Entries tagged with “crowsnest pass”.

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

Fishing conditions on the Crowsnest River and other trout streams in SW Alberta are shaping up … finally. Water levels are continuing to drop daily and the rivers are becoming wadeable once again. I like fishing the Crowsnest this time of year, because there’s so  much going on, in terms of insect activity. The river is quite clear and the trout are beginning to rise to dry flies.

Dry-fly fishing has started on the Crowsnest River

I was fishing on the Crowsnest River on Wednesday and there were plenty of adult golden stoneflies, yellow and lime Sally stones, caddis, pmd mayflies, and even some green drakes on the water. The best part, though, was I only encountered one angler the entire time I was out. Not bad, considering it’s almost the middle of July. The fishing was pretty good, too. I fished a hopper-dropper rig most of the day … a Stimulator or SA Hopper dry fly, using a Bead-head Prince or Copper John dropper. About half the fish I caught were on dries, the rest on nymphs. It was a great day!

Dry-fly fishing on the Crowsnest River

Lees Lake is a popular fishing spot in southwest Alberta. It’s located along Highway 507, about fifteen minutes from our shop. This lake provides decent fishing for rainbow trout and it’s a great place to fish in spring, once the ice melts. It’s not a large lake and is ideally suited to small boats, pontoon boats and float tubes. The rainbows are typically small to medium size and are usually very cooperative. There’s always a few larger trout around, too, just to make things a bit more interesting. After a long winter, it’s the perfect place to visit. And because it’s close to Crownest Pass, it’s handy.

Sunday April 1, 2012 - An angler in a float tube on Lees Lake.

 The lake had begun to open along shore a couple weeks ago, but cold temperatures returned, causing it to freeze again. While checking the Crowsnest River last Wednesday, I stopped at Lees Lake to see whether there was any change. It was still froze. On Saturday, a couple of anglers stopped in to say they had just passed by the lake and noticed there was some open water at the boat launch and in the small bay along the highway. I headed over on Sunday to see for myself. It was about 3/4 open, and with the way the wind was blowing, it probably wasn’t going to take long for the rest of the ice cover to disappear. It looks like ice-out on Lees Lake will be a month earlier than last year. On Sunday, there was one fly angler on the water in a float tube and another casting from shore. It doesn’t take long for word to spread, once the ice starts to come off. I checked again yesterday and there wasn’t very much ice left anywhere on the lake. Providing Old Man Winter doesn’t return, the lake should remain ice-free. I guess it’s time to put the pontoon boat together.

Sunday April 1, 2012 - Looking west from Lees Lake, toward Turtle Mountain in Crowsnest Pass.

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.

Jim McLennan of Longview, Alberta is a well known and respected fly-fishing personality in Canada and the U.S., but some of you may not know he’s a talented musician, too. He’s as skilled with a guitar as he is with a fly rod. Jim has been playing guitar since he was a teenager and has recently returned to performing solo. Earlier this year he released his first solo instrumental CD, titled Six-String Gumbo. We’ve been playing it a lot in the shop this summer and think it’s great. However, we’re not the only ones who think this way about Jim’s music. Here’s what a few others have to say.  

“McLennan’s the complete player and one who doesn’t second-guess himself as an artist. Hard to believe that making music of this calibre isn’t what he does on a day-to-day basis for a living, but fans of instrumental acoustic guitar pieces will be thrilled Jim McLennan took time to record this impressive collection.”  – Peter North, host of Dead Ends and Detours and Points North

“Jim McLennan has it all – classic rags to Jerry Reed to the Beatles. He’s a full-fledged guitar picker, at home with blues, folk, jazz, and pop. Some hot pickin’ on this CD!” – Stefan Grossman, American acoustic-guitar guru

If you’re interested in listening to some of Jim’s “hot pickin’,” he’s going to be appearing live at The Tin Roof Grill & Bar in Blairmore, Crowsnest Pass, on Friday November 4th. Special Guest: Lynda McLennan. Seating is limited, so don’t delay. Get your tickets today. We have a few tickets available at the shop (ph: 403.564.4333). They can also be picked up at the Tin Roof, or by calling 403.562.7664.

For more info regarding the McLennan’s and Music, click here

Jim McLennan will be appearing at The Tin Roof on November 4th

If you were awake early yesterday morning and looked outside toward the heavens, you probably saw the lunar eclipse. Total lunar eclipses are fairly common and there is one visible somewhere in the world, about every 18 months. However, yesterday’s eclipse was special, because it marked the first time in nearly 400 years that a total lunar eclipse has occurred during the winter solstice. The last one took place in the year 1638. Unlike today, there were no cameras around back then to record the event. I suspect there were thousands of photographers and videographers recording this one, not to mention the countless numbers of curious skygazers. I happened to be one of them, camera in hand.

