Fly Fishing Alberta
I remember the first time I played golf. It was a beautiful summer evening. That first shot flew out over the blue Edmonton sky and settled in the middle of the fairway. I was 12 years old and, from that moment on, addicted to golf. My appetite for fly fishing began many years later, but was also sparked by a single, memorable event – when, in a classic example of beginner’s luck, I landed a big brown trout on the Bow River.
Over the last decade I’ve wasted a glorious allotment of life’s brief flicker engaged in this new, perplexing pastime. Fly-fishing, like golf, is a pursuit that involves a litany of painful moments on the steep road toward competency. Unlike golf however, fishing does not entail the agony of a triple-bogey or the humiliation of a whiff. But, like the errant swing of a driver, casting a fly can result in plenty of frustration and some unintended consequences. There are missed fish, tangled lines – even an occasional need for the apologetic retrieval of a barbed hook from the derrière of a fellow fisherman.
There are a few different ways to wet a line. If you have a boat, you can drift a river or float a lake. If not, you can stand on a dock or cast from shore. But best of all is to walk and wade a shallow river. Nothing beats the solitary experience of crisscrossing a remote meandering creek, searching for elusive, rising fish. Plus I get to spend long peaceful hours alone with my favourite person. Haha.
Fly fishermen are notoriously secretive about their favourite fishing spots. One fall evening, at a secluded spot on the Oldman River in southern Alberta, I arrived late and, in the near-dark, set up camp. I wandered over to chat with a couple of well-fed fellows who were sitting contentedly by a campfire, cooking smokies and enjoying a few brews. A pair of hip-waders drying in the setting sun identified them as fly-fishermen.
‘Hi there,’ I said. ‘Can you tell me if there’s a good spot to fish around here?’ ‘
Yup,’ said the more portly of the two, taking a pull from his beer and looking downstream. ‘Just that way a bit. It’s called Zippermouth Creek.’
‘Where?’ I asked excitedly.
He looked at his buddy knowingly, then turning my way, pulled a thumb and index finger across his lips. Then he laughed, took another sip and returned his attention to the roaring fire. I slunk away – rebuffed but undeterred. And in the morning I did indeed hunt down a nice fishing hole. And since then I’ve discovered a few Zippermouth Creeks of my own.
Like every other endeavour, people who are skilled at fly-fishing make it look easy. A lot of time can be saved – and aggravation averted – by watching and imitating the pros. Turns out there are just three parts to the program. First, one must learn to operate a fly rod. Then, you need to figure out where the fish are hiding. Last is to determine what our pesce little friends are eating that day. My buddy Tony has patiently – and somewhat effectively – educated me in these three basic principles. But on occasion, even the master gets fish-schooled. We were drifting the Red Deer River on May 15th, opening day.
Tony was at the oars, scanning the surface, vigilant for signs of rising trout. Suddenly he pointed quietly toward a sunken log: ‘There, a big brown!’ He eased the boat toward shore and silently dropped anchor. Soon the telltale signs of a slurping snout re-emerged. Tony ambled onto the bank, tied on a green drake and, with precision, dropped the fly a few feet upstream of the log. The drift was textbook, directly over where the trout had been feeding. Nothing. Puzzled, he tied on a stonefly pattern and made another perfect cast. Nada. Finally he tried a caddis. Sure enough, the fish struck. But it was foul hooked and easily busted off. Tony, frustrated, gave up and, muttering about ‘dumb fish’, wandered up toward another hole.
I looked in my fly box, pulled out something that looked like a beetle, and tied it on. First cast the monster attacked. I set the hook and, to my utter amazement, the fly was firmly attached to the maw of an enormous brown. I reeled in the line but when the fish saw me – and I it – we both panicked. It set course for the middle of the river and the safety of strong current while I stumbled and fell on the slippery rocks. I regained my footing and after five minutes fighting the brute I called for help: ‘Tony, bring the net!’ But the cascading river drowned out my wails. I’d have to land the beast solo. Which, amazingly, I did, although the fish’s mouth and tail were spilling out the edges of my cheap net. Tony arrived in time to snap a picture, verifying what otherwise would have gone down in history as just another of Gerry’s fictional fish stories.
Do I tie my own flies? Certainly not. I get everything from my dealer, Tony. It starts with a phone call:
G: ‘Hey, Tony, I’m outa green drakes and I need some, real bad.’
T: ‘I ain’t got no green drakes, I can get ya some browns. Maybe.’
G: ‘No, Tony, please I really need the greens.’
T: ‘Ok, ok, calm down. I’ll leave a packet in the rear mailbox. Leave cash. Use the back gate and don’t let nobody see ya.’
G: ‘Thanks Tony, you’re a life saver.’
Then the conversation changes:
G: ‘Oh, Tony, did I mention the big cutthroat I landed at Prairie Creek last week.’
T: ‘No, Gerry. Tell me more. Was it male, female? Any colour?’
G: ‘Golden red. A fat male. 18 inches. Maybe more. With a huge kype.’
T: ‘Oh, Gerry, that is so-o-o exciting! Tell me more.’
I call this 1 (900) FISH TALK. It’s kinda weird. But then, fly fishermen really are fanatical.
These days I spend about as much time casting about as I do strolling fairways – and if I have the choice between fishing and golfing, more and more I’m leaning toward avoiding those nasty three-putts and instead trying to land that big one.
