What Are We Doing?


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.

If you’ve stopped by our fly shop in the past year or so, you’ve probably noticed the        8-foot trout silhouette we put up to decorate the outside of our new addition.

A view of the front of our shop, with the trout silhouette

A view of the front of our shop, with the trout silhouette

 During this time, we’ve had lots of compliments on the fish and our addition. Well, yesterday we added another 8-foot trout silhouette above our sign next to the shop. We think this trout looks as impressive as the first one.

Positioning the frame that will support the heavy metal trout

Positioning the frame that will support the heavy metal trout

The Crowsnest Angler Fly Shop

Securing the trout to the sign

 Thanks to Randy Rinaldi Welding for installing the steel frame and hanging the trout for us. A job well done!

Our trout sign on display along Highway 3, Bellevue, Crowsnest Pass

Our trout sign on display along Highway 3 - Bellevue, Crowsnest Pass

Hello everyone and Happy New Year! I realize I’m about two weeks late with my New Year’s Greeting, but I’ve been away on Christmas break and yesterday was my first day back at the shop. Carol and I travelled to South Carolina over the holidays to visit her daughter and son-in-law. Corrie Anne and Kevin live in beautiful Mt. Pleasant, just outside Charleston. Although Carol had visited here before, it was my first trip to the “Palmetto State.” We had a wonderful time visiting and were able to see some interesting sights. There was no shortage of things to see and do. The only shortage was the time needed to do all the things on our list.

Isle of Palms Sunrise. A popular beach, fifteen minutes from Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Sunrise on Isle of Palms. This popular beach is located a few minutes from Mt. Pleasant.

One of our first “tourist stops” was The National Audubon Society’s Francis Beidler Forest, located in Four Holes Swamp. It’s a neat place, filled with all the things you would expect to find in a swamp. While strolling along the boardwalk, I was hoping to see an alligator. After all, we were in a swamp. Shouldn’t there be a gator lurking behind every tree? Perhaps there would be one basking in the sun along the shoreline, just around the next corner. It turned out there were no alligators present that day, but we were able to see some of the other inhabitants of the forest, mainly small birds of various description. We also admired 1,000 year old Bald cypress trees. That was cool. Did I mention, no gators? No lizards, either. They must have known I was coming.

Other than seeing them on television (National Geographic and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom), I’d never encountered a live alligator before. Prior to our trip, Corrie Anne and Kevin informed me that gators inhabit some of the small freshwater ponds scattered throughout their lovely community, including one such impoundment just outside their backyard. Apparently, sightings of these reptiles are quite common in this part of South Carolina. One afternoon, Kevin suggested we go look for some. I followed him closely as he opened the back gate. Kevin knew exactly where to go, and I was happy to let him lead the way toward what I hoped would be an alligator-infested pond. We crept stealthily and quietly through the dense forest and within moments arrived at our destination. Unfortunately, Mr. Gator and family were not home. Over the next week, we checked out all the other local ponds, hot-spots for reptilian activity, but it was as if they had all disappeared into thin air. Sure there are alligators in South Carolina … and we have them in Crowsnest Pass, too! We didn’t encounter any gators anywhere during our trip, but saw lots of other wildlife, including egrets, herons, turtles and even a couple of raccoons. And while crossing one of the bridges between Charleston and John’s Island, I saw a  dolphin as it broke surface. It appeared to be in a hurry and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was fleeing a hungry alligator.

Folly Beach Lighthouse

Folly Beach Lighthouse

Our vacation came to an end all too quickly, but before departing for home we toured Boone Hall Plantation , a “must see” when visiting the Charleston/Mt. Pleasant area. Other highlights of the trip included visiting the Angel Oak Tree, a live oak tree estimated to be 1,500 years old. That’s roughly twice as old as the “Burmis Tree, ” the famous limber pine located along Highway 3 in Crowsnest Pass. The Angel Oak has a diameter of spread reaching 160 feet, a circumference of nearly 25 feet, and covers 17,100 square feet of ground. And it’s still alive, too. Now that’s what I call impressive!

