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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

 

“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

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 

 

 

Short Story: Shit out of Luck

Short Story: Shit out of Luck

The small spring creek burbled gently, with big foamy white bubbles pressing against the undercut brush of the outside bank before rushing over a log and into a wide, deep pool. That log had claimed 3 of my flies in the past hour; the big brown who relied on it for refuge seemed to have gone incognito. So there I was, alone with the burble of the creek and the sounds of birds and wind, and my cigar that lit up and shrunk with my long, drawn out inhales; my last attempt at trying to salvage some sort of inner peace.

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So I leaned my head back with that cigar dangling from my lips and I looked up at the clouds, swiftly moving by in transience against a deep blue canvas of sky behind them. The suns rays moving in and out of hiding; the edges of the clouds illuminated brilliantly, like a halo, where a spectrum of light burst from the straggling water escaping the clouds pull. My own puffs of smoke wafted up in front of me, lingering briefly in the stillness, before being swept away by a light breeze coming from the west.

As my cigar disappeared into ash, I closed my eyes and fell into a calm, peaceful river nap.

I awoke a time later; a time that could have been 5 minutes, or an hour. One never knows when he drifts off to the sounds of the river. Instead of awaking with a newfound resolve to catch fish, I awoke with a deepening resentment towards this seemingly evil little creek, and a lame resignation that I wasn’t cut out to catch these fish. The thing is, that was truly why I was on this creek anyways; because of my deepening resentment towards my own life, and the lame resignation to myself that I was literally blowing it. It was fitting therefore that I felt this way now; it is amazing the parallels between life and what happens on the river.

It wasn’t that life sucked; there were just many parts of it that sucked, and I was resigned to allow them to be so. Complacent, one might say. Unsure of every move that was to be made next. Rash in my decision making. Fearful, instead of bold. Accepting an unsatisfactory fate before even really considering a different alternative. And then lamely rushing to the river side and meekly pretending all of those things didn’t exist, convincing myself that as long as I could fish all would be well. But all was not well; because all of these things were now being perpetuated on the river, all of the harsh realities of my own corrupt brain, and here I was on the riverside once again, resigned to leaving the river without what I came for.

I had come to this creek 5 times, all in the past month. My refuge, of sorts. And out of all those times, only once had I ever caught fish. A day when the beautiful Browns came early and often; but had left empty handed every other time. And they would always show themselves; I would watch a large brown gorge on something for 5 minutes and then disappear once again like it never happened. And then the entire creek would sleep; for hours, and hours on end, lifeless and without hope, while that image of the big browns tail breaking the surface gnaws away in your memory, seeming less and less real with each passing minute…

Lifeless. That was the only way to describe the creek right now. As I gently mosied back upstream from where I came I saw no sign of fish of any sort. If I didn’t have that image of that big brown in my head it would be easy to believe there was no fish in this tiny little creek. I was sure most who drove this way didn’t pay it a second thought; unless they were like me, and enjoyed torturing themselves. Walking around a river and feeling sorry for themselves. I lamely cast my fly to a couple of the good looking holes; holes that I knew I wouldn’t catch anything in because I already fished not a thing came to show themselves. Slowly, I made my way to the final stretch of water before the bridge and my last real chance of catching a fish; my last chance to stop myself from spiralling deeper into the rut I was digging for myself each day of my life.

So I smoked another cigar; urging myself patience, willing myself a good approach to give myself the best chance. I changed and added extra tippet to my line. I switched off from my dry fly and put on a nymph, thinking maybe the phantom browns might like that better. I sat and awaited any signs of a trout that might be interested in bringing me out of this rut. For a time, it was the same thing; nothingness. I decided to drop the nymph into the pool in front of me and see if a flash of light might emerge from the depths. As I fished, I noticed something different…

The birds; I watched as they began to congregate in a mass feeding frenzy, right up ahead near the bridge. A Hatch! The bugs were coming off. Surely the fish were not too far behind. They circled and weaved and darted in and out among each other. The zipped and glided inches from the water surface and flew through the willows.  There numbers grew larger, like a swarming buzz of oversized mosquitos. There voices and rings echoed through the meadow. The hatch was clearly in process… But where were the fish?

