30 November 2009

Looking for us? Back from salmon/coho fishing ,and Al will be hunting the Oldman for CDC to keep the shop stocked with "Little Green Men". Same fly that worked so well the other day with sippers on the Crowsnest! Gotta love dries in November! Shop will open Dec.10 Thurs.thru Mon.

04 July 2009

An evening on the Oldman River

The Oldman River sure looks great , clear and green ...To wade across it may be difficult , but was worth the effort on Friday night .. I am blessed to have another great trout dog and friend , Winston ( nick named "little big dog" ) . He first hit the wintery water of the Crowsnest (when the ice broke) at the age of 3 months. Now he picks his route across like an expert . When in doubt , follow my dog , I tell clients . Standing part way into the rapid he gave me " the look" when I command him " Winston come". The fast water took him away ,and with hand signals I incouraged him to not turn back and show him my direction . After a big shake , Winston burns some donuts in excitment . Being a little heavier in my old age often pays off in crossing heavy water ... I fished my way to a place where a fast run forms a narrow shute . It would be doubtful that any body has fished this spot this year . I have been watching the water flows drop daily , averaging a cubic metre per second decline each day . I probably was first to get across .. With no foot prints in the sand I figured this was untouched water and big trout were slamming green drakes ..The fast shute was joined at a right angle by the slower end of another fast bit of drake water . There they rose to the fly . I had been trying out different fly patterns while fishing on the way to here . I fished likely looking patterns like a green tri-wing sedge , olive stimulator , a big "simple caddis" was still on my line . None had caught me a fish but some got a tail slap other wise known as the " fish finger ". I cast the big deer hair caddis across the fast shute into the converging slower run with a reach cast and all the extra stuff I could add to get a good drift ..all I got was a fist full of fish fingers after dozens of good drifts. Enough of fly experimentation , I tied on my favourite drake pattern from the shops collection . The biggest fish of the bunch rose in the middle , up thirty feet from the confluence .. but I started close with my olive offering as good fish were right in the edge of the rollers and the confluence mix . They occasionally slapped the surface , spraying water into the wind . Whether actualy taking the bug or drowning it,s hard to tell ? it happens so fast and you can hear the smack . It,s got to be the most exciting dry fly fishing in the Rockies . The first fish I chose to take in the rollers (the closest ) took more than five minutes to land , it used the fast water and I used side pressure and on that 4x tippet and many runs later a surprizingly large rainbow came to hand .... 22 inches with out the kipe . A thick , solid , 3+ pound rainbow ..well how big was that big cuthroat looking one out in the middle ??. I did not get to find out .. after pulling out a few more decent rainbows casting my way up to that biggest trout ...he was put down , only coming up once to slap my bug and give me the finger .. Fair enough...near dark I followed my dog out , he never forgets a route ... If you are reading this you are probably not here and missing some great fishing... Al B.

26 June 2009

June 26 th . high tech report

We had some rain last week and I got almost two inches in my bucket ( high tech ) so all rivers got pumped up a bit and they are are slowly going down and with good clarity 5 - 10 ft. . So I figured out that I get comments back on the Blog .. excuse me all , for not replying . Suzy and I are old school and not great with computers and tech stuff .. I will be checking in the future I just have to figure out how to add a photo or two ...Before I get back too my choice of three channels on the TUBE .. Here is a quick report ... Water temps. are still cold in the head water streams( 50*F ) in the afternoon , and bug hatches are generally sparse .. I got into a good green drake hatch while guiding in a Castle R. tributary yesterday but it was short lived . But the hatch was right on time and we got into it from start to finish and all was good . I floated the lower canyon today , and there was barely a bug to be seen (a few PMD's ) .. but it was fished well by my two dry fly guys .. and each tagged dozens of trout .. Be carefull ! the Castle is still like " Big Water" in the canyon as it gets squeezed through . Water temps. on the Crowsnest R. are higher than head waters streams 56 *F in the morning .. producing good hatches .. something new going on every day .. the Crowsnest Cafe' and Fly Shop is open 7 days a week 8am - 6pm .. Fish tales at the Rum Runner Pub in Coleman at 6:05 Spawn On ... Al B.

20 June 2009

This is an amazing June ! We should be pumping our basements and watching helplessly as river banks change ....so Pale morning duns , march browns ,yellow sally's , salmon flies , stone flies , and any and all midges...ON TOP !!! Finally!!.. It's just sooo nice to fish dry Crow is a wee bit high clear.. Castle med high glacial colour.. and Oldman med high and clear... TREAD CAREFULLY ... YAHOO it's SUMMERTIME!! Suzy Q

