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5 Tips for Fishing in the Fall

5 Tips for Fishing in the Fall

Well, it is that time of year once again; when the leaves start changing colors, and your breathe wisps up in front of you in the crisp morning air. The vibrant colors beckon fisherman to their banks, hanging on to the season of fishing that fleetingly hangs on for however long mother nature decides.

And the trout, colored up and beautiful, gobble down the bugs that are still around, trying to get fat for the long winter ahead. Yes, this is certainly the best time of year to fish. However, it can be more challenging than the days of summer, where big dry flies and prolific hatches mean fisherman can chuck dry flys around and have a pretty good shot, most days at least. Luckily, I have compiled here my 5 best tips to make sure you keep the lines bent this fall!

 

 

1) Embrace the Rain!

 

Often times, anglers look outside and see rain and decide to hide inside and forego their fishing plans. DONT! Particularily in the fall, I’ve had some of my best fishing days in that consistent drizzle. In fact, these days usually offer the best dry fly fishing this time of year. You may have heard of the Blue-Winged Olive (BWO). It is a tiny green mayfly that hatches this time of year, usually when the weather is rainy or overcast. So instead of hiding away from the rain, stock up on BWO’s and head out to catch some rising fish!

Blue Winged Olive Pattern

 

2) Go Small and go deep

 

As mentioned, fall does not bring with it the prolific hatches of the summer time. Just because you dont see rising fish does not mean the fish arent eating. Actually, fish are usually feeding aggressively, but their primary food source is subsurface nymphs. Tiny size 16-20 bead head nymphs are absoultely the ticket this time of year, and if you methodically work the pools using small nymphs, you should have great success. These include: Copper Johns, Pheasant Tails, Bead Headed Prince, and the Hares Ear Nymph.

TIP: Try using these small nymphs as a tandem rig to cover more of the water column. Fish one slightly larger nymph, and using tippet, attach a smaller nymph 8″-12″ inches beneath it. This is a great tactic this time of year.

Small nymphs work great in the fall

3)Fish during the heat of the Day

 

The night times and morning this time of year are very chilly. The best fishing this time of year will be during the warmest hours of the day, typically sometime between 11 am and 5 pm. This is when the water will warm up sufficiently to allow fish to begin feeding, and will also be the time when the few hatches that are still going on will occur. Me, I like to still get an early start and hike into a spot that I know will be good, allowing the water to warm up while I’m hiking and then begin fishing once I begin to warm up. Try to be at your favourite spot in that afternoon window when you will have the best shot.

 

4) Fish the Deep pools, deep banks, and Logjams

 

In the Summer, fishing riffles and tailouts can give good results. As fall progresses, fish will begin leaving these lies and move into the deeper water in preparation for winter. Waist deep troughs up against banks will almost always hold fish, and the pools will begin to fill up with fish later into the fall. Focus your fishing on these areas, and ignore the riffles and shallow tailouts. This will allow you to narrow down your casting options and focus on water where there is surely to be fish.

 

 

5) Savour every last fish!

 

Some years we can fish until the end of the open water season in october. Other seasons, the fishing will be no good by the end of September. It is entirely up to mother nature, and while  its great to be optimistic about fishing into october, some years it’s just not realistic. For this reason, make sure you enjoy every last fish; maybe instead of fighting with it, trying to get an awkward iphone pic, just enjoy it;, the brilliant colors, the way it feels, the way it indignantly retreats back to shelter when you release it. It might be a long time yet before you catch another. So be thankful each and every time you hook up, and enjoy the fleeting days of fine fly fishing before winter.

Fishing on November on the Bow last fall

Hopefully this list can help you get plenty more fish before the snow starts flying. Finally we have recieved some rain in Southern Alberta; something that hasnt really happened since June. But looking ahead, it does seem as though summer has officially left, There is lots more chilly, wet weather in the future, and while its been an ideal summer in terms of sunny days, it looks as though Fall might be a bit more variable. This might mean snow up high, which might mean an early conclusion to the season. So I mean it; get out now while you can!

Thanks for reading and tight lines, Bushwhackers!!

 

KR

 

The July Dry-Fly Parade!

The July Dry-Fly Parade!

