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.
Coyotes advance with 4-3 overtime win over Predators
EDMONTON — Brad Richardson scored on a rebound in overtime, Darcy Kuemper stopped 49 shots and the Arizona Coyotes advanced in the post-season for the first time in eight years with a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators on Friday.
The Coyotes, the Western Conference’s No. 11 seed, took a 2-0 lead early in the second period. But they allowed Nashville to tie it before going ahead 3-2 on Jordan Oesterle’s goal early in the third.
Nashville pulled goalie Juuse Saros late in the period and Filip Forsberg tied it with 32 seconds left on a one-timer after Roman Josi kept the puck in Arizona’s zone.
Richardson won it after he redirected Vinnie Hinostroz’s shot and punched in the rebound past Saros to help the Coyotes win the Stanley Cup qualifier series 3-1.
Michael Grabner and Phil Kessel also scored for Arizona, which faces Colorado or Vegas in the next round after advancing in the post-season for the first time since reaching the 2012 Western Conference finals.
Viktor Arvidsson scored for the third straight game before taking a shot to the ribs and leaving late in the second period, leaving Nashville without one of its top-line forwards.
Matt Duchene also scored and Saros stopped 30 shots for the Predators, who bowed out of the post-season as the West’s No. 6 seed.
The Coyotes took control of the series with a 4-1 win in Game 3 behind Kuemper’s 39 saves and three goals in the third period.
Predators outshot the Coyotes 11-1 to start, but Arizona scored first on Christian Dvorak’s redirect late the first period.
Game 4 played out the same way.
Nashville had nine of the first 10 shots, including one by Ryan Ellis that clanged off the post. Kuemper made some spectaculars saves during the flurry — 16 in the period — and Grabner beat Saros to the glove side with a wrister from the right circle.
Arizona kept the momentum going early in the second period, scoring 98 seconds in when Kessel beat Saros under his stick blocker after Nashville’s goalie turned it over in his own end.
The Predators came back to life on a power play a few minutes later, when Duchene redirected a shot by Josi past Kuemper from just outside the crease.
Arvidsson tied it with his third goal of the series, one-timing a pass from Ellis to beat Kuemper from the left faceoff dot.
The Coyotes buzzed to start the third period and Oesterle put Arizona up 3-2 on a shot from the right circle Saros couldn’t see through traffic.
Kuemper withstood a flurry of shots in the final two minutes before Forsberg sent it to overtime from near the left faceoff dot for his third goal of the series.
NOTES: The Coyotes were without C Nick Schmaltz due to a head injury for the fourth straight game. … Nashville is 6-13 in elimination games. … Arizona backup goalie Antti Raanta missed his second straight game after suffering an injury in warmups before Game 2.
Arizona will play Colorado or Vegas in the next round.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
The Associated Press
“…(Alberta’s) been booming so long that people think it’s our time to suffer…”
What an emotional piece of video here shared by Heidi, and the links between layoffs and suicide in Alberta. The data is very clear that there’s a direct correlation and an increase in suicide rates and what’s going on in our world gasps History and dad’s especially fathers can be under tremendous pressure if they’re the solo income earner for their family. Not only are you at high risk of financial collapse if you lose your job, but the emotional toll that that can take and the impact on your mental health, confidence. My heart goes out to families that are suffering…”
The following is a transcript of the above video interview with Heidi McKillop, Director, Producer “A Stranded Nation”.
“… The interesting thing about when you see this issue in the news about oil and gas and that we don’t need it, for instance, or that it’s dirty oil and then it’s getting displaced to another jurisdiction around the world is quite literally the impact it has had directly in this province.
I mean, you can see in downtown Calgary especially, but definitely in the rural communities as well, like Grande Prairie, you name it. There has been an unbelievable shift in terms of what communities are up against with layoffs, and there’s a part of a documentary — I don’t know if you know this, but there was an article, and it was the suicide rates going up 30 percent in Alberta that year.
I mean, it’s a debate of if that was directly related related to the recession or not, that was part of it. But there was certainly a connection between economic downturn and mental health issues on the rise.
And that article was actually about a little girl that had killed herself because her dad had lost his job. And it was a really, really sad article, and I just said to myself, I was like, if people can’t have compassion about the fact that people are drastically getting affected in their family lives, then that’s probably not the messaging that we’re trying to reach to those people, because they are obviously showing a lack of compassion in that area. And that, to me, is very sad to see because it happens quite often.
Especially when I go home, you know, Alberta’s been booming for so many years and so many decades, people just think we’ve been booming for so long and long enough that it’s our time to suffer. But that’s just not the way that we should start thinking. It’s very dangerous. Yeah, it makes me so angry actually. Yeah, it’s pretty rough.
Heidi McKillop, Director, Producer “A Stranded Nation”
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