Archive for July, 2010

Most anglers have at least one or two stories about the “one that got away.”  These tales usually involve a trout of monstrous proportions that managed to slip the hook, just as you were about to bring it to hand. In most cases, it’s the size of the fish we remember most, when conveying the story to fellow anglers. For some reason, though, we never tell stories of any of the average or regular size trout we’ve lost while out on the water. It’s probably just as well, because these ones are a “dime a dozen,” and chances are not many people would be interested in listening, anyway.

Hunter Neal

Really ... it was this big!

 I’ve experienced more than my share of LDRs (long distance releases) over the years. I’ve had lots of SDRs (short distance releases), too! Actually, there’s a lot of ways to lose fish and I don’t mind saying I’m pretty good at all of them.

Sometimes, something memorable happens while you’re in the process of  losing a fish. That’s what happened the other day while I was fishing with Hunter and Gary. I was with Hunter when he hooked a rainbow trout of about 16 or 17 inches. Certainly not a monster fish, but still decent nevertheless. The trout surfaced within a foot of the stream bank and inhaled a Stimulator dry fly. We didn’t see the fish until it came up to eat the fly, but it was holding in one of those places where you just knew there had to be a fish. It was one of those classic takes where the trout rose in a slow, deliberate manner. Hunter’s timing was perfect and he set the hook as soon as the trout turned downward. Immediately, the fish bolted into the swift current and then rocketed into the air … not once, but twice. Each time, it cleared the water by at least a couple of feet. The trout seemed to travel through the air in slow motion, before landing with a splash on the water’s surface. It was exciting to watch all of this, as it unfolded in front of our eyes. We cheered loudly each time the fish became airborne! Then, just as Hunter started to gain control of the fish and was reeling in the last bit of fly line, it darted under some submerged roots in the middle of the river. You probably know what happened next; it became snagged and got away.

Hunter Neal

Hunter, with one that didn't get away

I could sense that Hunter felt a bit disapointed, but if he was it was only for a moment. Before he had even tied a new fly to his leader, he started talking about how cool it was to see the fish come to the surface and take his dry fly and then watch as it shot clear out of the water. At the end of the day, Hunter mentioned he was more than happy with the number of trout he caught that day,  but it was the one he lost that he’d remember most. I’ll remember this particular fish for a long time, too!

On Saturday evening, Hunter and I climbed part-way up Turtle Mountain to photograph the Thunder In the Valley fireworks display in Blairmore. We reached our vantage point a couple of hours before the show was set to begin and had plenty of time to organize our camera gear. The mosquitoes were relentless, but disapeared just about the time the fireworks started to light up the evening sky. Here’s a shot I took from the slopes of Turtle Mountain.

Fireworks light up the night skies over Blairmore, Crowsnest Pass

Fireworks light up the night sky over Blairmore, Crowsnest Pass

It’s hard to believe we’re already into the middle of July. With all the rain and cool weather we’ve been receiving lately, it seems like summer has yet to begin. The good news, though, is that the sun is shining again in Crowsnest Pass and it looks like the nice weather is going to stick around for a while. The Crowsnest River is in great shape and the trout are being very cooperative, particularly with dry flies.

Dry-fly fishing on the Crowsnest River

Dry-fly fishing on the Crowsnest River

 All of the rivers and streams in southwest Alberta have cleared up nicely since last weekend’s rain. There’s lots of insects hatching on the river these days, including golden, yellow and lime Sally stoneflies. Stimulator dry flies have been working as well as anything, when trying to imitate these bugs. Green drake and pmd mayflies are also hatching in good numbers and are drawing trout to the surface. If you’re planning on fishing in the evening, be sure to include a few caddis and rusty spinner imitations in your fly box.

A happy Crowsnest River angler

A happy Crowsnest River angler

 Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend the day with Hunter Neal, a fly angler/professional photographer visiting from Connecticut. Hunter was in Crowsnest Pass for a couple of days two years ago and was so impressed with our beautiful scenery and fishing he decided to return. This time, he’s here for a month. We had planned to shoot photos in the morning and fish in the afternoon, but got carried away snapping pictures and ran out of time for anything else. Maybe we’ll try fishing next week. This time, we’ll probably have to leave our camera gear at home. Otherwise, I’m sure it will be a repeat of yesterday.

Thanks Hunter, it was great to be able to spend the day with a real “pro.” Thanks also for all the great photo tips!

Hunter Neal at work

Hunter Neal at work

It’s taken a while, but most of the trout streams in southwest Alberta are running clear again. It appears the rainy season is over, at least for now. Some of the rivers and streams are still a bit on the high side, but at least everything is fishable once again. Stream flows are dropping daily and many of the rivers, including the Crowsnest, are wadeable.  Golden stoneflies and their smaller cousins, yellow Sally stoneflies, are starting to provide some decent dry-fly fishing. Pale morning dun mayflies and caddis can also be seen along the rivers most days. As water temperatures warm, dry-fly fishing will only continue to improve.

Fly-Fishing SW Alberta

Side channels are good places to fish, when flows in the main river are high.

 Yesterday, I spent the day with a couple of friends, Dan and Arnold, on the Oldman River. The river was in pretty good shape, with  maybe three feet of visibility. It was a bit too high to wade across, but we managed all right. The cutthroats and rainbows were a bit reluctant to take our Stimulator dry flies, but didn’t hesitate to eat Prince nymphs, suspended about two feet below our large dry flies. There was a good pmd hatch mid-afternoon, and for the short time they were on the water, there were a lot of trout feeding on the surface. We also had good action, using streamers. All in all, it was a great day with a couple of friends.

Fly-Fishing in SW Alberta

Dan lands a nice trout.