Thursday, July 5, 2012

Progress sucks!

Stripping the earth

I know that it is somewhat hypocritical of me, a construction worker, to complain about urban sprawl...but I can't help it in this case.  After work the other day I found myself back down by the river scouting out some prospective fishing spots to hit after this spate of high water subsides.  While I was poking around down there I noticed that there was machinery working on the other side of the river, bulldozing trees and clearing land to make way for a new housing development. 

This made me sad!  Do we really have to develop every single little piece of available land we have left?  This entire area would have made a lovely park, or even just left alone it would have been a wonderful tract of green space by the river where people could walk their dogs, take their kids, watch wildlife and enjoy nature.  Instead, the land gets flattened, wetlands filled in, and we get a bunch of ticky tacky little boxes all smushed together plastered along the river.  

I don't like to wish bad luck on anyone, but I'm gonna laugh my ass off when all this land floods and their insurance companies inform them that they are not covered because they built in the flood plain.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sometimes out!

As I stated in my previous post, I have been spending considerably more time at work lately due in large part to added responsibilities.  I received the usual construction promotion; more responsibility, more hours, more stress, and same pay.  It does come with quite a few pats on the back and congratulations from your peers, which is nice, but it also comes with more than one "don't screw it up" from the elder superintendant's and construction managers.  There is, however, an added bonus with this new's 500m from the bow river, on private land with no public access points in the near vicinity, and I will be there all summer and fall if things go well.  I have already let the wife know that I will be "working" late most nights as we try to accelerate the already tight schedule on this project.  Evening fishing on the bow river can be exceptional in the summer time with caddis hatches most nights as well as numerous mayfly and stonefly hatches.  The only unfortunate thing is, I will have to wait several weeks before the river drops enough to become fishable.

 Runoff in full effect

These pictures were taken just behind the job site, and this is where I will be spending some "productive" hours "working" late.  It's not often that work helps me get more time on the water, but it sure is nice when it does.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gettin the skunk off

Productive bank on the 'Bow'

 Well, it's been a while since I have posted anything on the blog, due to the fact that I've been down in the salt mines slaving away.  It's nice to have work, and one shouldn't complain when there are so many people who don't have a job these days, but man does it get in the way of fishing sometimes.  I did manage to sneak out two weekends ago to try and wash off the smell of skunk that had been permeating my house since my previous trip down to the river, and I was successful.  The river was in perfect shape, which is hard to hit this time of year.  The window to fish is quite small as the river rises and muddies with the first few warm days of spring, when the low lying snow melts.  Then there is always the rain that falls in early spring to further swell the rush of early snow melt.  But, if your lucky and you hit it right, there is a brief period of respite that comes as the rains abate and the snow at lower elevations has melted, and before the majority of the high elevation snowpack begins to thaw.  The river will drop (but not too much), and it will clear up just enough so that the fish can see your fly, but not you (about 2 feet of visibilty).  This is the best time of year to be on the river, as most people still assume that it's runoff and don't bother to fish, leaving the river to just yourself and the few other die-hards who know what's what.  Oh ya, and the fish are hungry and aggressive.  I caught several nice rainbows as the afternoon turned into evening, unfortunately I have no pictures of the fish.  I'm still trying to figure out how to preset the autofocus on my camera when using a remote to take a picture, I was by myself you see so no one to take the picture of me and my lovely fish.

 Guide and clients working the far bank

Wrong Turn

It was a beautiful day, and there were lots of geese and their goslings to keep me company as I worked my way upriver catching fish in all the likely places.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate for the next week or so and leave this window of fish catching heaven open before all hell breaks loose and the rivers all blow out until the end of june or so.  

Takin the kids for a stroll

Spring thunderhead

 Time to go home

Thursday, May 31, 2012


“This is my submission for the Trout UnlimitedSimms, the Yellowstone Park Foundation and the Outdoor Blogger Network – Blogger Tour 2012 contest.”

