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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roadtrippin’ Part I: A Call to Adventure

Roadtrippin’ Part I: A Call to Adventure

Have you ever just been hit by an all consuming and irrational need to get away? To hit the open road without a plan? To explore without an agenda and get away from all the routine and boredom of regular life?

The urge hit me last week as the rain poured into southern Alberta for the first time, and the water got high and murky. Not being on a shift at work for another 10 days, I wasn’t really sure what I was gonna do with myself. It was Thursday, and the thought of hitting the road never even crossed my mind.

And that’s when my brother Mark called me and told me some friends were heading out camping. And that I should come too. And it didn’t take long for me to realize he was right; and the upcoming roadtrip was already starting to take form in my mind.

The roadtrip took me over the divide, into the interior mountains of BC, through the Okanagan and Boundary Country, and back again through the Kootenays. Stops on the trip included Golden, Chase, Kelowna, Nelson, and the Crowsnest Pass.

The best part of a roadtrip is having your fly-rod ready to go in the car at all times. And with no agenda, any piece of water that is open for consideration, at least for a few casts. These few casts lead to a few more, and inevitably you find you’ve been fishing for an hour and are now running behind your loosely defined schedule. Rivers were primarily closed on this trip until I made it to the Kootenays (where we fished the Columbia with success), but the lakes were open and the drizzle had fish rising. So there were lots of chances to take a few casts along the way.

The second thing I like about road trips is the peaceful time alone, to contemplate and think. But this roadtrip also had lots of time spent catching up with my brother and good friends I haven’t seen in a while, along with meeting new people. The long nights spent talking and enjoying time with friends contrasted to the peaceful alone time on a BC highway is something that made me grateful for both.

 

Trouble on the Highways

 

The first night saw a speed bump. I was trying to get all the way to Chase, BC (near Salmon Arm). However, mother nature had other plans. The rogers pass was closed for 2 days, with extreme avalanches that were actually mind boggling once we drove by them. For backcountry skier types, these avalanches were size 4 and ran full path, carrying full mature timber in them. There were probably close to a dozen to be seen from the highway, and two that crossed the highway. An amazing avalanche cycle. There was also a closure for a mudslide near Sicamous. So the chance of getting to Chase were very low, even if the Pass opened. To make matters worse, it was raining steadily on the divide where we were. And Firewood was not sold in the park. And all of the campsites near golden were full cause of the closure.

Sometimes, things just work out.

Luckily, another good friend of mine and my brother was also heading out and got blocked as well. We rendezvoused in Field, got a few tips from the visitor center, managed to find a few logs from a local in field, and headed down some logging road that took us to a land use zone. Somehow, me managed to find an incredible camp spot hidden away with a beautiful view of a waterfall, a bench and fire pit. And right as the rain stopped. Miraculously, we got a fire gong in the wet conditions with only full logs and no axe or hatchet.

We proceeded to drink beers and shoot cans and get gloriously tipsy all night before I stumbled over to my hammock and fell into a deep slumber with the tumbling sound of the waterfall in the background.

Some might know this spot… A true gem. Directions not included.

 

Getting back on track

 

The only complaint with day 1 was that I didn’t get to fish at all. So I fixed that on day 2. I stopped at a few lakes on my way over to Chase and the Rec site where my brother and their clan were chillin. Spot I knew and have had luck before. I hooked a big bully but couldn’t land him. Missed a few rainbows and probably got some ticks in the deathly willows that seemed so innocent from the highway. So I ripped over to the hangout for the next couple of days, another great rec site on a beautiful Lake called Harper Lake. This lake is tough to find, and after being lost for a bit and some very demanding but managable logging roads, I found myself at the beutiful spot they had. As soon as I got there, I could see the trout rising. Finally, I could put a fish on the board.

We caught up with everyone for a little bit once we got there. Caught up, ate some food. But it wasn’t long before the rising trout were all me and Mark could think of. Tactfully, we slipped away and finally got fishing.