18 June 2009

Duffy's got some questions

Duffy googled "full moon fly fishing" and got my blog. He was floating the Gunnison River and his group camped for the night, awkened by rising trout on a black night shaded by a canyon wall ...they were going nuts on caddis .He woke up his buddy and they caught fish "till their arms were tired "(quote ) all the fish were Browns . His questions are Do trout feed more often at night during the full moon phase ? and What about caddis hatches ? Should I plan my trip around the moon phase ??? Before I answer you Duffy let it be known , I believe there is nothing black and white in the world of fly fishing ... there are to many variables ... for example, I had read in some magazine years ago about the golden stone flies hatching at night , crawling to the banks to safety ( written in California )... Where I was guiding in Banff at the time on the Upper Bow River (a Brown trout fishery ) . We worshiped the hottest sunniest days in mid summer to bring on a Golden Stone hatch, miday in the middle of a fast run , Browns smacking them as they topped a roller , it was the best! and rare on a sunny day. I assumed the variable for the Stonefly might be the water temp. ..our glacial river was never warm and always a cure for a hangover . Nothing is black and white in the fishing world and the trout know what to do and when to do it . It,s their world and we just stand above it and make our best assumption and or maybe try to replay a similar scenerio . So was it the caddis hatch or the nights light , maybe the water is cooler and perfect at night , I don,t know the Gunnison ? Tough to answer .. I have moved south, I like to fish the Crows Nest river in high run off and catch fish in the mud , it pisses off my friends who insist it can,t be done . So one evening I go down to where Todd Creek comes into the Crow. A travelling sedge hatch is in full swing and trout are cruising in slow muddy water. Only two inches of visibility,. Picking up on the caddises vibe or scent ? tracking caddis and sucking them down . The trout were right in the surface, bulging the water as they tracked down the caddis . the water was so dirty you could not see the trout , but follow the bulge you could guess their route and cast ahead and skate the fly too them . It was good fun . Beside me I noticed fish swimming up Todd creek doing the same .Todd creek comes out of cattle country and is twice as dirty ,so I should give it a try ... Trout know what to do and when and were to do it . I fished the bulges in the water and landed my fly perfectly on the biggest swelling bulge of the evening . The timing couldn't have been more perfect to hook that beavers nose as it broke the surface . My fly was gone with the bang of a tail . Not really an answer ? well there isn't one Next ... Do I think moon light has an effect on trout fishing ? definately , but not always . On browns more so than other trout definately ? but not so much on some rivers . From river to river I see different behaviors in trout . The Upper Bow river Browns were so tough during a long full moon phase ... One thing I do know for sure is sometimes they sleep in the day and they get locked into that night shift just like the sunny high pressure scenerio common with full moonphase gets locked in for a week , added torture for fishing guides . If we nymphed long and hard on those tough moon phase days, we would pull in a bewildered brown, like dragging in a wet rag . When you release the nymph from it's lip it would stay at you're feet .You have to nudge it do deeper water . It was pretty much asleep . I would fish any piece of trout holding water with a touch of shade or cutbank facing the right way looking for a trout not on night shift. Those Browns hated the sun so much I would prey for that single cloud to move and cover the sun, and when it did that clients fly had better be in the air ready to land . There would often be a immediate sip on the surface and it was over for the dry flier as the cloud passed. On my southern Alberta steams some moon phases are tough some are not ??? but I never catch sleeping trout.. we have numerous trout species and downhere and the Browns jump . I have some thoughts on that after twenty years guiding. So Duffy if you are planning your float on the Gunnison again, maybe ask yourself , how was the fishing during the daylight hours of that memorable trip ??? A QUICK RIVER REPORT A bit of rain brought up the Waterton and Castle while it barely hit the Crow , and the Oldman level continued to go down but it,s still cold water and not many hatches reported on the Oldman , while the Crow is quite buggy. .... all streams down here are open ... and the Crowsnest Cafe' and Flyshop is open 8-6 everyday untill October ... If you get a fly in your soup thats an extra $2.oo

12 June 2009

Bug report for June 16 th. opening

Just a qick fishing report ... Depending on weather ... Blue wing olives #20 , PMD's #16 ..sulphur Duns #14 ... were hatching when Suzy ,Gary, dogs and I hit the Crow after closing the shop on Tuesday. It was threatening rain , perfect .. Swallows worked the suface of water ,and they buzzed around our drifting flies , pulling out at the last second , kind of worrisome , as they would get so close you want to pull your fly away from them . I just tried to fish , and just after thinking to myself that I have never seen one make the mistake of taking a fly , Suzy catches one . The swallow came in easy and crashed into the grass at her feet . I was across the river willing to help, but the hook was just into the feathers at the base of the wing and neck , she got it out , and off went the bird ... Back to work with it,s squadron , birds dodged our lines and leaders mid air at full throttle , amazing creatures ! I caught one of those Bow river steelhead strain rainbows , and it fought like a fish twice it,s size . Upstream there was a decent fish rising on my side , by the time I got to casting range the setting sun peaked out bellow the clouds, and it stoped rising immediately .. I cast a few times in it,s zone and gave it a rest ,it was a big trout.... Keeping an eye on it,s feeding spot a cast else where . The sun vanished breifly behind the cloud and the trout came up again... the sun peaked bellow the cloud and it stoped before I could get a fly to it. Definately brown trout behavior .. Gary had caught one here the week before along with a 4 lb. lake trout . I put on a little nymph . I did not not catch the big trout but a 17 incher ( Rainbow ) that had a deep loonie size bite out of it,s neck . Most likely the bite came from a mink . The fish still fought hard , I felt badly for it . So the sun was out the last two days .. somewhere, some one on this river was in the right spot and saw an explosion of Salmon Flies (size big ) and little olive stones (# 10 ) may be a Golden or two .. The Crows Nest River has never looked this good in early June .. Clear and wadeable .. All rivers are looking good for the opening of the season , June 16 th. CROWSNEST CAFE and FLY SHOP now OPEN 7 DAYS a WEEK ...8:00 am to 6:00 pm .. Untill we go Steelheading ... Watch out for reds , mostly in the tailouts .... Spawn on .. Al B.

