le soleil

“It was so hot I saw a roasted turkey fly by”


Summer finally returned after a cool spell and it was nice to wade in shorts and river sandals after spending three weeks in waders. Local rivers are low and heating up (temperature).

I was able to take advantage of the blue sky and full sun to spot some great fish and fool a few. It is amazing how tight you can get to a feeding fish in shallow water if you have the sun at your back and wade carefully, even on down and across presentations where you are in front or above the fish, not behind.

I learned how the sun can “blind” fish on the Missouri river many years ago while casting to a roaming pod of sipping trout. By standing still with the sun over my shoulder I watched a dozen large fish feed just a rod length away. They were oblivious to my presence.

For me, so much about fly fishing has to do with light; they are intertwined.

My favorite sight fishing river had few PMD’s on it this weekend and no other hatch. In response I fished beetles and crickets… my favorite way to go. I had the place to myself in spite of it being peak holiday season; lots of people on the road; local fly shops busy. The river was mine for a day. Amazing!

Here are some landscape and trout photos while sight fishing the past week. All fish caught on dries.






abby (1)


























early summer, long days

Overheard at a Baja taco stand:

” You know why I love this place Frank? We’ve been here for a solid week and I haven’t seen one person wearing Lululemon! Absolutely nobody! And we’ve been here for a week”!

clouds wide

Some riverside photos from past two weekends in SW Alberta. The trout were caught sight casting, Pale Morning Duns, size 18 and 20…small stuff…and one fish on a beetle. The trick was landing them while an eight month old retriever new to the game was in hot pursuit.




riverside trout bum, trout chaser





tree old



drive back to mountains




Simple Trout Flies


Some simple, durable, quick ties (size 18 flies) that often get the attention of trout on rivers nearby and afar. Tied on a hook that dangles: trailing shuck; some weight (wire) on body to hopefully tug it below the surface (saliva on shuck and body helps); exaggerated thorax dubbed; wing of polypro or deer hair, sometimes hackle used to keep top half (head) floating and most importantly visible. A white or black wing allows you to see the small fly in most light conditions. If I can see a small fly then I feel I can get it on the nose of a feeding fish, and then I at least have a chance. If I can’t see and follow the drift then I might as well be blindfolded! Deer hair and hackle is often less visible but can be seen if you can get close to a trout. The pattern can be fished as a dry/ emerger (mayfly hatch). I simply change body and thorax color and size depending on the season/hatch. The wing can be tied or clipped real sparse (less wing) for flat water, or CDC used. No fly works in all situations but some flies work in a lot of them.











master fly tyer (abby) taking a break

Cutthroat Surprise

“I’m gonna win. There’s no way I’m goin’ down. I don’t go down for nobody”.

-1940’s Boxer, Jake LaMotta

20 cutthroat

A local tailwater river that I frequently dry-fly on has a healthy population of sizeable rainbow trout. This is not surprising as they are the predominant trout species in my region. It also has a good population of brown trout. Also not surprising.

What is surprising is that in spite of this river section being a fair distance from the mountains and the water quality being far from pristine, it has some very healthy Cutthroat and the hybridized Cuttbow trout. These fish can be quite large but what is extraordinary is that they are especially robust. Hook into one on a broad section of the river and they race for the horizon, and can take you into your backing.


I go there when I expect a hatch and look for surface disturbances. It is  “technical” water: whether it is rainbows, browns or cutthroat, or a hybridized version, you have to pay attention to what the fish are focused on (eating) and also their rise forms to figure out whether you fish on top, in the film, or have to go slightly subsurface. I sometimes get the subsurface feeders to tip up and take a dangling, klinkhammer style fly, or a helpless easy floating target such as a cripple pattern. Some people have success using soft hackles in this situation.

cutt2 (1)

The river has very impressive rainbows and brown trout but I consider the cutthroat and their hybridized brethren to be the “Raging Bulls” of this neighbourhood. Think Jake LaMotta… they just don’t give up.


Here are some pictures of these fish caught (this and last summer) on small dries: size 16 and 18 pmd’s and one fish on a tiny beetle. All fish photographed on this blog have been released.

angle cutt


Overheard at a pumpkin bin:

“Look at all the pumpkins. You know they’re not just carving them anymore…they’re painting em too! They’re painting em! Isn’t that something?”

Here are some pictures taken while driving around and trout hunting the past couple of weekends. A tough Autumn for taking trout on dries. Few bugs. A real absence of BWO’s and a lot of wind. There has been a different hatch: jack o lanterns.


carving by r dewey







rainbow on dry fly



The Beach

late clouds (2)

LOW WATER. FINALLY CLEAR WATER. No bugs. Still windy but not gale force like on the weekend. Sunny and some high clouds. In fact, beautiful clouds. I started seeing a few trout mid afternoon. The lighting was good but past prime time; the dimmer switch was being dialed down. Days are short in mid October. The first trout I missed. He ate but the hook didn’t set. I thought, “my one chance”. I soon spotted another but he bolted before I could exhale. Two strikes, one left! I then decided to walk a river section I call the Beach. It’s a perfect late day spot: the sun over your shoulder; shallow water; consistent light colored bottom. I see well there and it’s all about seeing. Trout sometimes prowl the shin deep water along the Beach. They inch up the river with the sun in their eyes, blind to an angler just upstream. I walked softly on the pebble edge, controlled my shadow and spotted one. A downstream cast…feed line. Slow current, slow drift, slow motion rise to the caddis imitation. Then four high speed runs. Two right across the river. The trout didn’t want to give up.

the beach

the beach

beACH fish