Nice weather for a change. Light sweater conditions in the afternoon and minimal wind. The dry-fly season on the Crowsnest river has been extended a little. Finding rising fish is getting harder but there are still some around. Bug life is weak but there are just enough midges and small olives around to entice some good fish to feed on the surface with the low, slow, clear water conditions. The river is still producing if you’re willing to hunt. I walked it this past Sunday. It’s an afternoon game. The low arcing Autumn sun creates long afternoon shadows and the trout like feeding in these darker river sections once (if) the bugs get going.
I started fishing the Crowsnest river in 2001. Seventeen years later it still amazes me the quality of the trout that inhabit it given its size. Best of all you can search for them with your eyes and try to fool them, often in the shallows, with small dry flies. You get to watch the trout react to your impression; you get to see it all unfold. Engaging, visual angling. It’s why I fly fish…
Here’s a nice Crowsnest rainbow that was located feeding on a shadowy bank. Caught on a size 18, BWO hacklestacker pattern.
I hit three rivers this weekend. It wasn’t because I was feeling energetic. It was because things were slow due to the intense heat, so I kept searching for productive water. Give yourself enough time and pump enough gas into the tank, and you’ll probably find a spot that is producing. Trout fishing is rarely ever easy: too cold; too hot; too much wind; too much sun; water too high; water too low; water too turbid; too many anglers; not enough bugs; wrong flies; and the beat goes on.
One of the prairie rivers I fish seemed abandoned. It turned big time off. Last weekend was excellent. This weekend was dead. It was a ghost town. The trout apparently left the main floor and headed for the cool of the basement. They must have been deep. I never saw a decent fish. Heck, I never saw a fish! I was so hot my cheese sandwich grilled in my backpack.
So I drove to a nearby tailwater that always runs very cold. It looked promising but… no bugs. The PMD’s didn’t show when I was there. Maybe they were congregating high up in the mountains which is where I should have been. A Cutthroat stream would have made more sense than heading out on the flats where in the shimmering heat I think I spotted a camel near a place called Standoff…or was that a llama? Anyway, it was tall and had a long neck, and my head was hot. On the tailwater I prospected with a big dry fly, walked a mile and caught a few.
Then the next morning I got up early and fished the Crowsnest river which is right by my house. It fished alright…not great but ok. It was the best of the rivers I had been on. I caught a few sippers in a big back flow. Challenging fish that had spectacles on (tinted due to the bright sun). They inspected every fly in great detail. The hatch was in the weak to moderate range. It got under way at 10:30 am but fizzled in an hour or two. The only place I could find surface feeding trout was where bugs were collecting in slow back eddies, etc. No risers were spotted anywhere else such as along banks, in the big pools, along current lines, etc.
The Crowsnest (Crow) river has some of the best looking rainbow trout found anywhere…all fins intact…all wild fish. The Crow is really just a stream but it holds some fine fish for its size. I don’t mind mentioning it as it is so well known. I wrote a little story about it several years ago in an old blog….if interested google: Flyfishing the Crowsnest River, Small Fly Paradise.