Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Short Cut

The guys were anxious to get to the lake to fly fish for beautifully coloured cutthroat trout! My old 1: 50 000 inch map showed the trail in a different place than the well worn trail everybody uses today. Well we kept an eye for this possible old route. We spied a spot that seemed to fit the bill. A quick rock scramble and BOOM, we just saved 30 minutes of walking. Of course the young guys sent the "Silver Hair" to check the climb! No problem!

Thanks for the shots Steve!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Fly Fishing with a Long Time Friend!

What a fabulous day. My friend Jay played a big role in me getting into fly fishing many years ago. We also coached high school football for close to 30 years. Our kids have been lifetime friends. They all grew up together!

Well we both crawled out of bed early and headed west. When we got to our fishing destination, it was -3C. We walked for about an hour then started to fly fish. It was definitely a nymphing game until the bugs became active. The cutthroat we not too active early, even nymphing was slow. As the air temperature warmed and the bugs got going, so did the cutts. We saw BWOs, very small PMDs and a smattering of flavs. Larger dry flies did not get too much attention but tiny stones, parachute adams and a smaller royal wulff did.

It was an awesome day. I enjoyed being on the water with my friend. We had a lot of laughs and sorted out all of the world problems.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Darren Petersen and his Buddy Fly Fishing the Eastern Slopes

Darren Pettersen is a regular contributor to our blog. I do appreciate his effort to send me pictures and a great story of his adventures. Thanks Darren!

Darren gotten out a couple times recently to the west country to fish for mountain natives with his good friend Dean.  Darren and Dean have been birding and fly-fishing together since they were teens.  A window in the weather last week had them hiking in with packs for a couple nights.  The trail in was quite the disaster from quad traffic and excess rain.  Even the Grizzly bears were slippin' and sliding on the trail mud and they noticed that in some spots the holes were so bad that alternate routes around them have been created by the 4 wheelers.  The guys cut the tracks of at least 3 different bears on the way down river so  paying attention to their surroundings was extremely important! They saw plenty of flattened ant hills in the meadows.  The afternoon rain chased them in but the next two days were pleasant.

The Cuttys were healthy and beautiful.  They started looking up more in the early afternoon so Darren fished a nymph rig with a good sized weighted stonefly and dries when conditions were good for a clean drift.  Dean fished dries exclusively and caught plenty of fish, especially later in the day.  Often times the bigger/older fish were tucked in a deep spot behind a boulder or some wood where it was near impossible to get a decent drift with a dry.  These same wary fish were suckers for a stonefly nymph ripping by in the current and would chase down the big sub-surface meal.

Darren is pretty bear nervous so he slept with his bear spray on. The guys kept camp tidy, and put their food up a tree over a hundred metres away.  The second morning Darren climbed out of his little tent on the gravel bar at sunrise and was in the middle of a pee when he glanced up river and spotted a Grizzly.  Exciting!!!  80 yards was close enough to get my heart pumping and his zipper up!   The guys watched him feeding on the south bank in the warm morning sun and it took over an hour for the bear to disappear from view about 500 yards upstream.  This was the same direction they had to go to get to Darren's vehicle so the guys took their time with breakfast and packing up gear.

On the way out Darren and Dean stopped at one irresistible stretch of water and caught a few more beauties on dries.  A pretty little chocolate brown mink with a white chin spot came bounding down the opposite bank towards them and they were entertained  by it's swimming through the tail of the pool the guys were fishing. Nothing makes me happier than an encounter with a member of the weasel family!

The guys also fished another mountain river further north for a day trip targeting bulls.  Such a beautiful subtly marked fish.

Darren was quite upset by the quad damage and behavior of ATV opperators and moto cross bikers. When did this become an acceptable method of transport in beautiful wilderness areas?  Darren has only been fishing this location for 25 years but it is way worse now than when he started hiking in there.  All the quaders and dirt bikers say that they stay on the trail (which is a mess and destroyed for hikers) but he found numerous wheel trampled grass meadows and fresh tracks all over gravel beds and beds of sensitive alpine flowers driven over recently.  We saw a large group of motor bikes and quads and water was spraying from their spinning tires as they peeled out before they got within camera range as they drove through a small tributary to the river!  It's disheartening to see the very people that claim to love this country turning it into a mudhole and an off highway free-way.  Not cool!

More Backcountry Fly Fishing with the Young Guys

It was not in the plan. An extra spot was available to go back into the mountains to chase brookies and cutthroat! I had to rearrange a few things so I could go. Why not!

I have fished with Steve and Pat before. They are fit and are great hikers and campers who are always well prepared. Hayden came along and he is a passionate fly fisher who loves the backcountry too! The guys are the 30s crowd and me Old Age Security is on the horizon. No matter, I do not mind being called Old Man. I am young at heart and fit!

The young guns carried a pile of camera gear with them. They hopped to get great shots of the cutthroat we were chasing. I am sure that the extra weight they slogged over three mountain passes was worth the sweat equity. 

We hit the high country. Every small brook and pond was fished. They all had small brookies or cutthroat! What great fun!

Well after negotiating two mountain passes, we camped and fished a tiny stream that was full of brookies and cutthroat. The next morning we headed for the big prize, a return to 7400 and beautifully coloured cutthroat trout! After slogging up a third mountain pass, we did a short climb up over a rocky ledge and a few minutes later we made it to our goal. The fishing was amazing. All of these young fellas are excellent rods and know what they are doing! It was fun to watch their glass rods cast their chernobyls into the lake and then watch an explosive strike or a slow motion sip of their foam fly!

I was more interested in exploring parts of the lake I have not been able to visit. I was able to do that. The young fellas did the same. The fishing was exceptional all day. We lucked out with the big blue sky although wind motored down the lake at times. No matter!

We stayed late. When it was time to head back to our base, we took our time though the rocky ledges before hitting the main trail.

We headed to the truck the next day and I had my first poutine. I was sceptical about eating it but it was tasty.

A quick trip to Cochrane or should I say Tundra Town to drop off Hayden and Pat then Steve drove us back to Red Deer. 

Great trip! The guys are hilarious and lots of fun to hang out with. 

No water bottle, use your rod tube!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Picture Perfect Day in the West Country Chasing Cutthroat Trout

The fly fishing gear is always at the door of the garage so when Dr. Bill called me at 7 pm to head out west to fly fish for cutthroat trout the next morning,  I was ready in about 30 minutes. As I drove to Bill's house, the radio announcer said we better enjoy summer because it is coming for the next two days. I laughed.

Well, the 45 minute walk to get started fishing was a bit messy because the quad track was a quagmire. We also stayed alert because we saw fresh bear scat. It is buffalo berry season and the crop looks great for the bears!

Finally we rigged up and got to fly fishing. The cutthroat were quite cooperative although we did get a lot of refusals. We finally were getting excellent action on size 16 and 18 yellow sally stones and small parachute adams.

The west slope cutts were in excellent condition and feisty!

It was nice to fly fish in shorts. The big blue sky devoured the landscape. It was very therapeutic  to feel summer heat and see rising cutthroat. What a great day!

Quad damage is amazing!