Sunday, July 29, 2012

Some Clarity

The other day I was floating on a stream in Alberta that I'm in the process of learning and really appreciating.  I had two 'sticks' with me and I spent the first part of the day in a state of bliss has fly line floated in the air above the boat creating  an almost majestic pattern.  I imagined that if the line was pointed with an ink ball and the sky a canvas a masterpiece would have been created....that feeling may have coincided with the onset of the Tylenol 3's that I ingested in order to subdue the pains of my massive sore and swollen throat.  Regardless of the catalyst in that emotion, it was a moment in which I felt clear about my choice in life to pursue a career in guiding...flash forward a few hours and the T3's have worn off; I can't speak a word because I've lost my voice and I'm wishing horribly that I can tell the anglers to back off the soft water and the bank and hit the heavier seams in the faster more oxygenated water.  And of course hitting a grass blade from 60 feet is not a problem for either of my guests in the boat so no matter how far I pull the boat away from it they're still nailing it.

 Two days later on the  Elk  I have my voice back and I can convey my message to present the fly where I feel it should be and the fish actually start to respond on a more frequent level.  I can feel the transition occur as water clears and big fish slide into their lanes to do what they came here to do....grow.  Despite the murky and high water the fish have been feeding on the Elk and most of what I'm hooking is fat and large.  Numbers have been solid but size has been the standout of the two measures.

Michael Poulin Lifting Weights on the Elk River

It's been a lot of waiting and wondering and it's nice to see the river clearing up and seeing the bottom of all this is refreshing.  Alberta treated us well during the murky times and I really enjoy the moments I spend angling on the eastslope.  The Elk is on...alive with caddis, stoneflies and a smattering of mayflies.  The river is dropping new buckets, riffles and runs are showing themselves and the fish are starting to look at the ceiling instead of needling around in the basement.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

H2NO More Please....

The abundance of water we’ve been getting smashed with in the Kootenay Region of BC has been staggering at points.  June was torrential and posted record rainfalls for the area and July has been drier but is delivering some epic rainstorms with some thunder and lightning mixed in.  Just as the Elk starts to take gain visibility one of these hero type fronts rolls in and turns the river to poo….that’s right poo!!!  As in chocolate brown.  Little frustrating for sure but I’m blessed to know of some good floats and wades in the SW Alberta region and have been taking refuge in the cleaner and more active waters.
The Kootenay Invading Johnstone Beach

The Elk is crap right now.  I’m not a big advocate of hucking streamers for cutts on the Elk so I suffer through some  mediocre days on the Elk pumping leggy flies into the few soft seams on the river and watch in disbelief as drift after good drift just passes by.  I’ve even witnessed some epic hatches of stoneflies that were more or less ignored by the trout.  So perhaps the streamer is the answer but I’d rather fish Alberta and wait for the dry to come back and that has pretty much been my MO and I’ve really enjoyed the time over there despite the long days.

Have fished with some of my favourites lately, both new and old clients.  It’s been a pleasure to have the people who I’ve had in my boat over the last few weeks and it’s hard to use the term clients when there is such comfort and ease in their company; feels more akin to friendship.  Ya….I’m super freakin’ lucky and blessed to have found my way into this game.
Chris Jacobs Styling on the Oldman

After fishing the Oldman Tailwater with Brad and Chris Jacobs; an awesome couple from Helena MT who are just the perfect people  to spend time in a boat with.  They both are keen and possess the skills to handle the tricky tailwater and we manage to move and land some nice fish over the two days of floating.  The rainbows were seeing their first few days of clean and lower water and were definitely a bit skinny; the tailwater raged for awhile and clearly the fish were laying low through it all.  We fished dries pretty much the whole way which is my favourite way to feed the Oldman rainbows.  They responded well to an assortment of PMD’s and Caddis and aside from one bitchy little pod that snubbed my entire PMD selection (which is by no means small).  We had hooked two off the start but as they continued to rise it became clear that they smelt the bullshit of my imitations and there was nothing that was going to get a hook in their jaw.  Always hard to row away from rising fish but we did and moved into a new school of trout that were eating what I usual put on the menu for them.  

