Entries tagged with “alberta”.


Many of you know Nathan Bond, a former employee of our shop and fly-fishing guide extraordinaire. Some of you also know that Nathan is a talented musician, a pianist (classical), at that. In recent years, Nathan has also developed a passion for rock climbing and has even invited me to join him on an “easy climb” up, or an “easy repel” down the face of Goat (Bluff) Mountain, right here in Crowsnest Pass. However, he has yet to convince me that “I’m not too old” to do this sort of thing! I wasn’t too surprised then when about a year ago he came by the shop to say he was planning a trip to South America to climb Argentina’s Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America. At 6,962 metres (22,841 feet), Aconcagua is commonly known as the “Roof of the Americas.” Conquering even the highest mountain in our “neck-of-the-woods” would pale in comparison.

Nathan set off on his epic adventure in January. He stopped in Santiago, Chile to visit friends, first, before continuing on to Argentina to prepare for the climb. I’m not sure of all the details, but after two attempts Nathan and his party reached the summit of Mount Aconcagua on February 10th!

Nathan, at the Summit of Mount Aconcugua
Nathan, at the Summit of Mount Aconcagua. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

Upon completion of his expedition, Nathan returned to Chile, where he was looking forward to spending more time with friends and being able to participate in another one of his interests … surfing. He travelled to the beaches of Pichilemu, an area considered to have some of the world’s best waves.  It was here on February 27th that Nathan experienced firsthand the devastating earthquake ( 8.8 magnitude) that rocked Chile. The earthquake triggered a tsunami, causing Nathan and numerous others to flee to higher ground and safety. While Nathan was unscathed, it took some time before he was able to make contact with his family in Crowsnest Pass to let them know of his well-being. 

Structure damaged in earthquake. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.
Structure damaged in earthquake. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

Anyone who knows Nathan won’t be too surprised to learn that he chose to remain in Chile following the earthquake and volunteered with the Save The Wave’s Coalition Chilean Earthquake Relief Effort. That’s Nathan for you, always ready and willing to help … no matter what! For several weeks he worked with crews delivering water purification filters to residents of some of the surrounding communities. Congratulations Nathan on reaching the summit of Mount Aconcagua, and kudos to you for helping with relief efforts in Chile! That must have been some vacation!

For more information on the Save the Wave’s Coalition Earthquake Relief Effort that Nathan was involved with, check out the link in the above text. Residents of Medicine Hat, Alberta may want to watch for a special “Chilean Earthquake Fundraising Event” on April 10th. The fundraiser is being organized by Nathan’s sister, Simone.

Nathan left Chile several days ago and is now in Brazil, awaiting his trip home to Crowsnest Pass. Below are a few more photos from Chile, courtesy of Nathan’s parents, followed by a report on ice-out conditions on several of our local trout lakes. Spring appears to be inching forward!

More earthquake damage. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.
More earthquake damage. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

 

Roadside obstacle. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.
Roadside obstacle. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

 

Delivering water purification filters. Photo courtesy Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

Delivering water purification filters. Photo courtesy Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

 

Tsunami aftermath. Photo courtesy Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

Tsunami aftermath. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.

 Ice-out  Report for Southern Alberta’s Trout Lakes

I went for a drive yesterday to check on a couple of the areas trout lakes. Some friends reported late last week that Lee Lake was beginning to open, and I thought I’d head over there to see how things had progressed over the weekend. There was about 30 feet of open water along shore near the boat launch and a bit more in the “Narrows.” Providing we don’t get a stretch of cold weather, Lee Lake might be completely ice-free within a week or so. Throw in a day or two of strong winds, though, and it might only take a few days to open up.

Lee Lake beginning to open. March 22/10.

Lee Lake beginning to open. March 22/10.

 I checked Beauvais Lake, too, but the ice here is only beginning to soften along shore. Lee is usually the first trout lake to become ice-free in southwest Alberta, followed by Dipping Vat, Beauvais, Payne (Mami), Police Outpost and Beaver Mines.