Carol, Corrie Anne, Kevin and I also had dinner at Hyman’s Seafood, a well known restaurant located in downtown Charleston. During our meal, which was awesome by the way, owner/manager, Eli Hyman stopped by our table to say hello and to make sure our food was to our liking. Eli spent a few minutes talking about the restaurant and also answered questions regarding some of the famous personalities that had recently dined there. The restaurant walls are adorned with photos of countless numbers of celebrities that have enjoyed dinner at this establishment. Everyone from Neil Armstrong to Judge Wapner have eaten here. To see some of the places we visited, click on the links in the above text.

Shem Creek Shrimp Boat. South Carolina is famous for its shrimp.

Shem Creek Shrimp Boat. South Carolina is famous for its shrimp.

While I didn’t have a chance to go fishing, I’ll be sure to bring my gear next time. There’s some excellent fly-fishing available around Charleston for redfish, Jack crevalle and other species. Over the years, I’ve had quite a few people tell me Charleston is a wonderful place to visit (or live) and that the people here are very friendly. After visiting, I couldn’t agree more. Special thanks go out to Corrie Anne and Kevin for their hospitality. Should I have the opportunity to visit you again, perhaps I’ll also have the good fortune of encountering an alligator!

Crowsnest River January 11, 2010

While I didn’t fish during our trip to the States, I managed to get out, albeit once during my time off. Peter and I fished the Crow for a few hours Monday afternoon. Crowsnest Pass had been in the midst of a Chinook for several days and conditions were almost spring-like outside. Wind warnings had been issued earlier in day, with predictions of gusts up to 100 km per hour. Temperatures climbed to a balmy 8° Celsius by mid-afternoon and while it became extremely windy at times we managed to find a couple of corner pools that were ice-free and somewhat sheltered from the wind. The river was in great shape and it was fairly easy to get around. Some of the ice shelves along shore were unstable and you had to be careful when walking along the river’s edge. Upon reaching the river, we noticed cougar tracks in the snow. There were also deer tracks nearby and I suspect the big cat was out and about looking for its next dinner. The fishing was okay, considering the wind and all, and we managed to catch a few nice rainbows. Here are some photos of the day.

P.S. A quick reminder. Now that we’re back from vacation, the shop is open Tuesday through Saturday – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. By mid-May, we’ll be open every day, once again. Hope to see you soon!

Peter fishing a deep run

Peter fishing a deep run

Peter with a nice Crowsnest River rainbow trout

Peter with a nice Crowsnest River rainbow trout

One of the rainbows I caught. Lightning Bug nymphs were the fly du jour.

One of the rainbows I caught. Lightning Bugs were the fly du jour.

My fly rod laying on a natural ice bridge over the Crowsnest River

My fly rod laying on a natural ice bridge over the Crowsnest River

 

September has come and gone and we’re already more than half-way through October. Where did autumn go? Except for what remains on the mountain tops, all of the snow that fell earlier in the month has melted. It appears we won’t be enjoying the magnificent fall colors along the Crowsnest River valley this year, or at least to the extent we usually do. The -15° Celsius temperatures we experienced a few weeks back froze most of the leaves on poplar trees and other vegetation in the valley, before they had the chance to change color. Instead of being adorned in brilliant hues of red, yellow and gold, the majority of  trees are quite dull in appearance. Oh well, there’s always next year … right?

All of the rivers in SW Alberta, with the exception of portions of the Crowsnest River and Oldman River downstream of the Oldman Dam, close at the end of this month. After today, there’s only ten days left to get out and do some late season fishing on the upper Oldman, Livingstone, Castle, Waterton rivers and their tributaries. Once these streams close it’s still possible to go fishing, but you’ll have to stick to the open sections of the Crow and lower Oldman. Check the angling regs before heading out. If you’re not sure where these sections are located, you can also stop by the shop. We’ll be glad to point these areas out to you on our map. Note: A couple of streams, including Mill Creek and a portion of the Belly River, closed Sept 1st. 

