That’s why they call it fishing not catching!


Campfire Time – Stories from the Field

This section is for stories that have been told around many a campfire or over a good bottle of rye. Please enjoy these stories and if you have a good one email me…

 Bullies: Trout Melting Winters Icy Grip

In Western Alberta we are fortunate enough to get a break from "Old Man Winter" in the form of a Chinook. Snow eating Pacific winds blow over the mountains and descend on South Western Alberta. This gets us devoted fly fishermen out from the ice fishing shacks and vices for open water fishing. On one such trip I was joined by a fly fishing companion who had not yet experienced a mid February day on a local tail water fishery. We left town in the darkness driving south for two hours to our destination. In the vehicle both of us had our fingers crossed that the "W" (you can't say the word wind on such outings in hope that you are not cursed all day) had subsided. When we arrived to the canyon all was calm and the temperature was a bit brisk as the sun had not yet peeked into the valley. We arrived at the river. After rigging up, I went down stream to cross the river side and my friend ventured upstream in hopes to find a willing rainbow trout. As we were fly fishing below the outflow of a dam I thought it best to go deep and use a full sink line and a weighted conehead black wooly bugger. I stood atop a man made boulder and excellent current deflector. I made my first cast down the seam between fast and slow waters. As my fly sank in the slow steady current my mind drifted to the possibility of what type of trout lay in the

depths. There were rainbow trout, bull trout, brown trout as well as pike burbot and lake trout and rocky mountain whitefish. My first cast came up empty. I tried out just 5 feet further still on the same seam. Again, I waited as thoughts of what my fly was doing and what fish may or may not bite my deeply fished bugger. On the retrieve I could feel the fly ticking the bottom. Suddenly, 15 feet of line tightened and I set the hook. I was into a freight train as the line peeled of my Winston 6 weight and then in to the backing. I know this was and could only be the fish of my dreams. A lunker Bull Trout. I couldn't budge the fish and he took more line. My friend about 200 yards away could see I was in need of some help and joined me on my side of the river. It was an epic struggle between man and beast and after 20 minutes I was in the lead and he drew nearer to the rock I was standing on. We were both giddy as my friend tailed the Bull Trout. He held it in the current for a while so we could admire this truly wonderful fish. We snapped a couple pics, taped it and the fish retreated to his underwater lair. The final measurement was 31 inches with a sizeable girth. He was the top of the food chain in his underwater world. The only thing cold that day were the beers we drank later that evening while recalling our brush with an amazing bull trout.

Brown Trout: A Magical Night On The Midnight Express

I had heard of others tying mice for fishing leopard bows in Alaska or pike but I had never tried them for myself. The rivers in my area were all high and dirty and there were no major hatches going on at the time. We were amidst the summer doldrums. Quite a bit of rain had fallen in the last week and even the spring creeks were high but not too of colored. After work one day I was talking with a buddy and he said he had seen some nice browns in the creek below his house but he said they wouldn’t bit anything he had to offer refusing even the smallest dry flies. So I told him I should tie him some deer hair mice to try. I had a whole deer hide from the mule deer buck I shot the fall before so material was not a problem. I did some experimenting with different hooks and I settled on a wide gap hook with a long curved shank. I cut foam ears out and put moose mane whiskers on and even an elastic band tail. There I had

perfected the meadow vole that frequent the willow choked banks of our local spring creek. At work the next day I handed these mice to my buddy and he laughed when he saw how big they were and said “I might as well tie a dead chicken on the end of the line" Then asked how to fish them. I told him he should wait until it is real dark flip these mice out on to the water of a deep hole or beaver dam and start a slow noisy retrieve. Well the next morning he was so excited to tell me he had some major hits and landed about a 18 incher just before 11:30 pm. That night we returned to the creek and sat in the cold heavy dew of a June night watching the fire flies light the grass at our feet. I slipped down to the first piece of major structure at the top of a long beaver dam. I began to false cast and it felt like I have a live mouse on the end of the line. I finally got up enough line speed and laid my Mickey 20 feet below me in the slow current. Stripping line out another 10 feet put me in range. As the line tightened I could hear the mouse pull and gurgle against the current. The anticipation of the strike was killing me as my offering drew close to the shore below me, in the moonlight on the water I could see a wake approaching my fly. In a splash it was gone. The fish was on and 5 minutes later I blindly brought the fish close to shore. My buddy went down a beaver run to net it and he came out hollering well it is a "hawg". From that moment on we coined the phrase "welcome to the midnight express" as it was 1 minute to midnight and what an adrenaline rush. After we gather our thoughts and snapped a few pictures in the dark we headed downstream. I could make out a long sweeping corner on the dam from the reflection of the moon on the water. Stripping of a bunch of line, a lob cast was made and my fly found the edge of the grass on the opposite bank. The mouse road the current 10 then 20 then 30 feet downstream. At the corner I started a slow retrieve. About 10 feet into the retrieve a huge splash engulfed speedy Gonzales’s wake. Fish on! Another hard fight and the fish neared the shore as my headlamp shone in the water to see the beast that had devoured my offering. There he was head shaking on the bottom finally he gave up and came to hand. Yet another fine brown trout of 24 plus inches lay in net with a deer hair mouse in his yap. What a magical night on the "midnight express". I will be sure to pull this out of my fly box more often and take a ride.