Sunday, September 21, 2014

Alberta Bound: floating the Bow River

Okay I know the title of the blog is fly-fish-bc, but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to float the Bow River south of Calgary, Alberta earlier this month.
I'd been planning on a trip to meet my good friend Randy in Calgary, and when he offered to book a trip on the Bow courtesy of Fish Tales fly shop I was only more than happy to accompany him.
We met our guide John early Sunday morning, and geared up and dropped the boat in at Policeman's Flats, a makeshift launch, that accommodated Calgary's many and varied fly-fishing outfits, and a small flotilla of drift boats.
Our guide was not slight by any stretch of the imagination. He stood about six-foot-five, a small mountain draped in a dark-blue Patagonia fly fishing shirt, waders and boots, with hands the size of a catcher's mitt, but he could tie on a #20 trico pattern in a blink of an eye, and cast a fly rod with wonderful grace and power, that reminded me of one of those giant slow turning windmills on the southern plains of the province. John was a good, thorough, jovial, and instructive guide, that did all that was expected and more. I liked him.
We set off at about 9:30 a.m., too early for any hatches, so I chucked a streamer pattern with a dropper beadhead hares ear nymph, and another smaller, #16 water-boatman. Casting three flies on one line was a first for me, hailing from B.C. where fly anglers are permitted to cast just a single fly, sans barb. But when in Rome.
It was slow to start, but the sun shone and the wind blew softly, and the midges were the first to stir. We stopped at a good run, casting into the seam of the tail out, when Randy hooked up with a large rainbow. Unlike my set up, Randy was rigged with a strike indicator and a combination of nymph and San Juan worm. The rainbow pulled hard and showed itself almost immediately, rolling its 20 inches over in the shallows then gunning for the middle of the river.
Now Randy is not an experienced fly angler, and unaccustomed to the fly reel he held on tight waiting for the line to be born away from the spool according to the dictates of a spinning reel's drag. Needless to say, the rod doubled, the line tightened, quivered slightly, then snapped.
 Well it was a learning experience, and the fishing would eventually heat up as the day progressed.
On one stretch of river, with deep over-hanging banks, we spotted a rainbow sipping flies off the surface. John quickly pulled the boat over and handed me a fly rod and tied on a #16 Adams. I watched the snout break through the surface film, I false cast a couple times then eased the fly into the zone, it settled and drifted towards me for about a foot, when the trout swirled around the fly, and the fish was on.
John reminded me of the 5X tippet so I cautiously played the trout, but as it ran downstream towards some fast water, I had to increase the pressure, until the trout slowed, turned and shot straight towards me. I frantically stripped line, until finally catching up to the trout. Eventually it relented, and after a quick measurement we released the 21-inch rainbow back into the stream to where it resumed its position against the bank and began feeding again.
In all we landed six trout, but lost a few more. I had one monster rainbow come unbuttoned after it attacked my hopper pattern. As I set the hook all I saw was the massive head and baleful eye of what had to be a 22-inch plus rainbow shoot out of the water and launch itself straight at me.
It was a perfect day, and a lot of fun. The drift ended at McKinnon Park, well into the evening. We tried to coax rising trout to dry flies, and Randy had one roll over his caddis pattern but did not stick.
I was surprised with the beauty of the Wild Rose landscape and despite suffering one of its worst floods in history last summer, the Bow is still an eminently productive and rewarding fishery.
Apparently there is an epic stonefly hatch in July, so I plan to return next summer for what my guide says is a truly transcendent experience.
For more information on fly fishing the Bow River contact Fish Tales Fly Shop toll free at 1-866-640-1273 or 403-640-1273.
Visit their website at

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fisheries try to solve pike problem

By Jim Bailey
Trail Times

Fish biologists took a major bite out of the pike population on the Columbia River earlier this summer.

Biologists from the Ministry of Environment (MoE) and Mountain Water Research (MWR) netted close to 100 adult pike in Robson Reach over five days in a recent effort to suppress the spread of the invasive species on the Columbia River.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spring rainbows on the Columbia

The Columbia River rewarded me on Easter Sunday with a few beautiful rainbows.
Golden stonefly
Golden stonefly nymphs and a green/brown woolly bugger were the flies of choice as I waded out into the Columbia near a small tributary.
The sun was shining and a few midges and small mayflies were coming off the water, but no surface action.
I went with a fast sink tip and the woolly bugger, and had a violent hit as soon as I stopped the drift of the fly and it started to swing. It was a good sign and sure enough on the very next cast I was into a beautiful silver doe, close to 20-inches in length.
I caught and released a couple more ranging in size from 16-18 inches, and lost one that had to be on the healthy side of 22 inches.

Jim with rainbow on.
 The warm weather certainly kick-started the stonefly hatch, but recent rain and cooler temperatures seem to have slowed their migration to the shore and eventual mating process.
I was out on Friday in rainy and windy weather, and while I did hook up once, and had another slam my nymph without sticking, the rainbows seemed a bit sluggish.
Rainbow release from Columbia.
More warm weather in the forecast, should see more big adult stones on the water, and rainbows rising to them. From what I hear the black ants aren't too far behind, so get ready, hopefully we can still get some good days in before the freshet runs in earnest from the mountains and muddies the water.
 Also, local lakes such as Rosebud, Box, and Summit are good to go for chironomid fishing. I have yet to get on the lakes, because the Columbia has been so good, but hopefully in the next week I'll get out for some stillwater fly fishing. 
So much water, so little time.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The season for salmonflies

Check out fly-fish-bc's article in The New Fly Fisherclick here

The New Fly Fisher is out with one of my articles on the Salmonfly hatch on western rivers, entitled "In Pursuit of Giant Stones." Also,  the Black Press quarterly issue of Route 3 features "Caught up in the Cast" a primer for first-time fly fishers. It was a busy last couple months at the computer, but I'm hoping with spring and a new Ross Reel, I'll be out on the local lakes and Columbia River soon.
I'll also post a recent article on spey-casting competitor Bruce Kruk who is attending the world spey-casting championship at Spey-O-Rama in San Francisco next weekend.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

West Kootenay Fishing Report

The West Kootenay Fishing Report provides local anglers with tips and reports on fishing the many lakes and rivers of the West Kootenay region.
Kootenay Lake:
west kootenay fishing reportDecember saw similar fishing to the previous months, however, the last couple weeks produced some big fish and hopefully the winter feeding will continue.
There were slow days with only a couple fish coming to the boat, however on a few of those slow days the couple fish caught just happened to be the biggest fish of the week.
There were also some great days with over 10 fish brought to the boat. It just seems like the fish put on their ‘feed bags’ every once in a while, so you just have to be out there on the water when it happens.
Rainbows up to 17 pounds and bull trout up to 12 pounds have been caught lately, with even a few bigger fish hooked, but end up coming loose or breaking the line.
Looking forward to January’s fishing, as this is usually the month of our biggest fish of the year.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Saving the Westslope Cutthroat Trout

The most recent issue of The New Fly Fisher online magazine is out with great articles and images of fly fishing throughout Canada and the world.
Check out Fly Fish BC's most recent article on Saving Westslope Cutthroat Trout