Beauvais Lake remains frozen. March 22/10.

Beauvais Lake remains frozen. March 22/10.

It’s hard to believe Christmas is but a week away. And a week later we’ll be into another New Year – 2010.

2009 was a strange year in southwest Alberta and Crowsnest Pass, in terms of the fishing and weather conditions we experienced. First of all, a lot of the rivers and streams didn’t receive their normal runoff. We had decent snowpack last winter, but the heavy rains that normally fall here in May and June simply didn’t materialize. The lack of spring rains, combined with unseasonably cool weather, resulted in a gradual runoff. This made for some great early season fishing on the Crowsnest River and other places, but we paid the price in late July and early August, when the heavy rains finally arrived. Water levels rose to runoff proportions on some waters, including the Oldman and Livingstone rivers. Conditions seemed to change from one day to the next, and from one stream to another. One day, it could be the Oldman that was blown out, the next day it might be the Castle or Crowsnest that was effected by torrential downpours. These rains often occurred after nightfall. Temperatures remained cooler than normal most of the summer.

During several evenings around this time, there were some amazing displays of  “dry lightning,” with bright bolts of light flashing overhead continuously for hours at a time. Night turned as bright as day with each flash, and the loud thunder booms reverberated throughout the Crowsnest River Valley. It was awesome! Some of the warmest weather of the year came in September, of all times. Temperatures were like that of July and August, approaching 30° Celsius some days. Some of the best fishing also occurred in September. Perhaps the fish thought that summer had finally arrived?  Then came October, a month of freezing cold temperatures and snow, lots of it. The temperature change came so quickly that most of the leaves on trees froze and turned gray before they had the chance to provide the beautiful autumn colors so many of us enjoy. Here’s hoping to a normal 2010 season! 

Winter Hours & 2010 Fly-Fishing Schools 

The shop will be closed December 23 – January 11 for Christmas/New Years. On January 12th, we’ll return to our usual winter hours and will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 am  – 6:00 pm. Closed Sunday & Monday until mid-May.

  Our 2010 Fly-fishing School line-up will be posted on our web site early in the New Year. Jim and Lynda McLennan will be returning once again to conduct a number of schools, including a new one ,”Sub Surface Fly-Fishing.” For more info on the McLennan Crowsnest Pass Schools, click here.

In closing, I would like to thank all of our customers and clients for their patronage this year and wish everyone a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas to everyone from The Crowsnest Angler!

Merry Christmas to everyone from The Crowsnest Angler!

    

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.

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to go on a mountain bike trip to the headwaters of the Castle River. I was joined by my friends, Rolf and Peter. We left Crowsnest Pass at 8:00 am and were unloading our bikes at the trail-head about an hour later. Within minutes, we were peddling along the bumpy, pot-hole filled logging road, heading south toward Waterton Lakes National Park. It didn’t take long, the first five minutes of the trip to be exact, for me to realize I was not in top “bike shape.” By the end of our 35 km trip, every muscle and bone in my body ached. My backside was the most vocal, though. I must look into getting a bike seat with more padding.

Portions of the old logging road were in rough shape, with large bowling ball size rocks strewn over the ground. Other sections contained deep washouts and ravines, reminders of the 1995 flood. Then, there were the steep hills. There were no short-cuts around them and it was much easier to push the bikes up or down them, than peddle. Other sections of the road were much like they were prior to the flood, and easy to ride. I particularly enjoyed the downhill sections … that is until we returned later in the day, where they became uphill sections. At long last, we arrived at our destination, approximately three or four kilometres from the northern boundary of Waterton Park. The scenery was spectacular!

Rolf and Peter, gearing up to fish

Rolf and Peter, gearing up to fish

 Although it was more of a mountain bike torture trip we were on, we had also included our fly-fishing gear. In the event there was a decent place close by, and we had time, we planned to fish a bit before heading back. As it turned out we’d have about an hour, so we thought we’d make the best of it. We were glad we did. Here’s a few photos of the day.

