Archive for July, 2009

Some anglers prefer to fish by themselves. While I don’t mind going fishing on my own, I always enjoy getting out on the water with friends. This summer I’ve had the chance to head down to the river a number of times with people whose company I enjoy.

On Friday I fished with a couple of old friends, Barry and his son, Matthew. It had been ten years or more since we last fished together … far too long. We’d been planning this trip since January or February, and at long last the day had arrived. Barry and Matt had just finished a four-day fishing trip in BC and were looking forward to spending a day in southwest Alberta, before heading home to Red Deer.

Barry casts a fly into a likely-looking run

Barry casts a dry fly into a likely-looking run

We found a stretch of river that didn’t appear to have any other anglers, so we parked the truck and climbed down the steep bank to the water. Fishing was a bit slow at the start (water temp was 45° F.), but picked up as the day progressed. By mid-afternoon the water temperature had climbed to 51° F. … ideal for cutthroat trout. It wasn’t long before the cutties started to rise, and we were able to cast to some really nice fish. Matt was in fine form and showed us how it was done by landing some beauties, including a 20-inch-plus rainbow trout.

Matt battles a nice cutthroat trout

Matt battles a nice cutthroat trout

Matt and his catch!

Matt and his catch!

All in all, it was a wonderful day. We had plenty of time to talk and catch up on things; we caught a few trout and enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery. My friends have since departed Crowsnest Pass for home, but I hope to be able to fish with them again soon. This time, though, we’ll try not to let ten years pass before we whet a line together!

A portion of a buffalo skull we discovered along the river.

A portion of a buffalo skull we discovered along the river

Countless numbers of people are drawn to Crowsnest Pass each summer to fish our local rivers, streams and lakes. Our mountain community has become a world class destination, attracting anglers from near and far. Along with the great fly-fishing that’s available, there’s plenty of other things to see and do here. If you’re planning a fishing trip to the “Pass” this year, do yourself a favor and take in some of the local sights and activities. You won’t be disappointed!

Here’s my “Top Ten List of Things to See & Do in Crowsnest Pass – When You’re Not Fishing.” They’re in no particular order and I only listed them as they came to mind. There’s a lot more to see and do in the Pass than what’s on this list, but I’ll leave them for you to discover.

  •  Frank Slide Interpretive Centre   Located at the site of Canada’s Deadliest Rockslide, the newly-renovated Interpretive Center contains new exhibits and interactive displays. The rockslide occurred at 4:10 am on April 29, 1903, when in the pre-dawn hours, 82 million tonnes of limestone broke from the summit of Turtle Mountain and crashed into the valley below. The slide obliterated a portion of the sleeping town of Frank, claiming approximately 70 lives. Among the displays at the Centre, you’ll find replicas of the townsite’s buildings, as they appeared on the fateful morning when the mountain moved. If you’ve toured the Interpretive Centre before, but have not been back since the renos were completed, you owe it to yourself to pay a return visit. If you’ve never been to the Centre, it’s a “must-see.” For more info, visit their web site by clicking here.
Frank Slide Interpretive Centre

The Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, with Turtle Mountain in the background

  • Bellevue Underground Mine Tour  Put on a coal miner’s helmet and lamp, and take a guided underground tour of the Bellevue Mine. The coal mine opened in 1903 and operated until the early 1960s. Numerous coal-mining artifacts are on display at the site. Knowledgeable interpreters are also on hand to explain what it was like to be a miner and the intricacies of the “room-and-pillar” method of coal mining. This is the only underground mine tour in Alberta. To reach the mine, look for their sign next to the Old Dairy Ice Cream Shoppe on Main Street, Bellevue. Speaking of ice cream, be sure to stop at the Old Dairy for a cool, refreshing treat, once you’ve toured the mine. For more info on the underground mine tour, click here
A group exiting the underground mine

A group of people and their Interpreter exiting the underground mine

  • Crowsnest Museum   Located in the old Coleman Elementary School, this museum is chock full of artifacts, of which more than 25,000 are on display at any given time. If you’re interested in the Crowsnest Pass, its people and its rich history, this it the place for you! For more info, visit their web site by clicking here.
Crowsnest Museum

The Crowsnest Museum in downtown Coleman

  •  Hiking and Mountain Biking  There’s no shortage of places to hike or bike in Crowsnest Pass, that’s for sure. Hikes vary in level of difficulty, so you’ll want to check on these beforehand. Popular hiking and mountain scrambling destinations include, Turtle & Crowsnest Mountain, Window Mountain Lake, the old ghost town of Lille and the Miner’s Path in Coleman. Be sure to bring your camera! If you prefer to peddle, there’s miles upon miles of backcountry trails and roads in the area, suited to mountain biking. For books, maps and info on hiking in Crowsnest Pass and surrounding area, visit Crockets Trading Company, located across the street from our fly shop.
Hiking up Turtle Mountain

Hiking up Turtle Mountain

  • Hillcrest Cemetery  On June 19, 1914, an explosion at the Hillcrest Mine claimed the lives of 189 coal miners – the worst mining disaster in Canadian history. Most of the victims were buried in two mass graves at this cemetery. There’s a monument and interpretive panels present, honouring those who died in this tragedy.
Hillcrest Cemetery