And then I saw a rise ahead in the next pool. And then another. There we are, I thought, so smugly, like I was a some sort of prophet who had prophesized the coming of this moment, there are the fish. So keenly did I want that perfect moment I totally forgot about the beautiful pool in front of me and quickly pulled my nymph up from below, and hastily threw on a dry fly. I crashed and banged through the willows up ahead. All I could keep seeing up ahead was risers and fish feeding; at the front of the pool, at the bottom. Each rise registered keenly in my brain as my opportunity to break away from the lameness of my life. I ducked some barbed-wire and got to the pool.

 I began casting to where I had last seen a rise, covering it with what I thought to be a perfect cast. Nothing. But no matter, again, up ahead, I heard another rise and saw the riffles where he had come up, I worked my way forward and began casting to that fish. Nothing. Quickly, I changed my fly; hearing splashes of rising fish all the while, invigorated by the sounds of fish. I snipped off the excess and waited for the next rise. It came right in front of me, but it didn’t look normal; certainly not a large fish. Any fish is a good fish, I told myself as I began casting wildly to it. And then another abnormal rise came, so gentle you couldn’t even see the fish come out of the water. These fish truly did seem tiny. But I really didnt care if they were tiny; I just wanted to catch one so bad that I wildly flung and re flung my line out into the endless chorus of splashes and tiny fish rises.

They were everywhere! I had never seen browns rise like this before. I had no idea there were this many tiny fish in this creek! I again switched my fly, this time getting it all tangled up, having to retry several times. I finally got it on and looked up. And in that moment, everything I had been thinking in the past hours  about my lame life, about how poor of a fisherman I was, and how much I hated this little creek came piling up on me, like some cruel, cringe worthy joke by the trout gods.

 I saw a plop, heard the same sound as I had been hearing, and a little riffle on the water no more than a foot in front of me. A blotch of white bird poop dispersed itself into the current with it. I looked up at the hundreds of birds above, and then back down at the river, where blotches plopped and plopped all over…

 

Silently, I gathered my line and walked to the car. I took off my boots, got in the car, and departed home; thinking all the while about what kind of idiot is stupid enough to stand in a shower of bird poop and think that his luck was about to turn. 🙂

– Kevin Rossi

 

Canada Day Forecast: Sunny with a Chance of Trout

Canada Day Forecast: Sunny with a Chance of Trout

A Canadians Guide to catching fish in the crowds.

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Today, our great Nation turns 149 years old. Happy Birthday Canada. Although that seems like a long time, it really is quite young as far as nations go; I kinda see Canada kinda like some young adult, maybe in its early 20’s, just coming into it’s prime. While the US is like a over-egotistical, well established professional in its late-to-early 30’s that thinks they are the best, while not wanting to admit they are a disaster and are bringing the rest of of our world down with them. Countries in Europe, well they are like the baby boomers of our world. Older and wiser, more complex, but also past their prime and not nearly as robust of a place as Canada. So here is to being young and in our prime!

So to get back on track (I guess I am supposed to be talking about fishing here), let us talk about another thing coming into it’s prime. And that would be trout rivers across Alberta and BC. What a better way to celebrate a country in its prime than to hit the rivers and catch some fish; and then maybe drink some Kokanee’s, have a campfire, shoot some skeet, (insert other cliche Canadian things here), and remember what is is that makes our country great.

As for the actual fishing, well, this report will be different. Because I would like to celebrate this great nation by drinking copious amounts of beer this afternoon (and then working off my hangover on the river tomorrow), I will keep this short and sweet. I will sum up each region in one or two  sentences. Cause lingo and flies and weather patterns are all great and fun, but this is a weekend for single minded simplicity.

Foreword:

The largest challenge you will face on the River this week is dodging the crowds. This is an unfortunate reality of the long weekend. To avoid this, we suggest you bring beer in your vest and offer it as a reconciliation gift to your fellow anglers; then, even if they did flog your favourite hole, you can drink a beer together and say the word ‘eh’ a whole bunch and trade fish stories (just an idea). Other ideas: get deep out there; use this weekend to go somewhere remote and wild where you have never been. Post up; while its kinda gutless to claim an entire stretch of river, posting up at a good hole that you know will catch you some fish for an hour or so will save you the headache of seeing another fisherman around each bend. This is especially fair if you put in the work to get to that hole first. Dont stay all day, but take your time, catch your fish, and then move on. Communicate; communicate with your fellow anglers. Talk to them when they go by. Ask them about the fishing, if they caught anything, if there is anyone else around. And if you park at a bridge, leave a note saying which way you went. 