 Huge Yellowstone cutthroat trout

 Perhaps it is because I am a fisherman, that when someone says Yellowstone, cutthroat trout are the first thing that come to mind.  And when I think of cutthroat trout, it is the image of the Yellowstone species that forms in my brain.  They are under attack, and as usual we have only ourselves to blame for this.  Lake trout, which are actually a char and not native to Yellowstone are now thriving in Yellowstone Lake.  Why is this such a problem?  It's a problem because lake trout, even in their native waters, are an apex predator.  They feed voraciously on the abundant supply of forage fish like alewives, sardines, chub and ciscoes (to name a few), that are found in their home waters.  Now, when a fish eating machine like the lake trout is introduced into a lake like Yellowstone Lake, where there is not a large biomass of forage fish, they must turn their attention and appetites to what is there.  In this case, in large part, the Yellowstone cutts.  And the cutthroat are not used to their new status as food.  They are not accustomed to or designed to escape this type of predator and so they become an easy and tasty target for the lake trout.  On top of this, lake trout are much longer lived than cutthroat.  A lake trout, on average, can live to be 40 years old, while the cutthroat rarely live longer than 10 years.  A Yellowstone cutthroat could conceivably spawn 3 to 4 times in it's life, while the lake trout hit the conjugal spawning bed up to 20 times in their lives.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist, biologist, or even an average mathematician to see the conclusion where simple, basic math will take us...Bye Bye cutthroat!

Yellowstone Lake

Fortunately, the caretakers of Yellowstone National Park and it's fish see this, and are trying to do something about it.  There is no limit on lake trout in Yellowstone Lake, so fisherman can fill their bellies with lake trout (and they are tasty, trust me).  The park has also obtained a netting boat that they can use on the lake to net the places they know lake trout inhabit.  It's unlikely that these methods will ever eradicate the lake trout from Yellowstone Lake, but maybe they can keep the menace at bay.  Let's hope so.

Yellowstone River

I do not consider myself to be an environmentalist, nor am I a naturalist who would always champion the native species over the non-native.  Doing so would make me a hypocrite.  For you see, I live near and love fishing the Bow River for it's non-native rainbow and brown trout.  And were it not for the building of a dam or two, which mitigated spring flooding and stabilized both rate of flow and water temperature (yes good things can come from those damn dams), as well as the City of Calgary pumping it's secondary treated waste water directly into the river, flooding it with nutrients in the form of phosphates (basically steroids for plants), the Bow River would still be what it once was...just another barren, glacial, northern freestone river prone to spring flooding from snowmelt and home to a few stunted rocky mountain whitefish and spiney sticlebacks.  Yippee!  So why would I take up the banner to save native Yellowstone cutts you might ask?  Good question.  King Solomon wrote, three thousand years ago, "there is no new thing under the sun" and he was right.  For as long as man has roamed this earth, his hand has spread it's greedy fat fingers out and touched virtually all of the habitable places that exist, forever altering the landscape.  In a world of increasing urbanization, and with the extraction of raw materials to satisfy the appetite of this "urban lifestyle", there are increasingly fewer places that remain pristine.  The reality, on this continent, is it's just the national parks of North America and the far north that can even begin to call themselves pristine anymore.  Yellowstone is one of those places, and the cutthroat that are unique to this park and call it's rivers and lakes home, are inextricably intertwined with this park's pristine state.  Lose them, and Yellowstone begins to lose it's luster.      I believe we must continue to fight in order to preserve some remnant of our natural history.  Yellowstone is a visual spectacle of the past, let's keep it that way.  Save the cutthroat...Bonk a laker!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Well I fish alone..ya ya...with nobody else

Solo again.  This happens more often than not lately.  My once dependable and eager fishing partners have become encumbered with the worldly responsibilities that they once were all too happy to cast off, leaving them unable to wet a line yet again.  That's alright though, this malady has yet to strike me or slow me down, and so I let the rush of early run-off push me further down towards the confluence of this usually low water river to it's confluence with the bow.  I plan to fish above it's mouth as the  afternoon wanes, in the clearer waters of the bow, looking for rising fish with the setting of the sun.  It's as I am crossing this very spot when I see it for the first time...ever!   A caddis hatch so thick it covers the water completely in places.  I have heard of the mother's day caddis hatches before in places south of here, like Montana, Idaho, and Oregon.  I have never witnessed one myself, and didn't think we had them here...until today.  With the battery in my camera dying on me, I was able to get some pictures of the water and the river's edge where all sorts of messy bug copulation was going on.