11 June 2009

05 June 2009

It,s 11:00 oclock somewhere

We had some hot days this week and the Crow cleared and dropped a foot at least Run off is over somehow on the Crow and should continue clearing unless hard rains come. Salmon flies are out and about , all you have to do is find them . I fished close to the shop for a couple hours this morning with no sign of a Salmon fly or shuck . While two miles down stream , swallows gorged themselves on the bug almost half their size the day before.... All I saw this morning was the dreaded tiny white midge, I call "Dust" . Still I wanted to fish my freshly tied Salmon Fly patterns , and why wouldn't a rainbow want ot ROCKET out of the water for such a colossal crunchy feast , slow and hapless , stuck in the surface film... Always the opptomist starting with a dry , I worked two runs on the way up stream. I gave the trout plenty of oportunities before I put on a big Salmon fly nymph. A trout was eventualy caught on the nymph and I worked up stream to the big corner.. Another nymph invention was tried , then another dry pattern was worked at todays turning point and then down stream for a bit . My third nymph was fished back to my starting point ... this whole time there was not a rise or even a fish spotted , they were all deep.. ...no trout were sittting in their reds.. With water so clear , any day time spawners would be osprey food ... I startled an osprey here the week before , it was flying upstream at 30 feet , seeing me , it flared and dropped a good 20 inch rainbow into a shallow riffle . No doubt the fish had some holes in it , but it hit the water like a beaver tail and tore into the deep . So decision time , back to the shop ?? ..the dog had some good swims ...a fish was caught , there is some success in that . But had I solved the problem that us fly fishers must solved ? ..the one that leads us too say " O.K. this is the last cast" until we are late for Mothers Day dinner.. the Problem of the Day (the problem of the moment is more appropriate ) . So when I go back to the fly shop today , other than salmon fly patterns for salmon fly season , what else do I sell my fellow anglers in good conscience ? Well a few more casts are in order . I think I know exactly what needs to be cast out...I think ? Suzie will be in a pickle if I don't get back too the shop before the lunch rush ... With the full moon comes the midge . The midge rules the river , even when the giant salmon fly is crawling , swimming , hatching and egg laying . Midge fishing can be great. When I see the DUST size midges buzzing the surface , I often feel out numbered, tossing another speck into a flowing river . What is it ? about the popularity of the midge .. Tastes good ? easlily digestable ? the numbers ? easy feeding rythm ? or security of not get caught on a hook that small ? The hook I tied on was a size #20 , probably three times the size of the" Dust" A bead head midge larva I tie. In a fly box or in a fly shop ,it may be the last fly you would pick to toss into a big flowing river . Subtle differences in the tie may or may not catch fish , but it gives me the confidence to toss it out . Any how , the full moon is now a familliar scenario, so out goes the size #20 into the spring run off .... tied back a few feet of the last Salmon Fly nymph , add some lead , indicator free . It was down with the fishes..it was down for less than a minute ..a hard take, and a good fight was going on under the fast water dumping into the pool . At this point all I want to know is," did it hit my big nymph or little nymph " so as to answer the problem of the day ! As I lifted the fish out of the depth , she responded with a jump. She was on the little hook . Now was that luck or had I solved the problem... back to the" one last cast before I go" ...I fished a little further back in the pool to let the fish settle ... So about a dozen" last casts later " another solid hit (those little hooks really stick ) . I brought it to up to get a view , on the little hook again . Moving up to the front of the pool and half a dozen" last casts" later a third raibow landed on the little midge .. So I wasn't late after all the "last casts " the problem was solved quickly today.. When I try to sell little flies like this in the fly shop, I get a variety of looks and not many takers . Often I read the look as ( I'm not spending two bucks on that little fly) . I too always hated fishing with midges and I always try something else first, at least something the client and I can see. A trout may spend 75% of it's life eating this little bug and often we are so reluctant to fish this tiny but plentiful speck of protein that trout focus on and go blind to banquettes of bigger bugs like the salmon fly.. But tommorow if there is a chance of sneeking away from the shop I will start fishing with a salmon fly . Fishing the big bug is also a beautiful thing. Just a few other things to mention .. where you will want to wade across probably has a trout red or two you will want to step around.. Also bears are out and about .. Two boar grizzlies killed half a dozen sheep near hwy 22 #. One was trapped , one wasn't. Also T.U. Lethbridge boys are taking out some fencing on Saturday on the Burmis Lake Lease if you want to help.. And two Lake trout where caught in the Crowsnest river this month ...whats with that ?? The Crowsnest Cafe' and Fly Shop in Coleman .... will be open 7 day's a week starting opening day June 16 th. Al B.

News at 11:00

A rare event on the Crowsnest River..... The Salmon Fly hatch is on , and the river is clear , wadeable (watch out for spawning reds in tail outs ) with a visability of 5 ft... News at 11:00 .... Al B.

