Entries tagged with “elk river”.


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.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of  spending the day floating the Elk River with Linder and his grandson, Mitchell. Conditions on the Elk have been quite good lately and the trout have been cooperating nicely, at least most days. Mitchell has recently taken up fly-fishing and with the help of his grandpa, he seems to be picking it up nicely. Earlier this summer, Linder invited Mitchell, who’s eight years old, on a couple of fishing trips in the area. During one of these excursions, Mitchell landed a dandy cutthroat trout, measuring close to twenty inches. That was a great accomplishment for a young kid like Mitchell and he was really proud … Linder, that is.

During yesterday’s trip, Mitchell didn’t land any twenty inchers, although he hooked one that was close, using a Fat Albert dry fly. The trout came out from behind some tree branches overhanging the water and gulped the fly. Mitchell played the fish well and it looked like he already had years of fly-fishing experience under his belt. At one point the fish came close enough to the boat for me to net. However, the mesh bag  became tangled and the fish flipped out of the net before it could be scooped from the river. Then, just as I was about to make another attempt, the hook came loose. The trout quickly disappeared in the swift current. I think I was more disappointed than Mitchell that we didn’t boat the fish. He only wanted to keep trying for another one.

By the end of the day, Mitchell had landed some decent cutthroats. He was a bit tired, but happy. Afterward, I asked him what he’d remember most of this day. He responded by saying, “Fighting the big one, before it got away.” I’d say Mitchell has the makings of a true fisherman! Not only did he catch the biggest fish of his fly-fishing career this year, he also came away with a good story of “the big one that got away.” I suspect Mitchell and his grandpa are already looking forward to next season. In the meantime, I’ll practice my fish netting skills!

Elk River Trip

Linder and Mitchell

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.