So… Now for some one liners. Here is the simpletons report:

Alberta Front Ranges

Bring your sunscreen and forget your shirts, it’ll be a beauty weekend (but maybe bring a rainjacket in case of tornadoes), and remember two simple words if you aren’t catching fish: DEEP NYMPHS (particularily golden stones… They cant seem to say no these days.)

Kootenays

Hot and Sunny, the fishin should be money; as long as you dont mind dodging drift boats on the Elk… Might be a good weekend to try some of the other tributaries to escape the crowds. Wherever you go, remember to bring your Green Drake pattern… And big shiny streamers that no big bully can resist!

Okanagan

Now you guys are the lucky ones. Cause even the busiest days on the Kettle and Granby Rivers pale in comparison to the hordes of southern Alberta and the Kootenays. Bring a caddis, or a coachmen, or a stimulator. A couple of stonefly nymphs if those don’t work. Maybe a bucket hat and some shades…. If the fish arent biting, just go for a swim and try again. That usually works.

So there ya have it… My words of wisdom for those that wish to celebrate our country by catching trout. Remember, especially on a weekend such as this, there a very few things in the fishing world that can not be fixed by a beer, a peaceful smoke of a substance of your choice, or a good nap. And that, I suppose, is what makes Canadians such great fishermen!

Happy Canada Day and Happy Fishing!

Kevin Rossi

Mastering the Art of Pointlessness

Mastering the Art of Pointlessness

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I suppose I should begin by thanking everyone who is reading this. You are either here because A) you are my friend and I have pressured you incessantly to pretend to care about fly-fishing, B) You accidentally clicked the link and are now reading and not sure why, or C) you are a passionate fly-fisherman and you match the description of our social media callouts guilting all passionate fly-fisherman to get off their asses and into some of the best wilderness fishing in the world. Whatever your reasons are, I urge you to keep reading. At least for one more paragraph. I’ll try to convince those of you that don’t give a damn about fly-fishing that being a Bushwhacker is a mentality more than anything; about being resilient and resourceful as you search for your next brilliant moment of complete and utter pointlessness.

Many action sports, recreational activities, and outdoor pursuits could be perceived as completely useless, and the end result of these types of things are accomplishing absolutely nothing. This type of behavior might be considered psychotic or delusional by some in the field of human psychology. Take rock-climbing, skiing, kayaking, trail running, and of course, Fly-fishing, as examples. In the movie Valley Uprising, I remember Rock Climbing being described as a ” dangerous, life threatening pursuit of absolutely nothing” or something to that affect. Skiers and snowboarders don’t have an apparent purpose to their seemingly deranged hoots and hollers while bobbing and weaving through fresh snow. When we reach the top of a great mountain, we don’t receive anything tangible; we just walked to the top, and then walked back down. I think that is why most of us like these types of things; its because we know we are insane, and while the rest of the sane people shake their heads at us, we are grinning from ear to ear, stoked on life, without anything else to worry about. No goals that need to be achieved. No result to be attained; other that pure and simple happiness.

You see, I believe Fly-fisherman top this list. This list of the most delusional, yet fullfilled, people in the kingdom of humans. There is nothing like the peace the soul feels after a day in untouched wilderness, with the memory of a beautiful trout lingering in the back of your head, while gently dozing off to sleep with the sound of rustling trees. Yes, this is a 100% biased position. I am sorry to all those action sport enthusiasts who believe their people are more entitled to the claim of ‘most insane type of human’. If you feel that strongly about it, you are probably correct.

Catch and release fishing is something most people can’t quite wrap their head around, for the very reasons discussed above. My fathers Cousin, a born and bred Kootenay boy now into his sixties, literally shakes his head at me, with the confused look of outright incomprehension when I tell him I almost never keep my fish.

In his time, back in the 60’s and 70’s, fishing still had a purpose. It was to go and catch the fish. And once you caught it, they were yours. What is the point of catching something if your going to let it escape right after? Fly-fishing still had not entered the mainstream; fishing was not considered art, it was a time tested practice of do’s and dont’s and a foolproof method of killing time and drinking beers. But what it still had was the comaraderie; and the peacefulness, whichever side one chose to be on. It still had the exhilaration of playing a large fish, and the thrilling experience of capturing something of such beauty. And whether it was that, or the cold six pack that always came along for company, people still kept coming back for more, and more. As d0es my cousin, who is still catching his big Columbia river rainbows in the same back-eddies as he was in the 70’s, and his freezer is still just as full with more trout than he could ever possibly eat; and yet he calls me delusional.

