Sunday, August 27, 2006

Evenings on the Crowsnest

The highlights of our week in Alberta were evenings on the Crowsnest. There was a reliable baetis hatch - 18s and 20s, mixed with some pmds, a few bigger mayflies (flavs?), and some spinners - every evening. The trout were selective to size. I tried a variety of patterns and did about as well with each. A #20 fly with an olive body and a tuft of CDC was as good a pattern as any, every evening except my last on the river (when the trout were clearly selective to #16 or #14 rusty spinners).

Although there were exceptions, the bigger trout were typically bank feeders, and required accurate casts tight to the brush on shore. When the presentation was right, we had a good chance at a take. These rainbows ranged from 15 to 18 inches. We did very well on the TU stretch upstream from the Castle road. On my first and last night on the stream, I fished above and below the East Hillcrest access, and had good evenings there as well, with lots of smaller trout upstream of the access. There I also saw tracks of a big cat - I don't know what kind.

During the day, fishing was slow on the river, with the larger trout seeking cover in the hot sun. This is the time to find a cutthroat stream and chuck some attractors.

Ken works the Livingston

The Livingston is a very pretty little cutthroat stream. Along with the upper Oldman and Racehorse Creek, it forms the main Oldman River. This river gets heavily fished. There were very few accesses that didn't have a car or pickup truck or guide or RV. Funny thing - we talked to one fellow who said that the Crowsnest was "pounded" and didn't have the trout it used to. He fished Racehorse, and used an ATV to go way upstream - another fellow, when we told him we were going to fish the Livingston, said, "that stream is pounded" - better to fish the Crowsnest. The Livingston does get a lot of traffic due to its proximity to Calgary, but there is lots of water to fish, and I would fish it again any time. On the other hand, the Crowsnest is more my kind of river.

The Oldman

We spent a day fishing the Oldman in the area known as the Livingston Gap, or just The Gap. In our week fishing southern Alberta, I found this to be the prettiest stretch of water we fished. It featured deep pools, rock gardens and glides. Mike caught a 23 inch bull trout on one of Ken's spey flies. I caught one good cut and some smaller ones. Beautiful water.

I started fishing a #14 stimulator pattern, but quickly switched to a smaller attractor - a little yellow humpy - as the stimulator was attracting only splashy refusals. I also tried nymphing and hooked and lost a big trout on a bead-head caddis larva pattern. I couldn't tell if it was a big cut or a bull.

For a sense of scale in these pictures, look for Mike and Ken in the bottom shot....

The Castle

The South and West Castle Rivers, and the main branch are lovely trout streams, flowing through grizzly country south of the Crowsnest Pass. Water was low when we fished it, and we found we had to hike a ways between likely water, but we caught some lovely cutthroat trout and enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

a little cooler today

Today it was a little cooler than it has been.... I've been staying away from trout streams during the heat wave. Looking forward to taking a week to do some serious fly fishing. Flying to Calgary August 19 for a week in SW Alberta / SE BC.