Entries tagged with “fly-fishing”.
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Tue 23 Mar 2010
Posted by Vic Bergman under F.Y.I.
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 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.
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.
- Roadside obstacle. Photo courtesy of Bryan & Rhonda Bond.
Delivering water purification filters. 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.
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.
Thu 17 Dec 2009
Posted by Vic Bergman under F.Y.I.
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!
Wed 21 Oct 2009
Posted by Vic Bergman under What Are We Doing?
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.
Thu 20 Aug 2009
Posted by Vic Bergman under On The Water
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!
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 (on right) and David, with a beautiful cutthroat trout. Photo courtesy of David Richardson.
Mon 27 Jul 2009
Posted by Vic Bergman under On The Water
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 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 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
Tue 9 Jun 2009
Posted by Vic Bergman under On The Water
Last week, I travelled to the extreme northeast corner of the province to take part in a five-day, fly-in fishing trip to Potts Lake. I’d been invited on the trip by my friends, Rolf and Shirley Ann Schwabe, of Vauxhall, AB. Joining us on this adventure were Rolf’s brothers, Garry and Henry, and Henry’s wife, Gwen. I’d made a couple of excursions to northern Alberta with Rolf and Shirley Ann before, but this was our first visit to Potts Lake. Although there’s a variety of sportfish present in the lake, including lake trout and whitefish, it was pike on a fly we were aiming for.
Rolf and Shirley Ann, with a Potts Lake pike
Our group drove to Fort McMurray and we’re met at the municipal airport by Tim Gillies, General Manager of Mikisew Sport Fishing. Rolf had been in contact with Tim a week prior to the trip to check on last minute details and was informed there was still a considerable amount of ice covering the lake. Needless to say, we were relieved to hear Potts Lake was completely ice-free, upon our arrival in Fort Mac. While chatting outside the Mikisew hanger, Tim explained that spring was at least a week or two late arriving to northern Alberta this year. Spring was late arriving to southern Alberta, too, and it really didn’t surprise us that the ice had only been off Potts for a few days. The lake had opened just in time and we were excited to be the first group to fly in this year!
We returned to the airport at 7:00 am the following morning and loaded our gear onto an Air Mikisew, Cessna 208 Caravan, equipped with amphibious floats. On our last trip we had flown in a Piper Navajo from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan, where we transferred our gear (and ourselves) to a waiting deHavilland Beaver float plane, before flying to our lake. This time, though, we would enjoy a direct flight and would not need to wear ear plugs, as is generally the case when flying in a noisy Beaver. On this trip, ear plugs would only be required at night … to drown the sound of my (our) snoring!
Fort McMurray - loading our gear into the Cessna Caravan
It was a quick, 90-minute flight to Potts Lake from Fort McMurray. Along the way, we passed over Lake Athabasca, the largest and deepest lake in Alberta, then followed it’s western shoreline for a brief time, before heading inland. Much of the western portion of this immense lake remained locked in ice. As we approached our destination we flew over what seemed like countless numbers of remote wilderness lakes, and miles upon miles of forest. It had been a few years since my last fly-in trip and I’d forgotten how beautiful the scenery is in this part of Alberta.
The plane - docked at Potts Lake
It was cool, drizzly and windy when we arrived at the lake. Bruce, our trusty bush pilot, was not keen having his aircraft battered against the dock by white-capped waves and departed as soon as our gear had been unloaded on shore. We didn’t blame him for not sticking around.
We were on our own, now!
Because of the inclement weather, we weren’t in a hurry to get out fishing and decided it would be best to organize our camp, first. The cabin at Potts is located on an island and there really wasn’t anywhere to go anyway, unless we climbed into one of the waiting boats. After settling in, we fished a bit around camp but didn’t have much success, only hooking one or two small pike. Water temperature in the lake was 7° Celsius, not very conducive for the type of fishing we were hoping to do. We turned in early that evening, with hopes of an improvement in the weather by morning.
Our "Home away from Home"
Mornings come pretty early in the north country at this time of year and the sun had already been out for a while when we awoke. We were anxious to begin fishing and after a quick breakfast we loaded the boats, strung our fly rods and headed toward a shallow bay on the northeast corner of the lake. The bay was calm and its waters were crystal-clear, so we spent some time exploring for signs of big pike. We didn’t find any. The water temperature was a chilly 8° Celsius. It became evident early on that the water was going to have to warm up before we’d likely find any big fish hanging out in the shallows. There were small pike present, 3 to 4 pounds, and we caught a few of them on Bunny Bugs and Deceivers. We decided to head over and try another nearby bay. The entrance to this one was a bit deeper than the first and we noticed the bottom contained submerged rock shelves, ledges and large boulders. We headed straight for the shallow end, where once again we found (and caught) a few small pike.
Heading into one of the bays
Garry and I headed back toward the mouth of the bay and deep water, and continued to fish. I was using a #4/0 White Bunny Bug, with a floating line. It was easy to follow the fly, as I stripped it through the clear water, a couple feet below the surface. Just then, a fish lunged through the water and inhaled my fly. At first I thought it was a monster pike, but as soon as I set the hook and the fish turned toward the lake bottom, I noticed its deeply-forked tail. At that point I realized it was a lake trout, and a huge one, at that! It took a while, but I eventually guided the laker alongside the boat, where Garry scooped it from the water, using the cradle. It was a magnificent fish, measuring 36″ in length!