It’s been a while since I’ve had any time to sit down and write about all the adventures so far this season. Running a fly-fishing blog is great in concept; until you realize you can’t take your laptop out fishing, and then inevitably one must choose between sitting around writing about fly-fishing and actually fly-fishing. The later always seems to win that standoff.

But, at least for now, I’ve had my fair share of good fishing and am contented enough to take an afternoon off and share some of this years trips and talk about the great conditions we have in Alberta and BC right now.

Since things opened up, me and my cousin Garret have been lucky enough to get a few trips into the South Ram and North Ram, some time in the Spring Creeks of Central AB, and most recently down to the Oldman River. I work on the Panther River and have had the pleasure of exploring the many creeks and rivers of the Upper Red Deer this season. All in all, fishing everywhere has been excellent and should continue to be excellent as the dry fly parade is now in full swing.


Panthers Corner

Oddly enough, my recollections of this seasons dry fly parade begins in those waters of the Upper Red Deer, where most of the good fishing is for Bull Trout. I don’t know what the hell is going on, but the Bull Trout in these small creeks (and even the main stem of the panther at times) just can’t seem to pass up a big dry-fly. I spent many week nights this past month hammering bulls, pool after pool, on a big stimulator pattern. This luck actually continued in the Highwood basin just a couple days ago.

   

Some of the Nice Bulls caught on dry Flies this year.

So far, almost all the waters I’ve explored have fair to good fishing, primarily for bulls, but with smaller cutties, brookies, and browns mixed in. It’s a great area, and gets far less pressure than it’s southern neighbours. The throngs of anglers we ran into this weekend on the Oldman took me by suprise after the solitude I unfailingly get when I’m on the Panther and area.


South Ram and North Ram

As always, the Ram River was an absolute treat. We camped out for 2 nights at Ram Falls, and got 3 great days of fishing.

      

The South Ram was high and flowing fast, but we were still able to get lots of Cuttys on the dry fly. Like usual, we had a mad scramble down the canyon followed by the obligatory  ‘who can catch the first fish’ race; which Garret won in short order, hooking into a Cutty in his first few casts. I quickly followed suit, and we were off and running.

Unfortunately, the North Ram did not deliver as the South Ram did. I guess all the speculation about these finicky fish ‘pressing the off button’ is true; we fished on a Monday, and didn’t even see a single sign of a fish. We fished dries, deep nymphs, and streamers. Nothing. Not even a single rise. Very disapointing given the beautiful stretch of River we had hiked into. We continued on this hopeless misery until mid-afternoon, when we said screw it and went back to the South Ram where we proceeded to hammer Cuttys all night.

On the way back, we stopped at Fallentimber Creek for some Browns, and caught some great fish to round it all out.


Oldman River

Last weekend, we headed down to the Oldman to see how our forgotten favourite was doing. With us was a friend of Garrets, Luka, who is just learning to fly-fish. This time, I won the first fish race, and Garret followed up minutes after. We fished 2 of our favourite stretches of the Oldman, and were treated to great fishing. There was lots of bugs out, several hatches of Green drakes, Caddis and PMD’s, as well as the odd stonefly still flying around.

            

 

Luka was able to catch 5  cutties, despite almost catching 7 or 8 more; a few broken lines, hasty sets and missed takes. But overall he had a great day, and I think me and garret now have him hooked for life.

A look ahead…

As mentioned before, things should continue to stay good. The weather forecast for the next week or so promises more sun, so get out now while the water is still cold. The main variable we are dealing with now is the crowds; with summer comes the masses, and this constant pressure on the fish will make them more selective, and can put the fish off, as was the case on the North Ram. Try to get to your water early, to make sure you get it first. And when you do run into other anglers, be respectful and give each other space. And when passing, don’t do the sneak around. It’s much better if you can have a chat with your fellow anglers and let em know what you’ve fished and what you haven’t, and let em know where you’re heading. It takes away the guessing and gives much better peace of mind.

The bug of choice continues to be the Green Drake. These are now hatching in abundance and will consistently give results. Others to use include Caddisflies, PMD’s, Adams, Light Cahill and also Brown Drakes. Nymphing continues to be a good option if dry flies aren’t working to well. If things begin to heat up significantly and the water begins to heat up, limit your fishing to the early mornings and late evenings- for both your own results, and for the best interests of the fish.

