“For as long as I can remember, my nickname was Dusty. I remember my Dad naming me that because of the streets where we lived”.
I PURCHASED a neglected old Miners home in SW Alberta 17 years ago. I’ve been working on it since. It’s tiny and really just a cottage. The best thing about it is that it is in the the heart of Trout Country: right near the Crowsnest river and many other spectacular flows. You would have a hard time finding a better fly fishing location anywhere in North America. Winters can be brutal (that’s Canada) but most summers are picture perfect on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. The rivers are clear, insects often hatch and trout rise, and there is a great fly shop (Crowsnest Angler) just down the street. For years I’ve wanted to name my home and have a sign made. Time flies! Seventeen years later here it is. The cottage is small, it’s a faded blue color and has a lot of green foliage around it in the summertime. I named it after a hatch on my local river…the “Blue Winged Olive Cottage”.
A spot (bend) on the Crowsnest river where rising fish can sometimes be found. A rare day with no wind. A good place to walk and watch. Still early. Still winter. Haven’t seen many midges, yet. Maybe in a few weeks…maybe around another bend….
Ants for summertime picky trout…some tied with fine deer hair “outrigger” like legs.
Time spent on a Spring Creek. One of the most beautiful ones in the world. Daunting when the hatches are poor. Daunting when the main one is tiny western olives, size 22. Small bugs, few bugs. Tiny and sparse. Not a great combo! Infrequent rises early in the week. Mainly small guys. I spent thirty minutes one day stalking a twelve inch rising fish. I had to crawl on my hands and knees through wetland to get above the trout, and to have a chance. And a “chance” is what it is all about. Once in position I fed line and watched it all: the drift downstream; the rainbow in just inches of water tip up and eat the ant pattern. Success on the Creek! Of course there was also Failure on the Creek. They go hand-in-hand. Each would be meaningless without the other.
Some days were grey. Some days were sunny. Some days were very windy. It was never warm and the fishing was never easy. A storm dumped two feet of snow at home so no complaints about being on the Creek. Flies sitting low or tied on emerger hooks and with a trailing shuck did best. That’s to be expected. Some Mahoganies made a welcomed appearance later in the week and rising fish became more frequent. The bigger fly made things a little easier. Ant and beetle patterns also took some bank fish. I never saw a rise that suggested a trophy trout.
I accessed the creek in several spots just off of N Picabo Road where I watched the water for rises from late morning until the shadows lengthened and the cold crept in at around 5:00-5:30pm. That’s when things shut down and I was reminded of what is coming: Winter… an angler’s worst enemy.
I had the lower Creek to myself. I never got to the more famous and busy upstream Preserve section where hatches tend to be more consistent and prolific. I had my dog Abby with me and canines aren’t allowed on the Preserve.
I catch bigger trout at home and more in other places but the Creek, surrounding region and towns have a distinctive/singular beauty.
Time spent on a Spring Creek…
“It’s not down on any map; true places never are”–Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Rainbows taken on small dry flies in mid- September…
It’s September and it’s still all about small flies on the tailwater rivers I’ve been fishing all summer long. The occasional trout will grab a big fly like a grasshopper or dragonfly but most of the surface feeding is on the small stuff: PMD’s mainly, some size 18 and 20’s. This hatch is waning.
It has been mostly blue skies lately. No complaints as warm weather is always welcomed. Fishing is better on days with a mixed sky. Trout feed more actively when clouds block the sun and then vanish when the full light returns. Lately I spend as much time watching the sky as I do the river. Here’s a few trout spotted in early September.
size 18 Pmd’s
Local rivers are settling. Water temperatures are rising into the right zone and with that insects are making a strong appearance and trout are becoming much more active. I’m seeing a lot of the small stoneflies, especially hatches of Yellow Sallies. Here is a recent tie for the faster riffle sections: size 16.
And a tie for slower river sections, size 16.
Pale Morning duns are also starting. Like the Sallies they are light yellow/ cream in color. Some have a slight orange or pale green tint to them. I prefer this hatch as they ride the river surface for a fairly long time before taking flight. Trout can relax and sip on them.
The small fly hatches, unlike the big flies, tend to go on for weeks on end and some for months. They tend to be consistent and dependable. Last year I fished Pale Duns from late June into late September on one of the local tailwater rivers. That’s reliability!
Catching a large rising trout on a small fly is always a real challenge and quite special when a connection is made and one landed. Here are a few taken on small dries…