Monday, July 28, 2014

The Oldman


Our last full day, we decide to head down the foothills to the Oldman River,  in a section near Highway 22.
I have one of my most enjoyable days using two different presentations.

I start with a Terranasty along with a Prince nymph dropper. Six fish later the action slows…

then on the last pool of the day fish start to rise and I catch two beautiful trout on a Royal Coachman on what was a great day for me.
All in all a great trip with some real nice guys, something I sure would consider doing again.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Livingstone

Part Two of our Adventure to southern Alberta:
Now headquartered out of the Racehorse Creek campground the next three days are spent fishing the Livingstone River.
 Breakfast before our first day on the |Livingstone

 There are many roads that lead to the riverside, but this river is also very popular among fly fisherman. The first two days we don’t have too much trouble finding a stretch of river to fish, but come Friday things are crowded.
 Phil lands a colourful fish!
On our first day on the Livingstone, Len Penner has a great day, landing nearly 20 fish. Lime Sally was the fly of the day. Phil and I catch some fish but don't have near that kind of success. Next day we made sure to have on a variety of dry flies and things turn for the better.

Thursday: our best day on the Livingstone in a middle section of the river. Phil lands nine fish out of one pool and sees big bull trout. He catches most of them on black ant that he tied the night before!
 I manage to land a number of nice fish as well, and see some huge cutthroat refuse my big stonefly presentation. Still, most of the fish I caught on my little yellow and white mayfly dry fly.

After a great day of fishing we head into Bellevue to pick up more dry flies and have dinner. We also tune into the Bomber/Edmonton game (that didn’t turn out so well.)

 Friday- we fish upper Livingstone and have a nice time with myself landing four fish.  We ended up fishing for only about two hours because of crowded conditions.

Tomorrow, a successful visit to the Oldman River!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Day Four is moving day


Castle Falls holds some big bull trout!

The next day we try and access the south Castle River but are stopped by some washed out sections of the access road.
Phil lands only rainbow of the trip
Instead we stay relatively close to home and fish the forks of the south and west Castle. Some beautiful pools make this short section attractive but Phil hooks the only rainbow of the trip on a big brown Wooly Bugger fished in a straight section of the river. 

 A nice cuthroat from a the back of a deep pool on
a dry fly 

Meantime in the pool below I land two cutthroat back to back before we call it a day. That’s because it’s moving day, when we head up north through the Crowsnest. First though we have to stop and visit the two great fly shops that our on our way. 

At the Crowsnest Angler, friend Vic Bergman has a day off, so we head up to visit Susan Douglas-Murray at the Crowsnest Café & Fly Shop. Here we get the latest information on the rivers and streams we are about to fish and Susan hand picks the flies we need. These would hold us in good stead and dramatically increase our success ratio the rest of the way.

Inside of the Crowsnest Angler fly shop
Then we head north to the Racehorse Creek campground which is to be our home for the next five days. This beautiful campground is centrally located to where we want to fish. From here we have access to a multitude of different small rivers, creeks and larger rivers including the Oldman. After setting up camp we decide to head out to the stream that the campground was named after, Racehorse Creek. This little stream, while small in stature provide us with some great evening angling over the next two days. On the second evening out by myself, I landed four nice cutthroat in two different pools, all on Pale Morning Dun fly, commonly called among fly fishers, a PMD. Meantime Gerald Conrad, had the same fly on with similar results. Gerald and his partner Ron Enns have now been with us two days.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


While the Castle River is one of the more popular in the region, it can, like most rivers, be tough to fish. On our third day we headed southwest from Castle Falls on Road 774 past the Castle Mountain ski resort. This is rugged country and four wheel drive is recommended if you are going to access stretches of the river off road. Not only that, but you have to be prepared to do some work to get to different sections of the river. There is fallen timber everywhere, which means you can only access short stretches of the river before you have to go overland. This section was good to me, as I landed my biggest cutthroat of the trip out of an undercut bank. I saw the fish come out to my Prince nymph and engulf it, one of the coolest sites in the world. I had a hard fought battle on my hands in the relatively heavy current but I did manage to land this beautiful specimen.
 Beautiful country

Friend Phil Brake was also able to wade over and get some shots before releasing this fish. On almost all sections of the rivers in this region, it’s catch and release fishing only, which has allowed the fishery to thrive. On the way out of the stream that evening we were crossing over a bridge by the ski resort when we saw a huge cutthroat rising to take mayflies off the surface. This was the first visible signs of a hatch and we went to take many more fish this trip on dry flies.