Caddis Gang-Bang

Love is in the air

Now one would think with a hatch this big exploding all around one's self, that catching a fish would be easy.  This was not the case today, and the big stinky skunk was in full effect.  I saw several guides float by with their clients as I made cast after cast trying to dredge up a trout.  The ones I knew I spoke with, and they informed me that they were having a slow day as well.  I can't figure out why the trout were not eating.  No rising fish and nothing on the nymphs either.  Still, as I slogged my way upstream, back to the truck, against the flow of all that snow melt, I was happy.  Fishing is the only thing I know or act I  have participated in, that makes me happy even when I fail at it.  Next weekend, however, I am going to kill that $#%$# skunk! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Is it just me, or does fishing on a day when you would normally be at work, make the experience just that much sweeter?  I love long weekends.  One has time to get the work that needs to be done around the house completed, spend time with the family, and then escape to the lake for a day of fishing with your buddy guilt and hassle free.  And so it was this long weekend.  On Saturday I set up the trampoline that my wife purchased online, making not only the wife happy, but also sending my spawn into a fit of glee!

After a quiet Sunday spent with the family, I was set loose to once again hunt down pike along with one of my frequent fishing partners Calvin.  I had only one obstacle to overcome, and that was I needed a heavy duty fly rod (see previous post).  This was rectified rather easily though, thanks to my good friends at Fish Tales Fly Shop, and they procured me a Loomis 9wt to use as a loaner rod while they shipped my broken Sage off to Washington.

I like to fish with Cal, he and I are of the same mind when it comes to fishing.  Neither one of us likes to wander aimlessly around the lake, or spend forever casting in one spot hoping a fish will swim by.  We like to hunt fish.  There is an unspoken but hardfast 10 cast rule in the boat.  If no fish is spotted or caught in 10 casts by either of us, we move.  Finally, after several hours of moving from one good looking spot to another, with only a couple of fish to show for it...we found them.  In the far north of the lake, in one of the larger bays, the pike showed up.  Aggression, fearlessness, vicious takes, everything I love about fishing for pike manifested itself that afternoon and evening.  Double headers were common, so common that we couldn't seem to find the time to take many pictures, but we managed a few shots.

 The Barto Minnow strikes again!

I should mention that Calvin is not a fly fishermen...yet.  He still prefers to sling iron, which always brings about a friendly competition in the boat as to what will catch more fish.  Gear or flies?  I am sad to say, that currently, after one trip gear leads by a slim margin of 3 fish.  I will rectify that next time we fish together.  


Cal with another "minnow"

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good:

On tuesday may the eighth the lakes officially opened for pike.  The government keeps them closed from April the first in order to protect the pike as they spawn.  Good weather was forecast for the weekend, and I was planning to get out and get my first real full day of fishing in this year.  As usual various road blocks had to be navigated to achieve this.  First, we needed to keep a supervisory presence at work this weekend due to some scheduling problems.  Second, the in-laws decided to throw a birthday party for my sister-in-law and invited them into town, (they live 130 miles away), for a barbeque on saturday evening.  I was able to extricate myself from the first one by giving the weekend shift to one of the young men on my crew who really wanted some overtime.  The second one was tougher to solve, but, seven come eleven, luck was on my side when my brother -in-law decided he would take the kids dirt biking all day, thus freeing me up to head out fishing if only for half a day.

The mountains were exceptionally beautiful on the way out this morning.