 

Well, I think I’ve talked enough; time once again to go fishing. I will be heading back to Cuttyville tomorrow, looking for a cure to my dry fly fever. Check back in in a few days.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me, via the blog, instagram or facebook. I love to talk fishing, and any questions about these or other waters are welcome!!

Thanks for reading and tight lines!

 

-KR

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here she comes!

Here she comes!

Well folks, its been a pretty good start to spring so far. Not epic, or amazing, but pretty solid and enough to at least scratch my ‘fishing itch’ that has been building all winter.

But things are about to change. In most mountain fed rivers across the province, run-off is around the corner (GASP!). I know. It is very frightening. The thought of that epicly large mountain snowpack coming down with a vengeance and rendering all our favourite rivers and creeks unfishable until an unknown time in the seemingly very distant future. Hopefully, we will all survive. But its not all over once those rivers turn to chocolate milk. If you’re lucky, you might just be able to catch yourself fish despite that evil R word, that is coming- whether we like it or not.

A quick update on what I’ve been up to. Despite it being late April, the skiing continues to be incredible, and on April 25th I was treated to the best Pow day of the season. So the skiing put fishing on hold for a few days. Overall, a good problem to have. Also, I somehow seem to have landed my dream job. I will be working up at a wilderness/ fly-fishing lodge on the banks of a great river in the Red Deer River basin; doing all sorts of stuff around camp, and also guiding and outfitting once I get to know the area. If you want to know exactly where, send me a message and I will give you some more details. I headed up to my new home for the second time this week, in what was a great excuse to go fishing for a couple days

So, before I went up to the lodge, I spent a few days exploring the Spring creeks of central Alberta. The water is running at a healthy rate; the rain of last week had the water up and kind of murky, but I was able to garner some attention on bigger streamers. I hooked several; but a log jam broke me off once, and the crafty browns shook my hook a few other times. I was only able to get a few to the net, but overall I was happy to see some action.

So then I headed to the central Alberta high-country where I will be working this summer, and went searching for some Bullies. I haven’t had to much thought for Bullies yet, as the Browns are slightly addictive and a little closer. But the water in the high-country is in pristine shape and I was glad to see some white fins at the bottom of the deep pools when I started fishing. It didn’t take long before a big bully smashed my articulated streamer and I was off and running. I was able to catch fish in most of the pools I tried, or at least get some action. Having the fine water of the Red Deer River basin right in my back yard this summer, I think there is plenty of Bull Trout in my future. Can’t wait to explore all this area has to offer.

Unfortunately, there is probably only a few more days to go chase fish in the high country. So I’m glad I got up there and got some fish before spring actually comes and the chocolate milk comes with it.

Run-off will begin as soon as overnight temperatures in the mountains stay above freezing, and the snow-pack doesn’t freeze overnight. This leads to a runaway melt effect during the days, and the flows of our streams jumping up. The temperatures will be reaching double digits in the mountains by the end of the week, and it doesn’t look like the overnight temps will be low enough to recover.

So basically, if you have time to go fish in the next few days, go and get it now before run-off comes and your options will be severely limited.

So, what to do once run-off does come?

Well, there is a few options, the first being lakes. This is the best time of year to go fish some lakes. I will certainly be taking a few days to go fish some of the lakes in southern Alberta in the Crowsnest. The spring creeks should stay OK, but during times of rain they will go a little off-colour, because the springs are full. But there should be some good fishing to be had in anything not attached to the mountain snowpack. Make sure to check regulations and ensure that anything you are fishing is open. Another option this time of year is to go fish beaver ponds and little ponds that are often located in the upper reaches of spring creeks and small creeks. There are many, and they are typically right at the base of the mountains. This can be fun fishing for big brookies, however it will take some searching and exploration. Do some homework, find some water, catch some fish. And repeat. That what fly-fishing is all about.

