Monday, October 31, 2016

Last Day on the Eastern Slopes

Happy Halloween everybody!

Sadly today is the last day that most of our mountain streams are open. The Eastern Slopes streams close at the end of today and will reopen mid-June of next year!

Yesterday was our last chance to get out to the west country and we did. We left in a thick fog bank. We had to be careful on the roads. A moose ran in front of our truck just outside of Rocky Mountain House as did several deer a few moments later. We finally drove out of the fog but the temperatures dropped to -6C. Burr! Fortunately the sun was shining brightly and the temperatures quickly climbed to above zero. We bundled up and had a great time!

The guides on our fly rods were frozen in the morning. We managed to catch several beautifully coloured cutthroats. The gin clear water meant nymphing early with small stuff. SOSs, small flashbacks and evil weevils did the job! Later in the day there was a light hatch of BWOs. We did rig up for dry fly fishing and got a few!

We called it a day about 4 pm. As usual, there was nobody around except us die hards. We said our good byes to an old friend and then made our way back to Red Deer!

It was a fitting way to close out our fly fishing on the eastern slopes!

A BWO dry fly gave me my last cutthroat of the year!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Twenty Five Years is Way Too Long

It has been a lot of years since Doug Pullen has been out in the west country fly fishing. Now we all know Doug has loves his fly fishing! I was able to get Doug out to the west country for two reasons. The first was to enjoy a day out on the river even though it is quite late in the season. The second was to get Doug to help me erect some Catch and Release signs alongside the river.

Well it was a drizzly start to the day but the uneventful ride out to the west country allowed us to quickly gear up and head downstream for an hour and then fish back to the truck!

We finally arrived at two great runs and it did not take Doug long to connect with some dandy cutthroats! We even encountered rising cutts and we geared up the 4 weight rod. It did not take Doug long to catch a cutthroat on a size 18 BWO dry fly!

Well the day turned pleasantly warm and the cutts were more than cooperative all day!

After a bit of a break, we got the post hole digger and pry bars out and erected some Catch and Release signs. Now that was work and we were glad to get that job off of our list!

Awesome day except for the foggy drive back to Red Deer.

I think Doug will become a regular out in the west country cutthroat streams. We had an awesome day.

Well of course I got to fish too!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Long Shadows and a BWO Hatch that Made us Crazy

Jay and Karen had a day off and I am retired so it was a no brainer to head west and go cutthroat fly fishing! The rivers in the west country will close in a week until next mid June so we knew that we better get out there even though the conditions were not the best.

We drove out in a heavy fog and as we arrived the thermometer read -4C. That meant frozen guides on our fly rods. No matter, we were well prepared for the weather. 

Well the river was low and gin clear. You could see the cutthroats in tail outs and that meant they could see us too! Well we all caught some healthy looking west slope cutthroat.

As the sun edged over the mountains, a BWO hatch began and the cutthroat started to actively target them. I stripped off my nymphs and set up for casting with a size 18 bwo mayfly. It was classic, about 2C and there they were popping all around us. I caught a cutthroat almost immediately on a bwo dryfly and then, ... Well I spent the rest of the day getting snubbed by cutthroat with my size 18 bwo. It was head butted, swirled at. nosed and generally just plain refused. The water is so perfectly clear and I am sure that I needed 6x tippet. For cutts, yes, for cutthroats. Boy was I surprised.

Nevertheless, it was a beauty of a day even though it was chilly! The rivers close on Halloween on the Eastern Slopes' rivers.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Piper Creek Restoration Work

Volunteers from Royal Bank of Canada, Central Alberta Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Red Deer Naturalists and Friends of the Red Deer River spent today planting trembling Aspen, Saskatoons, Yellow Willow and a few other native plants along Piper Creek. Bank stabilization has been completed in several areas along side culvert removal and a general cleanup along the river. The local beavers have damed up several reaches that have allowed for beaver ponds that are deep and some current! This area is right beside the Piper Creek Gardens that the City of Red Deer allow citizens of Red Deer to farm.

Lesley Peterson and Elliot Lindsay from Trout Unlimited Canada did a great job organizing all the plants, fencing, mulch and tools. We got most of the work completed by lunch time. As the saying goes, many hands make light work!

Elliot Lindsay explaining what has been completed and what has to be done!

Karen and I had a great time helping out!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Atlantic Salmon Fly Fishing with Steve, Taryn, Courtney and Josh; and an East Coast Steelhead, Maybe

...text and photos thanks to Steve Luethi

Planning a bucket list trip can be a daunting task filled with anxiety and stress and might even deter a person from completing it to the point of crossing it off of your list. But thanks to Josh Nugent of Out Fly Fishing Outfitters and his plethora of hosted trips available the work is already done for you. It is an excellent alternative to planning a trip yourself. The hardest part is deciding which trip to embark on with OFF. For a lot of us a bucket list trip would be one for Atlantic Salmon in Eastern Canada. Josh has wanted to make one of these trips to the east coast available and affordable. So when Courtney, Taryn and myself were asked to accompany Josh on an exploratory trip out there it was a no brainier.

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia is home to some of the best Atlantic Salmon fishing in the maritimes and scenery that even leave the locals speechless. The fishing season for salmon starts June 1st and goes on to October 31st but the fall portion of the season tends to see the biggest salmon move in to the rivers.

Our first day was great, after stopping by the "Tying Scotsman" fly shop to get our fishing licenses we were off with a friend of Josh's by the name of Chris. As a local guy Chris was generous enough to guide us and show us some of the water he grew up fishing with his grandad. We got to the river late in the morning and wasted no time rigging our rods and getting assigned runs to fish by Chris. As well as salmon, the rivers are also home to rainbow and brook trout with the odd brown trout found. Josh quickly found one of the trout by-catches in his first run and midway through my first run was able to hook the first salmon. The acrobatic fight of the 8-9lb silver hen was impressive and after a few photographs was safely released. Soon after Taryn hooked in to what Chris said was one of the biggest rainbows he's ever seen in that river. Funny thing was that this rainbow trout has sea lice on it, an east coast steelhead...? by the end of the day Courtney also found a rainbow while Josh caught a grilse (a salmon that has only spent one winter in the sea). The second day was tough with not one of us feeling the pull of a fish. The locals liked to remind us how hard it is to catch a salmon so we weren't too discouraged. Third day we started with a hike in to some beautiful waterfalls on a brook that's known for big brook trout. Afterwards went back out looking for salmon and I got hooked in to another beautiful silver hen in the first run. Later that day we sighted some salmon in a pool so Taryn and I sat on the other side of the river and directed Courtney where to swing her fly. After about a half dozen fly changes she hooked up to a nice buck on a black and purple steelhead intruder! That experience really opened our eyes to how tough the fish were and how they reacted to certain flies. Fourth and final day were similar to the rest. A lot of casting with little results but it's worth it for that one moment it all comes together. It did for Courtney, in the last hour of fishing when she caught a 12lb buck!

Some of the rivers you're able to use a 8-9 weight single handed rod but most of the time we were using 7-8wt Spey rods. If you're new to spey casting but want to take part in a trip like this then fear not as Out Fly Fishing Outfitters offers Spey casting lessons on a number of occasions through the spring to the fall. The set up I was using is a 12'6" 7wt Redington Chromer with a Redington Behemoth reel and 525gr Rio Skagit Max long which is available at TC Outitters fly shop for a very affordable price. 

I now get the satisfaction of crossing this trip off of my bucket list as successfully completed and thanks to Josh it was easy. Contact him through either of his websites at or if you're interested in a trip of a lifetime in either salt or freshwater.