27 May 2009

All About the Bugs /End of May Fishing Report

Right now the river is going up ...still fishable for some...crossable ? ? Trout seemed too get a little tougher to catch last week ..some I watched spawning ,some are done spawning and some are late and hanging near a friend.. Wade with caution , most of the spawners we spot are in fast but shallow crossing areas in tail out and near banks ..eggs hatch in 50 days ? ( just an educated guess ) .. Catching fish was all about the bug last week ..big nymphs didn't work at all for me in the murky run off... trout would not bite what I wanted them to .. I fished some old run off favourites from old day's (charteruse chenile worm, big rubber legged nymph's ) and I hardly saw a rise even during a good hatch. Nymphing a size 18# or 16# was the ticket ... After an hour of fishless water, thoughts of all the trout spawning on that day would have pretty much turned too facts untill the right little bug twitched through the run and bang ! Hammered it ! a cast or two after releasing a nice trout , bang ! Hammered again . This happened for me every time out and always searching for a different bug every day .. So much for the notion of disinterested spawners .. Just Crowsnest trout being Crowsnest trout . On the last day out with Suzy and friend Bill , Monday was turning into another fishless day until mother nature gave me a hint . A pressure change brought out dozen of swallows anticipating a riverside dinner . I went and stood in a back eddy and pulled out a nymph box , after a minute a Western March Brown floated by . I had four bead head flash back hares ears of the appropriate size . I picked a hand tyed one with a flashy emerging shuck and attached it to the indicator set up . (if I use a indicator after the snow is gone I'm desperate ) , Some line was pulled out and thrown onto the water short of the inside seem . I watched the bobber immediately go down as I was pulling more line out, I struck the fish . This was not a lethargic spawner , straight out to the current , it jumped on it's tear down stream . Before I could move in the grass it was thrashing directly down stream like a stealhead and the hook popped out. Next cast, same spot a ten foot drift and a hook up on a hot fish that went straight out to the cliff on the other side .this trout was the fish of the month , 22-23 inch rainbow . I thought I had it on good , until I yelled for a camera assistant . The strong fish won , thats O.K. My visiting friend needed a fish today, I took off my good fly and tied it on for Bill. Suzy and I tied on the regular BH Hares flash Back Ears from my box.. Bill hooked a nice one in that spot within ten casts ..Suzy eventually took hers off and fished a dry as the skies darkened and the swallows soared way up there eating something .. I tried , the trout thought the regular pattern unworthy . Bills fish had the same battle plan as my first fish and did the steel head thing in the swift water . We crossed down steam and fished a back eddy in the next hole .. Swallows worked the water now . A few drops of rain were hitting the water by the time I had my dry Fly box out .Bills fly had lost it's magic as small blue wing olives now floated by.. reel in Bill . A dry was tied on quickly... this was Bill's last shot , he was too be two hours late getting home to wife in Banff. A rise was seen , and a target located , now two or three more rose in the same current seam . The trout he caught fought the battle in the back eddy and was landed , then immortalized digitaly and e-mailed to Banff . Bill did great for a rooky on the last two day's , even with the tough fishing he keeps trying and dosn't give up. He does what I suggest , and has learned good technique in the dozen day's of his fly fishing career.. The day before we fished a spot that two good anglers had dredged for over an hour with big flies and lead . I found my last little olive nymph that had solved the problem of the day earlier in the week. The little size #16 caught him a 20 inch rainbow and he stuck two more , basically out fishing me, but hey , I gave him the bug . " It's All Good " Off I go to this week to make a little money millwrighting as the rivers rise ... There has been no sign of the Crowsnest Salmon Fly yet .. Suzy will be running her Fly Shop in Coleman when they hatch, and I will be tying up some of the big bugs up in Fort Mc Murray, for when I return all Alberta's waters will be open to angling and the start of the 2009 season . We will have the bugs..

26 May 2009

Daily Disasters

The Crowsnest has held it,s own this month .. It blew out one hot day a couple weeks ago at about 10 cm/s ,rolling mud . Then the weather cooled right down ,so we fished somewhat high water for the last two weeks with reasonable visability . Wading was often touch and go and I went for a swim , casting and crossing a fast tailout on Sunday . My feet went out and water was up to my neck in half a second ( CAMERA !)... Had to let go of my fly rod to pull the camera out of the flooding bibb of my waders ..I held it high, turned down stream , tip toed suddenly weightless , pushed by the current , scooped up that floating fly rod , moon walked in zero gravity to the bank , threw the rod to a soft spot, ejected the batteries , ejected the camera card , popped off the lense cover ,dropped shoulder straps, dumped water to my waste belt ( always tight )and was standing there looking casual by the time my friend Bill had finished the drift of his fly . I walked upstream hung the camera in the sunshine and fished the next run. Bill eventually followed the route I pointed out to him , he looked sceptical .. Bill didn't try to fish his way across, and came across without tripping up on those bowling balls ...We walked up a rocky bluff to spy on sipping trout . Bill looked closer " you look wet" ... yea.. don't tell Suzy ..Bill knows , we grew up together on the same street.. We don't tell the women folk nothing ! Our poor mothers..if they knew of our daily disasters, they would not have let us out of the house .. Our moms only new of events that required stiches, left bruises,needed assistance or intervention from doctors , teachers, police and firemen. Being dragged home to the door step by any adult was a dead give away of a disaster, as was the knock on my door from that newspaper reporter when I was eleven yeas old..busted ! Mom answered it .. When Suzy and I were dating she was picking me and some clients up at a bridge on the Waterton River.. it was a dark and stormy night (sounds familiar ?) and almost 1:30 am when we reached that take out point. It was black out ( I told those guy,s to speed it up all day ).For more than two hours I was rowing away from any river noise in the moonless dark..dodging boulders... I was worried about my girl worring about me ! She was parked on the bridge . Anticipating tears when I opened her truck door ... she had her feet up swilling a beer, reading murder mystery as usual... that was ten years ago...She's so different I married her (also a great fly fisher ) My wife Suzy worries mostly about the dog and the camera , after I fried the last camera in the Thompson River two years ago and the dog had balls of cactus stuck to all four paws . The water in my clothes eventually reached my feet and it was time to BBQ up some deer for my visiting city friend . Well the camera survived and Suzy never reads this blog ...