This lake trout made the whole trip worthwhile for me! Photo by Shirley Ann Schwabe.
We spent a couple more hours fishing the bay and caught another 8 or 10 lake trout, along with some small pike. Late in the afternoon, we followed the shoreline to reach yet another quiet bay. The water was a bit warmer here, but there was still no sign of large fish. Our quest for monster pike would have to wait until tomorrow, as it was time to head back to camp.
Note: Click on the “more …” tag below to see additional photos and trip info.
Thu 21 May 2009
Posted by Vic Bergman under On The Water
It appears the spring runoff has started in southwest Alberta. Water levels have been rising on most of the region’s rivers and streams over the past week or two, due to increased snowmelt that’s been occurring in the mountains and backcountry. It hasn’t been the warmest spring on record by any means, but temperatures have warmed up enough for the runoff to begin.
Runoff has started on most streams in SW Alberta, including the Castle River near Beaver Mines
Yesterday, I went for a drive to Waterton Lakes National Park. Along the way, I checked out a few of the trout streams to see how the runoff was progressing. Although water levels are up on all of them, some were running surprisingly clear. Providing we don’t receive monsoons over the next 2 to 3 weeks, some of these streams may be fishable when the season opens on June 16th. Time will tell!
A small stream near Waterton Park flowing high, but clear. There's still plenty of snow to melt in the highcountry.
I only spent a few hours in the Park and because it was drizzly and cool I didn’t get to do any hiking, or anything of the sort. While driving about, though, I noticed there were lots of prairie crocus’ around and glacier lilies were blooming in quite a few places, too. Speaking of flowers, the sixth annual Waterton Wild Flower Festival will be taking place June 13 – 21. A variety of events are scheduled, including guided flower walks, hikes and workshops. Some of the courses include: Wildflower Identification, Bird Watching and Photography Workshops. For more information on the Festival, click here.
Tue 12 May 2009
Posted by Vic Bergman under On The Water
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, 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.
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.
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!
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!
- 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
Paul with a nice Summit Lake cuttie
Wed 6 May 2009
Posted by Vic Bergman under On The Water
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.
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 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? Photo courtesy of Terry Hrudey.
A great view of snow-covered Chief Mountain. Photo courtesy of Terry Hrudey.
A chunky Police Lake rainbow trout. Photo courtesy of Terry Hrudey.
Tue 28 Apr 2009
Posted by Vic Bergman under What Are We Doing?
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I’d been invited here by the Kilpatrick Flyfishers to be one the presenters at their 2009 Fly-Fishing Jamboree. The club was formed in 1985 and this was their 5th Annual Jamboree. It had been more than 20 years since I last visited Saskatoon and it was great to be able to return to this city.
The window of my sixth floor hotel room provided me with a spectacular riverfront view of the mighty South Saskatchewan River and the University Bridge. My hotel was directly across the river from the University of Saskatchewan campus (top left of photo).
The Jamboree was a huge success and was attended by people from as far away as Prince Albert and Regina. It was a well organized event and I was especially impressed with the number of kids, young adults and families in attendance. It appears this club is doing an excellent job promoting the sport of fly-fishing in Saskatoon and surrounding area.
Eric Koshinsky and son, Darren, tying flies. A young fly-tier in the making!
Fly-tying demonstrations were conducted throughout the day by various club members. They’re really a talented bunch and their tables attracted a lot of attention.
Paul Oltsher (The Northern Fly Fisherman) had a large booth, with an impressive selection of fly-tying tools, materials and fishing gear on display. Joe Van’t Hof was also in attendance, with his large collection of antique tackle and lures.
The Northern Fly Fisherman Booth
That's Joe Van't Hof on the right, with his display of antique fishing equipment & lures
Saskatchewan Conservation Officer, Gary Provencher, provided an excellent presentation, “Hooked On Fishing – Not On Drugs,” a unique program geared toward introducing youth to the sport of fishing. Yet another interesting presentation was made by Sonnet McGuire of Narrow Hills Provincial Park. This Park is located approximately 150 km northeast of Prince Albert. Sonnett’s presentation covered a variety of topics, including recreational opportunities, such as trout fishing, available in the Park. For more info on this Park, and to download a pdf copy of their fishing map, be sure to visit their web site (click the link above). There’s some good fly-fishing to be had in Saskatchewan, if you know where to look!
I’d been asked to make a couple of presentations, including one on fishing in Crowsnest Pass, “Fly-Fishing Alberta’s Chinook Country,” and another on reading water and stream-fishing techniques. I also participated in the fly-tying demos.
Introducing my "Fly-Fishing Alberta's Chinook Country" Presentation. (Photo courtesy of Ken Dornan)
One of my fly-tying demos. (Photo by Ken Dornan)
I had a great time and would like to thank the Kilpatrick Flyfishers for inviting me to participate in their Jamboree. Special thanks go out to Dennis Pagoda, Eric Lawrenz, Ken Dornan and Terry Cook. Thanks also to Dave Cook for treating me to a special “driving tour” of the city prior to the event. Saskatoon is a beautiful city, indeed!