The Bad:

I woke up early saturday morning to a beautiful spring day, it was warm, sunny, calm and the birds were serenading me as I loaded the truck with boat, motor and rods.  How much more perfect could the day get, I wondered, as my tires hit the highway heading east toward the resevoir?  Well, not more than forty minutes into the drive, my question was answered.  I realized that I had forgot the plug to my boat at home!  Seeing as how I was halfway to the lake, and there was a town not too far from the resevoir, I decided that instead of turning around I would just go and buy one there.  This worked out well, but it was eating up precious fishing time on what was turning out to be a stellar day, (weather wise anyway).  

My "Boat Launch"

Crawling Valley Resevoir

I finally arrived at the lake, began to assemble the boat (it's an inflatable) and load it up with gear when I realized that I had not only forgot to bring the plug, but also the anchor!  Meanwhile there was one of the fiercest hatches of chironimids coming off that I have ever witnessed in my life.  They were crawling over everything including me.  It made me wish that the resevoir had trout in it, but alas, no trout.  Only pike, walleye and whitefish are found here.

 Mmmmmmm, bugs.
The "Beast" with bugs.

 The Ugly:

The fact that I had no anchor concerned me at first, as I like to anchor and cast the fly, rather than troll or drift and cast.  Again, luck seemed to be on my side, as it was still quite calm for a sunny spring day on the prairies and the lack of an anchor didn't seem to be too much of a problem as I began to move around the lake prospecting likely spots for the pike.  I caught a few here and there throughout the afternoon, no pictures were taken of the first few pike of the year as they were not exceptionally large, and I thought more,and bigger fish would come to me as the day progressed.  Just south of where I launch there is a nice bay where, in times past, I have caught some of the largest pike I've seen from this resevoir.  And it was there, as I made my first cast into that bay, where the day really began to unravel.  As I retrieved the fly, I felt the sudden stop and weight, of what I thought could be the first good fish of the day.  I set my hook....hard.  Too hard.  Before I really had time to comprehend what had just happened, I realized that all I had left in my right hand was the cork grip and a short, stubby shaft that used to be an nine and a half foot fly rod.  I remember hearing the "SNAP" as I set my hook, but in my confused state, as I watched my fly, fly line, and most of my rod exit the bay connected to a pike that wanted nothing but to rid itself of a metal lip piercing, it didn't register in my brain that my rod had just exploded.  Once the fog began to lift and I realized just what was happening, I grabbed my fly line in my hand and broke off the fish.  No small feat either as I had thirty pound test leader connected to twenty five pound test wire bite tippet, but break it did.  I never saw the fish, but it felt heavy, both as I set the hook and broke him off.  Thus ended my first real day of fishing this season!  Oh well, you know what they say.  "When you hit rock bottom there are only two ways to go.  Straight up...or sideways".  Here's to looking up!

 The broken rod

Sunday, April 29, 2012


And so it has happened!  Spring has sprung, just as it always does year after year.  I don't know why I am always surprised when it finally happens, but every year I am.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the passing of winter always seems to move at the speed of a glacier, while summer and fall come and go seemingly as fast as a twenty three day old hot dog goes through me.  After a morning spent at work, it seemed like a good idea to Glen and myself to get out on the river for the first time this year and cast a fly.  I was hoping the blue winged olives were still hatching and that there might be rising fish.  No such luck!

After fortifying ourselves with some smoked moose meat sandwiches, (sooo good), we dropped into the river for an afternoon of urban fishing on one of the best trout rivers in North America (no exaggeration).  There were no rising fish, but the "worm" was working as were stonefly nymphs fished deep and on the bottom.  We caught a few fish and lost a few more, but for the first real day of spring here, and fishing in the middle of the city, it was a very good day.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Tic toc goes the clock.  Yeah, yeah I know I am dating myself when begin to talk about the sound a clock makes as it denotes the passing of time.  These days luminescent digital numbers change quickly, silently on our phones or I-pads, and time marches on almost without notice.  I notice though, maybe all of us who are on the downside of forty notice.  I am made all to aware of the fact that I am getting to the point where I have more fishing to do than time left to do it in, so today when I spotted open water on one of the city resevoirs for the first time, that desire to wet a line became ever more fervent!