27 April 2009

End of April Report

April might just be my new favorite time to fly fish the Crows Nest River ,or has it just been a long winter . The snow is been falling on and off for the last week and a half . In mid April , a few day's of stellar weather brought some higher dirty water from that lower elevation snow melt. With this colder weather water levels have remained up ,but the water has cleared nicely. Today I fished the Crow in sub zero conditions with lots of ice on the guides ...trout rose in some of the usual spots as March Browns and a very small black midge were on the water in good numbers. I had caught two nice rainbows before I busted the very tip off my fly rod while trying to break rather thick ice off of it . Thats a new one for me ! (my favorite Loomis) It has been a different kind of day on the Crow every time I fished it this month. Bug hatches ,flow , clarity , weather , etc. ... it's been interesting . Bugs To Look Out For...Size #16 black stone ,size #12 black stone ,size #16 March Brown ,size#18 Blue wing , size #14 tent wing caddis , #22 Tan micro caddis , Skwalla stones if the sun ever comes back out and any midge any time and hope they are bigger than a size #28.. Nymph accordingly ... If I was a bird watcher , I would get out there as the snow cover has sent birds to the river for food and migration is on full time. Watch Out for Trout Sitting on Reds.... a few early spawners are sitting in some fast shallow tail outs.. IN THAT .... PERFECT CROSSING WATER ..EGGS HATCH IN JULY INTO EARLY AUGUST ...WADERS PLEASE BE OBSERVANT

23 April 2009

The New Season

A lot of excellent fly fishing has occured since Aprils Fools Day.. Suzie , Gord( Kootenay Fly Shop ) , dogs and myself had a couple of stellar Crows Nest spring days.. Fresh tracks in the river side snow , sunshine, rising trout.. and multiple hatches .. On searching , one could find those pods of competeing rainbows.. Spring excitability was evident .. Working the rising fish with some delicacy , one pod could not be put down ... Even after an hour and a few lipping,s a change of pattern tossed out could hook a fish from this eager line up . I have mostly fished dry midge patterns and road tested a few little black stone fly nymphs and dries on that day and up too this present date.... Gord fished a variety and size of nymphs that day and did well with nymph and indicator .. After the dry fly run ,I fished my little tungsten nymphs O -naturel . I could see long fish feeding suspended in deep pools ,moving on the bugs ..Watching the fish , I set my hook on seeing the white from the inside of the big mouth , in an instant the mouth was closed and my line was tight.. I would bring a young British couple here two days later .. First a lesson on the water, all the while that same hungry dozen , rose feverishly thirty feet away..The keen one was the guy , he was a good gear angler back home ,you could tell he had a good fishing sence.. Now to get a crash course in fly casting ,then go through the fundamentals and mechanics of fishing a flowing stream ,then to stalk , hook and land a respectable Crows Nest rainbow in a afternoon ,is quite an accomplishment . After an hour at least on the risers , the lunch was relaxing and then a breeze hit the cliff wall ,no mercy for the rookey Brits .. Another hour he (we) tried on the risers untill they had seen every small midge pattern I owned.. We had to find some other risers.. The next rising pod were in one of those technical re-circulations , they didn't take our abuse.. Time to nymph . I could see those big fish , 5 feet deep in the off coloured flow.. big black midge shucks formed a foam in the back eddy...nymphing time.. I was already set up..The wife was the first to hook up solid . I guided her through the fight . Her first trout was to be a thick, 20 inch pissed off rainbow that hit the black nymph as it swung through the swift tail out.. The husband took over the coaching while I got in the water, camera and forcepts ready.. She was a natural and did not know it , she was really there for her husband and the scenery , but instantly she was completly into it.. the fishless husband was stoked , he knew he had just got a fishing partener for life ! I pointed him at the risers in the re-circ temporarily . I got the wife into a good position again and in 2 casts ,swinging through the tailout , another flash, and solid hook up in the fast water . A 18 inch repeat of the last performance.... It was a beautiful Alberta day ,the sun was getting lower in west , the thrilled but fishless husband whispered " we can go now , I am very happy my wife caught those " I Knew he was going to catch a fish here and now with no problem ..Looking over his shoulder I could see five or six of those long suspended shadows , mouths flashing white as they slid over and chomped on their bugs. That's fine with me sir , but could you just stand here and fish at these guy's ,while I gather the gear ... Here take this nymph rig , I tied a few of those nymph's last night and one's on this rod also.. I tipped him onto those fish suspended near the rock wall .. His good fishing instinct set the hook on the long trout that moved sideways abruptly ...there was a flash and a good fight, but a brief one.. One more hook up and release and the third came too hand , a nice 17 or 18 female rainbow. I have no where to go ... Nows the time..let me check out that rigging.. After he landed his second ever trout on a fly rod , his wife nudged him out of the hot spot.. The trout were onto our fly and snubbed it after serious looks. While she fished, I tied a midge pattern as a trailer on his. Now the two fished side by side. He immediately hooked into that first long fish on the trailer , then another . She gently took the rod from his hand ,his hand uncontrollably released from the cork...it,s O.K. take this rod I just rigged it up .. The couple fished side by side, new fishing partners and first time fly fishers .... I slowly packed up ... A great ending to a beautiful spring CrowsNest day.... We could have fished all the way back, but talk of some excellent Alberta Big Rock Ale at the Rum Runner Pub turned us west over the hill side and closer to the truck . ... AL B .