For a while it looked like it was going to be a non-event in Crowsnest Pass, as wave after wave of clouds passed over Turtle Mountain, obscuring the moon from view. I had chosen a location along the edge of the Frank Slide as my vantage point. Even with the cloud cover, it was bright enough to walk in the woods without a flashlight. Then, just before 1:00 am there was a break in the clouds and a magnificent red moon appeared high above Turtle Mountain. It was awesome!

It will be another 391 years, in the year 2401, before another total lunar eclipse will form over this mountain and Crowsnest Pass on the winter solstice. I’m sure it will be as spectacular as yesterday’s. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Autumn is nearly here, can you believe it? Where did the summer go? Did we even have one this year? It was a strange summer, weather-wise, not only in Crowsnest Pass, but everywhere. I’m guessing this has been one of the wettest, coolest summers on record in southern Alberta. I can’t remember one like it. We’ve sure had to deal with a lot of rain over the past couple of months, that’s for sure. Heck, we even had 2-3 inches of snow here last night.

When August didn’t provide much in the way of warmth, I was hoping September would have been a repeat of last September, when we enjoyed record amounts of sunshine and heat. Well, it hasn’t happened, at least not yet. I know there’s still a couple weeks remaining this month, and then there’s October to look forward to. I guess there’s still time for an Indian Summer. Let’s hope it happens!

The colors of autumn are beginning to appear along the rivers and streams

The colors of autumn are beginning to appear along our rivers and streams

Despite the weather, the fishing has been quite productive most days. Autumn is in the air, though, and the days are becoming shorter … nights are cooler, too. Often, the best fishing is during mid-afternoon, once water temperatures have warmed up.

Earlier this week, I was able to spend a day fishing with friends, Rolf and Shirley Ann, of Vauxhall, AB. We had a good time and I look forward to fishing with them again. Next time, though, we’ll make sure we don’t have to be back early for “wings night” at Pure Country Restaurant. But then again, the wings are so good here, it would be difficult to pass up. I guess we’ll have to go fishing any other day, but Wednesday!

Autumn fishing

Rolf preparing to net Shirley Ann's trout


I had so much fun creek fishing last week I decided to do it again this week. This time I headed further away from town. I knew there would likely be some rainbows and cuttbows around, but I was hoping to find a few brook trout. I like fishing for brookies, especially when they’re all decked out in their fall spawning colors. I grabbed my 2-weight Winston rod and headed out for the afternoon.

Great cover for trout

Great trout cover

I’m happy to say my hook-set /catch-and-land ratio improved significantly from last week. Mind you, most of the fish were a lot smaller too. It’s funny how the small ones never get away. Most of the pools held at least two or three trout. They were all eager to rise to a dry fly … any dry fly. They weren’t fussy at all. Presentation didn’t matter, either. The only thing I had to watch out for were snags. In places, there were quite a few of these to contend with.

A nice shady section

A nice shady section

There were lots of cuttbows and a few rainbows in the creek, but I never saw any sign of brook trout. That’s unusual here. I’ll try to go back in a few weeks and see if they’re still around. Photos to come, if I find some.

One of the larger trout

One of the larger trout

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

Over the past several years, there have been numerous sightings of river otters along the Crowsnest River. A lot of these reports have come from anglers, who have been encountering them while fishing. Earlier this year, I went out looking for some otters that had just been spotted along the river, east of the shop. Naturally, they were gone by the time I arrived. Today was a different story, though. This time they were waiting for me.

Otter, checking me out

Mama or papa otter, along with a young one, checking me out

When I first saw the otters, they were sunning themselves on a large boulder along the water’s edge, about 75 yards away. Actually, they saw me first and by the time I realized what they were (at first, I thought they were mergansers), they were already sliding into the water. It appeared to be a family, numbering four or five in total. I was amazed at how effortless they were able to swim.  “Graceful” and “powerful” is how I would describe their swimming ability.  They seemed curious, yet wary of my presence. Once in the water, one of them barked at the others and then they all paddled upstream in my direction. They swam within thirty yards of me, close enough for a good view, but not quite close enough for a good photo. Too bad I didn’t have my long lens. Once their curiosity was satisfied, they turned around and headed back downstream. I quickly walked to the corner, hoping to catch another glimpse, but they were nowhere to be seen. Pretty neat encounter, I’d say. The fishing was pretty good afterward, but seeing the otters was the highlight of the day!

I suspect otters were common along the Crowsnest River at one time and there’s probably plenty of reasons why they haven’t been seen in these parts for many years. I’ve heard there’s some people, including a few anglers, who are not particularly happy they’re back. This is probably because they feel otters are a threat to the fishery. I disagree and believe there’s room for fish and otters to co-exist. But then again, these are likely the same people who don’t like grizzly bears, wolves or bull trout.