I’m often asked, “What does a fly-fishing guide do on his day off?” I usually reply, “Why he goes fishing, of course.” And just like any good mailman; rain, snow, sleet or hail, won’t prevent a dedicated fishing guide from venturing out for the day. Ice that’s several inches thick along the shoreline of a lake won’t stop him, either. Just ask one of our guides, Pat Kelly, … he’ll tell you! Below is a photo sent to me earlier in the week, showing exactly what I mean. That’s “Skipper” Pat (without a first mate) at the helm of the icebreaker, “HMS Kelly.” Now that’s what I call dedication!

A reminder that we have changed to winter hours. Our fly shop is open 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. We’re closed Sunday and Mondays … to go fishing, of course!

Pat Kelly breaking through ice. Photo courtesy of Terry Hrudey.

Pat Kelly breaking through ice. Photo courtesy of Terry Hrudey.

It’s been a while since my last post. Between a busy guiding schedule in September, running the shop and getting things winterized around here and at home, it’s been difficult to find time. At any rate, I’m glad to be back blogging again!

After a glorious September, in terms of the weather and the fishing, Old Man Winter decided to pay us an early visit, and without much warning, too. We usually don’t see him like this until the end of October, or even into November sometime, but this time he showed up a month early, and uninvited. How rude! He’s definitely overstayed his welcome this time around and everyone is hoping he leaves – the sooner, the better! If he doesn’t return until January, that will suit me just fine.

Large portions of  western Canada, including Crowsnest Pass, have been experiencing frigid, winter-like weather conditions for a couple weeks now. Temperatures have been well below normal around here, and to top it off it’s been snowing a bunch. I’ve had to pull out the snow shovel a few times, already. In total, the Pass has received at least a foot or more of snow. Judging by the snow-covered peaks of all the nearby mountains, even more snow has fallen at higher elevations. There’s about 2-3 inches of snow on the valley floor today.

While the weather has not been particularly kind to us as of late, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for those still  planning (hoping) to do some late-season fishing. Depending on which forecast you look at (or believe in most) on the Internet, it’s going to be sunny, with temperatures of between 10 and 24° C expected by Saturday. I’ll be happy with 10 Degrees. Now, where did I put that sunscreen?

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I’d been invited here by the Kilpatrick  Flyfishers to be one the presenters at their 2009 Fly-Fishing Jamboree. The club was formed in 1985 and this was their 5th Annual Jamboree. It had been more than 20 years since I last visited Saskatoon and it was great to be able to return to this city.

The window of my sixth floor hotel room provided me with a spectacular riverfront view of the mighty South Saskatchewan River and the University Bridge. My hotel was directly across the river from the University of Saskatchewan campus.

The window of my sixth floor hotel room provided me with a spectacular riverfront view of the mighty South Saskatchewan River and the University Bridge. My hotel was directly across the river from the University of Saskatchewan campus (top left of photo).

 The Jamboree was a huge success and was attended by people from as far away as Prince Albert and Regina. It was a well organized event and I was especially impressed with the number of kids, young adults and families in attendance. It appears this club is doing an excellent job promoting the sport of fly-fishing in Saskatoon and surrounding area.

A young fly-tier

Eric Koshinsky and son, Darren, tying flies. A young fly-tier in the making!

Fly-tying demonstrations were conducted throughout the day by various club members. They’re really a talented bunch and their tables attracted a lot of attention.

Fly-tying demonstration

Fly-tying demonstration

Paul Oltsher (The Northern Fly Fisherman) had a large booth, with an impressive selection of fly-tying tools, materials and fishing gear on display. Joe Van’t Hof was also in attendance, with his large collection of antique tackle and lures.

The Northern Fly Fisherman Booth

The Northern Fly Fisherman Booth

 

Joe Van't Hof and antique fishing equipment & lures

That's Joe Van't Hof on the right, with his display of antique fishing equipment & lures

  Saskatchewan Conservation Officer, Gary Provencher, provided an excellent presentation, “Hooked On Fishing – Not On Drugs,” a unique program geared toward introducing youth to the sport of fishing. Yet another interesting presentation was made by Sonnet McGuire of Narrow Hills Provincial Park. This Park is located approximately 150 km northeast of Prince Albert. Sonnett’s presentation covered a variety of topics, including recreational opportunities, such as trout fishing, available in the Park. For more info on this Park, and to download a pdf copy of their fishing map, be sure to visit  their web site (click the link above). There’s some good fly-fishing to be had in Saskatchewan, if you know where to look!