Because I am currently working at the water treatment plant on the resevoir I was able to walk down to the base of the dam, and it was down there where the river begins again that I saw a nice hatch of blue wing olives coming off.

This weekend the temperatures are supposed to climb high enough to at least give the appearance that spring has sprung, and if they do I'm going to go out and stand in the river, rod in hand, fly on the water humming time is on my side.....yes it is.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


This is Glen! 

You can tell this is Glen, and not someone impersonating him, by the look of surprise on his face.  This is how he looks in most of the pictures I have of him.


I'm not sure why he is surprised, and it has been the pondering of this question that has kept me up at night.  Did he not expect me to be there to take the picture?  He should have, we drove there together.  Maybe there was a bear behind me, and that was what was causing him such stupefaction.  Was he surprised he caught a fish?  I wouldn't think so, because he is a perfectly competent fisherman.  You can see here as well, notice the pursed lips and drawn eyes.

Maybe it was the fact that I came at him with the sun at my back, like a WWII fighter pilot, that made him clench his sphincter so.  I can't be sure about any of this though, it is all just random thoughts bouncing around in my mostly empty (except for the voices) cranium.  Anyway, you will be seeing more of him, hopefully, as he is generally my partner when I ply the rivers for fish.  Presumably, after reading this, he won't look so surprised the next time he catches a fish.

But I doubt it!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Doo Doo Doo lookin out my back door

Oh how I envy all of you living down south right now.  For most people living south of the 48th parallel the fishing season has already started or will start April 1st, and in some cases, it never ended.  It just moved from one species of fish to another or from one body of water to another.  Up here in the great white north however, we get extended winter.  So for those of us who don't particularly care for sitting on a cold cube of ice staring at a six inch hole cut through six inches of ice, and dangling half of a sardine while we chew on the other half, that means a long long time with no fishing.

The view out the back door!

These pictures were taken two days ago as an early spring snowstorm came rolling off the mountains and blasted across the prairie.  Needless to say it will be a while before there will be any fishing going on here.  All I can say is spring better come quick cuz I'm starting to twitch like a thirty year old junkie who hasn't had a fix in forty eight hours!  In the meantime I am living my life vicariously through the rest of you, so get fishing already!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Laughing my guts out!

Ok, so this has nothing to do with flyfishing, but when I was shown this by a co-worker I laughed my guts out!  Needless to say the first question I asked my wife when I got home was.....  She got it right!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fish on kid

I am worried about my son! And in conjunction with that I am disappointed with myself. I was looking at a picture of my son with the very first fish he caught by himself the other day, and I found myself thinking what a lucky kid he was. You see, at the tender young age of six, my son has already got several notches in his piscatorial belt that many of us took years to get. Not only was his first fish a ridiculously large 19+ (give or take) inch rainbow trout, he has also brought to hand cutthroat trout, rocky mountain whitefish, bull trout, and pike. It is from this litany of fishy exploits the my worry sprouts. I am worried that one day (when he stops fishing and learns to read) he will come across those articles that we have all read that tell us how hard it is to catch fish, how technical fishing can be, how uncommon and rare ridiculously large 19+ (give or take) inch rainbow trout are, and how much time one must put in fishing to even have the hope of catching one. I am worried that after reading these articles he will say to himself, "this is hard"? "I have accomplished all these things and more already!"  "I must be good, in fact I must be GREAT!"  And this type of thinking will lead him down a path where he will think that all days will be 50 fish days, all tall, blonde, large breasted women will love him, and he will be a millionaire before he is thirty! And this is where I am disappointed with myself. I have this compulsion to tell him the truth. To explain to him that fishing (like life and large breasted blonde women) can, and often does offer up failure in spades. And that fishing (like life) is not really about success, but rather about failure and how you let it affect you (bitter or better). It is during this type of thought process that I have to catch myself and stop, and realize that I need to let him be a kid.  I need to let my children run through the grass barefoot (without worrying about hidden sharp things).  I need to let them scream and laugh at the top of their lungs (without worrying what the neighbors might think).  I need to let them ride their bikes with speed and wild abandon (without worrying about broken limbs), because it is exactly these types of scrapes and failures and disappointments that make those uncommon and rare ridiculously large 19+ (give or take) inch rainbow trout and 50 fish days just so FREAKINGLY awesome and memorable.  If I try to tell them all of this now I'm just gonna spoil it. So, I'll just shut up and hand my son the rod.   Fish on kid, fish on!