The Beaver Mines store is a good source of information

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A slow day on the water

On day two of our trip, we headed over a nearby mountain pass to fish the Carbondale River. Access to this steep sided smaller river was somewhat difficult. We ended up finding an old access bridge and walking down the bank near a busy campground.

Phil and I stared fishing a deep pool but I quickly decided to work on taking both still pictures and videos with my new Nikon AW1. 

This rugged camera is shock proof and waterproof to 49
Phil lands a small cutthroat in a back eddie
feet. In other words, a camera that might be able survive the rough beating that crunched my last DLR. It’s a mid-priced make but still takes very good photos and did survive some drops and submerging in ice cold water. All the photos on this trip were taken with it, so you be the judge. As the day wore on, very few fish were caught, a major disappointment to Phil and the rest of the crew who had high expectations for this river. After four hours with a couple small whitefish, we decided to pack it in and head back to the campground for supper.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Stream Trout of Southwestern Alberta!


The Castle River just south of Castle Falls
Don's first cutthroat of the trip!
It was five thirty in the morning when the moving house that was to be our home for the next ten days pulled up to the driveway. Soon we were on the road for our ten day fly fishing adventure to southern Alberta. Four of us were planning to explore the rivers and streams that dot the landscape near the Crowsnest Pass region. Our first stop was the Castle Falls Campground located on the shores of the Castle River, a glacial feed stream that holds cutthroat trout, whitefish and a few rainbow thrown in for good measure. Friend Phil Brake had been fishing this part of Alberta since 2001, a semi-annual pilgrimage that went back to his childhood. Growing up in southern California, he learned to fly fish at an early age, hiking the mountains near his home in Fresno. When he invited me along I figured why not revisit this part of the world. During my days filming The Complete Angler television series, I had shot three different shows in this region. Two of them were with Vic Berman, the co-owner of the Crowsnest Pass fly fishing shop. Vic is also a top guide in the region and he agreed to be a guest on the show. Our first show was shot on the scenic Crowsnest River down east of the town of Bellevue. Then Vic loaded up his drift boat and headed south of the dam of the Oldman River near Lethbridge. Both trips proved productive and we put together two of my favourite shows in the Complete Anglers series.
While my stream fly fishing skills were a little rusty, friend Phil had me back in the saddle right away. One of the first things I learned how to do was to tie on a dropper rig, in this case an Emerger fly that floated with a nymph tied off the trailer hook. Our first fish was right in front of the campground as Phil and I headed downstream while Bruce and Len went upstream towards the falls.
 Phil fishing a river bend

Phil quickly caught a couple of small whitefish and a cutthroat while I was shut out. Switching over to a Prince nymph on the dropper rig, I caught my first cutthroat on a small side pool next to the fast water.  That was just the start of some great fishing the next nine days.

 A selection of flies that will come in handy
Tomorrow, the continuation of our adventures in southwestern Alberta.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Catfish Crazy!

It had been about year since I had caught my last channel catfish but when Travel Manitoba extended the invite to fish for a morning as part of their media event titled "Fish Tales" how could I refuse. I picked up publisher Kevin Stobbe at seven in the morning last week and we headed from Winnipeg to Selkirk Park were the guides had their boats ready to go.
We were teamed up with Brad Melnyk, who is know more for his smallmouth exploits.
He had caught plenty of catfish over the years and in no time flat he had us tucked in tight to shore to get out of the heavy current that was flowing in the mighty Red. Heavy rains have swelled the river, sending floating logs and trees down at a rapid clip.This hadn't discouraged the catfish though. Big fish were surfacing everywhere so it didn't take long for Kevin to get hooked up with the first fish of the day. Unfortunately he was given an outfit with the handle of the reel on the wrong side. Still, he managed to wrestle this 31 inch fish to the side of the boat.
Not five minutes later, after a equipment change, he was into a much bigger fish, a 34 incher that was Kevin's first master angler. A short time later it  was my turn. The action continued pretty much non stop until 11:30 when we went back to exchange our stories over a hot walleye shore lunch provide my Danny of Dannys Whole Hog Barbeque fame. In the end Kevin had landed four master angler fish, the largest a 26 pound brute.

It was a fun day and thanks to Travel Manitoba and Brad Melnyk on reminding me how great channel catfish really are!