summer, sort of

Over the long weekend I went to 3 rivers to see how they are shaping-up. It was unsettled weather: cool and high winds. The dry-fly fishing is improving daily. Hatches are strengthening. Some trout are willing to rise. Here are some photos from Saturday’s outing. All trout taken on small dries under a big sky…

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brown trout

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lime city

Old limestone kilns.

What does this have to do with fly fishing? My region has a lot of limestone and cold running water. Ideal trout habitat. The Crowsnest river and its large rainbows are nearby.

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A Winter Brown Trout

“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe”.



brown trout

MID-WEEK I CHECKED THE WEATHER REPORT FOR THE WEEKEND. It predicted temperatures around zero or slightly above for Saturday and Sunday. Next I looked at the wind chart as mild temperatures usually mean a big blow along the eastern slopes. That’s what was in the cards: a wind warning. Saturday looked a bit sunnier and seemed like my best opportunity to fish. Besides on Sunday there were two good football games scheduled.


side channel

I never really watch a complete NFL game. I just kind of listen to it, do other things and then pay close attention when there is a big play. I’ve learnt that the Championship games are often better than the Super Bowl. Last year the Seattle versus San Francisco game was a classic. In comparison the Super Bowl was anti-climatic.

bridge river

So, Saturday it would be. I was into it as I hadn’t been out since before Christmas as the weather had been arctic like.


side channel

I went to my local tailwater river as it doesn’t ice over, and swung flies real slow near the bottom while the wind whistled in my ears. The fish weren’t active. I’d often get a slight “tap” but with no hook up. I did best by swinging my fly back to the spot where I had found some life. Sometimes I had to pass the fly through several times before getting another “hit” and the occasional hook up. I caught some rainbows this way.


rainbow trout

In a side channel I got my first good aggressive strike but no hook up. I kept tossing my fly through the same spot hoping for a repeat hit. After a dozen or so swings, “fish on”; I had made a connection. This one didn’t make the standard run. Instead it tugged a lot, shook its head, stayed deep and zig-zagged. I thought ” brown trout”.

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brown trout

When winter fly fishing you gotta have faith.

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brown trout


Blur Photos

It has been too cold around here to put on felt sole boots. I’ve traded them in for snowshoes this weekend. Here are some pictures taken while driving to and chugging along the snow trail.

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wind generator in the valley

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x-country tracks


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snowshoe tracks


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ribs along the trail


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high above valley


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portable corral


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portable corral


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entrance gate to acreage


“Don’t Look Back”


My dog Brooke, a Golden Retriever, ran up to greet a group of Native men who had their backs to us. They were pitching big round river stones into the back of a pickup truck. Their work was noisy, rock thundering against metal, and they didn’t hear us coming. When she reached the first man he was bent over and preparing to lift a stone. She surprised him and he leaped in fear. Not knowing how he’d react, I called out that she was friendly and harmless. He later laughed and said that for a split second he thought my dog was a cougar… same color, similar size and we were in big cat country.


The man said they were collecting the river stones for an upcoming Sweat Lodge (purification) ceremony at a Sun-dance or Pow Wow on the nearby reserve. He had a white bandana on his head and his face looked like he had lived a hundred lives. The other men stopped working and gathered around.

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They were from the Blood tribe, part of the Blackfoot Confederacy, a proud plains people who were originally nomadic and followed the buffalo until everything changed. All had jet black hair. In their facial structure there was a trace of ancient Asia and I imagined they had just walked across the Bering straights.

They made a fuss over my dog, kneeling down and playing with her, and remarking about her friendly disposition. We talked about the upcoming Sweat for a while. They spoke about the ritual and said the stones they were collecting would be heated and water poured over them to create steam in an enclosed space. They spoke about people having visions in the intense heat and about other mysterious experiences.

They asked me questions about the river and its secrets saying they were hunters, not fishermen. I departed wishing them a successful ceremony and they said “good luck’ on the river.

As my dog and I headed upstream she kept looking back towards them. Every ten yards or so she’d pause and look back. Then I heard one of the men holler, “Don’t look back”! We both stopped and turned around. Then he said it again, “Don’t look back”. It was the white bandana man. He saw my puzzled expression and explained, “I name your dog, Don’t Look Back!” I nodded and waved goodbye.


That was several years ago. The river I was on is a solid one hour drive south of my home and I always fish it from late summer through to the fall usually with grasshopper imitations until the first frost occurs. If you take your time on a sunny day and use the stream side bluffs and high banks to your advantage, you can sight fish. It is a challenging place as trout spotting is not always easy. You have to be observant. Over the years Don’t Look Back and I have spent some memorable days angling there. Although the region is predominated by rainbows and cutthroats, this river has some nice brown trout. Browns and the Blackfoot…that makes it special.

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