The ridiculously large 19+ (give or take) inch rainbow

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fire Tiger Fly Video

Fire Tiger and Perch

Here is another very good pike fly that imitates one of the more popular lures for pike and walleye.  Tie yourself a few of these and go whack some pike!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Steelheading is WORK!!

Cast, step, cast, step, cast, step.
 Water is freakin cold!  My legs are numb!  I hope I can keep this up, too nice of a run to give up to that guide and his client across the river in that spanky jet boat.
 Cast, step, cast, step, cast, step.
 They are watching me, I can feel the guide's eyes boring into me from the other side.  It's good water, perfect water, I know it and he knows it and he is not happy I am going over every inch of it while he sits there with his rich, fat client who probably is fishless today as well.  I love it, and I am milking it like I would a jersey cow with a big fat bag'o'milk and swollen teats!  Slowly, rhythmically.

Cast, step, cast, step, cast, step.
Where are the freakin fish?  "Record run, river is in perfect shape, weather is great", that is what the lady who rented me the cabin told me on the phone when I asked her from the comfort of my home, 720 miles away.  Succubus!
Cast, step, cast, step, cast, step.
My shoulder is killing me, stupid rotater cuff.  I have got to get a spey rod and learn how to cast with it.  I see them out there every day standing on shore, feet barely wet, punching out 200 feet of line effortlessly.  Not me, no sir, I am old school.  Single handed 10ft rod, floating line, 400 grain sink tip, and a big ass wind resistant, cast like a wet sock fly.  I need more ibuprofen.

Cast, step, cast, step, cast, step.
Where are the fish?  It just can't be this hard, can it?  We are in the middle of the 3rd  and last day of our trip, my brother and I,  and we have pounded water relentlessly.  Every run, slick, tailout, pool, seam, bend, bucket, and pocket that we could find and nothing!  NOTHING!  Not a sniff except for two hapless 12 inch dolley varden that fell for an orange general practitioner half as big they were.

Cast, step, cast, step, cast, step.
Stop!  What was that?  Snag?  No, snag is pulling back, FISH!  Lift rod now, set hook, strip in slack line, is he still there?  No, noooooo, NOOOOOOOO!  Buck fever!  He is gone, I can't believe it, I beaked him off.  Strip in the line to see what happened.  The fly is still there, the knot held, just a rookie mistake and I'm no rookie.  I look at my brother hoping I can pass this off as a snag.  No dice, he saw me set, he saw the rod bounce and pulse.  His eyes burn.  The horrer, the shame!  Three days and the first fish we get I lose.  No words to describe it, someone may have to die.  No, seriously I may have to kill someone.  Cast again you fool, maybe he will hit again.
Cast, swing, stop!
Yes, yessssss, YESSSSSSS!  There he is, make no mistake this time.  Line is tight, good hook set, now let him run.  And run he does!  Across the river, jump, jump again, work the line back, pump the rod, wind up, keep the line tight.  The fight goes on but I am winning.  I can feel the steelhead tire.  Runs are shorter, headshakes less aggressive.  Finally my hand under it's belly, gentle caress, remove the hook, take picture, release.  He swims away.  It WAS worth it!  All was not lost!  Let's do it again.

 And again!

And again!

The Broheim

We shall return!