03 April 2009

April Fools

Don,t forget to buy you're new Alberta Fishing Licence...April 1st. is an appropriate date for renewal and officially kicks off another fishing season for us fools... This year there is a special Fly Fishing Licence in Alberta ..It cost $ 8.50 extra ..it's a government surcharge, called a casterbation fee.. Comments or Inquiries at albertarelm.com or Phone 1-888-944-5494 An Adult licence for an Alberta Resident Adult is $25.66 + $8.50 for a total of $34.16 There is no youth flyfishing licence as they are not allowed to casterbate.. Little Black Stone Flies were on the water today and those extra large spring midges that waited over the winter to hatch. We have some perfect dry flies at the shop.. I didn't see them but Suzie and Gary reported seeing some Blue Wing Olives and Suzie caught a nice rainbow on a size #18 ( Suzies little green Man) of course.. Gary caught a respectable fish on his first cast as he did the day before... the trout would immediately smarten up ,so that was it for that pool.. Some trout that live under a bank in a little side trickle ,came out to the seam to rise.. I touched 3 of them with no good hook ups ..then they stopped and did'nt come back out even two hour's later on the way back... no sign. The bigger pools had no risers just a pair of geese per pool ..swimming around . I found some bigger fish that had moved into a bigger trickle attached to a big pool.. they rose aggressively, they were going to get caught feeding like that... I crawled in over the smooth snowy island and worked the back fish first. I had on the smallest black sparkle dunn (# 20 ) Suzie had in the shop , I worked it gently through the rising fish on 6x , these bigger fish didn't take it ...I bit off the shuck as close as I could to the flies butt ... I rested the fish a couple minutes and they feed aggressively, occasionally one would pop straight up out of the water past it's pectorals, probably grabbing the occational black stone ..They took the little black clipped sparkle dunn , which for a change was actually smaller than the big#16 midge natural, floating buy...After landing two and missig two it was all over except for the yelling. The yelling was at Gary's big brown lab called Gus .. the stick crazy lab had, with stick in mouth ran into Gary's fly line and drove the sharp little #18 deep into his finger. There was blood and much yelling , as usual Gus was not fazed by the blood or yelling and bounced around tail a wagging.. Gary had his back to me for a while and was messing around on the edge of the ice, probably taking the hunk of meat off his hook .His brother being a fish cop ,Gary new all the laws about bait fishing on the Crows Nest river.. After some line untangling he turn to face the river and meet the bouncing lab ,stick In mouth again. Gary yelled commands at Gus which caused much excitment and higher bouncing...The yell turned into more of a scream as the bouncing Gus broke the ice at Gary's feet.. It was painful to watch as the broken slab tilted and the pair slid off into the river I have never seen Gary dance but he must have been good in the old Disco Days...Thanx to fancy feet, boot studs and flailing arms Gary didn't go swimming and there was much cursing #!!&**+#$#GUS!!^#!#!@GUS .. something like that... When I left my little island , I meet them down stream sitting in the snow bank watching for risers.. Pals again..