I didn’t have a boat so Mark did the kind thing and ditched his belly boat so we could fish together. The casting was tough from shore, but after some bushwhacking, mud wading, and then navigating some floating tree islands, we found ourselves in a nice position to cast to some risers. It was a good night fishing, and while neither of us hooked into anything big, we each caught 3 fish and it was nice to get some dry fly action.

 

After that, with the trout itch stratched, we bundled up for the cold night and didn’t move far from the fire the rest of the night, except to grab a beer or a hot dog. It was a good night with good people, and again I fell asleep in my hammock very satisfied and tired.

I fell asleep in my swinging hammock under the moon, and awoke to the rustling of trees and the sound of birds.

After a morning coffee and a few goodbyes, I fished a little bit and explored that morning, cleaned up camp and then hit the road again. I was headed to Kelowna today, staying with Mark. A shower was very necassary. And maybe something that wasn’t a hot dog.

This day was the hump day, as there was no fishing to be had in the Okanagan as the rain came down and everything was flooded. But, I knew I would be able to find some good fishing in the Kootenays, and the thought of fish had me excited for what the road ahead would bring. I got cleaned up, showered, and had another good sleep on Mark’s couch.

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The great part about this roadtrip is that it took me to some places that are not necassarily famed trout waters, or well known, well publicized waters. Out of all the places I wet a line: Salmon Arm, Revelstoke, and in the West Kootenays in Nelson and Castlgar, none are considered the best places to fish. They are not like Fernie, Kamloops, the Skeena, or the Island, where people flock to for trout. No. These are the lesser known, but if one puts in a bit of time and knows the right people, there is still tons of great fishing to be had, and big fish to be caught, even in the middle of run-off.

So I left Kelowna with the mighty Columbia River in mind. It was a tail water fishery that flows out of a bottom-drawing dam. Meaning clear, consistent flows. I used to live in Nelson, and I always head back there. It took a while, but slowly but surely, I’ve begun to figure this huge river out.

A Columbia River Rainbow. In part 2 we will talk about this great fishery and how to catch these bog rainbows!

But I suppose this departure marks the Halfway point of my journey, and once you enter into the magical portal of the Kootenays it really becomes a story of its own. And you should probably get back to whatever it is that you should be doing besides reading this (although I thank you for reading this far).

So that is where I’m going to leave it for today. Right as I enter the portal into the Kootenays and begin my search for big rainbows.

I will talk about the Columbia River and tips on fishing for these Rainbows in the next post, as well as the town of Nelson and it’s amazing culture of happiness, and the rest of the trip in Roadtrippin PT  II… 

 

Keep your eyes open the next few days!

Tight lines,

KR

 

When Self-Sabotage becomes a lesson in humility (and good trout etiquette)

When Self-Sabotage becomes a lesson in humility (and good trout etiquette)

I looked into my fly-bag and shook my head in dismay. I could’ve sworn I had one more 3X leader. But as I dug through my unorganized bag of goodies, all that I could round up was some 5x… I looked at my mangled, bent, 4 feet of leader I had left. A sorry mess that surely would spook any brown. Then I though about the big browns in this stream, no more than 10 feet across in most spots, and the countless log-jams, undercut banks, and fallen trees that marked the banks. I don’t stand a chance, I thought.

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Fast forward about three hours and I still haven’t caught a fish. I’ve lost 3 flies to Big Browns. And at least that many to logjams and trees. I’ve practically lost all my streamers that I could reasonably expect to catch a fish on. Despite the beautiful weather, the fish don’t seem interested in any dry flies or nymphs. I sat there in dismay and thought about all the fish I have almost caught, including 2 that appeared to be quite significant. Surely larger than any so far this season. But, for some reason, I still wasn’t that bummed. For some reason, knowing the fish were active and present, and I was very close to catching them, had me content. And it was a beautiful day. And, I still had one bright streamer that resembled the ones I had success on so far.

So yes. My chances were still very low. But they weren’t zero. And as a fly-fisherman, you”ll take any odds you can get.