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Yes, fishing for trout is a time tested method for those that want to avoid their problems, avoid there wives, forget about their jobs, neglect their responsibilities, waste all their money, and spend endless summers doing that same thing, over and over. Yes, fishing for trout is the very reason why I have many times found myself in the furthest  recesses of civilization, deprived of sleep, dehydrated, without food, as the sun begins to dip behind the horizon, yet still rationalizing taking a few more casts to get that one last fish, despite being more than a couple of hours away from the nearest town and that A & W that your grumbling stomach has been wanting for the last couple of hours. And yet, those that fish for trout on the fly don’t really care about those kind of petty issues. Because Fly-fishing is just damn fun, plain and simple. And when you spend all your time chasing fun, you get pretty good having some of it.

I started this blog simply because I could talk fishing all day. And I want to talk fishing all day. And when I think back to some of the best times of my life, the days on the river always jump to the front of my mind. I have an engrained tapestry of beautiful experiences on the river in my mind, and I want to share them, so that you can have those experiences too. And we want to hear about your experiences, and your favourite spots, and the things that make you insane. The fly-fishing community has a wide range of personalities and preferences for how to best enjoy the river.

Not all of us are heroes, with $1000 dollar reels and immaculate fly rods with an endless arsenal of fly-box ammunition. Some of us, like myself, are dirt-broke, with a fly-box being depleted rapidly, using the same crappy 4 wt that I have used since I was 16, with leaky waders and tattered wading boots.

However, I still catch myself trout, and I always enjoy my time on the river; but I like to think I have to persevere a little bit more, work a little harder. But it always feels even better when I get that fish, and I take out my old I-phone 4 and snap a quick pic to show my friends, and my brother and dad. It never looks as beautiful, or as big as it seemed when I held it in my hands. And I think that makes sense, because regardless of how great of a camera I use, it will never match the beauty of the present moment. And what I have found is that those who have also gone through the trials and tribulations of our sport understand what the beauty of that moment was to that person who experienced it. They can relate it back to all the times they have felt that way, and they can be inspired by the uniqueness behind each one of those photos. And they are reminded of how much they love this sport. That’s why I wanted to start Bushwhackers; so we can all remind each other how much we love this sport, and share our stories; stories form everyday fly-fishermen, who know how difficult this sport can really be, but also how rewarding it is when things do go right.

I am no fishing expert; if you want to read stuff written by those guys, go buy a fishing magazine or a Jim Mclennan book or something. But the problem with reading stuff written by world renowned, legendary fishermen like that is that those guys always know the answer to their problem. They always have the bug that’s hatching. They always have the proper set up and fish their favourite waters at the perfect time of year. And, they always catch fish, because they have been catching fish their whole lives, and they’ve earned the skill-set they possess.

But, where does that leave you when you don’t have the perfect setup, you don’t seem to have the right fly, and despite reading all about the amazing fishing on that river you are on, you can’t seem to catch a fish?

Well, I don’t know about you, but it usually leaves me with a ballcap over my eyes, sleeping beside the river with a newfound respect for trout and their tiny brains that still trick me. And thats ok, because I know there are countless other anglers all over the world in the exact same position as me; maybe the luck will turn for some of them, others will go home empty handed. But at the end of the day, maybe we did learn something after all. Lessons in humility, perseverance, and patience. Maybe its what taught me to slow down and appreciate the textures of the leaves, the contrast of the colors, the sound of the river.  Maybe what it really does, is make us realize that humans and all the ‘important, real world things’ arent nearly as important as we think. Maybe, just maybe, this sport isn’t as fruitless as our rational human minds would have us believe. We might be part of something bigger, more profound then we even realize, and thats why we are all so obsessed. Whatever it is, I know I’ll be doing it for a long, long time. And maybe then I’ll be able to give you some real information, and not just existential musings from a brain that has been stuck in a cafe too long.