Hillcrest Cemetery Monument

  •   Rum Runner Days & the 15th Annual Thunder In The Valley® Fireworks Display  This year’s event will take place July 16-19, with the “ever amazing,” Thunder In The Valley® Fireworks on Saturday, July 18. That’s this weekend, folks! The fireworks start at 11:00 pm., and the best place to view them is downtown Blairmore. If you have the opportunity to attend, you will be impressed – guaranteed! Organized by the Blairmore Fire Department, it’s the town’s highlight event of the summer. Other Rum Runner Days activities include a pancake breakfast, parade, co-ed slo-pitch tournament, golf tournament, Show & Shine, midway rides for the kids and various family events. For more info on the Thunder In The Valley® Fireworks Display, visit their web site by clicking here. For info on Rum Runner Days, click here.  
  • Crowsnest Heritage Route  This self-guided driving tour takes you through the five towns that make up the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass (Bellevue, Hillcrest, Frank, Blairmore and Coleman). A free brochure, available at numerous locations throughout the Pass, including our fly shop, contains detailed maps of each town. Locations of heritage sites and buildings, along with interesting historical descriptions, are included in the brochure. Directional signage along Hwy. 3 and within each community will help you to locate sites. For more info on Crowsnest Pass Heritage, click here.     
  • Crowsnest Pass Art Gallery & Gift Shop  Located along Hwy. 3 in the town of Frank, the CNP Art Gallery features new exhibits monthly. Current and upcoming exhibits include, “This Is Who I Am”(July 4 – Sept. 7), a juried show featuring the work of local artists; “Earth, Wind, Water, Fire” -  photography exhibit by Elaine Steinke (Sept 12 – Oct. 12); Sigh – paintings by Karen Tamminga Paton (Oct. 16 – Nov. 18).  The Art Gallery is operated by the Crowsnest Pass Allied Arts Association. The Association also offers various workshops throughout the year. For more info, click here
The local Art Gallery offers monthly exhibits

The local Art Gallery offers monthly exhibits. Admission is free.

  • Crowsnest Pass Golf & Country Club  I’m not a golfer, but I know there’s a lot of fly-anglers who like to play a round or two when they’re not fishing. Click here for more info on where to golf in Crowsnest Pass.
Crowsnest Pass Golf & Country Club

Crowsnest Pass Golf & Country Club

  • A Visit to The Crowsnest Angler Fly Shop  I may as well throw in a free plug for the shop … after all, you’ll need to find out “where the trout are biting,” once you’ve checked out all the places and activities listed above. For those of you who don’t know where we’re located, you’ll find us along Hwy. 3 in Bellevue, Crowsnest Pass, immediately west of the small campground. Hope to see you this summer!
Our shop is located along Hwy. 3 in Bellevue, Crowsnest Pass

Our shop is located along Hwy. 3 in Bellevue, Crowsnest Pass

Dry-fly fishing on the Crowsnest River has been excellent as of late. A variety of insects, including mayflies (pmds, quill Gordons, flavs and green drakes), caddisflies and stoneflies (golden, yellow and lime Sally stones) have been providing some of the best fishing in recent memory.

Between guiding and working in the shop, I haven’t had much of a chance lately to get out and do some personal fishing on the Crow … that is, until last evening. Rolf and I headed out after supper and worked a section of river upstream of Lundbreck Falls. We fished from 8:00 pm until dark (10:00 pm). There were already a number of good size trout feeding on the surface when we arrived at the water’s edge, albeit sporadically, but as soon as the sun dipped behind the Livingstone Range the river came alive with fish.

We found some trout “snouts” rising along a willow-lined bank and worked them for about an hour, trying to figure out what they were eating. There were quite a few flavs on the water and lots of rusty spinners in the air. Caddis, and yellow and lime Sally stones were fluttering in the bushes along shore. We tried a few different fly patterns, before discovering it was caddisflies the fish were interested in – or at least it appeared that way. After snapping off a couple of big fish that came up to our Elk Hair Caddis dries, we managed to land a couple of good ones, including a gorgeous 20-inch brown trout at dark. Browns are becoming more prevalent upstream of Lundbreck Falls and this was the largest one I’ve caught here to date. Now, I just need to start concentrating on the lake trout that are showing up downstream of the falls. Where do you suppose they came from – Crowsnest Lake?

The fishing has been awesome on all of southern Alberta’s trout streams, so try to get out soon!

Crowsnest River, Alberta

Rolf setting the hook on a rising trout


As many of you know, we’re once again offering a number of fly-fishing schools this summer, conducted by Jim and Lynda McLennan. These schools are an excellent opportunity to learn from two of the finest and most knowledgeable instructors anywhere!

Jim instructing on the Crowsnest River

Jim McLennan instructing on the Crowsnest River

 Although some of our schools have been filled, there’s a few openings remaining in others. See the list below for details. If you’re interested in registering in any of these, give us a call at: 800-267-1778.  The cost of these schools is listed below (GST not included).

Whatever your skill level, there’s a McLennan Fly-Fishing School designed specifically for you. For more information on the Crowsnest Angler schools, and others being offered, please visit the McLennan Fly Fishing web site by clicking here.

Lynda McLennan discussing equipment

Lynda McLennan discussing equipment

Jim McLennan Schools (Availability as of July 9th)

Fly-Fishing Intensive ($200.00) –  July 11 School (FULL)

Fly-Fishing Intensive ($200.00) –  August 2 School (space available)

Listening To The River ($150.00) – July 12 School (FULL)

Listening To The River ($150.00) – August 1 School (space available)


Lynda McLennan Schools (Availability as of July 4th)

Women’s Beginner Fly-Fishing ($150.00) – July 11 School (FULL)

The Next Step For Women ($150.00) – July 12 School (FULL)

Beginner Fly-Fishing (Co-Ed/Mixed) ($150.00) – August 1 School (space available)

The Next Step (Co-Ed/Mixed) ($150.00) – August 2 School (space available)

 McLennan School