29 March 2009

Tails a waggin or stuff for sale

Spring is officially here in the Crows Nest Pass... I got in a three hour fish yesterday . Between my shift at the Crows Nest Cafe and Fly Shop and the Ducks Unlimited Banquet ,Winston the dog and I jogged into a spot on the Crows Nest River. My goal was to try out a couple of size #22-#20 midge larva/pupa patterns I had tied up. I hate using flies that small . Being a big guy I want to throw out big flies for big fish . Even though I know those winter rainbows spend most of their winter, expending as little energy as possible ,they just sit down there slowly waggin their tales opening and closing jaws on the tiny and abundant midge larva and pupa , still I want to throw out a hamburger size fly with a maraboo tail with a rubber legged articulating bead head stonefly as a trailer. The guys (Doug and Doug ) in Banff who taught me fly tying in the1980's loved to fish #22 midges. I thought they were nuts and resisted fishing tiny midges till the bitter end of the day...or not at all . That fishing strategy changed about two years after landing a job guiding with the company Banff Fishing Unlimited . Now I was fishing two hundred consecutive days a year . Now decades of those weekend fishing outings made sence (or more sense).. Sun , moon ,cloud, wind ,rain, spring, fall, hatches, no hatches....Fishing all day, everyday now , so many ideas can fall into place for the fly fisherman, but still there are those days when you can't even buy a bite ! or even spot a trout . The guides job is to catch fish , and to catch those evil #!*+?#@!* every day..I would still resist fishing those size #20 and #22 sub-surface flies in that big Upper Bow River , and from a guides perspective take a size #20 hook, add 5x tippet, add 3 split shot , add 7 ft. moving water, add one 3 1/2 lb.brown trout lip , add one first time tourist + total = 0 . Often a guides act of desparation on a tough fly rod river like the cold Upper Bow and hopefully not to late in the day,was the dredging of the#20 olive nothing on a hook. It would always get a fish (never say the word skunked) . It was there on the Upper Bow where I came up with the theory for those fishless days , the day you can't spot a fish and if you did spot one, it was on the bottom hardly waggin a tail . If You Can't Buy a Bite... FISH A #20 MIDGE Now all of the winter outings this year , in my boxes all the left over midges, were size #18 or even a giant #16 , it was hard work fooling a fusy Crows Nest rainbows but you always fool at least one per hole. So now I have #22-#20 olive larva and black pupa tied onto 6x tippet, split shot and stike indicator (bobber) ick!. Dead drifting the olive larva brought in the first bewildered looking 18 inch rainbow... it was a good fight..the little barbless hook came easily out of the tip of her tongue.The little olive offering on the two fly rig was catching them all , so I took it off ? I am not here just to catch fish . The little black pupa took a couple of trout when they were not given the choice.. All nice fish today 17-19 inch. All this time a few fish were rising in a fashion a little aggressive for midge sipping . I suspect the little black stone was hatching here and there in the sunny spells. In honour of that agressive tail wagging, I re-rigged with no strike indicator, just a single split shot, long 6x and #20 black pupa and fished not Czek nymph style , not the Leisinring lift, (how do you figure any one or country claims invention to that ) just good old Canadian fishing by instinct, mix it up , sink it , drift it , lift it , twitch it, set the hook when the hair stands up on your neck , strip hard, swing it , or don't...four more were caught and it was time to jog out to the truck to get to the Ducks Un- Limited Banquet ..I am always impressed how a size #20 hook lands a good size trout stuck into that tough skin on the lip...I think the reason I still resist fishing those little nothing flies is they look so insignificant out there in that big river and there is so much olive coloured algae and crap floating down the cleanest of rivers how do the trout pick the little olive offering out ?? My BIG tip of the DAY is this.. you are at a DU Banquet.. if nobody at you're table is drinking those two bottles of wine on the table ..don't be watching the Auction when you should be watching you're wife behind you drinking the wine and bidding on all this stuff...FOR SALE... two signed duck prints- One Custom Putter -(we don't golf)-one DU Martini Mixing Set 403-563-3258 .

08 March 2009

Drilling holes and dropping lines

A colder than usual winter calls for drastic measures, still waters...ice augers...worms..minnows... power bait, jigs and thirty inches of ice.... I had only fly fished Crows Nest Lake twice over the years as I have become exclusively a river fisherman over the years... My first row out onto the lake in my old dory, was on a rainy evening a few years ago. I netted myself a 10 -11 lb. lake trout on the fly...caught on a steep drop off, that fish peeled line from the reel from 10 ft. to 90 ft. in seconds ..... a memorable moment not to be recreated on the ice that day... in fact, where we hiked in was not exactly where we wanted to fish , but it was out of the wind so we drilled half a dozen holes each and could not find water over 20 ft. We were hoping for around a hundred ft. It was pretty slow fishing the bites were light except for what ever hit Gary's one rod ..the rod and holder almost went down the hole...that was the big excitement for the afternoon. A quick road trip to the West Coast happened with my old fishing buddy from Banff, Rolfe Furhmann , A good trip was had , but we sure have mellowed with age... The spey rod went along, but all the fishing was out on the Pacific at Pedder Bay a couple of Spring Salmon were caught at 169 ft. on the down riggers ..I saw killler whales for the first time.. very cool !! There was lots of snow on Vancouver Island .. every day the temp. went up, the snow up high melted and the rivers went up again.. The Vedder River was cleaning up on the trip home,it had colour still, but it,s greenish and resonable flow...steelhead are in ! Other than that, a few fly fishing afternoons have been had on the Crow... nothing special to report ,midges and not many of them..the March full moon phase will soon be over and hopefully this will be the last of the nasty cold spells for the southern part of the rockies and the fish will start to wag their tales a little harder. A few people have come into the shop and bought some of our size 20# midge patterns and heading out...in a few weeks the small winter stones will officially start off a new season of fly fishing.. so don't hurt yourself skiing!

