This was a fly out we were all looking forward to. We were all geared up to go to the world famous Tree River but it was high with very low visibility so we opted for the Coppermine River. It was a river I always wanted to spend some time on. It is a very historic river and as we found out, you can catch some beautiful (and tasty) arctic char on the river.
I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas. On Boxing Day, I had a chance to sit down and finally edit some video of our summer trip to Great Bear Lake and Plummer's Arctic Lodge.
This video is a fly out to the Sulky River to fly fish for arctic grayling. The area is absolutely spectacular. Karen and I have been there before and the fly fishing is always amazing. Dry flies and small nymphs get excellent action. The flight over to the Sulky River is amazing. Colin and Doug had never been on a float plane. They were excited. Take a look!
All the text and pictures courtesy of Doug Pullan! Click on the pictures to make them larger!
All the months of planning and dreaming finally ended as 6 other excited fishermen and I started our journey to the mystic waters of Jurassic Lake, located in the Patagonia region of Argentina. It began on December 4 and ended on December 16, 2019.Trips like this mean multiple flights, tons of layovers, and lack of quality sleep, not to mention dealing with language barriers. The itinerary began with Edmonton to Houston (4hr & 8hr layover), Houston to Buenos Aires (10hr & an overnight stay), Buenos Aires to El Calafate (3hr & an overnight stay), El Calafate to the fishing lodge ( 5hr truck ride). The last 2 hours to the lodge were through a landscape of rough rocky roads, no trees and littered with Rhea birds and Guanacos. We finally arrived at our destination; the Laguna Verde Lodge.
After having our
waders and wading boots disinfected, we had lunch and then went fishing in the
small lake called a laguna located below the lodge. We fished for a few hours.
This was the testing grounds for the guides to determine our casting ability in
windy conditions. The next day we
drove another half hour to Lago Strobel (Jurassic Lake) (16km long x 12km wide).
Roads carved out of rock took us to various coves, bays and shorelines where trophy
size rainbow trout reside. Jurassic Lake is situated in a deep valley
surrounded by rugged terrain with the perimeter of the lake covered with sand,
boulders the size of VWs and rocks cladded in calcium carbonate resembling
cauliflower. To get to the shoreline, you often had to walk on these
cauliflower heads, being careful not to fall. If you did, it would hurt.
The wind blows most of the time: day and night. Most days saw winds of 20 to 40 km/hr. Our worst day had winds over 100km/hr. And yes, you fish no matter how strong the wind blows.
The average size of fish is between 10-15 lbs. The largest fish caught by our group was 21 lbs and caught by Phil Rowley. These fish are as strong as steelhead coupled with a bad attitude. Almost any fly seemed to work. Balanced flies, nymphs and foam fly patterns all worked. They really like orange.
The food at the lodge was out of this world and paired with wonderful Argentina wines. All the guides, as well as the lodge staff, were very professional and made sure that your fishing experience both on and off the water was world class.
After 6 days of fishing, battling large, wild fish, strong winds, intense sun, waves slapping your face, falling on sharp calcium coated rocks and too much wine during shore lunch, it was time to leave. Jurassic Lake is one of those special places on the planet that every serious fly fisher should go at least once. In closing, it has been said that fish aren't the only reason to go fishing; it is the journey that drives us to embrace the whole experience.
Dr. Bill Young was our presenter tonight. Dr. Bill had the gang work on micro leeches and a rubber legged stimulator. Micro leeches are incredibly effective flies and their beauty is their simplicity. An easy tie and the colour combinations are endless although olive, claret and black are real winning colours. Don't be afraid of blending colours. Your biggest challenge will be to find the long flowing marabou that makes this pattern so effective. Fishing them in the spring or fall can be very effective. The olive version is an excellent shrimp pattern for late fall.
Dr. Bill also had the gang tackle a rubber legged stimulator. The rubber legged stimulator has a lot of parts. It is a great fly to learn how to deal with elk or deer hair, hackle, dubbing a body, a wing and the most important item is the proper sense of proportion.
Dr. Bill has been a regular instructor with our group for many years and I appreciate his effort to do a fly tying presentation every year. Thanks again Dr. Bill!