Has anyone else found themselves in this predicament? That feeling when you know the fish are there, you know they are eating, you know what you should do to catch them; yet, you just know you probably won’t catch them based solely on some lack of gear or flies. Its kind of odd. Knowing that you are hours away from home, and probably hours away from the car, sitting beside a beautiful trout river you know is full of trout, with kilometers of pools you know have fish in them, yet despite this perfectly ideal set of circumstances, you know you have to get lucky to keep your day from being completely pointless (if catching trout is the point).

This was my circumstance yesterday. Feeling dumb about not having 3x line. And feeling guilty for leaving a bunch of streamers in the mouths of fish. But I had a nice pool in front of me. And I was pretty sure I could at least get close to catching another one. Hopefully it wasn’t too big.

I tied on my last good streamer, making sure the knot was extra perfect. Snuck up to the edge of the pool. Cast my fly to the far bank.

Strip. Strip. Boom!

A nice brown exploded to my fly. I curbed my enthusiasm finally, and instead of excitedly ripping out my fly and setting my hook, I properly strip set and felt the pull of a well hooked trout. I gingerly wrangled him in, guiding him away from the overhanging tree, and happily netted him. He was a pretty little brown of about 14″. Absolutely gorgeous. A great relief came over me as I admired him. The thought of three hours back without a single fish was daunting.

I released him and admired the moment for a second longer. And then, with newfound hope and my heart still racing, I went upstream a little more to the front of the pool. I cast again. On my second strip, again, I saw a Big Brown belly over. He hit softly and was able to shake the hook. But I was rejuvenated. I cast to him a few more times before moving on a bit further up. Things are heating up, I thought.

I cast again. I stripped slowly, patiently. On my last strip before reaching the bank, a truly large brown smashed the streamer, startling me as I yanked my fly and broke it off in an instant. I stood there stunned. Mad at myself, Knowing that was my chance. Also knowing I probably didn’t have a chance at landing him anyways.

I took the message from the River. I’ve fished irresponsibly for long enough; left enough streamers in the mouths of fish, in exactly the way I always tell my friends and others not too. I could keep trying. But I realize that is a waste of time, and selfish; to the Browns that I love so much and are there purely for my enjoyment.

All I could hope as I gathered my line and prepared for the hike back is that someone who actually knew what they were doing comes tomorrow, with the right gear and leaders, and catches those same browns and is able to gather those streamers from those browns.

Some people, I’ll tell ya. 😉

The one Brown I was able to wrangle in yesterday. Made it worth it though!

 

So, yes, I feel bad about leaving these flies in the mouths of fish purely because I didn’t have the right gear. So please don’t ridicule me. I figure it can be a good reminder reminding everyone to NOT do the same.  When your fishing small creeks, have the proper tippet and leader, and try to avoid breaking your line off. It will save you the heart break of losing great fish, and also help out our trout. The river always has a lesson to be learned; and for me, it was if your not smart enough to come prepared with the proper equipment, you don’t deserve to try. Next time, I will be back with proper tippet and a lot more fish in the net!

 

KR

“I am God’s gift to fishing” : Reflection’s from the Local Pond

“I am God’s gift to fishing” : Reflection’s from the Local Pond

-Written By: Mark Rossi

“I hope my wife calls,” he chuckled through his thick Russian accent “every time she calls the fish start biting.”

“ All the more reason to not answer!!” laughed his friend in the wheelchair at the end of the dock.

I overheard this conversation as I sat on park bench on the hill behind the dock and I watched the scene in front of me with with a sort of amazement… “this is what fishing is about” I thought.

A man in a wheelchair on the dock with his immigrant friend fishing for bass using bait and bobber rigs; a father and son to my left, the father teaching the fundamentals of a roll cast to his son; two kids walking down the path towards the other side of the lake, school backpacks and lunch bags packed together with their spin rods and tackle box; a young man in his waders and belly boat wearing his worn in Patagonia hat and polarized Smith glasses working the drop off for trout with slow retrieve chironomids. All of these people were here, together, sharing the experience of fishing.

