Archive for September, 2012

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.