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Late Season Physcosis

Late Season Physcosis

The day is Halloween. Also today. is the final day for fishing in the high country streams of Alberta. It is a monday, and I should be at work. But I am not. I am at home, bored out of my mind, hooked up to an IV unit and wondering why I am struck by poor luck when it comes to getting these obscure and random injuries.

I sit in my living room and bend my sore and infected elbow and wince a little bit with the pain.  I look down at the needle and IV tube stuck into my left arm; seeing the bubbles pulse as a dose of antibiotics flows into my veins. The drone of the take home IV pump unit the hospital gave me whines in the background of my quiet house; a constant humming, every 5  or so seconds. I knew it would be irresponsible to drag a $3000 dollar medical pump out fishing with an IV needle stuck into my arm. And i was supposed to be resting my elbow, which also happened to be my casting elbow. I had already resigned myself to the fact that I would not be fishing any small water until next year. And that the beautiful brown I had caught a few days earlier would likely be my last.

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But after about 10 minutes of hearing the whining drone of the IV, my mind began to wander… It wandered to a place no more than 3o minutes away from my front door. A creek no more than a yard wide in most places; filled with pretty brookies and the odd Brown Trout. And specifically, it wandered to a deep plunging pool that brushed up against the outside bank and then flowed underneath an overhanging tree… I saw the flash of the fish I had now hooked twice and had not been able to land- a big one, by this creeks standards. I saw in my mind where he would be; right underneath the tree, and I saw my fly drifting underneath perfectly… I thought of the long winter upcoming, and the thought of not catching any more until spring…

Ahh, what the hell. I thought as I grabbed my IV unit and headed for the front door, with a mug of coffee and a couple of advil.


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You see, the strange rationalization process described above is what I have come to call “Late season Physcosis,” an affliction affecting anglers around the world as the season comes to a close. A process whereby the daunting thought of a long winter can lead to anglers creating an alternate reality in which catching ‘one more fish’ literally becomes the only thought they are capable priddisof manifesting. Case and point: I spent hours trekking deep into my creek a few days ago just to catch ‘one more fish,’ which I did, and I told myself I was happy with that being true. It only took a single day before I was once again back on the river in search of ‘one more fish,’ hacking and slashing away and neglecting my other responsibilities. This is an affliction I’m sure you are all familiar with; we, as anglers, are pretty deranged. And this is the time of year when we get especially anxious about having to come face to face with the fact that our ‘one more fish’ might not be for another 6 months.

So, despite being pumped full of antibiotics and carrying around a little backpack with a bag of drugs and an expensive medical unit and a sore casting arm, I was in the car this morning making haste to that one pool beside the road that I was sure I could catch a fish in.

I didn’t even bother putting on pants or waders. Just went out in my shorts and sneakers like it was the middle of summer. I had one goal in mind: One more fish. And luckily for my physcosis, I got to say that many times as the little brookies gobbled down their halloween candy all morning and I sneaked around what may or may not be private property with my IV bag and fishing rod.

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Turns out, I didn’t catch that one fish in that one spot underneath the tree in the hole right by the highway that I had been dreaming about. That would be too perfectly poetic and kind of corny. The type of thing that only happens in Jim Mclennan books and on Instagram. I came close to that kind of fairy tale story. I hooked him on my first cast in the pool, but just like the first two times, he shook my hook and floundered back to safety. But this was a blessing. Becasue I countinued further into the willows in my pursuit for one more fish, and despite my freezing legs and feet, I was able to catch 8 brookies, and I think I dealt with my physcosis permanently.

I ended my short stint of fishing today with a very nice sized brook trout in the pool right beside the one I came for. A nice and fat 11′ brook smashed my nymph as soon as it landed in the pool. I truly savoured this one; the feeling of the pull, and the looks from the people on the highway, suprised to see someone fishing, and catching fish, in that tiny creek. It was the best fish of the day. Maybe the best of the season. Even if there will be one, or perhaps many, more still to come. 🙂

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The brookie that the doctor prescribed. What an amazing ‘last fish of the year!’

Thanks for reading! With the closing of most of our streams, and the snow up on the mountains, it is certainly time to start thinking about the winter and skiing. There is, however, some good streams in Alberta still open to fish (the Bow!). It’s been an awesome year of Bushwhacking, thanks to everyone who showed there support! There will likely be a final blog post coming soon about winter fishing, and what to expect from us through the winter and into next season!

Thanks to you all and Happy Halloween!

Kevin Rossi

Going with the Flow: The qualms of a working man

Going with the Flow: The qualms of a working man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A turbulent ride into the unknown.

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Fishing in the Fall

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

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

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

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

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

Tight lines and happy fishing!

-Kevin Rossi