I love my steelhead. They will forever be my favourite fish. But as an angler the
desire to explore and have new experiences draws me to new places. So here I am in Calgary, on the other side of the Rockies where salmon and steelhead cannot reach. Several people have asked why on earth I would leave sea run fish, chrome and huge, for single handers and trout. For starters, I could never leave those silver beauties forever. A couple months away from them will only whet my appetite for swinging flies. When I come home I will be longing to fish the Fraser and Harrison for Chinook and Coho, dreaming of northern BC steelhead and praying that the Thompson is open.
But for now, it is all about trout. Browns, bulls, cutthroat, rainbows, and hopefully even some brookies; perhaps even a few pike. Single handers, multiple fly rigs, drift boats, mountain streams, thunder storms and sunshine. Experience is experience, any way you look at it. A big section of the Bow River is classified as a Blue Ribbon trout stream, and is arguably one of the best trout rivers in North America. Fishing can be crazy insane, or tougher than you can imagine. The better you are at reading water, figuring out the hatch, spotting rising and feeding fish, casting with distance and accuracy, the more successful you’ll be. I’m looking forward to spotting and stalking fish in gin clear mountain streams, and trying to make that perfect cast to that monster brown rising for tiny caddis on the Bow. I can’t help but feel that these couple months will make me a much, much better angler, not just for trout, but for everything.
There is so much about fishing here that I haven’t really had the opportunity to do - streamer fishing out of the boat, for instance. Casting a sink tip line with two huge streamer patterns on a single hand, trying to land them an inch or two from the bank at a downstream angle from the boat, then stripping the flies back almost as fast as possible is a huge rush, especially when you get that explosion as a fish grabs the fly just after it hits the water. When you can see that gorgeous brown following, chasing, maybe eating or turning away at the last second, it’s interactive, visual and exciting, not to mention a heck of a lot of work. Fishing big foam stone flies or hopper patterns from the boat, while not as much work, can be just as exciting as you watch a fish slide out from underneath a cut bank, eat the fly off the surface and sink back down. And then there are sipping fish. Looking for snouts requires patience. Sometimes the fish are eating so softly you barely see a dimple. Other times you see nose, back and tail. Sometimes they feed in a rhythm, steadily rising in one spot or one line, while other times the rises are sporadic, inconsistent. Then it’s a matter of knowing what it is they are eating, and presenting the fly in the right place and the right time.
And casting? Well, your casting can’t help but improve. In BC we can only fish one fly. Here we can fish up to three. And let me tell you, it takes some getting used to. And it is all about being accurate. Often if your streamer or hopper isn’t two inches from the bank you won’t move fish. Two feet, one foot, even 8 inches from the bank can be too far. And if your fly splashes as it lands or you over cast to a rising fish chances are that fish will be put down for good.
Even if it isn’t the type of fishing you always do, or even the fish you love the most, every new experience will only give you valuable skills that help you on your future adventures. So for now call me a trout bum, because pretty soon I’m going to be an even better steelhead bum than before.