By the way, did I mention that, after hitting that first big drive all those years ago, I duffed three shots in a row?
contact Gerry at [email protected]
Gerry Feehan is an award-winning travel writer and photographer. We hope you enjoyed his Irish adventure. He and his wife Florence live in Red Deer, AB and Kimberley, BC.
Team says technical issues from ‘unprecedented demand’ left Oilers raffle in limbo
EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers’ record-setting online 50/50 raffle from Friday with a total estimated pot of more than $15 million remained in limbo on Saturday as officials attempted to sort out technical problems that the team’s management says were a result of “unprecedented demand.”
In a website post, the Oilers Entertainment Group says its technology provider’s servers were overwhelmed with requests to purchase tickets.
At certain points, it says demand for tickets exceeded $100,000 per minute, causing slow loading times, geolocation errors and duplication of some orders.
It says it’s trying to resolve customers issues and is in communication with the province’s gaming regulator, but that dealing with the issues “led to a delay in picking the winning number.”
Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis says in an email that it has been monitoring the situation and asks for the public to be patient with the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation as they address the issues.
Late Friday the foundation announced the 50/50 was closed in order to process transactions in the queue.
“The integrity of the draw is intact. We apologize for the inconvenience, and the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation will post the winner as soon as possible at EdmontonOilers.com/5050,” the update on the team’s website on Saturday stated.
Friday’s record broke a previous one that was set by another draw Wednesday. That draw had to close early when the server provider reached maximum allowable ticket sales.
Officials had said the provider had increased its capacity by 2.5 times for Friday night’s draw, but many people reported on social media that they were having trouble getting through to buy tickets.
Half of the pot raised from the raffles go to the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, which supports organizations focused on vulnerable populations in downtown Edmonton and youth sports throughout northern Alberta.
The Oilers were eliminated from the playoffs Friday when they lost Game 4 of their best-of-five series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 8, 2020.
The Canadian Press
Tuch scores in OT, Knights beat Avs 4-3 for top seed
EDMONTON — Alex Tuch scored 4:44 into overtime, Jonathan Marchessault had two goals and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Saturday to earn the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
The Golden Knights will face Chicago in the first round of the playoffs. The second-seeded Avs take on Arizona.
“We came here to take care of every challenge ahead of us. We did a good job,” Marchessault said. “We wanted the first seed after the round robin and we got it done. So I think it’s pretty positive. We’re really happy where our game is at as a team.”
Tuch scored the winner on a shot over the shoulder of Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The Avalanche tied the game with 1:02 left in regulation when J.T. Compher poked in the puck.
Marchessault scored in the second period and again early in the third when he was pulled down by Avalanche defenceman Ryan Graves on a breakaway. Awarded a penalty shot, Marchessault beat Grubauer to the glove side.
Nicolas Roy also scored for the Golden Knights, who finished 3-0 in the playoff seeding round between the top four teams. Colorado wound up 2-0-1.
It was Tuch’s third goal in round-robin play.
“Feels pretty good,” Tuch said. “Honestly it was a big goal to get the first seed. I didn’t care who scored it as long as we did.”
Robin Lehner finished with 32 saves in starting over Marc-Andre Fleury. Lehner was acquired in a trade with the Blackhawks in February.
Now he gets to face them in the post-season.
“It’s going to be fun,” Lehner said. “They’re a very good hockey team.”
Joonas Donskoi and Nathan MacKinnon scored for the Avalanche. Grubauer was in net over Pavel Francouz, who stopped 27 shots in a shutout win over Dallas on Wednesday. The veteran Grubauer was solid in saving 22 shots.
Colorado’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare had a breakaway chance late in the third against his former team, only to send the shot high.
“We’re talking like we lost and that our game was poor. I don’t see it that way. I don’t see it that way at all,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “If we were expecting this thing to be easy, we’re in the wrong tournament. This is going to be work. That’s a real good hockey team. I’m not really that disappointed.”
The intensity was raised to another level in a second period that featured four goals. The scoring spree got started when Marchessault tipped a power-play shot past Grubauer. MacKinnon was in the penalty box for an unsportsmanlike call after voicing his displeasure over an icing call.
MacKinnon, a candidate for the league’s MVP honours along with the Lady Byng Trophy, atoned for losing his cool by tying the game with a spinning, backhanded shot on the power play.
Vegas jumped in front again when Roy pounded in a shot with heavy traffic in front of the net. It would last less than two minutes as Donskoi tied it up.
Colorado had a golden opportunity in the first period during an extended 5-on-3 power play. The best scoring chance was by Mikko Rantanen, but his shot down low was plucked out of the air by the glove of Lehner.
“I was fortunate to get over there,” Lehner said.
The Twitter accounts for both sides were certainly entertaining leading into the game. The Vegas crew sent: “Rock Paper Scissors for the No. 1 seed???”
The Avalanche side responded: “You guys just love to gamble don’t ya?”
NOTES: Vegas F Max Pacioretty is getting closer to a return after suffering a minor injury during training camp before heading to Edmonton. How close? “Really close,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “That’s all I can tell you.” … Golden Knights D Shea Theodore had two assists. … Avs F Nazem Kadri and Rantanen each had two assists.
More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/NHL
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