and we look forward to seeing Jim and Lynda return to perform in the Pass again. If you missed out on yesterday’s show, they will be performing at other locations in Alberta in the coming months. You can check out where, by clicking here. If you have an opportunity, be sure to attend. You won’t be disappointed.

Jim McLennan of Longview, Alberta is a well known and respected fly-fishing personality in Canada and the U.S., but some of you may not know he’s a talented musician, too. He’s as skilled with a guitar as he is with a fly rod. Jim has been playing guitar since he was a teenager and has recently returned to performing solo. Earlier this year he released his first solo instrumental CD, titled Six-String Gumbo. We’ve been playing it a lot in the shop this summer and think it’s great. However, we’re not the only ones who think this way about Jim’s music. Here’s what a few others have to say.  

“McLennan’s the complete player and one who doesn’t second-guess himself as an artist. Hard to believe that making music of this calibre isn’t what he does on a day-to-day basis for a living, but fans of instrumental acoustic guitar pieces will be thrilled Jim McLennan took time to record this impressive collection.”  – Peter North, host of Dead Ends and Detours and Points North

“Jim McLennan has it all – classic rags to Jerry Reed to the Beatles. He’s a full-fledged guitar picker, at home with blues, folk, jazz, and pop. Some hot pickin’ on this CD!” – Stefan Grossman, American acoustic-guitar guru

If you’re interested in listening to some of Jim’s “hot pickin’,” he’s going to be appearing live at The Tin Roof Grill & Bar in Blairmore, Crowsnest Pass, on Friday November 4th. Special Guest: Lynda McLennan. Seating is limited, so don’t delay. Get your tickets today. We have a few tickets available at the shop (ph: 403.564.4333). They can also be picked up at the Tin Roof, or by calling 403.562.7664.

For more info regarding the McLennan’s and Music, click here

Jim McLennan will be appearing at The Tin Roof on November 4th

It’s official, fall has arrived. Yesterday was the first day of autumn across the northern hemisphere, including right here in Crowsnest Pass. You would never know it,  though, judging by the awesome weather we have been experiencing lately. It feels more like summer than fall, that’s for sure. The temperature outside today reached 30 degrees Celsius (86 ºF). Amazing!

The fishing has been holding up really well on our local trout streams. Water levels are good and most streams are in perfect condition for wade fishing. Terrestrial imitations, such as hoppers, ants and beetle patterns, have been producing quite well. Blue-winged olive mayflies and caddis have also been providing decent dry-fly opportunities. 

The Crowsnest River is in great, late summer condition.

 The weather forecast is calling for things to start cooling down over the next week or so. It’s still going to be nice, but temperatures are expected to return to normal for this time of year. I’d be real happy if it stayed like this until Christmas. Then it can warm up, again!

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