Until then, I guess we will figure it out together. At the very least, I know that we have some world class trout water in the Canadian Rockies, and that if I work hard enough, I could fish my entire life and still be challenged by the pursuit of these fish. I might not be able to identify all the different types of bugs, tell you all the varietals of trout, tie all the expert knots, or catch all the biggest fish. But, I have fished pretty almost every piece of moving water between Calgary and Nelson out of sheer curiosity, and intrigue, and over the years, I suppose I know a thing or 2 about catching fish in these waters that I grew up fishing. I learned to fish here. And I plan on continuing to learn. And if you want to join me in my fruitless attempt to master the beautiful art-form of pointlessless, the Bushwhackers Society will welcome you with open arms.

Think of it as rehab for your addiction and insanity.

Only, we plan on making it worse.

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Welcome to the Society of Uncompromising Anglers

Welcome to the Society of Uncompromising Anglers

I remember being a young child of maybe 10 or 11, trekking through the thick brush near the bank of a small trout stream in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, with my Dad, my Brother, and a small spin-rod in my hand. We had just caught endless tiny brook trout in a small pond that I will always remember. My father thought he would challenge us with some moving water, and although I now forget the name of that stream, I will forever remember that afternoon, and the thick, impenetrable brush of the British Columbia Wilderness. It was miserable. All I wanted was to go back to the pond beside the highway, where I could cast, walk around, and catch fish. Where I could breathe without inhaling bugs. Where the sun made it through the canopy, and branches didn’t get flung back at my face every couple of steps. It felt like we would never reach the creek, and soon enough I began to complain like the little boy that I was. “Dad. What are we even doing? We are never going to reach the Creek.” My father looked at me with a grin…

“Son, this here is called Bushwhacking, and if you ever want to be a real fisherman, you better learn to love it.”

Fast forward 10 years and I guess I did learn to love it. Now, I am the one dragging my old-man out into the the middle of the backwoods, with him trailing in pursuit, hacking through the trees and wondering where the hell I am taking him. Ahh… The sweet feeling of payback.

Want to be a Bushwhacker?

The requirements are simple; all you need is a fly rod, a thirst for adventure, and a passion for fishing. And maybe an indifference towards aching blisters and ticks. 

The goal of our site is to point you in the right direction, keep you updated on conditions and relevant fly-fishing news, and to promote conservation and stewardship for the beautiful rivers we love. We also want to be your outlet for personal inquiries, trip planning, and general questions about fishing in Alberta and BC. We love talking fishing. You too? Head to the Contact Page and shoot us a message!

Read about some of the hidden treasures found in our home drainages, contained in each section of Where we Fish. The point of our site is not to giveaway all the secrets that have accumulated over generations of anglers, nor is it to take you to the honey hole of each stream. That would defeat the purpose. As anglers we guard our secrets out of necessity, out of
fear of another ruining our perfection.

But we don’t have to fear our own kind; the truth is, there is plenty of water for all of us. You just have to go find it.

 

 

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Fly-fishing for the Glory

There is nothing glorious about Bushwhacking your way through nasty wilderness. There is, however, something glorious about watching a fish come up to the surface and sip your dry fly. The harder we work for our fish, the more we appreciate them. The more we immerse ourselves into their environment, the more we come to understand our relationship with it.

It’s the story behind every fish that we are interested in; the big ones, the small ones, the ugly ones. The stories of the people who share the passion for catching  fish on the fly. Why it matters that we earn our fish, and respect our waters. And the simple truth of this sport is that sometimes, you don’t catch the big one; sometimes you don’t catch anything at all. These are the days where when this sport can truly teach us a thing or two, if we are willing to learn.

Today, more and more people are fishing. The Rivers that my Father grew up fishing are now clogged with Anglers young and old, all searching for that connection. The Fly-Fishing community is bigger than it has ever been, and it seems as though social media has become a boasting board for who can catchIMG_20150621_104530 the biggest fish. One might almost begin to think its EASY to catch monster trout like that, given the amount of photos that pop up on my instagram feed. Well, at Bushwhackers, we know that it’s not easy. And we also know that if you are going out onto the river strictly to catch an instagram photo, then you are probably not doing it for the right reasons.

We believe fly-fishing is not about personal glory; its about the glory of the world around us. And that is what we live by at Bushwhackers.

Our goal is to remind people that one never has to feel claustrophobic when fishing our waters; there is literally endless backcountry for one to explore, where one is unlikely to see another angler. And getting out there is usually half of the fun. We want to help you find the next place that you will fall in love with, and then you can cherish that spot as your own.

We want to inspire you to go and find, and earn, your own perfection.

Because that is what it means to be a Bushwhacker.

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