And of course, while I forget it sometimes, there is other activities other than fly-fishing. This is a good time of year to knock the dust of the mountain bike and rip up some trails, do some easier hiking in the front ranges, or even do some ski touring along the divide. Point is: Life does not end with the chocolate milk. Get outside and enjoy being outdoors, stay active and enjoy the budding of leaves and flowers. The rivers will be gin clear again before you know it!

 

  • KR

Bushwhackers Society Spring Preview

Bushwhackers Society Spring Preview

Hello everyone and Welcome back to the Bushwhackers Society Blog for the 2017 Fly-Fishing season. Open water has arrived in Alberta; a good chunk of fine trout water is now open for the season, and the ice is coming off in time for anglers to enjoy some great fishing!

Spring time for me usually means a couple of things. Trying to figure out life and upcoming work being the first and foremost priority. But also trying to enjoy every last second on the ski hills as winter fades into memory, while old memories of trout come and gone slowly start to bubble back up to the surface of my brain. Alberta has a great mix of water that is outstanding during the spring, and while many are eager to get out and get back into the swing of things, most anglers don’t really begin to think about fishing until after spring run-off. I for one began thinking about fishing as soon as I realized it was April 1st and all my favourite Brown Trout streams were open for business. So, alas, I have quit my winter job and now find myself able to enjoy all the great trout fishing and skiing until my heart is content. Which will probably never happen.

With the open water comes a few friendly reminders from the Bushwhackers Society. April 1st marks the new angling season. So if you plan on heading out fishing, make sure you get your new fishing licence. Check your regulations, as only select waters are open and many special regulations apply. Save yourself the ticket and the paranoia and pick one up as you gear up for the first time.

The second reminder is that of the persisting problem of Whirling disease. We covered this topic in a prior post, so if you want to learn more check it out here

 Whirling Disease In the Bow River

So just one more friendly reminder to clean (with a bleach solution) all of your wading gear if you are heading anywhere outside of the Bow River. This is important and each person is equally responsible for the protection of our waters.

Finally, a few interesting changes worth noting for this season. The Bow River will be open along its length for the entire season. Welcome news for anglers looking to fish the upper Bow. And further, the Bow River will be Catch and Release only for all trout. Another interesting change that all anglers should be aware of.

Now, onto the fun stuff. Open water!!

Wondering where to head out for your spring adventures? Beginning in the south, here is what is open and worth trying.

Crowsnest River:  The stretch that is open is from the East Hillcrest Bridge downstream to Lundbreck Falls. The river is closed from the falls to the HWY 3 Bridge, and then open again from the Bridge to the reservoir. Early spring should be the best as the Crow, along with most mountain fed streams, should experience a large runoff once things warm up. The Salmonfly hatch will be underway soon, and this can be great fishing, Get after it.

Oldman River: The Oldman River is open downstream of the HWY 22 bridge to the Reservoir, and also directly below the Reservoir. This should also be good fishing until spring run-off begins, after which is will be un-fishable until late June or July.

Bow River: While it never closed, the Bow is fishing great and always gives anglers a chance at great fish. Streamers and Nymphs will produce if you put in your time.

Red Deer River Basin: The mainstem of the Red Deer River is open, along with most of the major tributaries. The mainstem is mostly ice-free all the way up to the headwaters, however, the slower moving tributaries still have some ice and are probably a few warm days away from being ready to fish. The faster flowing mountain fed tributaries are ice free, and should be good fishing until run-off begins. These include the James River, the Panther River, the Dormer, to name a few.

A nice Brown from one of Alberta’s Spring Creeks

The spring creeks are where some ice still exist, but up in the middle sections they are close. The Browns can be sluggish and skinny after a long, post-spawn winter, so treat the fish right if you do go hunting them in the next week of so. The spring creeks are your best bet for fishing once spring run-off begins, as they will stay low and clear. Focus on the deep water with small streamers and big nymphs and you should have good luck.

Clearwater/ North Saskachewan: Again, good stretches of water open in the main stems of the Clearwater and in the N. Sask.

Lakes: Alpine lakes will still have ice for another month or so, but lower lakes are all becoming ice free and should be ice free in a couple weeks. Once run off begins, lakes are a great way to get into some fish and knock off some rust.

