Hot. Let me repeat, Hot. Full sun. Blue skies. Everything is dry. Fire ban on. Forest fires one province over in BC. Smoke could be on the way.
On my favorite rivers few bugs. Hatches have been weak all summer long. Not many rising trout. You have to hunt to find the odd one. Challenging out there.
With the pandemic everyone seems to be outdoors camping. It’s real busy in my region. It’s busy on the rivers: rafters, kayakers, swimmers, and many, many anglers. More than usual. Can’t find parking in some of my favorite spots. Challenging out there.
Some photos from the past few weeks. All trout caught on small dry flies: mainly Pmds, Ants and Beetles.
I spotted several decent rising trout in the tail section of a big slow pool last week. They were feeding on pale duns. It was the end of a fishing day, I was tired and it was a long walk back to my car so I made a couple quick casts with no results and then moved on. One week later I returned. It was as calm as before. The trout were rising as before. It was the same weak PMD hatch as before.
In full sun and low clear water the trout inspected my flies carefully often rejecting my impressions last second. Fun stuff to watch. Many fly changes. Mostly the same result. Parachutes, hacklestackers, cdc duns, and a variety of emerger patterns were casted. All scrutinized. Just about all rejected. One trout ate a hacklestacker. I dug through my fly box and then hooked two fine trout on a fly tied several years ago with a swiss straw wing, one turn or so of dun hackle clipped on bottom, thread body, size 18 hook. I tied a few more this week…
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…
Sliding into Autumn. Pale Duns have had their day. Blue Winged Olives are just starting. A few Mahogany may flies around too. The dry-fly angling has been challenging during the transition. Visited four very different rivers over the past few weekends. It was hard to find rising fish. Had to walked a lot and search. Not easy. Not many opportunities. Caught a few nice ones. Missed a couple. Time spent roaming around beautiful SW Alberta in search of trout is always enriching…
The flow has finally dropped on a local tailwater river. There are now many more targets for the dry-fly angler. Many of the softest feeders I spotted in the shallows were Cutthroats and the hybrid, Cutt-Bows. They were often much more demanding and discriminating than the other risers. It’s mainly small flies hatching, Pmd’s size 18, 16. Challenging at times…with the slower water many rise to duns.
It was 35C/95F in the river valley on Sunday. A lot of low, flat water. No bugs to speak of. No bugs for a while now. Just bright sun, heat radiating off of the river rocks and glare. A lot of walking and looking in the dead calm. Occasionally a subtle surface disturbance would bring me out of the heat induced daze. It would catch my attention. A trout or a mirage?
“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails”.
There was a wind warning today. I saw part of my neighbour’s eaves trough tumble down the road. At least I think it was his? I should check mine!
On the eastern slopes of the divide in SW Alberta it’s always windy and if you don’t fish in the wind, well, you’re not going to get out very often. So I decided to go and just deal with it. I’d be casting a streamer and figured if it got real bad I’d just flip the fly and feed line or roll cast a lot. My plan was to fish a section of the river that is braided so I’d could find some protective areas behind islands and gravel bars.
late november brown trout
If there is anything good about the wind around here, it’s generally predictable: easterly. The other good thing is that in the summer time it blows terrestrials (grasshoppers, beetles, etc.) into the water. None of that today as we have transitioned to winter.
I thought that if things became unbearable out there I would pretend I had travelled a long, long way to the Rio Gallegos in southern Patagonia where sea run brown trout and gale force winds rule the river, and you deal with it by tugging down on your Beret and just keep casting! My shoulder still aches. I’m well past the 100 pitch mark in my 9 inning angling career.
I caught several Rainbow trout and coincidently, one Brown (not sea run but resident), which was the prize of the day. I was standing on the bank four feet above the water and swung my fly through a fairly shallow side channel with an even flow. As the fly tightened to the bank a brown trout glided out from some wood structure and nabbed it. I saw the whole thing from my elevated position. It made the day. I fished until dusk and then headed home guided by the North Star, or was that the Southern Cross?