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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 

 

 

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. 

Our blog will pass the waning hours of your work-week perfectly. It will inspire you to get out fishing and explore the endless abyss of the western Canadian forestry roads. It will offer the sarcastic, over-cynical musings of a broke, under-equipped, sometimes delusional fly-fisherman (thats me!) who is just starting to figure it all out. It will also have content posted by you, the readers and other members of our network, in case you get tired of me. All of our contributors from across Alberta and BC will keep you updated on the conditions on our major rivers with our bi-weekly river updates and trip reports. Follow us on facebook and instagram and share your stories and photos with each other, meet new people, and stay updated on giveaways and events (im thinking a fish-a-thon!).

Read about some of the hidden treasures found in our drainages in the Bushwhackers Bounty 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.

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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.

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. Something that makes you appreciate the natural world, and the connection you have with it through that fish. 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.

The monster fish truly deserves to be captured, and reveled in, shared with friends. But its the story behind that fish that is truly important in our minds. The story behind every fish; 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, for that moment of exhilaration, and for the next instagram photo. 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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