There is other streams open in Watersheds that are otherwise primarily closed. Check your regulations before heading out. This is also a great time of year to do some reckon on streams that you have never fished and to just get out and explore. There is always something new to find.

This time of year, I always find the the snow pack charts very interesting in terms of what we can expect for mid-summer flows and spring run-off. Alberta Fishing guide magazine always keeps me informed, and from the charts this year, it looks like we can expect strong run-off and healthy mid-season flows.

Red Deer River Drainage

Oldman River Drainage

 

As you can see, we are at the very top end of the Quartiles and have a very healthy mountain Snowpack.

(Charts Coutesy of: Alberta Fishing Guide Magazine)

For an always great forecast and endless information about Fly-Fishing in Alberta, head to the Alberta Fishing Guide Forecast.

 

And there you have it folks. At the very least, I hope this gets you a little excited about the upcoming season and at least gets you thinking about fishing once again. I can’t wait for the upcoming season and all the places it may take me, and all the people I will share it with.

If you have any more questions, want to go fishing, or just looking for some feedback, feel free to email us at Bushwackersflyfish@gmail.com, or like us on Facebook and reach out to us through there.

Hope to see you all on the River!

KR

 

 

Whirling disease in the Bow River

Whirling disease in the Bow River

As most anglers in southern Alberta are aware, this past season of fishing came with some very scary and dreaded news.

Whirling Disease has been discovered in our treasured and world renowned Bow River.

This was accompanied by a general feeling of dread and fear, as past case studies (Montana being the most commonly noted) have shown how destructive this particular parasite can be. While this is scary, we feel as though the most logical approach to solving, or at least mitigating the ill effects on our fisheries is through education; learning about the disease, and knowing what we can do as anglers to be part of the solution. And then ensuring our provincial government is doing what needs to be done to deal with this effectively.
For those of you that are not familiar with this parasite, below is a short overview of whirling disease in Alberta, written by a friend of the Bushwhackers Society, Joseph Morgan Casat. He wrote this piece for his class in the Fisheries and Wildlife program at Selkirk college and also appeared in the castlegar paper for his work. Enjoy!

Whirling down the Bow River

Joseph Morgan Casat

What a surprise, yet another invasive species we have to deal with.  This time however, the invader is tiny, microscopic.  This invasive species has made its way to the Bow River system in Banff National Park. A first appearance in Canada, the microscopic organism causes Whirling disease, affecting fish in the salmon family like Rainbow trout, everyone’s favorite game fish.

This disease causes a deformed spine and blackened tail, making it look as if someone has pinched and bent the spine near the tail.  It also reshapes the head, making it squarer.

Whirling disease showed up in North America first in Pennsylvania in 1956. Because this disease is endemic to Europe, the fish there have gained a sort of immunity to the parasites. In North America, our fish have little immunity to the disease.  Currently fish populations are being closely monitored around the Great Lakes since it was detected in some American hatcheries, but still was never recorded in Canada…until now.

While there is no risk to human health when consuming infected fish, it can be lethal to the fish it infects. The parasites first infect sludge worms, a common worm found in the sediment of most lakes and rivers.  At some point, infected worms are then consumed by juvenile fish and causes skeletal deformation and neurological damage.  Both of these lead an awkward corkscrew swimming pattern, usually belly up, giving the disease its name. Due to the effects of this disease, it becomes difficult for fish to feed and they are more prone to predation. Once the fish dies, the parasite returns to the water, are consumed by the aquatic worms and the cycle continues. The parasites end up in new places by the movement of infected fish, infected worms, contaminated equipment, birds or water

On August 23, 2016 The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed Whirling disease to be present in fish found in Jonson Lake in Banff. In an attempt to control spreading, the lake was closed soon thereafter.  The concern was that it would flow out of the lake and into the connecting river systems.  Jonson Lake flows into Cascade River which then connects to Bow River.  

On September 7th, a fish taken from just below the confluence of the Cascade and Bow Rivers tested positive for Whirling disease. Recently there have been more cases including several in unnamed commercial aquaculture facilities in Alberta.  It’s also been found in a section of the Lower Bow river to Tunnel mountain, Carrot Creek, all of the Cascade River as well as Cascade creek, and Spray river upstream of the confluence the Bow and Cascade rivers.  It’s spreading quickly.

