Wednesday, August 19, 2009

East Kootenay Bulls

With three days off and a yearning to get away and cast my fly in fly-fishing-only waters I packed up the truck and headed east - to the East Kootenays - home of classified waters and some of the best cutthroat and bull trout fishing in the world.

I went to the same stream I had visited a couple years ago with good friend Colin M. The stream was a small stream that fed into a small river. We discovered a spot on that stream that held large cutthroat - I mean really large. Only Colin and I know of "the spot". Unfortunately, Colin could not make this trip but very near the very same spot we landed the biggest damn cutthroat ever and a very respectable bull trout, I also landed a few of the nicest bull trout ever taken on a fly.

At this time of year the bulls are in full gallop up
many East Kootenay streams and rivers. They are not difficult to find, however, the real challenge is to get them to take your offering once you do find them. I could see a half dozen of them holding under a sweeper at the pool end of a tailout. I tied on a large weighted bunny leech pattern and dropped it into the current. I stacked line and watched the tip of my floating line for any dramatic shift or movement as the rabbit bobbed its way down the stream. Often, the slightest pause would mean a hook up but many times it was simply a snag. The first few bulls I hooked, the barbless bunny leech would eventually come free but finally it held and after some tense moments, I was able to land a respectable 28" bull trout.

I landed three more that day with a few misses and lost flies thrown in. It was a great day on the river.
While I used my 6-wt for bulls, I also landed many cutthroat on my 3/4-wt, healthy and broad shouldered as any cutthroat I've ever caught.

The streams I fished were 'Classified Waters', 'fly fishing only' streams and all catch and release. They had every restriction short of 'no fishing' as you can get. And I loved it.

I saw many vehicles but few people. Most fly fishers are loners, somewhat surly and uncommunicative even when in groups. One group of four, I stumbled on somewhat unexpectedly, as I turned a bend. They glanced at me, probably noticed my impeccable casting skills as I snagged another sweeper on the opposite shore, before sheepishly exiting the stream and driving away without so much as a wave. Which is fine, they relinquished the water without me having to pretend I was a passable caster or interested in them or their fishing day in any way.
Of course there are exceptions. Shortly after, another truck drove up. I was completely and obliviously up to my chest in water trying to free my fly from the sweeper when two men walked down the beach towards me. I hadn't noticed them until I was back across the water and lifting my rod to attach another fly. They were dressed in Cloudveil's best fishing attire - I was immediately envious and a little embarrassed as I had decided to plow through water in my shorts and a ratty tank top on such a hot day. Nevertheless, each grasped a cold can of Bud in their hands which made me think "okay, either they're American or Albertan" if they were local they'd probably have a Fernie Lager or a Kootenay True Ale in their mitts.

After some initial pleasantries, I discovered they were indeed from the U.S. And even more interesting, one turned out to be a fly-fishing writer while the other was an industry rep from Cloudveil Fly Fishing. Wow I thought. I even recognized the writer from a piece he had done in FR&R years before.

We chatted and exchanged info. I thanked them for the cold Bud they shared with me and wished them well. It never ceases to amaze me at the people I meet and the opportunities that have been afforded me all by a perverse desire to throw string and live life among the fishes.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fly-fish-BC Photo Gallery

The wonderful thing about fly fishing is that it gives one an opportunity to experience the hidden beauty of the natural world which often translates into some great photo ops. I've added a couple new galleries on my website's Photo Gallery page but I'll add some photos here that I just took yesterday.

Good friend Larry Connel and I were up the Pend d'Oreille chasing smallmouths, when this massive eagle took flight just a few feet away from us. It surprised us both as we were concentrating a little too intensely on the bass. Amazed at the sheer size and proximity, I dropped my fly rod and began shooting as it settled into the top of a nearby tree.

The fishing was good as usual but it's the presence of wild things in wild places that makes for an unforgettable trip. The last time I was here a cow moose crossed the river just ahead of us, not to mention the many deer, elk, bears, and variety of birds I've come across in the past. You just never know - so, like a good boyscout, I try to "be prepared".

I have forgotten my camera many times in the past and almost always regretted it. I try now to never leave without it, batteries fully charged, empty cards, and clean lenses but of course just last week I left it at home when Colin and I had a great day on the Salmo River - such is life.

Thanks for a good day Larry - I hope you and Dorothy enjoyed the fillets.

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