I was at Shannon Lake, for those of you from the Okanagan, you will no doubt be familiar with the location. Within city limits, a small local lake with a park on one side, golf course on the other and houses in between. I am sure your community has some similar type of park/pond combo where fishing is laidback, central, accessible and public.

I’m not sure what motivated me to go to the lake; I was bored, I was curious, I was feeling the sadness of not being able to fish the streams and lakes of the high country since the snow had set in. All these are valid reasons. Regardless of why I went there, I was really glad I did.

I sat there and reflected on the fishing season that was. It was great, some awesome highlights, personal bests, new species caught, new basins explored! More than I could have asked for. The thing that struck me most about it though was that, at no point had it looked anything like the scene laid out before me.

 

At what point did I stop pursuing this kind of fishing experience and why?

 

I think back to my teen years and the many hours spent on Lake Bonivista in Calgary with my highschool buddy Andrew. We rowed around the small urban lake everyday after school trolling mepps spinners for stocked trout (Sometimes we would sneak some beers out with us hehe, sorry mom). We were rarely the only ones out there. Many others: old and young, boat and shore, fly and spin all enjoyed the same experience. These were some of the most enjoyable fishing experiences of my youth.

As I got older, cooler and more hardcore I think I stopped thinking about fishing as a shared experience. I took on an opinion that many fly anglers often do; “fly fishing is superior to all other types of fishing”

Enjoying a nice hatchery rainbow in the days of my youth.

Over time I became better than everyone on that lake, my thought process was something like “I catch more fish than you”. Not just that, “I catch more fish with a fly fishing rod. I am god’s gift to this sport.” I started to avoid these places where the inferior fisherman fished for dumb, stocked trout together. My brother and I ventured deep into the woods on backcountry roads finding a bounty of wild trout and char in some of the most beautiful places on earth. Through this rejection of urban pond fishing, I found a new community and took on a new view of fishing. Gone were the days of drinking beer in a tin boat chucking metal lures at hatchery rainbows I was now a part of a community of wild trout fly fishermen who value wild places, solitude and mastering the art of fly fishing…for this I am grateful, I am glad that I have grown into the angler that I am today. I’m just not sure that I’m proud of how I got here…

As I sat there watching the scene at Shannon Lake that evening I couldn’t help but feel guilty. I thought that this type of fishing was inferior? That these people were somehow lesser fisherman?

I realized that I was the lesser fisherman. For years I had been missing out on this brilliant shared experience, catching fish, finding peace and making memories with people from all walks of life who are out there because they like to fish. The fact that I couldn’t see that made me upset.

Maybe you can’t afford that $400 fly rod.

Maybe you don’t have a 4×4 truck to take you into the backcountry.

Maybe you don’t even own a vehicle and need to take the bus.

Maybe you only have 2 hrs to go fishing.  

Or maybe you no longer have the use of your legs.

YOU CAN STILL FISH!!!

 

And that, in my opinion, is pretty awesome.

So, thank you urban fisheries! Thank you for providing an accessible and approachable option to anglers of all walks of life. The role that the urban fishery plays in developing the sport, and developing a society that understands and values the natural world is really immeasurable.

Fishing turns people into conservationists. If you like fishing and want to continue fishing then you are undoubtedly a supporter of pristine waterways and healthy ecosystems. Living in a city makes it easy to fall out of touch with nature and to lose sight of the joy and value that it can bring to our lives. The urban fishery bridges that gap by providing city dwellers a glimpse into the beautiful natural cycles of nature as well as access to the fantastic and therapeutic pastime of angling.  
So as the sun set over Shannon Lake I hopped off the park bench, grabbed my rod, tied on a big green woolly bugger with some split shot and walked down to the banks to join my fellow anglers and shared that perfect moment with them. And it felt just as good when I hooked into one, feeling a newfound respect for the local pond