I’d been asked to make a couple of presentations, including one on fishing in Crowsnest Pass, “Fly-Fishing Alberta’s Chinook Country,” and another on reading water and stream-fishing techniques. I also participated in the fly-tying demos.

Introducing my "Fly-Fishing Alberta's Chinook Country" Presentation. (Photo courtesy of Ken Dornan)

Introducing my "Fly-Fishing Alberta's Chinook Country" Presentation. (Photo courtesy of Ken Dornan)

Vic's fly-tying demo

One of my fly-tying demos. (Photo by Ken Dornan)

I had a great time and would like to thank the Kilpatrick Flyfishers for inviting me to participate in their Jamboree. Special thanks go out to Dennis Pagoda, Eric Lawrenz, Ken Dornan and Terry Cook. Thanks also to Dave Cook for treating me to a special “driving tour” of the city prior to the event. Saskatoon is a beautiful city, indeed!

Welcome to the official blog of The Crowsnest Angler Fly Shop & Guide Service. Yup, we finally have our very own blog! This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for some time now, and to make a long story short … I’ve decided to become a blogger, like millions of others. I realize it’s still early, but I think I’m going to enjoy doing this, too. Thanks (I think?) to all those who provided the encouragement, and particularly Stuart for helping me with everything.

The content of my blog will be geared largely toward fly-fishing in Crowsnest Pass and surrounding area. I’ll also talk about some of the things occurring in and around the shop. And who knows, from time to time I may even include other interesting tidbits of information (not “Timbits,” as in Tim Hortons), and perhaps even the occasional anecdote or personal point of view. 

For those of you who don’t know about us, I’ll give you a quick rundown of who we are and what we do. We operate a full service fly shop & guide service in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, Canada. We’re located along Highway 3, in the town of Bellevue, about a 2-1/2 hour drive southwest of the city of Calgary, or 90 minutes west of Lethbridge. If you’re travelling to the Pass from the east, you’ll see our fly shop on the north (right) side of the highway as you approach Bellevue. Turn right as soon as you pass the small campground. The Crowsnest River, one of Alberta’s premier trout streams, is located directly across the highway from our shop, and is only a stone’s-throw away. From here, you’ll get a great view of Turtle Mountain and the famous Frank Slide. If you look further west, through the V-shaped gap between Turtle and Goat (Bluff) Mountain, you should be able to get a glimpse of Crowsnest Mountain towering in the distance, providing it’s not obscured by clouds. If you’re heading here from the west (British Columbia), look for us on the left side of the highway, once you’ve passed through the Frank Slide.

Our fly shop, with Turtle Mountain and the Frank Slide in background

Our fly shop, with Turtle Mountain and the Frank Slide in background

I’ve been guiding in Crowsnest Pass and area since 1984 and our fly shop opened in 1993. We carry a complete selection of fly-fishing equipment and gear, including flies, leaders, rods, reels, waders, accessories, maps, books, videos and angling licenses (Alberta & BC). We also provide guided fly-fishing trips in SW Alberta and SE British Columbia. That’s right, we’re licensed to guide in BC, as well. In addition, we offer fly-fishing instruction and conduct various schools throughout the season. We specialize in providing local advice and information on fishing in this area. If you’re heading this way, please stop by and say hello. You can get more details regarding our fly shop and the services we provide by visiting our web site. The link to our site is also located in the sidebar.
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Oh, and before I forget … if you’re looking for genuine Timbits donuts (and perhaps a “double-double”), there’s a Tim Hortons in Blairmore. You’ll see them on the south side of Highway 3. It’s only an 8-minute, 40 second drive from our shop. Trust me, I know!