02 February 2009

cafe and flyshop

The Crowsnest Cafe and Flyshop is open Wed- Sun during the winter months. Check out the many new Flyfishing items for 2009 and save on the many discounted odds and ends. The cafe is serving homemade and healthy breakfasts and lunches......eat in or take away..call 403-563-8510.

21 January 2009

Crowsnest up date Jan.21. 2009

There has been a few outings with fly rods lately..Susan was totally excited when she caught a 23 inch rainbow on one of my nice little streamers....but the boys were down stream trashing the water ahead of her ( what ever happened to the polite notion of" ladies first") and no cameraman was available for a picture ,but other trout were caught and Suzie is holding a nice little 16 or 17 in. rainbow in the picture...Other highlites of the week would be Kirby catching a brown trout above Lunbreck Falls , not a big trout, but rare in the upper section... Bigger browns have been known to actually swim up the falls to spawn, and it is hard to imagine a trout making an accent of such height ..there has been witnesses to this epic swim... Down stream of the falls a few decent Bull trout have been caught, one by Gary was 4-5lbs. followed by a breifly exciting foul hooking of a 4 lb. rocky mountain sucker that tore off line down to the backing, and seemed unstopable for a few glorious moments..the ass caught sucker brought Gary back breif memories of our Queen Charolette Island Steelhead adventure this past fall... Suzie and I went out yesterday ,the temperature was great, a bit off tanning happened till the breeze stirred and by that time my wife had caught two rainbows and I followed her down stream , letting her fish bellow me. She worked one of my smaller hand tied minnow patterns, she really wants to catch a big Bull trout lately, usually she only winter fishes if there is chance of dry fly action (she is a beautiful dry fly fisher) I saw her hook one more fish before she disappeared around the bend.. I fished a much larger fly, with a tail that was a bit to long and missed a number of takes ,finnally hooked up on a small bull , 20 inches... easilly landed. Next ,deep under some fast water I hooked into and landed a solid 7-8 lb. Bull trout. it was a good battle for a cold winter fish.... Occassionally a fish rose to a hatching midge.. When I got back to my truck a fish cop had my dog ,thats a whole other story...and I couldn,t find my angling licence. and thats a whole other story....Suzie had said to me when we left home" Al do you have you're licence??" I shrugged it off... so now she is giving me" the look" while I am trying too explain to the fish cop what a looser I am.. He was giving me a break ..but I stated ..I would rather have the ticket ...than the look I was getting from Suzie..The Fish Cop understood and Winston the dog got off too..

13 January 2009

12 January 2009

06 January 2009

almost zero

It was almost zero *C today... The excuses for leaving our Fly shop in Coleman and driving a short distance east , were new tires on the suburban, dog walking, and a few chores to be done in Pincher Creek..Mid afternoon, downstream on the Crowsnest River I was searching for some open water...I found a lot more openwater than expected after this 4 week deepfreeze. Caution on the ice was excercised by myself and Winston the dog , as the fishing situation was iffy , all the frog water was frozen. Multi coloured frozen goose poop on the ice, covered by a skiff of snow, looked like tops of rocks on the streams shallow inside bend.. The creaking of the ice made me look a little closer at what I was standing on.. After a change of position and only 2 casts a nice 17 inch rainbow was hooked and landed on my olive offering. The takes were subtle , more like a pull and a few trout were missed while I was thinking about that increasing tension on the line..( those trout were cold !) Frozen goose poop on the shore ice created other technical problems,the line hooked on those cheeze shaped ones while roll casting and line mending...but good drifts happened and more trout were caught than missed . The Stanleys Ice Off Paste worked again but this time the goose poo was the big technical problem..Seems there is always need for a new fly fishing product , but what would we call it ??? As I drove east towards Pincher Creek there were thousands of geese and ducks flying onto the grain fields . Thousands more birds than on my last frigid days of goose hunting season... they will stay if there is food and open water. It's too bad the migratory bird season is over, they are wrecking my drift and my ice.. Al B.

04 January 2009

four days into 2009 and I ain,t caught a fish yet

It,s hard too beleive that trout were caught on a dry fly in December not so long ago.. Just before the deep freeze or actually as the temperature was falling Gary T. the dogs and myself rushed out to the Crowsnest for one last chance to cast a fly and to test that Stanley,s Ice Off Paste that I usually find in the garage mid summer in a secret stash of fishing paraphernalia. This time I just grabbed some off the shelf at the wifes fly shop claiming that I should have it for free, for research and product testing and the betterment of all mankind( at least for the ones that flyfish in the Canadian winter ). Usually we like the temperature to be 2*C above zero at least, for our winter flyfishing but it was already 3*C bellow and dropping..I got out there first and greased my line with the Ice Off Paste ....the line floated noticeably high and did not ice up... Gary had shown up ,I gave him the paste he greased his line and his guides as the temperature continued to drop ,I wished I had also greased the rod guides at minus 10*C my rod guides finally started to freeze..Gary was still doing OK but we could feel it getting colder ...my dog Winston had swam across the river a few times following me .. trout had been caught... product tested...Gary ,dogs and I agreed it was time to go .. We had concluded that the paste was a excellent product to prolong the suffering of dog and flyfisherman alike...