Late October. It’s closing down. Hard to find rising fish. On Saturday saw a couple of trout surfacing inconsistently on my local river late in the day when the wind died down. Missed them. No other opportunities that day. On Sunday changed it up and took a drive through the mountains into British Columbia. Fished the Elk river in Fernie in the afternoon. Hoped for BWO’s. Hoped for some rising Cutthroats. Found some. Nothing big. Caught several. Missed several. Not a great hatch. Actually quite weak. As I said, it’s closing down. I had to search slow collector areas; back eddies, etc., in order to find some rising fish. Only saw one other angler as I worked my way upstream. It was a young boy and his grandmother. He was fishing. She was supervising. They were standing above at a deep, clear, calm pool next to a huge log-jam, spotting cutthroats and occasionally catching one. When they saw me they said, “We didn’t think there would be anybody else foolish enough to be out today”. With a big smile the boy showed me a photo of a Cutthroat he had just landed. A great fish. He didn’t know what fly he caught it on. I checked. It was a small parachute Adams.
I went just upstream of them and fished a slow area. Two fools casting dry flies in late October in the rain, sleet and snow. Two fools, a grandmother and a wet dog.
Some soggy, foggy photos…
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.
A big snow storm this week. Some melting occurring. Rivers still low and clear. Brief angling days for the dry-fly angler. It’s usually a 2 to 5 pm event. This past Saturday trudged through the snow to the Crowsnest river. In the bright sun and low water conditions fished to some surface feeding rainbows on my knees.
Mornings on way to one of my favorite trout rivers with Abby…SW Alberta.
August. Smoke everywhere. It keeps coming. It’s blocking the sun. There was an evacuation alert (fire) the other day. No rain in sight. That’s bad. Cooler recently. That’s good. I just spent one week walking a nearby river in the Coulees. Challenging breathing. Challenging angling. Small fly stuff: size 18 dries and emergers… Pale Morning Dun mayflies and small Caddis. Most fish were on emergers. Real daunting angling. Some were found sipping on duns. My best fish were taken on duns.
Early in the week I missed several great trout. A hand-tied leader popped mid-section on a biggie; on more than one occasion fish wedged my line between river bottom boulders and freed themselves; several powerful trout on reel screeching first runs cut me off on rocks in the low water conditions; a fly line got sliced and diced and rendered useless; I missed several connections as the small fly didn’t set once eaten, especially on the tiny emerger patterns I tied on Klinkhammer style hooks.
In frustration I talked to myself. I talked to my dog. I looked-up and talked to the sky. I hung in. I walked and searched, and fished my way through the slump. I made some adjustments and things eventually started to click.
I started connecting more consistently when I opened (slightly) the hook bend on my klinkhammer flies with hemostats and also slowed down my hook set. In the future I’ll tie on emerger/scud hooks. A less acute bend. I also tied on stronger tippet, especially when approaching a fish from above and casting down and across (fly first) to it.
The tailwater trout were selective. They would have nothing to do with ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and attractor patterns. They stuck to the main items on the menu. It was Pale Duns, small Caddis flies (mostly on the emerger stage).
The thicker the smoke the better the top water angling. Like clouds it intensified the hatches. And in the low light trout were more willing to surface. Even some of the bigger trout made an appearance.
It was some of the most demanding and best sight-fishing I’ve ever had. You simply couldn’t make any mistakes with the powerful trout in the low water conditions. An angling error meant a lost fish. Fish perfectly and you could still lose a fish. I lost my share. A few great smokin’ trout caught and released on tiny dries. Ridiculous! One memorable week in August…
August. Hot as “H”. A Sky full of smoke. Looks like a smog blanket in Beijing. It’s burning west of here. In British Columbia. The residue is drifting eastward. We had almost two months of it last year. To quote Yogi Berra, ” It’s Deja Vu all over again”. Cool, clear Rocky Mountain air… total myth. It’s a heat wave. Fires are burning. And I’m casting flies/fries under a Beijing sky.