After watching more rain and runoff paint the Elk we headed further east and fished a certain river filled with Browns with Phil Dupuis, Ron Myers and Jim Woolacott.  Jim invented the Bow River Bugger and is one of the most enthusiastic anglers I’ve had in my boat.  Dude reads water well and is not afraid to tickle the edges.  Jim got busy peeling small browns off the boat throughout the day and continued to touch some nice fish in the evening.  After the clouds sunblocked the river we came up on a gorgeous  bank where  he smacked a meaty brown that went tail walked upstream and chucked the fly away.  Impressive. 
Ron was fishing out of the front of the boat and it was probably about the 25th or so day that we have fished together and I always appreciate having him in the boat cause I know I’m going to get good presentations.  No one works an inside seam drag free like Ron and watching him short stack mends to make that PMX dance down the softer edge of the current seam was magic.  He hooked lots went on about the countless rivers his played with throughout Montana and hearing him run through that list of blue ribbon waters made me want to take the month off and trout bum it through the Big Sky State.

Guiding Phil Dupuis is like spending a day on the water with your old drinking buddy.  Not that he drinks on the water but he has no problem telling you what’s on his mind and has no problem having it thrown back.   We’ve watched him evolve has an angler over the last several years and we’re not quite sure what he got up to this winter but his game with the stick was definitely tighter.  He crushed a couple of nice browns on the Alberta float with Spencer on dries after  putting  up with some shitty wet weather the day before on an Elk Trib that produced a couple of nice cutts.  I haven’t been that rainsoaked in a while, but both days we went out and walked and waded we got drenched.  No major hatches to accompany the lows that were cruising in which added some insult to the soggy situation.  Fine food and drink in the evenings helped us get over the abuse from mother nature.
Phil Dupuis Beating the Weather in Slabtown

More rain today, severe rainfall warning according to the weather station and it did hammer down in Fernie for a bit, but it stopped shorter than expected and I’m hoping the Elk cleans and allows us to have a peak at her bottom.  Fish must be sick of breathing silt but it’s gonna happen any day now if the forecast gives us what it’s promising.  Still feels like the season is just kicking off and it’s almost August.   When this thing does clear and those poor lil trout start looking up; they  are  going to get reckless on food.  I’m expecting a good terrestrial season this year as many of the hatches on the Elk have been going off during this cloudy water stage.  The tribs are still chocked full of PMD’s and Drakes but the Elk has been checking in at warm temps due to the rainfall created runoff which has kept the bugs moving throughout this browning  of the river.

I’m out again on Sunday to float the beast and I’m gonna make some burnt offerings on the banks of the Elk tomorrow and ask the water Gods for clarity.  Our fly shop in the Stanford will be opening Sunday....back in the retail game :)!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Season Begins =0

Update time....I spent the last week doing a bit of everything; some extended treeplanting, some partying on our beloved Canada Day and a wee bit of angling.  Most people might think that life as a fishing guide is all about angling and for the most part it could be; but most of my time has been spent putting together fly shop orders and doing the required maintenance on vehicles, boats and myself.  After some crushing, fun nights out; detox and yoga are being honoured as I ground myself and get ready for another season on the sticks.

Spencer was visiting from Fernie to cash in on some festivities as Nelson's brand of fun is about two full ladder lengths above Fernie's and we played well and ate well.  After bidding farewell to my planting amigos we pulled our alcohol soaked heads out of our asses and got the Hyde headed towards the Columbia.

It was a humid day but overcast and grannom and spotted caddis were bouncing on the water.  At first lightly but after the confluence of the Kootenay the bug count picked up quite a bit.  Some guerilla angling was allowed as the super high flows invaded the banks and swamped some of the riverbank forest and we had some fun maneuvering the boat through that.

Tonguing the Trout
 After a slow start we tucked into a back eddy where I had seem some fish working and got busy right away with some double ups on small elk hair cdc caddis.   The fishing continued to go well in the back eddy but after it cooled off we moved down into some other "productive" water.  No such luck on my next two fav eddies but we did manage to sneak a few last minute fish in at the Waterloo eddy which by the way is churning huge whirlpools on it's outside seam convergence.  To put it bluntly, it's damn right frightening watching those suckholes form as they collect speed and widen.  The vortex drops a three or four feet below the surface and you get that feeling that if it pulled it down, you would likely not be making it back up.

The caddis had been collecting in the treetops that evening and I really thought we were going to get the caddis rains going but a small cold front moved in and dropped the temperature and they seemed to retreat to the cover of the trees....I head back tommorrow for some more Columbia love.  Will post the results Friday morning.

As far as ALL other streams I usually guide on, I would say we are a week or so away from any kind of decent angling on that end.  Spencer is keeping his eye on the Elk and the Alberta streams while I stay over here dialing into the Columbia and waiting hopelessly for the Slocan to drop.  Likely won't be where it needs to be by the July 15th summer weather on the way and the dry spell could be what saves us....Stay Tuned!!!