Betty and Steve MacKenzie brought a beginner fly tying set to donate to a new tyer. Drop me a note and the vice, bobbin and a few hooks are yours!
This was the last fly tying session until after Christmas. Have a great Christmas everybody!
Remember that the all day fly tying workshop with Phil Rowley is February 1st. The workshop is starting to fill up so get a hold of bob (email@example.com) to sign up.
We are getting a lot of questions of, "whats next?' and so here is what we suggest .
With our strong showing at the Open House, Border Paving (BP) must now be very aware of the resistance they face. We want to remind everyone that now is a very important time for us if we want to squash this thing. The open House was BP’s chance to hear our concerns and the questionnaire they had us fill out was their formal chance to collect our, “concerns”. They can now take these concerns, work with their consultants, and produce a plan on how they are going to mitigate these concerns. What I am saying is, BP has now heard our concerns but those making the decision on this, have not.
Let’s review process. BP has now completed their open house and must now complete and submit a report of the open house for Clearwater County. When this report is filed, BP can then go ahead with submitting their application to Clearwater County. Once the application is received Clearwater County will send out referral letters to everyone who filled in their information on the form at the open house and to everyone who has called them and asked to be added to the list to receive a package. In addition, Clearwater County will also post information on their website. This is your chance to send in a letter of concern directly to Clearwater County. All letters sent into the Planning Department will be included in the report to be reviewed by the Municipal Planning Board. The application by BP has not been submitted to the county yet, so create/perfect your draft letter for future mailing to the county… we will let you know when to pull the trigger.
In the meantime, perhaps our best chance is making it known that approving this ‘intended’ application is very much unpopular public opinion. I suggest that you write or otherwise contact:
These letters should be your own and speak from the heart. You may want to explain what The North Raven River and the springs that feed it means to you. Its never a bad idea to say you annually buy your fishing license, are a member of TUC or AFGA and have volunteered many times or you take many trips into the area, etc. With that now said, here are some suggestions that you may want to include:
· Through the formal Rocky Riparian Group which has evolved to current title of Clear Water Land Care, County staff have themselves made significant investments in the Raven River drainage system through public outreach and education (demonstration of off-site watering systems, education on water quality, assisting landowners in grant application and proposing to partner with ACA on an Eco-buffer project at the Leavitt Conservation Site, etc.).,
· Clearwater County places Environmental Reserves (ER), which are “no disturbance” areas allowed Adjacent to streams, on properties along the North Raven River as a condition of approving natural feature related subdivisions. This includes a recent ER that was placed on the land directly east of the McQuiston Pit (NE-18-37-05-W5).,
· So why approve developments that jeopardize the County’s investments?
· It will be impossible for BP to ensure no damage or effect occurs this stream and its sensitive fish habitat. It is simply impossible to predict all the possible threats on an open biological system like this from a large open pit like the one proposed. No matter what is in their application there is very significant risk.,
· If this application is approved, then it is highly likely that BP and Pidherney’s will also apply for wet gravel extraction permits on other pits in the immediate area. The cumulative affects of these applications will be disastrous. In fact, this aspect has not even been assessed by BP, which is a serious oversight.,
· Alberta’s hunters and anglers have spent an estimated $10 million restoring this stream to the condition it is now, which is arguably Alberta’s greatest conservation story. Volunteer time and sacrifices made by landowners are far greater. It makes no sense to waste all that effort and money.,
· This North Raven River alone sees around 2500 angler visits per year with anglers coming from around the world, bringing in approximately $110,000.00 annually during the summer months. This estimate only includes revenue from the North Raven River and does not include fishing revenue from the Raven River watershed as a whole.,
· Property values and local businesses such as the Lazy M Lodge and Caroline Supplies and downstream landowners will suffer greatly if these development permits are approved.,
· Downstream landowners have donated land to the Alberta Conservation Association with the intent of protecting a prime fishing stream and contributing to Alberta’s greatest Conservation story. If damage is done upstream, this will thwart these efforts.,
· Trout require clean, clear, undisrupted water and gravel for spawning and generally gravitate to freshwater springs for nutrients and conducive temperature conditions. In 2019, ACA biologists counted approximately 1200 trout redds on the North Raven River from highway 761 upstream to the headwater springs. The highest concentration was from the Stainbrook Conservation Site downstream to the “Buck for wildlife Parking lot” on Range Road 5-3. Stainbrook Springs is approximately ½ mile east of the proposed gravel site.,
· The open house on November 28 clearly demonstrated that Clearwater County residents are against this.,
· Border Paving has not been able to demonstrate what positive effect this will bring to the community besides gravel for road developments that can be obtained elsewhere.
