Friday, July 22, 2011
Give 'er on the River (July 22 entry)
I've often been called crazy, wild or over-energetic. Maybe it's the approach I take towards life. When my late uncle Bob told me to live every day like it's your last the last time I saw him, it stuck with me. When it comes to fishing, there should be no exceptions. Technically we have 3 months of summer on a calendar, but realistically in northern Alberta you can cut that figure in half. My belief that every warm day or evening we are given should be spent outside; whether it's fishing, camping, hiking, or just having a barbecue. This holds especially true on a wet year like the one we are having, where a handful of nice weekends may be all we get for "summer weather" on the calendar year.
Last weekend was a memorable one for me and I lived up to my reputation as a person who tries doing too much in too little time. I got out to the Calgary Stampede saturday afternoon, partied at a great patio party, won some prizes (including 2 cute monkeys) at the Stampede grounds and won money at the casino. The next morning I woke up, discovered my head wasn't pounding at all from all the whiskey I snuck around in my cowboy boots the day before and one thing came to mind: ANDY IT IS 30 DEGREES CELSIUS OUTSIDE, HEAD TO THE MOUNTAINS AND GO FISHING!!!
Fortunately my cousin Steve woke up feeling good too and the first thing that crossed his mind was doin some fly fishing. We packed up our gear in my car, grabbed a Canadian Famous Donair, and headed for the hills. I can't believe how many people refuse to make day trips like these. I believe spending $10 on gas for a road trip where so many memories can be made is smarter than buying material goods such as blue ray players and plasma TV's... We arrived to the Sheep River around 1:00. We grabbed our 5 weight rods, floating lines, and a box of dry flies, nymphs and streamers and headed up the river for a day of enjoyable wet-wading. Steve was using a dry fly with a nymph under it, referred to as a dry-dropper rig and I was throwing a streamer hoping for bull trout to come out and play. We had to dodge about 30 inner tubes floating down river but managed to find decent action along log jams and in calmer water along the faster riffles. Steve landed a few small rainbows up to around 11" and I had a few hits when I switched over to dry flies. Unfortunately no bulls came out to play on this day.
While on the river I received a phone call from my friend Beth. I knew we had to go see Kenny Chesney at 7:30 and I had the tickets. "Where are you?" She asked. "I'm on the Sheep River near the mountains," I replied. "Oh my god you're crazy, you better be here on time," was the response I got. If I got a dollar every time I heard this line, I'd have a Hyde drift boat in the back yard and a brand new pick-up to tow it! I rushed to the concert (runnin across downtown Calgary in 30 degree heat wearing cowboy boots and jeans 'aint fun). Right after the show I packed all my stuff, zipped to my buddy Kyle's place and we tied up some flies to get ready for a morning on the Bow River. I thought about getting a few hours sleep, but decided against it. I knew there'd be time to nap when I'd get back to Fort Saskatchewan the next day. This was Calgary time, this was FISHING TIME!
We stopped by at the gas station, picked up one of those god-awful sandwiches and a box of Red Bull. That stuff don't give you wings but it does keep you awake! The sun was just starting to come up and we had a riot on the river. The usual Bow River flies for this time of year came through. We lost numerous browns and rainbows in that 24" range and I managed to slam into this nice brown! I picked it off against a bank, after throwing an upstream cast maybe 6" from shore. The head and tail rise of this fish made me believe it was possibly a big one. When it tore downriver into my backing, it was confirmed! After a very long battle, the big brown trout was visible and getting closer to the net! Hooting and hollering like we were at a cattle auction, the brown slid into the net. I was in absolute awe of this fish. It was a long male, very fat and healthy, and it had amazing colours. I was surprised how dark it was, considering it is only July. Usually brown trout don't get this dark until closer to their fall spawn. We took a couple pictures and let this beauty back into his home.
It was truly a memorable fish for me and the perfect way to cap-off an action packed Stampede weekend in Calgary. I fell asleep right when I got home around 3:00 pm and woke up at 6:30 am the next morning, just in time for work! When I told my co-worker the story and how good the fishing was I got the same old response, "Andy, you try doing too much on your weekends, you're crazy!!" Do yourselves a favor this summer, when it's nice out don't hesitate to get on the water whenever possible. The memories made in 5 minutes can often last a lifetime-