Mountain Bike Trip

Within minutes, Peter was into a nice cutthroat trout

 

Mountain Bike Trip

Peter, with a beautiful 15-inch cutthroat trout. A decent fish for this section of river.

 

Rolf cast to a likely-looking spot. The headwater of the Castle River are more creek-like in size and appearance than they are a river.

Rolf casts to a likely-looking spot. The headwaters of the Castle River are more creek-like in size and appearance than they are a river.

 

Mountain bike trip

One of the cutthroats I managed to catch. Photos by Peter Amundsen.

 

Mountain bike trip

Preparing for the ride home. Myself, Peter and Rolf (left to right).

After enduring more than three weeks of cool, overcast, rainy weather, the long term forecast for Crowsnest Pass looks awesome. It appears we’ll be receiving some summer weather after all! Stream conditions are returning to normal and the fishing is excellent. Water levels are great and the trout are happy. Anglers are happy, too, now that the sun is shining and most of the rivers and streams are running clear once again. If you’re planning on heading out fishing, don’t forget the sunscreen!

Crowsnest Pass Weather

What better way to enjoy the sunshine than spending a day fly-fishing for cutthroat trout. That’s exactly what Linder and David did yesterday on the Elk River. While both fellows have fished quite a bit this summer already, it was the first time these two friends have been able to “hook-up” this season. I was glad to have been able to be there, too. 

Linder and David, with a beautiful cutthroat trout. Photo courtesy of David Richardson.

Linder (on right) and David, with a beautiful cutthroat trout. Photo courtesy of David Richardson.

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

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

   

Congratulations to outdoor writer/photographer, Duane Radford, of Edmonton, AB., for winning 3rd place in The Outdoor Writers of Canada Communications Award Photography Category!

 The photograph was highlighted in one of Duane’s articles, “Getting the MOST from your Digital Camera Images,” published in the 2008 Yellowhead It! Directory. It’s a photo of Myles Radford (Duane’s son) and I, on the lower Oldman River several years ago. I remember the day well; it was early September and we had the river pretty much to ourselves. The fishing was good and we had a great time together. See Duane’s picture below!

Myles and I on the lower Oldman River. Photo copyright Duane Radford.

Myles and I on the lower Oldman River. Photo copyright Duane Radford.

Here’s a couple more pictures taken the same day.

Myles netting one of Duane's trout.

Myles lending a helping hand by netting a trout for dad

 

Duane, with a great Oldman River trout!

Duane, with a great Oldman River trout!

After brunch on Sunday (Mother’s Day), Paul and I hitched the boat trailer to my truck and slipped over to Beauvais Lake for a few hours. The girls stayed behind to visit. Paul’s vacation was drawing to a close and he wanted to try and catch a brown trout, his first one, before heading back to Winnipeg on Tuesday (today).

Beauvais Lake

Beauvais Lake, Alberta. It was a gorgeous afternoon - no wind and the lake was calm as glass!

 We were surprised to see there were only a couple other boats on the lake. Kelly and Cathy were in one of them and it looked like they were having a good time catching fish. Later, they sent me a great photo of a moose they encountered while fishing that day.

A close encounter with a Beauvais Lake moose! Photo courtesy of Kelly Thomas.

A close encounter with a Beauvais Lake moose! Photo courtesy of Kelly Thomas.

 Paul and I caught a half dozen rainbows (small ones) near the boat launch, and I also landed a 12-inch brown. We worked the shoreline along the cabins, catching more rainbows, but nothing larger than about 14 inches.