· Gravel left from glacial outwash or river systems is sorted and clean compared to other deposits, so Border Paving can benefit greatly, but gravel obtained outside the flood plain will bring greater benefits to the county economy (more jobs). BP even indicated they have other pits in the areas, so “Why here?.”,
· Past flood events have occurred which have resulted in areas underwater and river flow from the Clearwater River through Clear Creek and into the North Raven River. Large excavations in the ground in this area are a big risk for uncontrolled erosion events.,
· The environmental/contamination risks of removing and cleaning gravel in ground water is huge. This will change the very nature and volume of the groundwater flow and groundwater quality once the pit is opened up and unnaturally exposed to air (i.e. evaporation, and oxygenation leading to possible mobilization of harmful elements, if present). Increased turbidity in the groundwater discharging to the river is also a real possibility. Removing gravel will increase fines concentration that will almost certainly enter the ground water flow to the springs increasing sediment and affecting water quality and habitat in the stream.,
· There will be no way easy way to stop contaminated water from reaching the headsprings if detected, and again,
· Why here with all this risk?
In addition, if you want to join our Facebook Page, “Friends of the Raven”, please do! We have also posted this same information there. This is a very practical venue for us to distribute information and share our experiences (https://www.facebook.com/groups/2379267918862574/).
I owe Steve Luethi a big thank you for teaching this tying session during Fly Tying Monday at West River Fly Shop in Red Deer. I had to head to my hometown of Belleville Ontario at short notice. This was part two of Fly Fishing Sylvan Lake with chironomids. In particular, the main ingredient for the chironomids was Buzzer Wrap. I have to thank Kent Govett from Canadian Llama Company for getting me the materials for this tying session quickly. Kent distributes hooks, beads and tying materials at a great price. I appreciate the quality of his materials and quick service at an excellent price.
Buzzer wrap is an excellent material. It is a very translucent material that helps create depth in chironomids and it also allows under materials' colours to blend with the buzzer wrap allowing for very realistic looking chironomids. I use buzzer wrap for many of my chironomids.
I will be starting to make a list for our all day fly tying session with Phil Rowley. This is a stillwater session that is always amazing. The cost is $45 and that will include most of the materials you will need for the day. Drop me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up)
Next week Dr. Bill Young is our guest fly tying instructor. You will enjoy Bill's tying session, see you then!
Violet Chironomid (Phil Rowley originator)
Thread: UTC 70, Rusty Brown
Hook: Alec Jackson Crystal Covert sizes 13 or 15
Bead: 3/32nd, copper
Underbody: Red Holographic Tinsel, Red
Overbody: Dark Claret Buzzer Wrap
Rib: Copper wire, small
Black and Red Ice Cream Cone Chironomid
Thread: Black UTC 70 denier
Hook: Hook: Alec Jackson Phantom Covert sizes 13 or 15, or Covert Nymph
Bead: White, 3/32nd
Underbody: Black Thread
Overbody: Black Buzzer Wrap
Rib: Red Holographic Tinsel, small
Collaborator Variant (Phil Rowley originator)
Check out the video, I have replaced the bead with a coffee coloured one and used root beer buzzer wrap instead of frostbite.
Blackberry Buzzer (John Kent originator)
Hook: Hook: Alec Jackson Phantom Covert sizes 13 or 15
Thread: Black UTC 70 denier
Gills: White Unistretch
Underbody: Black thread
Overbody: Cranberry buzzer wrap
Rib: 1 black, 1 red wire small
Hook: Hook: Alec Jackson Phantom Covert sizes 13 or 15
Thread: Wine UTC 70 denier
Bead: White 3/32nd
Underbody: Wine thread
Overbody: Dark Claret Buzzer Wrap
Rib: Black wire, small
All species of fish in Sylvan Lake will eat chironomids!