There is no known cure for the disease but that doesn’t mean we are helpless. Anglers and recreational river users can take steps to prevent the spread of the parasite. Clean, Drain, Dry is a slogan used in attempt to stop the spread of other invasive species via boats. It also applies for the spread of Whirling disease.  The program is intended to encourage boaters to clean, drain and dry their boats before transporting them between different water sheds.

Dispose of fish entrails and carcasses when done fishing. Clean your footwear, waders, lines and flies in a bleach and water solution when moving to a new area, stream or water body. Check online for reports of the disease in waters you intend to fish. By learning to recognize the symptoms of the disease and not transporting infected fish whether dead or alive, you can also reduce the chance of the disease spreading.


For more information and updates on Whirling disease in the Bow River, I recommend heading over to Alberta Fishing Guide Magazine. Dave Jensen is a prominent fly-fishing figure in Alberta and is certainly in the know when it comes to these sort of things. Below is a link!

Whirling Disease Update & Information

 

Remember, when it comes to these sorts of things, knowledge is power! All of us have a vested interest in keeping this issue as minor as possible, and we must hold everyone accountable. So, while we all sit around and go crazy awaiting the return of fishing season, maybe its time to go and bleach our waders and boots and do our small part to tackle this issue!

Hope everyone is enjoying their winter and that the shack nasties are not hitting to bad. There is a chinook on the horizon for Southern Alberta; if you can, maybe go out and sneak in a few casts!

Cheers,

The Bushwhackers Crew

Endless Fall and fading Rainbows

Endless Fall and fading Rainbows

The plan was to go to Lake Louise for the opening day of skiing and the beginning of winter… But what began as a promising beginning to what is hopefully a winter full of powder and good times has quickly taken backseat to a fall season of fly-fishing that has truly been nothing short of remarkable.

bowriver

November is typically the time I muddle away my time, watching ski videos in anticipation for winter,  and reminisce about trout from the past season. It is the shoulder period, whereby I idle unproductively in between the seasons of my two greatest passions. Yes, it is true that the Bow river in Calgary is an all seasons river that can be fished throughout the entire season with some success (we will talk about that later in this post), however, fishing in cold winter weather with frozen guides and freezing hands while catching very few fish has never been too enticing for me. Not if I could be in the mountains skiing. But this year isnt like other years. After a beginning of October that had most of anglers prepared for an early finish, the weather in southern Alberta stabilized and gave us fantastic trout fishing in all waters until the very end of October and the closing of our high country rivers. Most of us were still in a trout hungry craze, motivated by the colored up cutthroat and bull trout of the high country, and the magnificence of fishing in the fall. Myself, as with many anglers I’m sure, was certainly not ready to stop fishing.

Luckily, the Bow River is still open. And mother nature had an extra special surprise for all those who didn’t pack away their fly gear on October 31st.

bowranbow

An entire week of incredibly unseasonably warm weather, up to 20 degrees most of the week. Call it global warming, call it La Nina or El Nino or some other weather phenomena; call it what you will. I call it a beautiful gift from the trout gods and an amazing opportunity to catch world class rainbows in November. As I know the passionate community of fishermen and fisher ladies in Alberta took full advantage of. So on thursday, finally with a day off work, school, and other responsibilities, instead of heading to the mountains and being reunited with skiing, we  headed down to the Bow River and got to enjoy a beautiful day of fishing in November. What an absolute treat.

Too be honest, it was too windy at this point in the chinook and it was tough fishing. But it was warm and sunny, and we were all just ecstatic to be out there and enjoying the river. We hooked several fish, but were only able to bring one fish to the net; a big feisty rainbow in which this river is known for, one that gave me a great fight. For someone who had shifted his focus to skiing, I couldn’t have asked for more than that; a beautiful moment that will stay with me for a while. We saw some drift boats hooked into some nice fish. But casting was difficult and pretty soon fishing gave way to reminiscing and good conversation, sharing laughs amongst friends, and truly enjoying what the river had to offer.

zak

Shifting to Winter

Unfortunately for anglers, whether we like it or not, winter will eventually arrive. This inevitable reality will cause many to put their rods away for good, and while this is understandable, for those not willing to do that, there is still fishing to be had in the Bow. Keep your eyes open for chinooks or stretches of mild weather. If the temp is around 0 or higher, consider heading out with your toque and defying old man winter.  If you plan on braving the cold and keeping your lines bent all winter, we have a few tips for you!