Paul lands a rainbow trout

Landing a Beauvais Lake rainbow trout

We rowed toward Scott’s Point, where Paul latched onto a nice Beauvais Lake longnose sucker, using a Bead-head Prince Nymph. The BH Prince has become Paul’s, “Go-to fly.” He laughed when I told him he had just caught a Manitoba brown trout.  He wasn’t fooled. A few minutes later, though, Paul hooked his first real, bona fide Alberta brown trout, and a dandy, at that! It had to be 20 inches, at least. I grabbed my camera and started to snap some pictures of Paul leading the monster brown toward the net. Just then, the trout thrashed on the surface (see photo below), causing the fly, you guessed it – a BH Prince, to become dislodged. Paul’s line went slack – the brown trout was gone. We were both disappointed, but at least had photos of the action, and more importantly, proof that Paul had hooked his first-ever brown!

The one that got away!

The one that got away!

 It was time to get serious, so I switched to a #6 Olive Woolly Bugger. Those browns were in trouble now! After only a few casts, I had a solid hit. “It’s got to be a brown trout, for sure,” I thought. Alas, it was only another Manitoba brown trout (a.k.a. Beauvais Lake longnose sucker). That’s right, another sucker! Paul and I laughed … again, and kept on fishing. Soon after, I got another strike on my Woolly Bugger; this time it was a brown, measuring about 14 inches. We fished until 5:30, then headed back to town to pick up the girls for a 7:00 dinner reservation. Time sure flies when you’re having fun, even if you’re catching suckers!

A face only a mother could love. It was Mother's Day, after all!

A face only a mother could love. It was Mother's Day, after all!

 

Beauvais Lake brown trout
Beauvais Lake brown trout

Paul wanted to fish one last time before heading home so we went over to Summit Lake yesterday. The weather didn’t co-operate, though, like it did the day before. It was cool, drizzly and a strong easterly wind blew the entire time we were there. Despite these conditions, we had a good time. We managed to land a few of the larger rainbows and also caught some nice cutthroat trout. Some of the larger cutts were really colorful. All in all, it was a good way for Paul to end his Crowsnest Pass vacation. He’s already planning next year’s trip!

Note: To all my friends in Manitoba, the reference to Manitoba brown trout – longnose suckers was made in jest. No offence intended. Please, no angry emails. It was only a joke :)  

Summit Lake, BC

Paul with a nice Summit Lake cuttie

It appears Spring has arrived in southwest Alberta – or has it? The weather has been quite unsettled as of late and while we’ve already had some nice days in Crowsnest Pass, other days have felt like we’re heading back into winter. Just when you think it’s safe to put the snow shovel away, Old Man Winter pays a return visit.

A little bit of everything in the six-day forecast

There's a little bit of everything in the six-day forecast. Sunday & Monday just happen to be my days off! Where should I go fishing?

The spring runoff is just around the corner. Most years, this occurs between mid-May and late June. The severity and duration of the runoff depends on the mountain snowpack and the amount of rain we receive in May and June. Currently, the snowpack in the mountains of southwest Alberta varies between “average to slightly above-average.” Last week’s heavy snowfall definitely helped things out, particularly in the region south of Crowsnest Pass toward Waterton Park. Water levels are gradually beginning to rise on most rivers and streams, and all it will take now for the runoff to commence is a bit of warm weather and rain.
 
Water levels are beginning to rise on most of SW Alberta's rivers an streams

Water levels are beginning to rise on most of SW Alberta's rivers and streams

 Terry sent me an email the other day, saying he and his son, David, had made a trip to Police Outpost Lake on Saturday. Judging by the pictures below, it appears they had an awesome day. Lots of fresh snow and a beautiful view of Chief Mountain. It sounds (and looks) like the fishing wasn’t too bad, either. All of the trout lakes in southern Alberta are ice-free and fishing well. Once the runoff starts, the lakes will become popular places to fish.

Where's the boat launch?

Where's the boat launch? Photo courtesy of Terry Hrudey.

A great view of snow-covered Chief Mountain

A great view of snow-covered Chief Mountain. Photo courtesy of Terry Hrudey.

A chunky Police Lake rainbow trout

A chunky Police Lake rainbow trout. Photo courtesy of Terry Hrudey.