I was on the Crowsnest river this past weekend. Sunday was a rare nice day and warm. It felt like Spring! Some Midges were out in the afternoon, however, no fish were up on the section I was on. I even saw a couple of Blue Winged Olives at about 4pm. Just a few but promising. With no rises I started focusing on the river bottom instead of the surface. It’s a completely different type of looking. Through the river glare I eventually spotted a few dark shadows creeping along the bottom mid-pool. They would travel upstream six feet or so then drop back a bit, and then repeating the cycle. They were active. They were feeding. I managed one on a size 18 PT nymph with a cassette tape wing case and a small black beadhead. A dull fly; no shine to it. I landed a classic Crowsnest river rainbow. No hook marks. It was nice to be out sitting riverside in the sun. Nice to sight-fishing again. A new season.
“I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different”– Kurt Vonnegut
Dry fly fishing has become a morning and evening affair due to sunny days, summer heat and some breezy afternoons. The water level on the Crowsnest river is low and slow and perfect for walk/wading and searching for rising trout. It’s nice to walk the water on a warm summer night and look for a fine trout. Here’s a good one which was spotted sipping just off of a bank in shallow water the other evening. It was fooled by a size 18 pmd dry fly: simple pale yellow thread body, light dun cdc for a wing and visibility, and a bit of dubbing up front to accentuate the thorax….really, a bit of nothing on a hook. The small fly held….ridiculous! A good trout landed and released. An evening I get to keep.
“I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep…”–Kurt Vonnegut
Summer took forever to get here. And what has arrived feels like an impostor; an anemic fake. No real consistent heat. Warm one day, cool the next. Wet wading in shorts one day then layers of fleece and a wool hat the next. And from time to time, some real heavy rain to make things muddy. It’s hard to get in sync with local streams given the dramatic variability of the weather. And with that, hatches have been inconsistent; they’ve been all over the place.
The good news is Crowsnest river fish are big this year. Other rivers that I have put time on have also produced, not many, but some memorable trout which required a chase and a lot of rock hopping. Quality over quantity. I’ll take that exchange any day of the week.
The other day I found myself in the middle of an unexpected golden stone-fly hatch. The tailwater river I was on is not known for this large insect. If some do make an appearance it is usually in early summer, not late July. Then again everything is late. July is like June. Maybe August will be like July. Maybe August will be like September. Maybe…
I had no stone-fly impressions. I fished the same water the day before (in the cold and heavy rain) and tossed mainly miniscule size 18 BWO and PMD emergers to bulging trout. With the giant stones skittering the surface the trout wouldn’t look at anything but the big bug. Why would you eat a single Bon Bon when you can have a whole Snickers bar?!
I lucked upon a fellow and his friend fishing a soft spot on the river. He was kind enough to give me a yellow stimulator (golden stone impression) from his fly box. Shortly after I hooked a fine brown trout that took me way downstream. I chased, once again rock hopping a long way.
Many thanks to Scott Smith I believe from Edmonton. Here’s the brown I wouldn’t have caught without his generosity.
Also, photos of other trout taken sight-fishing with dry flies and some SW Alberta scenery from the past 3 weeks…
Low and clear…that’s the conditions on my local river. I’ve been walking it daily after work with Abby looking for some rising or bulging fish. I’ve spotted a few when conditions have been good (calm and overcast) but nothing consistent. Midges and little Black Stone Flies are around. Olives will make an appearance before the end of the month. Anglers who are tossing nymphs are doing well.
Here’s Abby picking up messages delivered by the wind while I check out what the water has to say.
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.
The Crowsnest. A small river. Really just a stream. Beautiful. Some call it the perfect trout stream. Home to impressive rainbows. The closest river to my house. A walk away. When summer takes hold and small flies hatch, its large trout slide into the slow/soft water areas and feed subtly. Often in shin deep water or even less. Here’s one that was located the other evening in the shallows…taken on a beetle.
Snow storm; crowsnest river; old coal cart; and dog…