First off, dress warm. A recommendation I have is to buy one of those hand warmers that football players wear and put hand warmers in them. You can wear it around your waste and warm your hands up in an instant if they get wet or you handle a fish. Nothing will ruin your day faster than cold hands.

Smaller is better. Typically this time of year, the best set up you can have is a San Juan (red) worm with a tiny (sz. 16-18) bead head nymph attached abour 12″-16″ behind. That or small streamers retrieved slowly. Fish them underneath an indicator and be very patient. It may take you all day, but if you fish a ffset-up like this it is only a matter of time.

Fish deep and slow. It may take you drifting a fly right beside the fishes face to induce a take. Work the water very slowly and methodically, focusing on slower, deeper runs where the fish will be wintered. Consider using split-shot to get your nymphs down as deep as possible. Takes will often be very subtle so be prepared to set the hook even on the slightest of disturbances.

Bring coffee or hot chocolate and be prepared to go home empty handed. This is just the reality of fishing in the winter. There is a high likelihood of being skunked. But that is alright, because the River always has something to offer, even if it isn’t trout.

brettbow

So, I guess this is it… Well, not really.

We are so grateful to our readers, our instagram followers and community, and anyone who has taken up the call of the Bushwhackers. We started Bushwhackers mostly to share our stories with those who share our passions. We did not really know what shape or form it might take on as we progressed, but we knew we wanted to apply our passions in a way that could help others. Some unfortunate circumstances meant that much of our time was taken up, and many of the ideas and adventures we wanted to have were unable to happen. But the first year trial was a tons of fun and we are planning bigger and better things for next year.

We will be tying tons of flies this winter, and will be creating novelty goods and fly fishing apparel. Fly wallets, necklaces, fishing hats, and much more. So heading into next year, we will have you covered for the essential gear and flies you will need for Alberta and British Columbia’s rivers. Stay tuned on instagram and facebook for updates on this.

We will continue to have fishing content posted on instagram and facebook throughout the winter. Because we all like to reminisce. Keep checking back for more short stories and photography. And if you have your own stories that you would like to share with the world, please reach out to us!

Oh yea… We also really like skiing. You too? Bushwhackers Skiing coming soon.

Coming soon we will be adding a section to our website dedicated to skiing and backcountry skiing in the Alberta Rockies and BC. Our blog will shift over to a mostly Ski oriented blog, and we will also give you all the resources to enjoy the best of skiing in the Rocky Mountains. We think a Bushwhackers mentality can apply to skiing as well, and we at Bushwhackers are STOKED to get this winter rolling. Community is at the core of skiing as well, and we want to help bring skiers together. So subscribe to the blog or bookmark us if you want to dream about skiing when your not skiing, and if earning your turns is what you are all about.

Thank you everyone for the amazing summer of fishing. To everyone who we shared days on the river with, to the people who got us excited when we weren’t fishing, we are glad to be part of a passionate and vibrant community of anglers. Till next time, tight lines!

-Kevin Rossi

bowzak

 

All Photography by Kevin Rossi

 

 

 

Going with the Flow: The qualms of a working man

Going with the Flow: The qualms of a working man

Life, I have come to realize, is unpredictable, and unrelenting. Like a mountain stream, we do not control the flow of our lives; instead, we are immersed in it, amongst it, shaped by it. There will be riffles, pools, and tailouts; waterfalls and canyons. But always flowing, always moving, towards some end that can not be determined; for it is the unknown.

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This thing called life happened to me this summer. After trying my hardest to pretend it didn’t exist all through the spring and early summer, my debt, lack of options, and the other inevitabilities of life caught up to me. And so I had to work (a concept that had become foreign to me after months of travel and chasing fish). 5 days a week, 11 hours a day. 7 am to 6 PM. I also joined a softball league that played every Sunday… As I embarked on this new lifestyle, I was struck by a thought…

“WHAT THE FUCK?!? When the hell am I going to fish?”

Well, my schedule really only left me one option; so I’ve been battling the crowds every Saturday like a true weekend warrior ever since. The problem is, when you only have one day a week to fish, the conditions don’t always line up perfectly. That one day of the week typically isn’t the one day where the conditions are on fire. The other problem is, when you only have one day a week to fish, and you don’t catch any fish, you get filled with an all consuming dread for the upcoming work week. It’s like a part of your soul is missing; you forget what its like to have a fish on. You start to feel sorry for yourself- harbouring secret thoughts of quitting and leaving it all behind- until you snap out of it and back to reality.

The third problem is, when you only have one free day a week to fish, you aren’t left any time to write about fishing. The only reason I’m writing now is because I have the back of a 80 year old man and it has left me physically unable to go into work for a few days, and wondering if I should feel guilty about hitting the river while my colleagues work. (If your looking for an update on conditions and some tips for catching fish in the fall, I cover that at the end of this post.)

Alas, I feel as though my struggle is relatable to most people in the fishing world. At the beginning of the season, we nourish such great hopes of everywhere we want to fish, of all the great adventures that shall pass, and all the fish we will catch. Yet somehow, you will wake up and realize that the leaves are yellow, and time is running out, and many of the things that were on the list will have to wait until next year. If your lucky.

But despite this, you always have a bank of memories from the season that was that remind you that not all is lost. I caught so many beautiful trout this year that it would be a sin to complain. And the long weeks that sometimes passed between them only made them that much sweeter. And learning to find that balance between the sublime and the less desirable aspects of life is what makes life what it is.

A turbulent ride into the unknown.

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Fishing in the Fall

With that being said, this is easily my favourite time of the year to fish. Even on a saturday, you will find you have the river to yourself (as I did this Saturday, not too far from Calgary). The fish are beautiful and coloured up and trying to get fat for the winter. The trees and the mosaic of colours is amazing. And the fishing is generally good and straightforward.

The fishing this time of year in southern Alberta will be best in the mid afternoon heat until the early evening, and follow the sun. Dry fly fishing will be more sporadic; but there are still some caddisflies and mayflies kicking around. In the sunny areas, it never hurts to throw on a small dry fly and see what happens. There can also be hatches of October Caddis; a gargantuan bug best fished with a large orange stimulator. This time of year though, sight nymphing is an absolute blast and will give you the best chance of catching fish. Small copper johns, pheasant tails, or hares ear nymphs fished slow and deep should bring you action in most pools. Fish them under a small indicator, or naked, and keep your eyes peeled for a flash in the pool or the straightening or your line. This is one of my favourite ways to fish and is really great for improving your feel with a nymph!

If you plan on fishing the Bow river, everything above also applies. Small nymphs will give you an excellent chance of catching big, hard fighting fish. Streamer fishing has also been good, the classic bow river bugger being my go to fly. On warmer days over 20 degrees, there should be some hoppers out. A hopper-dropper rig with a copper john 12-18″ below is a great setup. And don’t forget about the San Juan worm. It produces very well this time of year.

The Browns to the north of Calgary and in the Bow River will begin spawning in a couple weeks here. Come October, these streams should be left alone. As for now, they are fishing well, and Browns are big and healthy. Cloudy days should give you the best chance at finding rising fish, and almost assuredly they will be eating small BWO’s. If you see a fish that appears to be spawning, leave it alone; it will be aggressive and one streamer will probably induce a strike, but these fish are under a lot of stress and need to be left alone. So if your having dreams of one last big brown, go get him in the next couple weeks before its too late.

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Thanks to everyone who has reached out to us through Instagram and our other accounts. We really love hearing from everyone and trying to help you any way possible. This year has kind of been a trial run for us, and despite being too busy too make lunch most days, we’ve still managed to have a lot of fun running this blog and other accounts. We are going to continue to keep you inspired on fishing through the winter, and have big plans for next fishing season. Please share the blog with your friends and get in contact with us if you would like to fish or have any questions!Click here …) 

Tight lines and happy fishing!

-Kevin Rossi